November 16th - 29th , 2010
World - Win Tour Edition
Israel, November 2010
Scott's Egypt and Israel Trip:
I have updated this site to include Photo Albums, our tour guide Moshe's Archeological Research, an Israel and Egypt travel guide, and a few more tidbits
Egypt and Israel! 31 people, 23 meals, 14-days, 13-nights, 10 days touring on 4 different continents (Europe, Africa, Asia, North America), 3 busses, 1 bus on a ferry crossing the Suez Canal, 1 boat tour on the Sea of Galilee flying the Texas flag, several bodyguards, a mummy, a dip in the Jordan River, diving in the Red Sea, and much much more!
Our actual flight path from Houston to Israel and back again
(Click on all pictures for larger image)
From the footsteps of Moses to the footsteps of Jesus! Get ready to experience an incredible adventure with me and 30 other adventurous travelers on a 14-day trip of a lifetime to Egypt, Israel, and a quick stopover in Paris as I visit and learn about some awesome places on our planet.
This trip took place Tuesday, November 16th through Monday, November 29th over the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday in order to celebrate Thanksgiving in the Holy Land! Our team spent 3 nights in Egypt and 8 nights in Israel, plus one night in Paris, France upon our return. We stayed in accommodations ranging from 4-star hotels, a mountain monastery, a Bedouin camp, to an Israeli Kibbutz, which all added to this once in-a-lifetime Scott's Adventure.
We took hikes up Biblical mountains, rode camels in the desert, participated in an ongoing archeological dig, enjoyed Bedouin feasts at a real working camel ranch, and slept in a monastery guesthouse at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Our team also visited the oldest Biblical library in the world and saw some of the most important Biblical documents known in existence today.
Our distinguished guide, Dr. Moshe Bronstein, a Jewish born Christian and Biblical archeologist, is one of the best tour guides available in all of Israel. He challenged us not only to know our Bible, but also to grasp the historical significance of walking where Moses, Jesus and other Biblical leaders actually walked and lived!
Hello Scott's Adventures Travelers,
On Friday 12th of February, nearly two months after my visit to Cairo, Egypt, the people of Egypt forced out their Egyptian Dictator of 30 years Hosni Mubarak and his regime after an 18 day protest. This all happened blocks from where we were!
We have been concerned for our guides and support staff's safety in Egypt as
well as Israel.
Here is the latest news as of Tuesday 2.22.2011:
I just heard back from Moshe and according to his e-mail, Marco (our Egyptian guide) in Egypt is doing OK. However, he has not been able to get in touch with our other Egyptian guide, Lillian, but will keep trying. I am so glad we were able to go to Egypt before the social unrest occurred. I certainly had no indication of what was percolating under the political surface while we were there for three nights in November.
I felt very safe and the locals (Egyptians) seemed to be very nice to us when we greeted them (i.e., even the Egyptian white-clad guards at the Pyramids of Giza that I joked with were nice as we shared a laugh). - Peter T. (our U.S. trip leader in Austin)
I am hoping we can return to Israel in November of 2012 and have another phenomenal trip with Moshe. - Scott
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 16TH (HOUSTON - PARIS)
Morning: We started from in Austin, Texas by forming caravan groups of 4 to 5 people to carpool from Austin to Houston. Drive to Houston in caravan for our flight that afternoon.
Afternoon/Evening: We boarded our Air France flight #639 on a Boeing 777-200ER at 4:20 p.m. for our 9 hour overnight flight to Paris, France.
Flight from Houston to Israel
I was in seat 35A right next to the emergency exit bulkhead with the other two seats next to me empty so I had lots of leg room and plenty of space to get up and move about.
Scott's Egypt Photo Album 11.16.10
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17TH (PARIS - CAIRO)
Morning/Afternoon: We landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), Paris at 8:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m. Central Time) after flying 5,088 miles in 8 hours and 58 minutes. We then Departed Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) on Air France flight #508 on a Airbus Industrie A330-200 at 1:35 p.m. after a 5 hour layover in Paris. We arrived at the Cairo International Airport (CAI) at 8:30 p.m. local time (12:30 a.m. Central Time). We collected our baggage and went through customs and passport control where we were greeted and assisted by Moshe Bronstein, our Israeli tour guide, and our Egyptian tour guide Marco.
