I’m getting really excited about our Thanksgiving vacation for 2021! We are doing a 14 Day Mediterranean cruise from Rome, Italy, which will visit ports in Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Israel & Malta. We’ve been to a few of these ports before, but many will be brand new to us, especially the ports in the Holy Land of Israel. Today, we booked our shore excursion for November 22, 2021 while we port in Ashdod, which is the gateway to Jerusalem & Bethlehem. The tour is called “Spiritual Jerusalem & Bethlehem, it’s almost 10 hours long, and has “moderate” activity level rating. Here’s the details:
WHAT WE ARE GOING TO SEE:
Gethsemane and Church of All Nations
Sitting outside of Jerusalem across a small valley, the Garden of Gethsemane sits near the foot of the Mount of Olives. Though the exact location of Gethsemane cannot be determined, it’s believed that Jesus spent the last moments before his arrest among this olive grove. The adjacent Church of All Nations is built over the rock on which Jesus is believed to have prayed in agony the night before he was crucified.
Built in the 16th century by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, the gate is situated near the southeast corner of the Old City, southwest of the Temple Mount and is the main entrance to the Western (Wailing) Wall.
Inside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, you’ll find the iconic Western Wall, or Wailing Wall is the holiest site in Judaism and is the last remaining wall of the courtyard that surrounded the Second Temple where Jews worshipped from about 515 B.C. until its destruction by the Romans in 70 A.D.
As early as the 5th century, the devoted began to retrace Jesus’ last steps by following a sequence of connected chapels and shrines. These locations, known as Stations of the Cross, would mark the route of the Via Dolorosa – “Sorrowful Way” – which follows the path that Jesus took to his execution. We will walk through some of these stations.
Church of the Holy Sepulcher
The Via ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which marks the historic location of the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Dedicated in 335, what you see today is a 12th century crusader structure, which replaced earlier churches dating back to the time of Constantine.
Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Church of the Nativity is believed to mark the birthplace of Jesus Christ. Built around 330 by the first Christian Roman Emperor Constantine, the Byzantine Emperor Justinian expanded much of the church that you see today. Sacred to Christians, it’s one of the oldest in the Holy Land and one of the oldest continuously operating churches in the world.
Seen from almost every part of Jerusalem, you can’t miss the gleaming Dome of the Rock, whose golden roof has dominated the Temple Mount for centuries
On the menu is a choice of fresh breads, fresh salads, pickled vegetables and a choice of main course: tender roast beef with mushroom sauce, baked teriyaki chicken, or sautéed white fish fillet with fresh lemon. Hot side dishes include rice pilaf with toasted almond, rosemary roasted potatoes, and Mediterranean vegetables. An assorted dessert buffet also includes local fruit. Drinks include mineral water, white and red Israeli wine, coffee and tea. Menu may vary according to seasonal ingredients
The visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem includes a stop at a local shop.
WHAT YOU SEE ALONG THE WAY
Rising over 2,620 feet, the Mount of Olives offers an unrivalled views of the Old City and its environs. From Wikipedia — “The Mount of Olives or Mount Olivet (Hebrew: הַר הַזֵּיתִים, Har ha-Zeitim; Arabic: جبل الزيتون, الطور, Jabal al-Zaytun, Al-Tur) is a mountain ridge east of and adjacent to Jerusalem’s Old City. It is named for the olive groves that once covered its slopes. The southern part of the Mount was the Silwan necropolis, attributed to the ancient Judean kingdom. The mount has been used as a Jewish cemetery for over 3,000 years and holds approximately 150,000 graves, making it central in the tradition of Jewish cemeteries. Several key events in the life of Jesus, as related in the Gospels, took place on the Mount of Olives, and in the Acts of the Apostles it is described as the place from which Jesus ascended to heaven. Because of its association with both Jesus and Mary, the mount has been a site of Christian worship since ancient times and is today a major site of pilgrimage for Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants.”
This looks to be a fascinating an awe-inspiring day as we walk through biblical history. If you would like to join us on this fascinating 14 day Mediterranean cruise, reach out to me, as I’ve got special amenities for you if you book with me!