Mon. May 13, 2019 - Our Anniversary!
We ate a quick breakfast at our hotel in Jerusalem and then headed up to the temple mount. We walked around and saw where the temple would be built in the future and saw the Muslim Dome of the Rock. Men and women are not allowed to touch here, so we are not touching.
Because it is a Palestine controlled area our guide Eli could not come to Bethlehem with us so we had a new guide come aboard our tour bus, Sana, who led us through the Church of the Nativity. It was so crowded and we had to wait in line for about 45 minutes, which she said was pretty good, just to see the cave, which now looks nothing like a cave since it is adorned in marble and jewels and all things gaudy, where they think Jesus was born.
You have to go down these stairs set in a semi-circle which leads to a one-person tunnel that your have to duck to go through and it opens up into the tiny area where the birthplace, now red-curtained, marble, metal star, and hanging lanterns and opposite supposedly the manger in which Mary laid Jesus. But a group of about 10 Russian Catholics were having a service in there and wouldn't let anyone see it.
This was about the only cave looking party of the whole thing above the service happening in the manger area.
Right outside the church building are these stairs leading down to where St. Jerome translated the Bible, they are blocked off by metal bars, but this is us next to them .
She next took us to the Boaz and Ruth fields to see some cool caves where the shepherds would have been tending their sheep. This was a very cool part because the other tour groups were just standing at the touristy part above and she led us down past the fences and through gates into this cave she had found as a schoolgirl when the nuns would take the girls on field trips and she would wander off. After everyone left the cave I found a cool tunnel that went deep into the hill that I followed for a while until Tyler made me come back to the group. The bad thing about touring with a group is that you don't just get to do what you want, or you mess up everyone else's timeline. And we had a lot packed into our trip.
However, I could've stayed at cave land longer and skipped the next museums. We had lunch at the Shrine of the Book Museum where we saw the real Dead Sea Scrolls or at least part of them. I only got one-tenth of the way through the Holocaust Museum. But I did get a good pic with our tour guide, Eli, without knowing it at the Friends of Zion Museum, a technologically advanced center where we stood under domes which lit up and told the stories of different people who helped the Jewish people after WWII.
At dinner, we were given an anniversary cake and card signed by our tour mates. Then we found out we couldn't go in the spa anymore only pastor Jim and Jaci could because they were the organizers, but Jer and the Knacks got in somehow. The staff was notably not happy with us for asking why we couldn't use the spa and wouldn't even serve us drinks in the lobby. We talked for a while and then went to bed.