Evening: We were then driven to the 4-star Grand Pyramids Hotel in Giza, where we had a late dinner, then unwound a bit before going to bed. The Grand Pyramids Hotel is located just two miles from the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. (D) After dinner I met with Moshe and his lovely wife Karin over coffee and a nice conversation about their ministry and associations here in country and in the United States.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 18TH (CAIRO)
Morning/Afternoon: First day in Egypt! We were up at 6 a.m. After breakfast, our team gathered and headed out to the Giza Plateau to visit the Pyramids of Giza and Dahsur, including the great Pyramid of Cheops, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The biggest pyramid is well over 400 feet tall and was the tallest man made structure before the Eiffel Tower was built in Paris, France. These Pyramids are so large, you can actually see them from space! The size of each one of the bricks is enormous and the number of bricks that makes up these structures baffles me as to how they built these pyramids. We then visited the Imhotep & Saqqara museum where the magnificent ancient "Pharaoh Boat" made of wood was discovered, buried in a tomb. While here we also saw the magnificent Sphinx and the Necropolis of Sakkara, the location of the first stone structure in the world, the Stepped Pyramid of Zoser (Images), the Pharaoh known from Joseph’s story (Genesis 39-41). The story about Joseph as the wise and prudent administrator who rises from servant in a private household to vizier in Pharaoh’s court. As second in command over the entire kingdom, Joseph receives responsibility from Pharaoh to administer grain reserves in a time of famine. We actually got to see one of his many huge underground grain store-houses from Joseph's day. The size of these store-houses simply amazes me.
We then traveled to the MIT Rahina Museum, in Memphis, the ancient capital of Lower Egypt to view the sculpture of Ra’amses and the sculpture of the goddess of Hathor (the goddess of turquoise, whom we will meet later on in the Timna Valley in Israel, at the Tabernacle Tent of Jethro (see November 21st)). We then went bargain shopping at the famous Khan El Khalili Bazaar. After all of this, we finish up the day by touring Islamic Cairo.
See satellite view of Pyramids
See satellite map of today's trek
Evening: We had dinner and stayed overnight at the Grand Pyramids Hotel in Giza. (B,D) We traveled 93 miles today in 6 hours and 30 minutes. A short day packed full of fun.
Scott's Egypt Photo Album 11.18.10
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19TH (CAIRO - SINAI)
Morning: At 6 a.m. we started the day with a visit to Old Cairo; including the old Cairo Churches, the Synagogue and the Egyptian Museum where Moses was found as a baby in a basket floating down the river. The Egyptian Museum, officially known as the “Cairo Museum of Antiquities”, is regarded as one of the most prominent museums in the world and houses treasures from the 1st to the 31st Dynasties of Pharaohs (2920 B.C.E. - 332 B.C.E), including the treasures of King Tutankhamon (King Tut!). Over 136,000 items are on display with hundreds of thousands of additional items languishing in the museum’s basement storerooms.
Afternoon: That afternoon we drive our tour bus along Eretz Goshen, then crossed over the Suez Canal on a ferry (with an armed military escort) then on through the Bitter Lakes – the traditional “Sea of Reeds”. We crossed into the Sinai Peninsula and via the Sinai Desert along the Firan Oasis to the Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Wadi el Raha, Sinai. Saint Catherine’s Monastery is located a the foot of Mt. Sinai.
See map of today's trek
See satellite view of today's trek
Evening: We arrived at the Saint Catherine Monastery at an altitude of 5,130 feet above sea level around 11:30 p.m., checked-in, had dinner, and stayed the night. (B,D). We traveled 361 miles in 9 hours 23 min today.
Scott's Egypt Photo Album 11.19.10
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 20TH (SINAI - EILAT)
Morning: Some of us woke up at 2 a.m. for a very early morning hike climbing up 3,750 steps (6.6 miles) to Mt. Sinai at 7,492 feet above sea level (pictures) to follow the footsteps of Moses to the summit by sunrise. I however, did not go on this hike, for I woke up at 5 a.m. for the Sabbath service at the monastery. This service was held in Greek for 1 hour and 30 minutes and was very special to be a part of. I was honored and humbled by this invitation. While sipping coffee at a cafe afterwards in the brisk morning mountain air, reflecting upon this morning's service, I noticed that there were a lot of cats all over this monastery. A very peaceful time of the morning (7:45 a.m.) Afterwards we all visited the St. Catherine's Monastery, Chapel of the Burning Bush (the traditional place where the burning bush happened), and the Museum of the Skull. We also paid a special visit to the oldest Biblical library in the world where some of the oldest Biblical texts were found and are now preserved, including the Codex Sinaiticus – better known as the Exodus codex - the oldest existing biblical text written in Greek (6 century B.C.E.) We also viewed a letter that was written by Mohammad, the founder of Islam, setting a decree protecting this monastery from Islamic attack.
We then departed from the Sinai and drove along the Eilat Gulf to visit “ Etzion Gever”, known today as Gezirat Faroun "Pharaoh's Island".
Afternoon: After departing the monastery, we drove through the desert where Moses led the Israelites for 40 years. The sand and rocky hills were magnificent. Nothing like I had envisioned. The contrast between the hills and the sand were astounding to see and take in, knowing that Moses led his people through this very place all those years ago. The temperature here was no warmer that 16 deg C (60 deg F.), far cooler than I would have thought a desert like this would be.
We then traveled up the coast of the Red Sea to the Taba Border Crossing between Sinai, Egypt and Israel. Jordan and Saudi Arabia could be seen in the near distance across the water. As we crossed the border by foot Moshe said to each of us Welcome to the Land of Israel! "Welcome Home".
