Via Dolorosa Street + The Tomb

It is Friday.

Our last day in Jerusalem; in Israel. It has been major overload! An awesome experience! Highly recommend it! Never ever did we ever feel threatened in any way. An incredible country!

We were up and out early today because the streets would be closed to vehicle traffic due to Ramadan and Friday prayers.

It boggles my mind that the Muslims rule Jerusalem.

Our first stop was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre Via the Lion’s Gate.

We had to walk through a Muslin cemetery.

We entered the Old City through the Lion’s Gate, also known as Stephen’s Gate or the Black Panther Gate. It is called Stephen’s Gate because tradition has it Stephen was stoned near here.

Also if you look on top of the gate to the right you will see 2 Lions.

Some street shots:

We walked to the Church of St. Anne, built 1100 AD over the cave believed to be the home of Mary, mother of Jesus, parents.

Adjacent to this church are the ruins of an ancient pool about 60 feet below the present ground level. (I have to keep reminding myself that Jerusalem has been destroyed and crushed and destroyed and covered up so ruins are ruined and covered). This is possibly where Jesus would have healed a lame man.

There was a south pool and a north pool.

Cute Dorisann:

Tom across the ruins:

We walked along the Via Dolorosa stopping at a few places.

And ending up at the Damascus Gate. We walked through Muslim market. Some of me would have like to stopped and looked; but I wouldn’t want to give them my money. We stepped right along.

You can see the people walking across the bridge and the ruins of the ancient gate below.

We literally walked across the street to the Garden Tomb and Golgotha.

This site fulfills all biblical requirements as to the validity of the location where Jesus suffered, died, was buried and arose 3 days later.

Interesting facts.


From Golgotha we walked to the tomb. Our guide gave us history on the place and why it is believed this is the tomb. Another solemn experience.

The entrance

Tom and I with our pastor and his pastor father in front of the tomb.

Inside the tomb:

Where Jesus would have laid:

From the inside looking out:

Tom by a representation on the stone

After we all walked inside the tomb and had a time of reflection, we gathered for Communion. Pastor Health led an emotional service.

From here we found the bus and got out of the Old City before the roads were totally shut down. We drove the country side to Bethlehem.

After lunch we walked to the Church of the Nativity. Hot. Crowded.

Honestly, this was not a good experience. We had to wait over an hour;

it was extremely hot in the church;

and we were rushed through; did not get more than seconds to view the birthplace (over someone’s shoulder) and I almost missed the manger because of being pushed along.

This picture marks the place it is believed Jesus was born.

We were hot and ‘wet’. We drove back to the hotel to freshen up and pack our bags. We gathered for our last supper together. At 7:15 we boarded the bus for the airport at Tel Aviv. We left 2 behind who are flying back on Saturday.

Our flight left Tel Aviv at midnight. The 11 hour flight landed in Newark at 4:00 am. On to Norfolk and home by noon on Saturday.

Was a fast paced trip and quick. Wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

Israel – Thursday – Masada and the Dead Sea

Up and out early as it was going to be hot today – 112!!!! But dry heat yet 112 is hot regardless of dry or humidity!

We took off for Masada from Jerusalem. Jerusalem is lush and green and urban. We passed through a tunnel and it was yellow and hilly and desert! Amazing how quickly the topography changed!

See the camel!!!

This Judean Wilderness is where David was when he was on the run from Saul. John the Baptist preached around here and this is probably the wilderness Jesus was tempted in.

Masada was about an hour ride.

Excavation began in 1980. It is the site of the last stronghold held by the Jewish Zealots in 79 AD.

A model

A view from the top. We had to take a cable car to the top.

The ‘bridge’ the Romans built to breach the fortress.

A cistern

From Masada we went to the ancient ruins of Qumran, the discovery site of the Dead Sea scrolls. This is the hillside of the cave.

And this is zoomed in to the cave that contained the most scrolls.

These are the jars the scrolls were found in:

As we were traveling down the desert, we saw these wild gazelles AND I was able to get a picture!

We stopped to view ‘David’s Waterfall’. Yes, it is there – a stream falling at the left back in the green area.

we went to the Dead Sea and did a float! Was really fun! No pictures as we left everything valuable (phone) on the bus.

Was a really really hot day – 110!!! We were all exhausted and ready for showers when we got back to the hotel.

A nice dinner and a glass of wine on the deck.

Israel Day 5

Wednesday we walked through Jerusalem. It was hot; we saw tons; my brain went to overload and I have no idea where to begin to share what we saw.

