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Holy Land Tour 2019 (Day 9-10)   Leave a comment

Here are clips I took from the last days of our vacation.

Day 9:
This day was spent walking down the valley and the ancient road to the ancient city of Petra, a city of the Nabataean Kingdom inhabited by the Arabs in ancient times. It’s a 3 km hike down. Along the way we saw ancient carvings on the sandstone rock walls and statues, eroded through time and restored for tourism. For those who don’t want to walk down or up the entrance, they have horse carriages. We walked all the way down. We finally reached The Treasury (Al-Khazneh). It’s believed to be the mausoleum of the Nabataean King Aretas IV in the 1st century AD. Further inside are other tombs, the Monastery (Ad Deir), and a massive Roman theatre, positioned so as to bring the greatest number of tombs within view.

IMG_2303The Treasury (Al-Khazneh) in the ancient city of Petra

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A panoramic view of the tombs surrounding the mountains in the ancient city of Petra

After Petra was a 5+ hour drive on the King’s Highway to Amman, Jordan.

Day 10:

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A view of the intact Oval Plaza in the Roman Ruins of Jerash

We started the day at the Roman Ruins of Jerash. Called the Pompeii of the East, Jerash’s archeological site house one of the most preserved Roman ruins in the world. Still intact is Hadrian’s Arch, built in 129 AD to honor the visiting of Emperor Hadrian. From the entrance is the hippodrome. Further in the back is the South Theater, Temple of Artemis and of Zeus, the Oval Plaza, a large Nymphaeum fed by an aqueduct, the Tetrapylon of Jerash, and many more Roman architectures preserved and restored.

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The long colonnaded street (The Cardo)

Our last stops where Ajloun Castle in Ajloun and Our Lady of the Mount Church in Anjara, which houses the cave where Mary, Jesus, and his disciples stopped and rested as they traveled between Jerusalem and Galilee.

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Ajloun Castle

We went back to our hotel for an early dinner and rested for a bit before we headed to the airport for an early morning flight at 1:00AM.

I’m done.

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Holy Land Tour 2019 (Day 7-8)   Leave a comment

Here are clips I took from day 7 and 8 of our vacation.

Day 7:
Our last day in Israel, we took this optional excursion to Masada Fortress and the Dead Sea. First stop is the Masada National Park in the Southern District. We took the cable car up the plateau where Masada Fortress is located. We didn’t explore as much because it was really hot, but we got see a lot.

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IMG_2134View at the top of Masada Fortress

Included in our excursion is Qumran National Park, where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. Teen shepherds were trying to find their goat and threw rocks in a cave when they heard something shatter. When they went inside, they found these jars which held what is now known as the Dead Sea scrolls.

IMG_2171Qumran cave where they found first Dead Sea Scrolls

Lastly, we went to Biankini Dead Sea Resort. I didn’t record too many videos. Just pictures.

IMG_2208Jordan river at Bethany (Al-Maghtas, Jordan)

Day 8:
After the border security check crossing Jordan from Israel, we went to Bethany Beyond the Jordan, what is widely recognized as the actual location where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. It was extremely hot and dry. Our guide even said this is not normal weather.

IMG_2218View from Mount Nebo, where Moses was granted view of the Promised Land before he died

After lunch, we went to Mount Nebo, where Moses was shown the Promised Land before he died. It’s believed to be Moses’ burial site, but the exact location is unknown. Shortly was a visit to St. George’s Mosaic Map Church. The mosaic map is an ancient map still used by historians and the government to this day to settle disputes and land matters of where the borders of the entire region.

IMG_2259View of Petra at night from Petra Guest House

Then we went back to our bus to drive 3 hours towards Petra, Jordan on the King’s Highway. We arrived at night.

To be continued…

Holy Land Tour 2019 (Day 5-6)   Leave a comment

Here are clips I took from day 5 and 6 of our vacation.

Day 5:
It’s the most relaxing day in our trip and the last day in Nazareth. Our tour director was really nice. She rearranged our itinerary to fit the time of day, traffic, and whether there are a lot of tourists in our destination. Because of that, we were able to go to places outside our itinerary. After buying ice cream for all of us, we went to Jericho and saw the Mt. of Temptation. There were kids giving camel rides to tourists for a fee. Brief stop to see the mountain, buy dried dates from the local shop and then headed out. We also saw the oldest Sycamore tree, believed to be Zacchaeus’s tree.

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Our next stop was in Palestine, so we crossed the Israel-Palestine border wall to get to Bethlehem. The Church of Nativity is built on the cave where Joseph and Mary stayed and where Jesus was born. Our main goal is to see the grotto of the nativity where Jesus was born, marked by a 14-point star and the manger across from it. Usually, there would be a long line here with all the tourists, but we got lucky and only waited about 30 minutes in line. After that, we headed to our hotel in Jerusalem.

Day 6:

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This was a full day. We went to the observation point at Mt. of Olives to see the Old City of Jerusalem. Afterwards, we went inside the Old City starting with the Muslim Quarter to see Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount. We walked the streets towards the Jewish Quarter for the Wailing Wall (the Western Wall). Walked the streets again towards the Christian Quarter to walk the Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross) where Jesus carried the cross to Calvary (Golgotha) for the Crucifixion.