Evening: We arrived at the Prima Music Hotel in Eilat after spending 2 hours in line at the Taba border crossing behind 150 Nigerian pilgrims. I was even detained at the border while the immigration folks x-rayed my suit case 8 times. I think they were really interested in my iPhone4 and wanted to play with it a while.
We checked-in, had dinner, and stayed at the Prima hotel overnight. The Prima Music Hotel is situated just steps from Eilat’s famous Coral Beach on the Red Sea. (B,D). I made several Skype phone calls back to the States this evening checking in and letting folks know we were all OK. This place felt just like being in the 51st State of the USA. We traveled 115 miles today.
Scott's Israel Photo Album 11.20.10
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 21ST (EILAT – TIMNA – MITZPE RAMON - MAMSHIT)
Morning/Afternoon: After breakfast, we had some free time for swimming and relaxing at the Red Sea and it was so much fun relaxing and enjoying the water. I wanted to go SCUBA Diving however, I have had a head cold for a couple of days now and I was unable to clear my ears. I did manage to do some swimming and relaxing on the beach while some of our group took an introduction SCUBA Diving course and went on their first dive. So much fun just relaxing on the warm beach with crystal clear water.
After checking out of our hotel, we then “Followed Jethro & Jesus to the Desert” and visited the Timna Valley Nature Reserve to take in the huge red cliffs called “King Solomon’s Pillars”, a fantastic view. These cliffs tower majestically over the barren desert landscape and are natural wonders. They have been fashioned by the wind and weather over centuries and are a conspicuous landmark of the area. We then visited the newly found (by Beno Rothenberg) Midianite tented Shrine and the Tabernacle. The motive Copper Snake of Timna is only a part of the Midianite cult represented in the Temple. The last phase of the Hathor Temple of Timna, which seems to have been a Tent Shrine, was a Midianite place of worship and this suggests a possible connection not only of the Midianite cult of the copper snake found in this shrine, but with the Nechushtan of the Exodus and also with the actual tent shrine of Israel’s desert wandering, the tent of meeting the tabernacle (Exodus 39:32). In the light of the Timna discoveries it seems at least plausible to consider the tented shrine the Ohel Mo’ed of Israel’s nomadic desert faith to be somehow connected with the relationship between Moses and Jethro who was not only a priest (Exodus 3:1) and advisor of Moses (Exodus 18:13 – 27) but also performed sacrifices and took part in the sacred Meal “before God” (Exodus 18:12).
One of the highlights of Timna for me was the exact replica of the Tabernacle , instructed by God to be built when Moses received the Ten Commandments. It was at the tabernacle where the children of Israel kept the Ark of the Covenant, and a special ceremony was held at the tabernacle tent at this site.
We then drove to visit Machtesh Ramon (the giant Ramon Crater) and the desert mountain town of Mitzpe Ramon. We then drove through the gigantic Ramon Crater, an exceptional geological formation, which has yielded very rare fossils dating back to Biblical time and the time of the Great Flood. This crater is the largest of Israel’s three natural craters which are among the most striking of the Negev’s features.
Evening: We continued on to the Mamshit Camel Ranch (on website pick English) in Mamshit. This Camel Ranch is located near the enchanting ruins of the ancient city of Kurnub. We were served a Bedouin feast, and stayed overnight at this unique Bedouin lodging establishment in the Negev Desert - an awesome experience. (B,D) We traveled 166 miles today.
Scott's Israel Photo Album 11.21.10
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22ND (MAMSHIT – DEAD SEA – MASSADA – GILGAL – SEA OF GALILEE)
Morning/Afternoon: After breakfast we enjoyed a 2 mile camel ride in the Negev dessert to see the Scorpion Pass (aka Scorpion Hill) where the Lord specified this place (Scorpion Pass) to Moses as one of the boundaries of the Promised Land.
We then drove to Qumran to see the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. We actually hiked up to one of the caves where the scrolls were actually found. Just standing in that cave knowing that this was once an ancient church from 1st century AD was powerful. The Dead Sea sits at the lowest point on earth at 13,580 feet below sea level (MSL). Moshe told us that it is impossible for you to get a sun burn here because there is so much atmosphere above us at this spot on earth that most of the Ultraviolet light (UV) from our sun is absorbed. It is this part of the light spectrum that causes sun burns. We stopped and took a quick dip. The water felt as warm as the air around us 95 Deg F. and really oily like bike oil (due to the magnesium chloride (MgCl2) concentration in the water). The actual composition of the salt in the Dead Sea, as anhydrous chlorides, is made up of calcium chloride (CaCl2) at 14.4%, potassium chloride (KCl) at 4.4%, magnesium chloride (MgCl2) at 50.8% and sodium chloride (halite/common salt, NaCl) at 30.4%. There are lots of mining facilities here that will pump the water from the Dead Sea to salt beads and let the salt water evaporate then mine the minerals for export all over the world. It is a nice business to be in due to a never ending supply of raw materials and a low cost of production.
