A Travellerspoint blog


Day 19


sunny 29 °C

I love travelling, but hate the end of trips and the long flight home...

This morning I woke early and went down to farewell my fellow pilgrims who were flying out late morning to Toronto.

They were not expecting to see me as I had said farewell last night, and so I received a rowdy welcome in the dining hall.

I had a final wander around the market and a long black in the Christian Quarter. The tension between different groups in Jerusalem is palpable.

Back to the hotel to search for a steak restaurant. Having found one 5 minutes away, I headed out at 12:00 pm, to find that they were not ready for lunch until 12:45 pm. Too late for me. Potato chips, a cup of tea and a chocolate bar had to do for lunch.

No photos today.

Much of the food has been too challenging for me to eat and so I have lived on salad for the last two weeks.

The Olive Tree Hotel in Jerusalem is excellent. They gave me a late checkout of 2 pm and I then sat in the hotel bar, reading and watching Netflix. A cab collected me at 6 pm.

Now at Ben Gurion Airport, I have had lamb chops and fries and what I thought was going to be a glass of wine, which turned into a 1/2 bottle of wine.

El Al could not check my bag through to Melbourne so when I get to Hong Kong I will need to collect my luggage, clear customs and check in for my flight home. A little annoying...however, a first world problem.

I plan to write one more entry and so, until then...

Posted by Cruicksie 10:18 Archived in Israel Comments (0)

Day 18

Mount Nebo, Jerusalem

sunny 32 °C

Today was our last day together.

My room at the Crowne Plaza was like a chimney sweep and I had not slept well the night before, so with Joel’s help I changed rooms (it took some effort). A king size bed and a view over the Dead Sea were rough to take...

The day before I had managed to get a massive and painful blister on my foot, so I could not join in the fun of being covered in mud and washing off in the Dead Sea. I had a lot of fun watching the others and taking photographs.

It was 32 degrees at 10:00 am - coming home is going to be rough.

I have now been to the lowest point on earth - photographic evidence proves this.

Our main event for the day was a trip to Mount Nebo, which is 800 metres above sea level. On a clear day, you can see Jericho and Jerusalem from Mount Nebo.

It was on Mount Nebo where Moses saw the promised land.

Nancy shared a devotion about Moses being satisfied to be a servant of God, which is what we are all called to be.

The scripture in Hebrews came to mind:

‘Faith is the substance of things not seen.’

As I stood on Mount Nebo, I could imagine God saying to Moses, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’. My prayer is that He will say that to me one day.

We headed back to Jerusalem and after dinner played games until about 10:00 pm.

I said goodbye to everybody (they all leave early in the morning and my flight is much later) and headed to bed.

It has been a wonderful trip and I will read the scriptures very differently from now on. It has also been great to meet new friends.

My long journey home starts tomorrow.

Posted by Cruicksie 21:37 Archived in Israel Comments (0)

Day 15

City Wall, Old City

sunny 32 °C

Our day started at 9:00 am today, so much slower than most.

I was still awake early.

A group of us headed out to walk the city wall (well part of it), and I enjoyed being out seeing the city from a different perspective. The sun was hot early and I have really enjoyed being out in the sun so much. I have a nice tan (well, a good one for me). After a few days back at home in winter it will fade.

Some of the guys were wearing matching t-shirts today and I had a great time giving them a hard time.

Our hotel at the Dead Sea was a bad experience for some and in order to make up for it, we were provided with a free lunch at a sister hotel next to ours. The food was good and they had meringues, which meant I could have dessert.

After lunch I wandered through the old city and enjoyed the sights, sounds and smell of the spices in the market.

Tomorrow we head to Jordan. I am excited about this next part of the journey.

Posted by Cruicksie 11:29 Archived in Israel Comments (0)

Day 14

Archaeological Sifting, Hezekiah’s Tunnel and Jerusalem Markets

sunny 32 °C

A slower day today.

This morning we took part in an Archaeological Sifting exercise of dirt excavated from the Temple Mount. This was incredibly therapeutic and much more enjoyable than I had anticipated. It was also pretty significant in terms of the connection to the first century.