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We started at the 1st Station of the Cross in Via Dolorosa all the way to the 8th station of the cross. The 9th Station is inside a church and they don’t allow tourists inside. The last 5 stations are inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was our next destination after lunch. Saw the rock on Calvary encased in glass, the Stone of the Anointing, the tomb of Jesus, the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea and the prison of Jesus inside. Heading to our bus, we saw the Tower of David.

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We went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed before he was arrested. Went inside the Church of Gethsemane as well. Our last stop for the day is at Mt. Zion to see the Last Supper Room and King David’s Tomb.

To be continued…

Holy Land Tour 2019 (Day 3-4)   Leave a comment

Here are clips I took from day 3 and 4 of our vacation.

Day 3:
Still in Nazareth. First thing after breakfast, we went to St. Joseph’s Church. It’s built over the carpentry workshop of Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary. The cave quarters below the church are were the holy family lived and stayed at. We attended mass in the church above after (it’s a Sunday).

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Heading down the mountain from Nazareth, our next stop was Beit She’an National Park. This archeological site is home to one of the oldest cities in Israel, dating back to the late Neolithic/early Chalcolithic periods (6,000-5,000 BCE). Occupation and settlements continued through the Bronze Age (Egyptian period), Iron Age (time of the Philistines and King David and Solomon), Hellenistic and Roman periods, Byzantine, Early Muslim, Crusader, Mamluk, Ottoman, British Mandate, and today. The excavation site contained mostly remnants of Roman period architecture, but archeologists also unearthed evidence of Greek architecture replaced or covered up with Roman architecture. A 7-year-old boy once found a 3,400-year-old figurine on a hiking trip after accidentally kicking it on the ground.

After lunch, we stopped by Cana Wedding Church (the site of Jesus’ first miracle turning water into wine) and saw the stone wine jars from the excavation site under. My parents, aunt and uncle, and other married couple in our tour group scheduled to renew their wedding vows the next day.

Day 4:
This was the most taxing day of the our trip so far, going through several locations around the Sea of Galilee. We went back to Cana Wedding Church for the vow renewal early morning. Took pictures of my parents and aunt and uncle.

Next stop was the Church of the Multiplication (of loaves and fish) at Tabgha. The church rests on the site of two earlier churches from the Byzantine period. In the church are mosaics (old and new).

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Next was Yigal Allon Center (The “Jesus boat” Museum), where most of the tour group went on a boat ride in the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias). I went down the pier and just took pictures and videos. Inside the center is the Museum of Man, which was open to the public. for lunch, we went to St. Peter’s Restaurant where they served St. Peter’s fish (Tilapia).

After lunch, we went to Magdala, the hometown of Mary Magdalene. The dig site contains an ancient synagogue previously unknown. Towards the back of Magdala is Duc in Altum church, a church dedicated to the women who followed and worshipped Jesus and women around the world from different times.

Next is Capernaum, the town of Jesus. We visited St. Peter’s Church and ruins of an ancient synagogue. Following this was our stop at Mount of Beatitudes (Jesus’ sermon on the mount).

Finally, we went to Yardenit Baptismal site on the Jordan River. This was our last location for the day. Some on our tour group got baptised by an Acolyte member from our group. I didn’t get baptized, but I just waded in the river.

To be continued…

Holy Land Tour 2019 (Day 1-2)   Leave a comment

I joined my parents and aunt and uncle for vacation to Israel and Jordan on a Holy Land Tour package this past May. It was an uplifting experience, one I could never forget.

Here are clips I took from day 1 and 2 of our vacation.

Day 1:
Two flights: To Paris, then Tel Aviv. Since we took a later flight, we arrived at Tel Aviv in the afternoon. Stayed at Cinema Hotel, which has a nice rooftop view of Dizengoff Square. We didn’t get to explore much, but we walked to Frishman Beach and the boardwalk.

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Day 2:
Early morning breakfast and then drove to Old Jaffa (Old City). It’s an ancient port city in Israel and famous for biblical stories of Jonah, Solomon, Saint Peter, and mythological stories of Andromeda and Perseus. Saw the house of Simon the Tanner.

Next stop is Caesarea National Park. The city and harbour were built by Herod the Great with Roman architectural influences. This was Herod’s Rome away from Rome. Surviving ruins are the amphitheater, what’s left of Herod’s palace (reclaimed by the sea), the hippodrome, what’s left of the harbour, arches, and moat structure surrounding the city. Next was a brief stop to Aqueduct beach (Arches beach), with what’s left of an ancient aqueduct running down the coast used to bring water to Caesarea. This aqueduct is 10km away from Caesarea. Every half kilometer, the aqueduct was lowered 2 cm and let gravity do it’s action.

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Had lunch at Megiddo National Park before exploring the excavation site. The ruins now form a tel (a mound) and is called Tel Megiddo. The site has historical and biblical significance as the prophesized location of a gathering of armies for a battle during the end times. The area in Ancient Greek is called Harmagedon, or Armageddon. The excavation has unearthed 26 layers of ruins, indicating a long period of settlement (founded c. 7000 BCE, abandoned 586 BCE). You can see remains of King Solomon’s gate. Other ruins include a grain pit, stables, an ancient water tunnel 300 ft deep, leading to a spring. The tour group walked down 200 steps to the water tunnel, then up another 70+ steps out of it.

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We ended our tour for the day at Nazareth and visited the Church of the Annunciation. The Church was built on top of the Grotto of the Virgin Mary, Mary’s childhood home. Underneath church, we saw the grotto where the angel Gabriel appeared before Mary. Our hotel was only a few kilometers from the church.

To be continued…