After that we checked out Sodom Cave and the Oasis of Ein Tamar and Neot Hakikar. We saw the area where Sodom and Gomorrah once stood before their sin caused God's wrath to destroy this town (Genesis chapters 18-19). At the south end of the beautiful, yet barren Dead Sea area, there is a mountain known as Mt. Sodom. Mount Sodom is a hill along the southwestern part of the Dead Sea and is made almost entirely of halite (NaCl), and is approximately five miles long, three miles wide, 742 feet above the Dead Sea water level, yet still 557 feet below sea level. It was a very remarkable site to see. Because of weathering, portions of this mount become separated and form pillars. One of these pillars has been labeled "Lot's Wife" (from Genesis 18:23), a reference to Lot's wife in the Biblical account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot's Wife (pillar) is adjacent to the area where the city of Sodom was once located. This area has an unusual high (95+%) sulfur (ash) content, unseen in other areas of the Dead Sea.
We then went on to visit Kaser el Yehud, the most likely baptismal site of Jesus on the Jordan River (Matthew, 3: 13-17). We took time for prayer, photos and reflection. I even had my photo taken with two of the Israeli solders stationed there. The water was ice cold and the atmosphere there was tense due to the Israeli solders protecting us and the Jordanian solders watching us from across the river. This place reminded me of a scene from one of those cold war movies where you see barbed-wire and landmine signs posted everywhere and guards with automatic weapons walking about. Unfortunately, this place actually looked like that scene. Afterward, we visited Gilgal where the Children of Israel placed the 12-stone monument ordered by Moses and executed by Joshua and 12 priests of the 12 tribes of Israel; Joshua took boulders from the Jordan River (from Kaser el Yehud), upon crossing to the Promised Land with the Children of Israel. This is the place where Esau was awaiting Jacob, his brother. It is here that Jacob fell on his brother’s shoulder and where they made peace, breaking bread and sharing a meal before God. At this site the Tabernacle Tent was resting until it was moved to Shilo. King Saul used it as a holy ritual place. It is here that Samuel anointed Saul as king, and King David used it as a holy site and a base (prior to building the Temple in Jerusalem) to execute his conquest against the Medianites and Philistines on the east side of the Jordan River. It is our Lord’s Field, where legend has it that Jesus plowed a furrow with his own hands. This field at the Gilgal produced the first grains of barley and wine for blessings, which were used at the Temple in Jerusalem at the Passover sacred meal before God. We attended a special ceremony at the Lords’ Field by the circle of stones – the Gilgal. The acoustics here are impressive, we went up the side of the hill and Moshe whispered and we heard him. The view from here was impressive too - overlooking the Adam-Crossing where the Children of Israel entered to the Promised Land. Moshe pointed out that recent scientific research has shown that the very first wheatgrass, the mother of all wheat, originated from this site (very important in today's Witbieren Beers too).
We then drove on to the Jordan Valley to the Sea of Galilee.
See satellite view of today's trek
See elevation map of today's trek
See Dead Sea satellite view
Evening: We stayed at the Kibbutz, Ginosar Village for two nights. Ginosar Village is located within walking distance of Sea of Galilee. (B,D) We drove 212 miles today by bus and camel.
Scott's Israel Photo Album 11.22.10
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 23RD (SEA OF GALILEE – CAPERNAUM - ZIPPORRI – SEA OF GALILEE)
Morning/Afternoon: After breakfast, we embarked on a very memorable boat ride in an ancient replica boat from Jesus’ time on the Sea of Galilee. We all boarded the sea vessel "Faith" and they hoisted the Texas flag and headed out for a 3.2 mile tour filled with teachings and song. How majestic a time we all had. The Sea of Galilee reminds me of Lake Travis in Austin, Texas.
We then drove to the Upper Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights. We visited the Jordan River Springs and Tel Dan Nature Reserve where the Dan springs flow into the Jordan River. Very tropical place. In the distance we could see Syria and Lebanon within a mile of us. How strange it was to be standing within a half of a mile or less of countries that are known to he hostel towards us. We then walked down the trail to view the Golden Calf Temple at Dan from Jeraboham Ben Nabat. This place is 2,900 years old and formed the wall and city gate from King Omri, King Ahab and Jezebel. King Solomon later built a temple to worship God at this same spot. This site must be preserved for future archeological excavation and public "discovery" when funding is available.
We then visited the springs of the river Dan – that gives the river Jordan its name. In Hebrew, “Jordan” means Ya-Rad Dan (Go down Dan). We actually sat upon the rocks where the water flowed out of. We then drove to Caesarea Philipi to visit the Banias Temple named after the Greek god, Pan - half a man and half a goat. The Greek legend is that Pan used to live in underground caves and was known for appearing with a flute making sounds which caused panic (get it Pan = Panic). To calm the God of Panic, the Greeks built the temple and city Panias, pronounced by the Arabs as “Banias”. It is here where Christ and Simon arrived to bless and heal the people. Simon called Jesus the Living God and Jesus in return called him the Foundation - the Rock (Peter = Petra) upon whom the Church of the Lord is going to be built (Matthew 16:13-23).