Following this, we headed to the City of David and walked through Hezekiah’s Tunnels to the Pool of Siloam. The water was refreshingly cool after the heat.

Ordering lunch without our guide Hanna, was going to be too challenging to avoid gluten, garlic and onion, so I opted for potato chips and some chocolate with a cup of tea.

A walk into the markets was just crazy...people everywhere, but I enjoyed being out in the sun and fresh air.

That is about all from me today.

Posted by Cruicksie 09:33 Archived in Israel Comments (0)

Day 13

Temple Mount, Bethesda, Via Delarosa, Garden Tomb

Today was our final day with Hanna - our most excellent tour guide in Israel. She is a wonderful lady and we have been so blessed to have her. Her knowledge of scripture is amazing.

When we got to the gate to go to the Temple Mount, a number of Jewish boys were there with their families to celebrate their bar mitzva. A special thing to have witnessed.

On the way to the Temple Mount you look over the Wailing Wall. As we watched those coming to pray, there were large wooden boxes. Hanna advised that these were The Holy Ark, which store bible scrolls.

The Temple Mount is where Abraham brought his son Isaac to be slaughtered, Mount Moriah. So much of Jerusalem speaks to me of the cost of following Jesus, but when you consider his sacrifice, you cannot but want to give your life to his cause. I think of the words:

“Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small,
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”

Israel is a complicated place politically and this is intensified in Jerusalem and especially on the Temple Mount. You could feel the tension.

The oldest Muslim shrine in the world is on the Temple Mount. 300,000 people come to the Temple Mount for holy days. This gives us an idea of the numbers who could gather in the temple in the days of Jesus.

Neither the Muslims or the Jews will allow excavation on the Temple Mount.

Our next stop was the Bethesda Pools. Bethesda means House of Mercy. This is where Jesus healed the lame man. One of only 2 miracles performed in Jerusalem.

The Church of Anne is on the grounds and a group were in there singing, ‘I exalt Thee’ as we walked past. That song always gets me, every time. Just beautiful.

The Church of St Anne is the only Church of the Crusaders in Jerusalem not destroyed by Muslims.

After leaving the Bethesda Pools, we commenced on the Via Delarosa. The way of suffering. The actual route is not known for sure. However, where we walked today is in close vicinity. As Hanna commented, we would have been within 200 metres of the route either side. Quite a sobering thought. I would have preferred to do it in silence, but you cannot stop the world from carrying on around you.

There are 14 stations of the cross on the Via Delorosa.

On route, we stopped at a convent and sat at the level of 2,000 years ago. There are markings on the stone, believed to be games played by Roman Soldiers. It is pretty cool looking at all of these things from so long ago and picturing life as it was.

Here we sang, ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord.’

We then continued on the Via Dolorosa. The path of condemnation and suffering. The words of Jim Elliot came to my mind, ‘ He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.’

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is believed to be the place where Jesus was crucified and buried. We were able to touch the stone where it is believed the cross was placed. Many Protestant christians say that it is not necessary to touch things described by some as ‘relics’. I personally find that it can be a personal expression of surrender and a sacred moment. So, I did.

As I did, the words of Horacio Spafford’s hymn flooded into my mind:

“My sin, o the bliss
Of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross
And I bear it no more
Praise the Lord
Praise the Lord o my soul”

We then had lunch and wandered through the market.

Our last stop for the day was the Garden Tomb. Another place where it is believed Jesus was crucified and buried. There is a rock formation that in the early 1920’s looked like a skull. Golgotha, meaning place of the skull. This was damaged in bad weather years ago and does not look the same.

Either way, I am not concerned with whether it was the church of the Holy Sepulchre or the Garden Tomb. I am just grateful to God that He sent His son for us and Jerusalem is where it all took place.

This has been a most wonderful pilgrimage and I am grateful I have done it. The official Jerusalem pilgrimage is over. Tomorrow we are doing an archaeological visit and walking through Hezekiah’s tunnels and Saturday is a free day. Sunday, we head to Jordan.

As we said goodbye to Hanna, she called me her young, fun, Australian friend...

Posted by Cruicksie 06:50 Archived in Israel Comments (0)

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