Jerusalem

Day 143- Jerusalem and Swimming in the Dead Sea

Today we get up bright and early to catch our all day bus tour to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea! We were picked up at a nearby hotel to take us on the hour’s drive to Jerusalem. Our tour group was only about 10 people which was the perfect size!  

Only halfway into our drive, we stopped at an “Elvis American Diner” for people to use the restroom and have some coffee. The place had little Elvis’s everywhere! Since we already went to the bathroom before we left, we decided to wait outside for our group.  

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When we arrived in Jerusalem, we first stopped at the Hebrew university where we could see the Old City from above! Our guide explained to us the different landmarks around the city and the significance of the Mountain of Olives! According to the Acts of the Apostles, it is where Jesus ascended into Heaven! The mountain also holds great importance for Jewish people. It is a Jewish cemetery where over 150,000 Jews are buried! 

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After getting a view of the city, we drove down into the Old City for our walking tour! 

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We loved walking down the ancient roads and seeing the differences between the different quarters of the city! The Old City of Jerusalem is divided between the Christian, Jewish, Armenian, and Muslim Quarters each having a different feel and appearance.   We went a couple meters below street level to walk along the Cardo (the ancient heart of Jerusalem), a 1500 year old market place!  

We loved walking down the ancient roads and seeing the differences between the different quarters of the city! The Old City of Jerusalem is divided between the Christian, Jewish, Armenian, and Muslim Quarters each having a different feel and appearance. 

We went a couple meters below street level to walk along the Cardo (the ancient heart of Jerusalem), a 1500 year old market place!  

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After passing through the ancient market, we walked through the 14 Stations of the Cross, ending with the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. At the different Roman numerals along The Via Dolorosa (Way of Suffering), we learned about what Jesus experienced. 

We spent about an hour looking around the church and seeing each of the chapels. We walked around Jesus’ tomb, but we did not go inside since we did not feel we needed to. Instead, we pictured him walking around the streets of Jerusalem as a teacher and carpenter, the same streets we walked today! 

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While we were in a shop, Carly purchased a rosary made of olive wood and laid it on the stone that is believed to be where Jesus’ body was prepared to be buried (the Stone of Anointing). 

While we were in a shop, Carly purchased a rosary made of olive wood and laid it on the stone that is believed to be where Jesus’ body was prepared to be buried (the Stone of Anointing). 

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After our tour group got back together, we walked through the tiny Old City streets to the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall. The Western Wall is considered holy in the Jewish faith because it is a surviving part of the sacred Temple Mount. It started to be called the Wailing Wall when onlookers saw devout Jews wail over the destruction of their temple by the Romans. 

Now Jews and others come from across the world to pray at the wall and leave prayers on paper in between the cracks in the rocks. To get to the wall, men and women have to go on separate sides and the men have to cover their heads. Alan had a hat, but Alexander was able to take one of their free Yamakas! While we were there since it is a Monday, there were several groups of men celebrating Bar Mitzvahs at the wall! 

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Once we all were able to see the wall, our group went to a rooftop restuarant for lunch! We all had chicken Schawarma! 

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After lunch, we got back in the bus and drove another hour to the Dead Sea! The Dead Sea is 1400ft below sea level making it the “Lowest Place on Earth!” 

Thankfully, it was noticably warmer than in Jerusalem, so it felt good for a swim! It felt crazy being able to float without any effort! It really felt like the salty water was pushing us! The mud in the lake is full of good minerals and is great for your skin, so everyone slathered it on! (Unfortunately there are no pictures of that!)

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Because of the salinity and other things in the water, we were told not to spend too much time in the water. So afterwards, we looked in the shops with different lotions and bath salts and then ate some sandwiches we packed.  

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Then, we all piled back in the bus and drove approximately 2 hours back to Tel Aviv for the night!