We gathered for a fellowship at the Church
that was built at this exact site
We then drove up to the Golan Heights to learn about the Syrian-Israeli conflict and war while we visited the Tel Facher battle site and the Syrian bunkers. Most of the wars here have all been a result of water rights of the Jordan River (and Tel Dan) by diverting water away from the Sea of Galilee. For without water, Israel is all but Dead.
+ years ago while the sun was setting to the West. How fitting.
We then drove to Beit Zeidah. In Biblical time this city in Hebrew meant Tzed = Food like fish. It was the capital city of the Geshur nation from King David’s time. David married with Ma’acha, the daughter of Talmai, the King of Geshur and Absalom’s grandfather. Three of the Apostles, including Simon Peter lived in Beit Zeidah, it was here that the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish took place, as well as the site on which the “Sermon on the Mount”. We read from Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5, 6 & 7 of the Book of Matthew) here at this exact spot where this actually happened 2010
We then visited Beit Shean (Images), the Biblical site in which King Saul and his son, Jonathan, were both killed. This is where David came to punish and execute the soldiers whom had helped the King to die on his sword.
See satellite view of today's trek
See elevation map of today's trek
Evening: We returned to Ginosar Village, ate dinner and stayed the night (B,D) after traveling 189 miles.
Scott's Israel Photo Album 11.23.10
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 24TH (UPPER GALILEE – GOLAN HEIGHTS - JERUSALEM)
Morning/Afternoon: We started at 8 a.m. where we continued on our journey to Capernaum (kfar naum), the center of Jesus’ Galilean ministry and the site of his many miracles. We then visited Zippori, the center of the House of Hillel, the capital city and the site of the Sanhedrin. Zippori, just three miles from Nazareth, the home of Joseph, was the center of the Bible and Mishna studies and the home of St. Anna and Joachim, Mary’s mother and father. It was a city of peace where the Judeo-Christian culture flourished - where two branches of the same tree of the House of David gathered together and became one, preparing and waiting for our Lord God, who has risen from death, to come again. We visited the ancient synagogue, known for its name; “Freedom and Redemption”; one of the highlight of our pilgrimage to the Holy Land of Israel! This synagogue from the 2nd century A.D. is dedicated to the stories of the Lamb: Here, the lamb of Isaac, the Lamb of David (kivsat harash) and the Lamb of Jesus Christ connect with the Passover Lamb of the Exodus from Egypt and with Abraham who fled to Egypt, Moses who came from Egypt and the Holy Family who fled on a night journey to Egypt. In this city of Zippori, the Mishna (6 books of commentaries of the Bible) was written. In the first paragraph of the first volume of the Mishna we learned about the bikurim, the First Fruits, that were brought to the Temple.
then we walked along an ancient aqueduct system. We only followed it for a half mile or so, but in its day, this water system ran for miles underground and provided water for this entire city. We then walked down the actual "Road to Damascus" (that leads to the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem) along the Cardo where as a child, Jesus used to walk while he was visiting his grandparents. We payed a visit to the Nile mosaic floor which has amazing stories and artistry. On the mosaic floor of the Zippori Synagogue we saw the most beautiful display of the offering baskets (teneh) brought to the Temple in Jerusalem. As we ascend to the upper city where Jesus’ grandparents used to live, we payed a visit to a beautiful villa, named for its mosaic floor of the “Mona Lisa of the Galilee”. We also visited the theatre which was used as an “upper room” to teach the Mishna, built above Rabbi Judah the President’s burial place. It will teach us much about the “upper room”.
We then visited Mt. Hermon, Mt. Amana – Mt. Covenant with God. Here you can look out over the place where God made the covenant with Abraham where a flaming torch moved between the pieces of the sacrificed animals. At Nimrod Castle (Images) we saw the original site of the Transfiguration, where Jesus met with Moses and Elijah and ascended to Heaven.
We then made a stop at Mt. Carmel and looked out over the valley of Megiddo. The word Armageddon, which means "mount of Megiddo" occurs only once in the Bible. In the sixteenth chapter of Revelation this word is used to designate the place of the final conflict between Jesus Christ and the Antichrist.
The view from Mt. Carmel overlooking the Megiddo Valley
It is very daunting to be standing here overlooking this valley and know that at some point in the near future, there will be a great battle fought here and there will be blood up to the bridles of horses. Just imagine the valley in the picture above filled with blood.
We then departed the Galilee area and drove on to Jerusalem. Upon arrival to Jerusalem, we ascended the Mount of Olives for the traditional Shehechyanu blessing and prayer.
