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Journey through Greece and Turkey, following in the footsteps of St. Paul.

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10-10-18 To the Golan Heights

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The morning was beautiful to those who woke up early enough to see the glorious sunrise over the sea.

 Our first stop was the Mount of Beatitudes. The grassy floor with the stone pathways made a truly tranquil place to stop and read at. Exploring the landscape we could not help but catch another glance a the shining blue sea.

We couldn’t believe the sea of buses we had to plow our way thru to find ours.  We heard the other day there were 70 buses at one time trying to fit into the parking lots and lining the streets later today.  It seems like Isaiah 2:2 is being fulfilled where it says “…all the nations shall flow to it…”

Our next stop was Dan where Jeroboam built the alter to the Golden Calf. The journey up to it was magnificent as the natural park was very well taken care of and clear running water made you want to take a refreshing drink on the spot. I could feel the smooth,solid, green leaves brushing against my arm and each area had something unique to it.

Next was the Abraham Gate that at one time was possibly the gate that Abraham entered to rescue Lot in Genesis 14. Seeing the sudden change in landscape was fascinating as it went slowly from tranquil and flushing green to a rocky and tan sand.

Our next stop was to the marvelous Banyas Falls. As we trecked down to the waterfall we could hear and feel it from the top all the way to the bottom. It was like hearing a marching army off in the distance and the breeze felt like it was coming from an air conditioner. We had a glimpse from time to time of the falls through the thick jungle like trees. The water flowing beside us was giving us a hopeful look at what smooth blue water we were going to see ahead.  The sight when we finally arrived was like nothing i had ever seen before, a pure and almost angelic white waterfall poured into a smooth pool of blue.

After lunch in a Druze Village our next stop was The Valley of Tears where we learned about the war of 1972. We could see off in the distance the border between Israel and Syria.  The tanks on the hill looked like they were still guarding the border like hallow sentinels. The sun was hot but the temperature was low and science as we all took the battlefield in fell over us but we spoke up and discussed and took photos of the closer tanks.

Our last stop was the home of Mary of Magdala which has just recently opened to the public. We saw the ruins of the oldest synagogue ever dug up dating back to the time of Jesus. We also got to see a beautiful new church they had built there. The art decorating the walls were meaningful to so many of us and the design was incredibly creative. Our great guide Father Kelly gave us great information,explanations and moving words.

 

 

 

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10-9-18 Out with the Sand and in with the Green

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We depart from our Hotel again but with passports and luggage in hand on our way to the border. The drive was long and full of the last sights to see. Jordan treated us will mountain high views of the land full of green off in the distance with plain desert standing in front.  At the border we said goodbye to our wonderful guide Omar and hello to our new guide Doran.

We were ecstatic to see the holy land and all she has to offer. Immediately we noticed the difference of landscapes. From trash ridden deserts to fields of vegetation and care. We met with our new five companions at Bet she’an and explored the ancient and destroyed roman city. It was fair to say the elements were not merciful to this historic place but we were still able to see so much of the old city. The old theater were debates took place and even the bathrooms held up quite well, so well that we could imagine ourselfs there back when the streets were bustling with Romans.

After a great pizza we ran back onto the bus and hustled to the Sea of Galilee. Not many sights we have seen so far could match the beauty and relevance of the sea. The boat ride we took put a cool refreshing breeze on our backs matched with the warmth of the sun. Daniel Carmel sang to us  and then we all sang together and had a peaceful time out on the smooth water.

After returning we went inside the ancient boat museum and saw the 2000 year old wonder. We learned about how the boat was taken from the sea and how it has been preserved for all this time.

We finally rested in our new hotel and waited with twitching anxiety for our next day and what treasures it would hold.

Categories: Israel 2018

10-8-18 A Long ride through the Mountains

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It was almost hard to leave the hotel in the morning but hearing that we were going to the Citadel and the ruined Temple of Hercules made the scrambled eggs and beef bacon seem like a tasty memory of yesterday.

Yet again our old friend the boiling sun was the first one waiting for us out the door wanting to greet us with its toasty heat but luckily the cool air of the bus saved us for the drive up. Stepping outside it felt great to walk on solid stone (rather than shifting sands) as we rushed out of the bus to the first sight, the time lines of the citadel.

Omar started us off slow, taking us up the path and detailing each significant ruin such as the water systems

and the theater far off in the distance. But almost no sight could match the view of the whole city and the large flag waving in the distance.  There seems to be a competition in Arab countries to see who can fly the bigger flag.

As we traverse the hot and solid dirt we were taken to an ancient church that stood inside the mighty Citadel and just across a ruined mosque.

It was wondrous to see our magnificent hotel off in the distance along with some unique living statues. We quickly rushed back onto the bus for the sweet, cooling air conditioning and excitement for our next stop Mount Nebo

Arriving at a perfect time with little traffic we embraced the breezy mountain air. First sight was the memorial to Moses and the breath stealing landscape out to the holy land.

Off in the distance we could spot the Dead Sea and very far off in the distance the much anticipated city of Jerusalem. Inside the church we all gazed in science at the expertly crafted mosaics lacing the floors and walls. The alter made you wish you could stay and listen to someone speak and hear their voice be powerfully amplified by the church and its seemingly humble design.

