Up at 5 AM. Drank my water while texting Jana in the lobby. Journaled about yesterday. Ate breakfast about 6:30 AM. Met our guide, Hilik, in the lobby about 8:15 AM, a little late. We introduced ourselves to our group of 8 and off we went. We tried to go to the Mount of Olives, but were turned away by police because of children throwing rocks. Went instead to the Old City. We waited at a park, while our guide parked the bus,
because no vehicles are allowed in the Old City. We went to King David’s tomb then the Upper Room. King
David’s tomb was separated by gender like the Western Wall. Men on one side, women on the other. Hilik says the Upper Room was the home of Joseph of Arimathea. I’m not sure- no Biblical evidence- but it could be. That site, and many others in the Old City, was first marked by Helen, Constantine’s mother, the namesake of St. Helena parish in Louisiana where Pine Ridge is located.
From there we walked through the Old city to
the Cardo. Which was the main Roman road through the city of Jerusalem
Then we walked through the Old City to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher about 12 PM. It was full. Emile and I waited outside, since we had been the day before. Most of our group waited 40-60
minutes to get inside of Jesus’ tomb and tour the church. Since Emile and I had been the day before, we decided not to fight the crowd. Our guide did not go in to the church, so our group missed the rock tomb and a few other things that we had seen on Wednesday. Ate in the Old City. I had a falafel on a baguette roll with juice. Pretty expensive- about $15 US.
Then we walked the Via Dolorosa. I think we had walked a portion of it earlier on the way to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The Via Dolorosa is a very winding and commercialized path. Rather narrow. Probably only 10 feet or so across in many places. Hope to walk it again before we leave. Tried to take pictures at each station, but not sure if I got them all. Ended at the Western or Wailing Wall of the Temple. Today there was much more joy and singing because it was one of two days that Bar Mitzahs are held at the Western Wall. The father’s cried when the boy becoming a man was handed the
Torah and read from it. Tried to get a few pictures of the Torah scrolls. The Western Wall is segregated by
gender, so after reading the Torah, the boys and men would go to tables by the women’s side or back near the ritual washing stations. The moms and women would throw sweets and candy to the boys and sing. It seems a shame that the women could only watch and not fully participate but that’s the way it has been done for many years. Our guide said Monday and Thursday are the days for Bar Mitzahs.
Left the Old City to go to the Garden Tomb and Gordon’s Cavalry. Much less
tradition here- not marked until the late 1800’s. But probably looks more like actual calvary with a rock face in the cliff and beautiful gardens. Got some pictures of an ancient winepress. Garden Tomb had several chambers in it. Felt a little rushed here. Hope to go back, especially since it is
just down from the hotel.
Drove up to the Mount of Olives. Great views of the Old City and the temple mount from here. I think I got some good pictures. I didn’t realize all the sites were so close together. The Via Dolorosa is less than 1 mile long. We then went to Church of All Nations where Jesus prayed at the garden of Gethsemane.
They were having service, so I was unable to get picture of the rock where Jesus prayed in the Garden,
which was underneath the altar. Got some pictures of the church. Walked through the olive grove. Very impressive trees. Hope I got some good pictures. I walked down into the grotto of Gethsemane where it is believed that Judas betrayed Jesus while the disciples slept there. Also in the grotto was 1 of 2 possible sites for the tomb of Mary the mother of Jesus. The
other is in Ephesus. Mary’s tomb was WAY down many steps. Emile chose not to go. A group of women were there praying at her tomb.
On the way out, we saw St. Peter Galicantu church where Peter betrayed Jesus but did not go in. Got back to the hotel about 5. Rested until supper at 6:30. Walked around a bit after supper but the corner store was closed and lots of police out. Found out later that it was a protest over police brutality. Went to bed about 10. Busy day. Weather was nice today with highs about 70 and around 50 in the morning.
About our group:
A man and a woman from Portland, OR with their child, Samuel, about 18 months old. She is 5 months pregnant. We also had a couple from New Mexico. They are Presbyterians. Sat with us at dinner and visited. He is a CPA with a geology background. She has had several deaths in her family over the last few years. 2 Australians Julie and Annie. Annie is over 80 but stayed with us. I heard that she came without her husband because he is non-ambulatory. Julie wanted to stop and shop. I though she was going to get shot when she tried to walk past the guards to get to the Dome of the Rock where only Muslims are allowed to go. One of our group asked if the Via Dolorosa is in Bethlehem. Group does not seem to be very knowleadgeable about the Bible. The woman from Oregon seems to have traveled in the Middle East before as she helped me figure out what to pay at lunch.
About our Hotel:
We stayed at the Grand Court Hotel in Jerusalem. It was nice but feels touristy. Located next to 3 other hotels. Walk of about 1 mile to the Damascus Gate, past the Garden Tomb. There were several large groups coming in on Thursday night- very chaotic. They served fresh omelets for breakfast but not always on a consistent schedule. They had a beautiful courtyard of roses and an olive tree. The internet is good in the lobby, but spotty in the room. We stayed in room 937, opposite the elevator. It is a long walk around. Bed is very hard.
For more pictures, see my facebook page: Israel Pilgrimage Thursday, April 30, 2015