See satellite view of today's trek
See elevation map of today's trek
Evening: We then drove to our hotel, the 4-star Hotel Dan Jerusalem @ Mt. Scopus, formerly the Hyatt Regency. The Hotel Dan Jerusalem is located in the heart of Jerusalem, overlooking the Jerusalem landscape. (B,D) We traveled 189 miles today.
Scott's Israel Photo Album 11.24.10
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 25TH (JERUSALEM)THANKSGIVING DAY!
Morning/Afternoon: After breakfast, we began our day at Ir David – the Biblical City of King David on Mount Moriah at the Gihon Spring - Beit Hamaayan - the House of the Gihon Spring. We must have walked down a "zillion" stairs from street level to the Gihon Springs. We walked through the newly discovered Tzinor/water pipe (gutter) on which Joab Ben Tzeruyah climbed into the City of Jerusalem (the Canaanite Fortress) from the 18th century B.C.E. - Abraham time. It is also known as the "Pool Above the Spring"; the site where King Solomon’s coronation took place. This was really cool to walk through the very place where Joab and his men infiltrated the City of David so long ago, even though we had to then climb up those "zillion " stairs once again when we left. The TV news program 60 minutes did a story on the City of David on October 17th, 2010.There is also an article on “The Search for King David, New Discoveries in the Holy Land” reported in National Geographic (December, ’10).
We then visited the newly unearthed Mikveh - the High Priest ritual bath. This is the Gihon Spring mentioned as a spring that fed the Garden of Eden, also known as the Virgin’s Spring. We then proceed to the Pool of Siloam, recently unearthed, then walked along the shopping arcade where Christ used to walk and where He did His great miracles. We then ascended underground again toward the Temple Mount to the House of David burial site. We assembled at the Upper Room and looked out upon the hillside homes far below. This is the very place where 50 days after Easter (the Passover Holiday) the followers of Christ assembled. Here Christianity was established during Pentecost – Chag Shavuot. We then walked along the Kidron Valley, following Jesus and Simon Peter's footsteps as we walked to the Garden of Gathsemane and view the monuments and burial places of the Priestly Family of the House of David.
We then had a very special opportunity to sift through the remains of the destructed Temple Mount Antiquities Salvation Operation at Park Tzurim in the Kidron Valley. The main activity here is a search for archaeological finds from amongst the earth illegally removed from the Temple Mount by the Muslim authorities when they decided to go against the Jerusalem city officials when they decided to expand their mosque at the site known as “Solomon's Stables". Bar Ilan University archaeology Professor Gabriel Barkai, finds artifacts from just about every period, from pre-history to the modern era, including flint implements, arrowheads from the siege of Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C., a seal impression in hardened clay, mentioning the name of Jerusalem, dating to the Hellenistic period, and – most importantly– a First Temple period (1000-586 B.C.E.) seal.
See satellite view of today's trek
See satellite view of the City of David
Evening:HAPPY THANKSGIVING! This evening we had a very special Thanksgiving dinner at Simon's Place to give thanks to the Lord. We then returned to the Hotel Dan Jerusalem and stay overnight. (B,D) We drove only 35.5 miles today but walked a whole bunch.
Scott's Israel Photo Album 11.25.10
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 26TH (JERUSALEM)
Morning/Afternoon:Another early morning starting at 6 a.m. After breakfast, we visited the Tower of David Museum and walked the ramparts of Jerusalem. We enjoyed the display of Jerusalem's history throughout all the ages. We walked along the old city walls and rooftops of Jerusalem, and visited the bustling bazaars and markets within. Then we visited the Jewish Quarter and Christian Quarter as we walked to the Temple Mount to visit the various Holy sites. We were unable to visit the Mosque due to heightened security and permission concerns but we were able to look upon the Dome of the Rock from the outside. We then walked along the Via Dolorosa, starting at the Betesta Pool and the St. Ann Church built by the Crusaders. This church has a special acoustic sound that I have never heard before. While there, we listened to a choir sing songs and listened as their sound reverberated off the walls of this place.
We then walked along the Stations of the Cross. We paid a visit to the Second Station, the Ecce Homo - Behold the Man Station – and walked on the real Lithostratus, the Antonia Fortress courtyard pavement. It was the Via, the Way, the Road, Jesus actually walked down. In the center of the courtyard we assembled around where the Roman soldiers Game of the Kings, the Basalinda Game was played. We then walked along the Stations of the Cross to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Golgotha place of Crucifixion, and the (traditional) burial place of Jesus.
We then walked along the "Cardo" road to the Damascus Gate (Images) (same road from Wednesday 24th) and into the Garden of Gethsemane, the Rock of Agony and the Church of all Nations. We then proceeded to the Garden Tomb where we learned about the tomb and had the Lord’s Supper (communion) together and had a chance to go into His empty tomb. We then went up to a special viewing area and saw Golgotha (aka Skull Hill) (Images), also known as Calvary, the traditional site where Christ was crucified (see Photo to the left).
