We were greeted with blue skies as we left the hotel after a hearty breakfast. Our first stop was the Mt. of Olives. What a view from the top! The whole Old City & Temple Mount can be seen. We walked down the “Palm Sunday” route, stopping at Dominus Flevet, where we read from Luke 19 and Zechariah 14. At the bottom of the Mt. of Olives is the Garden of Gethsemene and the Church of All Nations.
We then entered the Old City through St. Stephen’s/Lion’s Gate. We stopped at the Pools of Bethesda (John 5) and enjoyed singing in St. Anne’s Church (the echo is 10 seconds long in this Crusader church). Next, we walked the Via Dolorosa (the “way of the cross”). Although traditional, we enjoyed walking through the heart of the Christian Quarter to the Holy Seplechure Church (one of the possible locations for the crucifixion and burial site of Christ). We ate lunch nearby in the Old City.
This afternoon’s sites included Herodium, the Shepherd’s Fields, and Bethlehem. The view of the Wilderness of Judah from Herodium was fairly clear, enabling us to see the Dead Sea and the mountains of Moab to the east. In the Shepherd’s Fields we enjoyed reading Micah 5 and Luke 2 as well as singing a few Christmas carols. Driving to the Church of Nativity was next. We entered the church, and descended to the caves of Jerome. We ended our time in Bethlehem by going to an olive wood shop owned by the Tabesh family.
We returned to our hotel for dinner and a free evening. Another great day!