So this past week has been wonderful, my Mom and older sister Erin made the long trek to come visit me and Michael over here in Jerusalem. They got here on Saturday afternoon so we hung out for a couple hours and they washed the airplane off of them. We then headed to Zuni for dinner and walked around Ben Yehuda to see a little of the town. The weather was of course perfect so for Mom and Erin who had come from the blazing heat of Atlanta and St. Louis they were loving every moment of it.
We got up on Sunday and headed to the Old City to do a walking tour. It was a tour that I had already been on with Kathy, but we had a different tour guide so the tour itself had a different feel even though I was seeing basically the same stuff. We went into the Church of Holy Sepulchre, walked part of the path of the Via Dolorosa, had falafel for lunch, went up to the Temple Mount and saw the Golden Dome of the Rock. After walking around the Temple Mount we took a break and had mint tea in the Muslim quarter of the Old City, and then we went to the Room of the Last Supper . As always it is so beautiful to walk around and really feel the history in the Old City and I think it was a perfect start to their vacation here. Here’s a link to photos of our Old City day gallery.me.com/robinflynn1
On Monday we did the Western Wall Tunnels tour. That tour Michael and I had already done as well, but the history that you learn during that tour is pretty neat and the views of the Western Wall underground is truly spectacular. It’s hard to believe that at one point in time, what is now underground was once a functioning city. Pretty crazy. The rest of Monday was a pretty lazy day as we were preparing for a big day on Tuesday.
So Tuesday we hired a private guide, Gil (who was also our guide for the Holy City tour), to take us into Bethlehem to see the spot where Jesus was born. We weren’t really sure what to expect from the day but knew that Gil had a lot of stuff planned and that it would be a full day of touring. Gil picked us up in the rental car at about 9am and we were off. Our first stop was a Greek Orthodox Monestary. They made different mosaics there, and we were able to walk into the chapel. It was a beautiful experience. Definitely off the beaten path. After the monestary we headed to the River Jordan to go to the spot where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. The spot was in disputed territory and it was always difficult to go visit. People would have to call ahead of time and get a gate opened for them. There were land mines around the road and overall just a kind of unpleasant experience. It wasn’t easy for tourist or piligrams to go there even though it is the third most holy spot for the Christian religion. So religious and goverment leaders got together and opened the spot to the public. Gil works for a newspaper in Jerusalem and got us into the press only event. It was pretty spectacular. I felt like an important diplomat wearing our translator headphones. Mom put her hand in the river. It was just pretty spectacular to be a part of such an important event. We were literally looking at Jordan during the ceremony. After the ceremony we went to look at another monestary. We drove into the desert mountains and looked at the monestary from a far. It was a breathtaking view. The photos truly do not do it justice, but it was beautiful. We then took another drive to a natural spring that actually provides the water to the monestary, to do a little swimming. It was ice cold but felt spectacular on the hot day. After swimming, we then drove into Bethlehem. We had to go through a passport check and drove by a huge separation wall. Being in Palestinan territory was very different than being in Jerusalem. It was more run down and the other drivers were actually worse than in Jerusalem. We went into the Church of the Nativity where Jesus was born and we also went to the milk grotto where Mary fed Jesus that is believed to have healing/miracle powers. We had lunch at a hole in the wall chicken restaurant in Palestine which was pretty amazing. We visited a Herrodian mountain palace, and finally we visited Shepherd’s Fields church. It was a long day and Gil took us to one last spot in Jerusalem, we went to the Promenade for a spectacular view of the city. It was truly an unforgetable day. Here’s a link to photos from the day gallery.me.com/robinflynn1
Wednesday we went to Mount Olives for a tour of the churches there. We also had a breathtaking view of the Old City and saw some beautiful churches. We walked along the road where Jesus walked on Palm Sunday. We saw the Church of the Ascension and some beautiful gardens. We were all pretty exhausted after Tuesday but the tour was lovely. Here’s photos from Mount Olives gallery.me.com/robinflynn1
Thursday we had plans to go shopping and then go to Masada and the Dead Sea on Friday. Unfortunately Mom and Erin were flying standby and Delta cancelled a flight from Tel Aviv to Atlanta. Because of that they took off earlier on Thursday to try to get back before the cancelled flight. They ended up back at our apartment Thursday night to get organized and make phone calls to get on a flight home on Friday. It was sad that their trip was cut a little short and they weren’t able to go swimming in the Dead Sea but that’s the risk you take when flying standby for cheap. But I think they would both agree that even the drama with getting home was worth the trip.
It was an amazing week and it was so wonderful having my mom and sister here. It can get a little lonely in Jerusalem and I had a fantastic time getting to show them what I’ve been up to this summer. It was also my mom’s first trip out of the US and I think we did her proud. Absoulutely unforgetable. Thanks for coming to visit it was spectacular!!!