We then proceeded to the Holy Temple’s Southern Steps (the Ophel), the entry to the Temple, and had an opportunity to participate in praying to the Lord where a million and a half annual pilgrims pass through to assemble to pray as they make their way to the Temple. It is here where Jesus stood, praying and teaching the Word of the Lord. We gathered together by the Temple’s Corner Stone with the writing, “le’beit – hatekiya leachriz”, for the “House of Trumpets” to announce the coming of the Shabbat High Holy Day and Jubilee Ophel & Southern Wall Excavations & Western Wall. We then continued to the ‘Western Wall’ (also known as the “The Wailing Wall”) to have some time to reflect, pray, and look around. And it was a very awesome sight to see all these folks standing at this wall nodding back and forth or milling about.
Evening: We returned to the Hotel Dan Jerusalem for our third night. (B,D) We drove 26 miles today.
Scott's Israel Photo Album 11.26.10
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 27TH (JERUSALEM - EIN KAREM – BETHLEHEM – GILO – HERONION - JERUSALEM)
Our last day in Jerusalem
Morning/Afternoon: Wake up, it is 6:30 am once again. After breakfast, we started the day by visiting John the Baptist’s cave, the ritual bath at Ein Kerem and the site of the Visitation of Mary and Joseph, on their way to Beit Lechem, Judah.
We next visited Katisima, where Mary stopped to take a rest while on her way to the Tower of the Flock and where King David was born. We then walked on the old cobblestone road from the Valley of Bethlehem - Efrat - Fruit of olive groves in Judah. As we climbed to Biblical Gilo ((Joshua 15:51) and (II Sam 15:12)), the Home and Palace of Boaz and Ruth, King David's birthplace, we visited the Judah King’s Palace, the Home of Boaz & Ruth, the Birthplace of King David. This park is overlooking the rainfall country to the west, the Temple Mount to the north, Rachel’s Tomb and the Church of the Nativity to the south. We gathered around the Sculpted Tower, by Ron Morin, with an oak tree (the symbol of ‘might’) on top, and surrounded by hyssop (the symbol of humbleness). This monument is built over a ninth century B.C.E. biblical tower of the Palace from King Rehaboam's time, which was built above Boaz and Ruth’s home at Gilo. It is here where Jesse (King David’s father) was born.
We proceeded to Bethlehem - the Valley of Boaz and Ruth the Moabite. This is the same valley where Jesus' birth took place, the Biblical Bethlehem of Judah (not the traditional Bethlehem located in present-day Palestine) and the actual Shepherd's Field is located. We visited the new finds at the Tower of Eder, the tower of the flock, as is written in the Book of Michah. It is where David, son of Jesse, was born. We visited the actual remnants of the Shepherds "Inn” and the threshing floor where the family of Mary and Joseph could not find a room to stay. This very cave has the emblem of the Judah Tribe, the Rosetta, the six-cornered star of the lily flower. The Inn is adjacent to an ancient water well. The entire area is covered with a large olive grove, a center of olive presses, and an ancient Holy Church (today in ruins). Under the church apse, a manger was found with an ancient cross (which was made - added - by the early church believers when they built their church above this manger in the 3rd century C.E.). We went to the well and drew water from this very well and relived the story of Naomi, Ruth, Mary and the birth of Jesus with shepherds, their goats and sheep all around.
We then enjoyed the majestic observation point at Mitzpe Ramat Rachel, which is a living bridge for peace among nations and faiths. This uplifting site is located halfway between Bethlehem and Jerusalem - between the desert with its nomads to the east and the rainfall country and its farmers to the west. The Olive Park orchestrates a symphony of hope for peace. Placed on a former battlefield, the Olive Park was the border between Israel and Jordan before 1967. Today it is situated between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. We then drove through "Checkpoint Charley" ( a Israeli security checkpoint setup to protect Israel against terrorist infiltration) to visit Herodion, King Herod’s artificial mountain and summer palace from which he (like the Pharaoh in Egypt) sent the order for the soldiers to kill all of the first-born sons trying to kill the Christ child. We now know from DNA tests that Herod died of Syphilis after going insane from this disease (an STD). We walked through this mountain and up through miles of tunnels and steps to reach the very top.
Evening: We returned to the Hotel Dan Jerusalemfor our fourth and final night in Jerusalem. (B,D) We drove 55 miles today.
Our complete track through Egypt and Israel
Scott's Israel Photo Album 11.27.10
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 28TH (JERUSALEM – TEL AVIV - PARIS)
Morning:After a very early morning continental breakfast at 4:00 a.m., we said our good-byes and left Jerusalem and continued our journey towards Tel Aviv. This drive was very scenic and beautiful. If I did not know any better, I would have thought we were traveling across the United States. The highway system here rivals any in the U.S.A. Upon arrival in Tel Aviv we transferred to our Air France flight 2221 on an AIRBUS INDUSTRIE A320-100/200 destined to Paris, France. We landed back in Paris at the Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport at 12:15 p.m.