Afterwards we stopped for lunch at a restaurant with another great view of the plains and deserts of Jordan.

Unfortunately the last stop was the Greek orthodox church Madaba where after a brief history and wonderful explanation of the sight we were about to whiteness and none of the fallowing disappointed.  The sight of mosaic depicting Jerusalem and all the wonderful work inside the church made the end of our journey seem too soon.

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Of course we couldn’t leave Jordan without a stop at the Mosaic Factory

 

Categories: Amman Jordan 2018

10-7-18 Good Morning Petra!

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Today we woke up to the bright hot sun waiting to beat down on our necks as we travel through beautiful and sandy Petra.

Our wonderful guide Omar gave us a helpful reminder “walking into Petra is one thing, but good luck walking out” he was right in multiple senses. The sight of the treasury was unbelievable and seemed like the kind of thing you would see on a movie studio with Harrison Ford cracking a whip left and right.

Now the walk back up from the monastery was a hike that made you want to pay for a camel ride back to the top no matter the price.

After a quick scare of loosing one of our group, a moment of relief and clear ice bottled water we went out for lunch and left for Amman (making a quick stop at Moses springs)

Finally we landed at our hotel at the amazing La royal resting, waiting for another exiting day.

 

Categories: Amman Jordan 2018

10-5 & 6-18 Goodbye Egypt hello Jordan

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  October 5 – One more temple

After leaving our ship and packing up our luggage onto the bus we took a boat ride to see the Temple of Philae.  This is reputed to be the burial ground of the god Osiris, god of the underground who often appears with a green face.

We then returned to Cairo for our last night in Egypt.  We said goodbye to those flying home or onto Kenya.

October 6 was a travel day.  We headed to the airport in Cairo ad flew to Amman Jordan to meet up with our guide, Omar and the 5 who flew in from the states.  A good portion of the day was spent at the airport looking for lost luggage.  We finally left without it and drove the 3 hours to the Movenpick Petra.

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10-4-18 Aswan Dam and Abu Simbel

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October 4, 2018 – Aswan Dam and Abu Simbel

Today we visited the granite quarries where Egyptian obelisks were mined.

Next was one of the wonders of the modern world – the Aswan Dam.  Funded by the USSR in the 1960’s, impending flooding of ancient structures under what would become Lake Nasser resulted in one of the engineering feats of modern time.

Then on to the Aswan airport to fly to Abu Simbel.  This magnificent structure, built by Ramses II around 1250 BC, was rescued from the impending flooding.  It had originally been carved out of a mountain. It was cut into pieces and moved about 300 meters to it’s present location.

We flew back to Aswan and went on a felucca, a traditional Nile saleboat for a cruise past the Aga Khan Mausoleum to Kitchener’s Island.

We then returned to the boat and spent our last night on the boat

 

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10-3-18 Temples, temples and more temples

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October 3 – Temples, Temples and more Temples

After breakfast we were picked up at the dock by horse drawn carriages to visit the Temple of Horus.  It was built between 237 and 57 BC and reveals the god depicted as a falcon. Horus was considered to be the god of the sky ad the god of war,

We returned to our ship and set sail for Kom Ombo.  There we viewed the temples dedicated to Apollo, Isis and Sobek, the crocodile headed god.  The architecture is imposing and some of the original color, although over 2000 years old, is still observable on the columns.  We returned to the ship for dinner and our overnight sail to Aswan.

 

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10-2-18 – Valley of the Kings

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October 2 – Visit to the Valley of the Kings

After breakfast we left the ship to visit the Valley of the Kings where the pharaohs were entombed after pyramids  were no longer erected.

The temple of Queen Hatsheput is an example of more classical and less gargantuan architecture.  Inside the temple are a series of reliefs telling the story of the divine birth of a female pharaoh.

After visiting the enormous structures of the Colossi of Memnon, erected about 3400 years ago,

 

We then returned to our boat for lunch.  We set sail for Esna to cross the lock and sail to Edfu.

 

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10-1-18 Flight to Luxor

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October 1 – Flight to Luxor

This morning after breakfast we headed to the airport for our flight to Luxor.

After our 1 hour flight we visited the Temple of Karnak

Then onto the Luxor Museum where I had hoped to see the head of the Golden Calf only to find out they had moved it to the new Museum that will not open for another couple of years. However, it was still a nice visit.

Next we checked onto our river boat the Royal Escadora for lunch and relaxation

before heading to the Luxor Temple in the evening.

 

 

 

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9-30-18 Holy sites

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September 30 – The day of Holy Sites

Today we concentrated on Old Cairo first visiting the Coptic Church of St Sergis where by tradition the Holy Family and Jesus sought shelter during their flight into Egypt

Next was the Hanging Church

Visiting the Alabaster Mosque was interesting

We ended our day with a visit to the Bazaar to bye spices or relax

I promise I didn't inhale!!

I promise I didn’t inhale

Now back to the hotel to pack and get ready for our next adventure

 

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