Jordan and Israel 2015

2015-11-06

Nazareth, Zippori, and Caesarea: Long Day’s Journey into Night

Our feelings were mixed as we checked out of the Royal Plaza Hotel Tiberias and loaded up the bus this morning: it was exciting to think about another full day of educational and edifying sightseeing, but lurking in the back of our minds was the awful realization that the next...

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2015-11-05

Around the Sea of Galilee

Visibility was not good yesterday because wind kept roiling up the dust, and last night we were concerned that the blustery weather might prevent us from going out on the Sea of Galilee this morning. Although we saw an overcast sky when we pushed the curtains of our hotel room...

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2015-11-04

Bet She’an, Megiddo and Yardenit: Centuries of Conquest

It probably has become apparent that this tour has not left us much downtime. Even last night’s dip in the hotel pool was circumscribed by our late afternoon arrival and a firm dinner time. Call time most mornings has been around 8:00 a.m., and we are expected to be on...

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2015-11-03

Masada, Qumran and the Dead Sea: Wandering in the Wilderness

This morning when we left the Golden Walls Hotel, we loaded all our bags onto the bus and said farewell to Jerusalem. Today's first destination was Masada, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name is derived from the Hebrew word for fortress, and that's what this is: a massive fortification...

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2015-11-02

Another Day of Ups and Downs in Jerusalem

  This morning we returned to the Temple Mount yet again, but this time, instead of skirting around the sides or burrowing underneath, we climbed a wooden ramp to the top. Before approaching the Muslim shrines that dominate it today, however, we sat in an alcove where the temple's covered...

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2015-11-01

Layers of Jerusalem

Jerusalem is a city of layers. Throughout its history, the city has been conquered, more or less destroyed, and then rebuilt at least seventeen times. As at Jericho, not only does this present archaeologists with the challenge of deciphering which layer they dealing with at any given location, but it...

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2015-10-31

Shabbat in Jerusalem: Not the Witches’ Sabbath

Before granting approval for Brigham Young University to build its Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies in the 1980s, the Israeli government stipulated that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who came here to study must refrain from any proselytizing. At the same time, the government...

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2015-10-30

Jerusalem, Jericho, and Bethany: A Tunnel, a Road, a Tomb, and a Wall

We had been warned about the hike through Hezekiah’s Tunnel: Wear shorts. Wear water shoes. Wear a headlamp. If you tend to get claustrophobic, plan to stay with the bus driver and meet us at the other end. But hey, we'd already slogged through mud and encountered thigh-high water in...

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2015-10-29

Crossing the River Jordan

A typical Jordanian and Israeli breakfast buffet consists of a number of items catering to American and other western peoples: juice (often canned and therefore disappointing), cereal (usually unsweetened) and milk, roasted potatoes, steamed tomatoes, baked beans, maybe some sauteed mushrooms, “beef sausage” (what we would call hot dogs), and...

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2015-10-28

Wadi Rum: Bedouins on Mars

Zaid tried to give us more information about his native country as we drove from Petra to Wadi Rum this afternoon, but finally gave up when he realized that most of his audience was asleep. We didn’t feel too bad about closing our eyes because there wasn’t much to see...

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2015-10-28

Petra, Part 2: Indiana Jones and the Tomb of the Golden Curse

Jim had arranged for breakfast to be served half an hour early this morning so that the twenty of us who chose to follow him on a hike up to Petra’s “high place” to see the sunrise would not have to do so on empty stomachs. However, the evening staff...

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2015-10-27

Petra, Part 1: Discovering the Lost City

Today we visited Petra, capital city of the Nabataeans, an ancient people who roamed the Middle East for hundreds of years before settling in the Shara mountains east of the Dead Sea in the fourth century BC. They thrived as traders for several centuries, avoiding conquest by every other power...

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2015-10-26

Amman, Mount Nebo, and Madaba

We thought we would be angry when the scheduled wake up call came at 6:30 this morning. It turned out that we were awake before 6. And as it turned out, we needed the extra time and could have used several more minutes because we were the last ones on...

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2015-10-25

Departure Day(s)

The centerpiece of the first few days of our trip is a visit to Petra, a city in what is now southern Jordan that was literally carved out of solid rock by the Nabataeans about two thousand years ago. The place was abandoned after a massive earthquake in 749 AD...

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2015-10-23

“Why are you going to Israel?”

Last week, when Nancy told her Sunday School class (ages 16-18) that they would have a substitute teacher for the next two weeks because she was going to Israel, one of her students came up afterward and asked, “Why are you going to Israel?” The girl’s emphasis on the first...

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