Afternoon/Early Evening:Our 3-Hour Paris Tour - We began our 3-hour "rocket-tour" from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Roissy, France, as our French coach picked us up at 1:00 p.m. The weather here was really cold; near freezing I believe. I wish I had my heavy winter coat for this part of our trip. We headed into Paris where we picked up our highly recommended “Rick Steves” tour guide, Elisabeth Van Hest, in front of the Garnier Opera House (Images), at 2:00 p.m.
On this city-tour we experienced a brief taste of Paris appreciating it's typical "Haussmann-style" apartment buildings with white limestone façades and decorated with wrought-iron balconies - the wide Avenues - royal Squares and famous perspectives, and all its historical buildings that are lively witnesses of its rich past.
We started the tour in front of one of the most spectacular creations of the second empire: the opera or PALAIS GARNIER (Images) located in what is considered the shopping center of Paris and also the backdrop of the famous play and musical, Phantom of the Opera!. We then went back into the time of Louis the XIV and discover the Place VENDÔME (Images) world famous for its jewelries. Next we visited NOTRE DAME (Images), the cathedral of Paris which was built over 800 years ago on the ILE DE LA CITE (Images), "the cradle of Paris". We then discovered the LATIN QUARTER (Images), the student district, with its medieval streets, little restaurants, and café's. The tour continued through a very special part called ST. GERMAIN-DES-PRES (Images) where famous writers like Jean-Paul Sartre remind us of existentialism. Then we explored the western part of the city with the most famous Avenue the CHAMPS ELYSEES (Images), the largest square of Paris, PLACE DE LA CONCORDE (Images); the monument that reminds us the victories of Napoleon; the ARC The TRIOMPHE (Images) and the school where Napoleon got his military education; the ECOLE MILITAIRE (Images). Napoleon was finally buried in the DOME DES INVALIDES (Images), a former royal chapel built for Louis the XIV. We also saw the EIFFEL TOWER (Images), which certainly made us feel like we were in Paris and not Las Vegas!
At this point our guide also showed us the location on “Avenue Joseph Bouvard (Images)”, near the Eiffel Tower where our bus would be waiting to transfer us at 9:30 p.m. to our hotel near the airport.
Our guided tour ended at approximately 5:30 p.m. at the LOUVRE ART MUSEUM. The Louvre, which was built over 300 years ago to house the royal family, is now the home of MONA LISA, part of one of the largest art-collections in the world. The new entrance, a glass pyramid designed by the architect Pei (featured in the The Da Vinci Code book, by Dan Brown) is a flashing contrast to the historical façades of the monument. Our guide said good-bye at this point and gave us some last-minute instructions on where to find the Mona Lisa as well as other famous works of art so we could tour the museum on our own.
The entrance fee to the Louvre was 9.50€ per person (about $13.50). I did not go in due to the museum closed at 6:00 p.m. (30 minutes from then). Perhaps on my next trip to Paris.
After our guided tour, some of us visited the Eiffel Tower later in the evening after a bite to eat in the mall near the Louvre. I wanted to take in the view of the City of Lights from up top of the tower. The entrance fee to go to the very top of the Eiffel Tower is now13.10€ (about $18.50). Wow, not cheap! While I was in line to buy a ticket I was bombed by a kamikazy white dove. Yes, I was just standing in line minding my own business as a tourist and WAM! A white dove hit me on my head, fell down my left side and died. At first I did not know what happened. A couple from the Netherlands standing behind me saw the whole thing. "The bird had it in for me", they said. After that, I did not have a good feeling about going up into the Eifel Tower. However, I fought off this feeling and forged on through the fog of Paris and jumped on the first of two lifts that took us up to the very top of this structure (1,063 feet). Wow, what a cold windy view! At night it was a magnificent sight to witnessed. And I did not see another bird for miles (thank God!)
See satellite view of Tower
Evening:At 9:30 p.m., our coach picked us up at “Avenue Joseph Bouvard”, near the Eiffel Tower, and transferred us to our hotel, the 3+ star Park Inn in Roissy, near Charles de Gaulle Airport. (B)
Scott's Paris Photo Album 11.28.10
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 29TH (PARIS - HOUSTON)
Morning & Afternoon: After a buffet breakfast and checking out, we took the airport shuttle back to Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport, checked in, went through security and departed on Air France flight #636 on aBOEING Boeing 777-200ER at 10:30 a.m. and arrived the same day at Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) at 2:10 p.m. after a 5 hour flight and lots of on board movies and naps.
My flight back to the States
a (tiny)BOEING 777-200/200ER
Evening: We then loaded up and caravanned back to Austin, Texas arriving close to to 7pm. Wow, what a trip; setting foot on 4 different continents in 2 weeks.
If you are interested in taking a similar adventure like this one, please take some time and visit the other sections of this website including the Hotels and Moshe's Mission tabs and feel free to contact me by email.
Soli Deo Gloria
World - Win Tour Edition
Israel, November 2010
Last update: 23 February, 2011