On Monday June 5th we did a full day tour to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. First stop was the top of “Mount of Olives” for a panoramic view of the city of Jerusalem. Next stop was mount Zion to visit King David”s Tomb, the Room of Last Supper and the Dormition Abbey. We then entered the Old City and walked through the Armenian and Jewish quarters to the recently excavated and restored Cardo, the Roman road. We checked out the Jewish Wailing Wall, the Kotel and continued to the Christian quarter. We walked along the Via Dolorosa, the path that Jesus took to his Crucifixion, and visited the church of Holy Sepulchre. The church contains, according to traditions dating back to at least the 4th century, the two holiest sites in Christianity; the site where Jesus was crucified and Jesus’s empty tomb, where he said to have been buried and resurrected. We then continued on to Bethlehem which is located in Palestinian territory on the West Bank to visit the site where Jesus was born, the Church of Nativity and Manger Square. Although Joyce and I are not religious it was none the less an interesting and educational experience.
June 7th we did another full day tour, this one to the Pearls of the Western Galilee, North of Tel Aviv along the coast to the border with Lebanon. First stop was the ancient Roman capital and port city of Caesarea where we walked among the Roman theater archaeological ruins and excavations. The city was built by King Herod for Julius Caesar but since Julius lived in Rome, he never actually visited or lived there so King Herod took it for himself. He was a smart fellow this King. he built a swimming pool beside the ocean, aqueducts from the far away mountain springs and even converted the theater into a swimming pool to host aqua sports. There is a giant drain in the center of the theater which would drain the pool when not needed. The theater is still in use to this day and utilizes all of the original sandstone seats and theater acoustics. After visiting Caesarea we continued North to Haifa, the northern most city in Israel built in tiers extending from the Mediterranean up the north slope of Mount Carmel. Next stop, Rosh Hanikra where we descended by cable car into the underwater grottoes. The grottoes are located metres from the border with Lebanon. Final stop was Acre, the Old City recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site.