To celebrate our 40th Wedding Anniversary over 2 years ago, we put a deposit down on an 11-day visit to Palestine. Shortly after, COVID happened, and it was delayed…twice!
Well, we FINALLY made it to The Holy Land!
We traveled with Dr. Karoline Lewis, New Testament professor at Luther Seminary, and 30 other “pilgrims” from various denominations and from across the U.S. We had a wonderful time, it was so interesting!
The tour theme was: “Women in Jesus’ Life.” We were so surprised by some things, many places look nothing like we imagined, so many churches, cathedrals, synagogues, etc. are built over ancient excavations, and understandably, after 2000 years, the locations of many sacred sites are ambiguous at best. It could have taken place here…but there’s another location claiming to be the site as well! Despite this, it is awe-inspiring to be where Jesus once lived. We were part of a good tour group, saw many things that weren’t on our initial itinerary, stayed in nice hotels, ate lots of great foods, and had an amazing tour guide, Lama, a Palestinian who studied in the U.S. and Canada. She explained everything so well!
Here are but a few photos of our time there:
Day ONE: October 31, 2022:
Waiting to begin our trip at O’Hare in Chicago.
Flew Austrian Airlines to Vienna, then Tel Aviv. All went well, but it was a long and tiring trek.
Day TWO: November 1, 2022:
Our first stop was a resort on the west coast of the Dead Sea,
We spent the first two nights, Tuesday and Wednesday, November 1 and 2, at the David Tower Dead Sea Resort & Spa.
Day THREE: November 2, 2022:
Crystallized salt along the coastline.
I had to find out for myself, and yes, you DO float in the Dead Sea!
Day FOUR: November 3, 2022:
After two relaxing nights on the Dead Sea coast, we traveled north via the Jordan River Valley toward the Sea of Galilee. Our first stop was Masada, a fortress on a raised plateau on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert where, according to Josephus (who heard this from a few women and children who survived it,) almost a thousand Jewish Zealots died by suicide as Roman troops attacked their fortress following the fall of Jerusalem in the early 70s CE. Cablecars carry visitors from the Visitor Center below to the fortress site on top.
Our next stop was the Qumran, site of an Essene settlement and location of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were found hidden in pottery in caves nearby.
The excavations of this ancient city reveal a first century CE, 7,000 seat amphitheater, Roman baths, a market street, and the Fortress Mound, especially show us what the city was probably like during the Byzantine and Roman periods. It was destroyed by a severe earthquake in 749CE.
Saw many sheets along the way!
And we saw many CATS in Palestine as well! Some look like JOEY!!!
We head north to the Sea of Galilee, and spent the next two nights at the Royal Plaza Hotel in Tiberius on the Sea’s west coast.
Day FIVE: November 4, 2022:
Got re-baptized (I know, I know, not really our thing) at a special site called “The Baptismal Site on the Jordan River,” where many, many people come to be baptized. Karoline, our leader, baptized all of us the Lutheran way, water on the forehead. It is a beautiful place along the river.
Toured the recent excavations of Mary Magdalene’s fishing village hometown and the beautiful Duo in Altum Worship Center built near the Sea. Got a photo of all of the women who were a part of our tour!
Traveled farther north along the west coast of the Sea of Galilee near Capernaum to Tagbha, the town where it’s believed Jesus fed the 5,000 with loaves and fishes, and where Jesus appeared to the disciples for the fourth time after the crucifixion.
Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes-
This church contains elaborate mosaics indicating the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000.
Church of the Beatitudes-
Thought to be the site where Jesus preached his Sermon on the Mount.
The Memorial Church of St. Peter-
This church is built on what’s believed to be the remains of Peter’s home where Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law.
Church of the Primacy of Peter-
Built at the site thought to be where Jesus called on Peter to “feed my sheep.”
Man in the Galilee Museum-
Sailing on the Sea of Galilee-
Took a boat out on the Sea of Galilee at dusk and celebrated the Eucharist.
Day SIX: November 5, 2022:
The Wedding Church
Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation
Mary is said to have been at the well when the angel Gabriel visited her to give her the good news that she would bear a child, Jesus.
Basilica of the Annunciation
The Church of Saint Joseph
Ev. Lutheran Christmas Church
Day SEVEN: November 6, 2022:
Church of the Nativity
Day EIGHT: November 7, 2022:
Walled Off Hotel: BanksyArt Gallery and Museum
Dar Al-Kalima University
Mount of Olives
The King’s Valley Trail
This is a Canaanite Tomb from the late Bronze Age.
Dominus Flevit Church
This is a view of Old Jerusalem from the Dominus Fleet Church. In the center of this picture are the Golden Gates, which is expected to be opened only when Jesus comes again!
The Garden of Gethsemane and The Church of All Nations
Sunset over Jerusalem
Day NINE: November 8, 2022:
St. Stephen’s Gate
The Western Wall
Dome of the Rock
Baths where Jesus healed the paralytic man.
St. Anne’s Church
Birthplace of Mary.
The Stations of the Cross, the path of Jesus’ passion.
Station I – Jesus is condemned to death
Church of Ecce Homo, Ecco Homo Arch
Station 2 – Jesus bears the Cross
Church of the Flagellation and Chapel of the Condemnation
Station 3 – Jesus falls the first time
Polish Catholic Chapel
Station 4 – Jesus meets his mother
Armenian Catholic Church of our Lady of Sorrows
Station 5 – Simon of Cyrene bears the Cross
Chapel of Simon of Cyrene
Station 6 – A woman wipes Jesus’ face
Church of the Holy Face and Saint Veronica
Station 7 – Jesus falls the second time
Major Crossroad Junction and Franciscan Chapel
Station 8 – The women of Jerusalem weep over Jesus
Greek Orthodox Monastery of Saint Charalampus
Station 9 – Jesus falls the third time
Ethiopian Orthodox Monastery and Coptic Orthodox Monastery of Saint Anthony.
Entrance courtyard to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
As a result of the Status Quo, a ladder placed before 1757 remains in place to this day.
Station 10 – Jesus is stripped of his garments
Station 11 – Jesus is nailed to the cross
Station 12 – Jesus dies on the cross
Station 13 – Jesus is taken down from the cross
Stone of Anointing
Station 14 – Jesus is placed in the sepulchre
Other chapels in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Day TEN: November 9, 2022:
Church of the Visitation and The Magnificat
The Garden Tomb
FINAL Dinner, The Root
Day ELEVEN: November 10, 2022:
Our Tour Guide
Our Tour Leader
Boarded the bus at 2:15 am.
Took off at 6:15am.
Changed planes, took off at
Landed at 2:45pm
Drove home to Minneapolis!