Our bus dropped us off fairly close to the Temple Mount. We walked up the Southern steps; 215 feet wide containing 30 steps. We all walked to the top.

From the steps we walked around the Temple passed through the Wailing Wall plaza

We went down into the Western wall tunnels. The tunnel was along the Western wall but much deeper. We walked as long as they go.

We found prayers tucked away as we walked.

After our walk in the tunnel we went to an area newly opened to the public. Our guide has not been there.

We are amazed at the amount of excavation that has been done since 1967. Is difficult to imagine Jerusalem was mostly ruins in 1948.

From the museum we spent time at the Wailing Wall.

From the Wailing Wall we had quite an uphill walk to a restaurant for a typical Israeli lunch.

We then took a walk down to the Cardio maxima. Along the way we came to a piazza where there was the humongous menorah. This menorah is made of pure gold and will one day be placed in the New Temple.

Colleen and Dorisann

I don’t know if you can enlarge and read this about the cardo but this was a description that was at the beginning –

This is a mosaic from on the cardo – a real one.

A couple more pictures underground.

A vendor treat as we walk to the ruins of The City of David.

We went to some excavations of what they believe is the palace of King David.

It was impressive.

These are copies of coins found in the excavations.

There was also an incredible jewelry store that had jewelry designed after artifacts found.

From King David’s palace we went to the Garden of Gethsemane. Small but powerful. Old olive trees.

There was a beautiful church and a group that was having a service in the church sang beautiful songs.

We have a service in the private part of the Garden.

Pastors preparing

Then it was back to the hotel. Wonderful day!

Israel Day 4 – Jerusalem!

Our first stop took us up to the Zion Gate:

It is hard to know what to share as my words are inadequate. Therefore here are some pictures:

Excavations around the old city.

Then we went to the traditional site of the Upper Room and King David’s tomb.

The buildings are Byzantine or the 1200’s

The upper room was built on top of King David’s tomb.

This is not the real upper room just the area they think it probably was.

Entering the tomb of David. I didn’t feel comfortable taking a picture in there. It was small. The picture above shows where men enter in a different entrance than women.

From the Upper Room we walked to the traditional spot of Caiphus’ house.

These are ancient steps that possibly Jesus walked down on His way from the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane, then back up after being arrested.

We saw ruins built over what was a rabbi’s house. We enter what possibly could have been the holding area of Jesus the night He was arrested.

we visited the Holocaust museum. No pictures allowed.

From there we went to the Israeli Museum. There was an incredible model of Jerusalem right before the destruction of the Temple in 79AD.

Then there was a large building the had copies of the Dead Sea scrolls.

Today (Tuesday) was very hot – in the 90’s and tomorrow will be warmer. A little uncomfortable when standing in the sun.

It is the Muslim Ramadan. Because of that we may not get to visit the Dome of the Rock.

We passed by the Lion’s Gate:

wall built on bedrock. (Has some important significance. 😊)

our next stop was the Mt of Olives.

We had an excellent lesson on what we were looking at. The golden dome is the Dome of the Rock (Muslim). Very interesting.

And the was it! Early evening!

Israel Day 3

Monday. Our first stop was Peter’s Chapel; tradition establishes this as the site of the miracle where the resurrected Lord fed His Apostles breakfast after they filled their nets with fish. John 21:1-19.

We had a great ‘sermon’ from our guide as he shared his testimony. Was beautiful spending time on this shore.

We even put our feet in the water!

Here is the church built on the site.

Interesting fact is the Sea level is many meters higher than it has been due to the good winter Israel had; lots of rain and snow.

Our next stop was the ancient boat.

Found in1986 it is the oldest boat found. We watched an interesting film telling of its discovery before viewing the boat.

Next we stopped at the ancient city of Magdala.

1st century Synagogue discovered in 2009.

House in Magdala:

Then literally across the street was the restaurant we had lunch at. Here they served a filet of fish (vs head on) so I had fish from the Sea of Galilee.

After lunch we drove through the Jordan Valley and we could see Jordan. (BTW – they have a fence).

We drove along Mt Gilboa (II Samuel 1:17-27; I Samuel 31:1-6);

Then we arrived at Beth She’An, the entrance to the Valley of Jezeel.

Excavations have revealed 18 levels of occupation. The site was found in the 1980’s! Unbelievable that they have been able to uncover so much in so few years.

The OT city walls was location where the Philistines hung the bodies of Saul and his sons. The NT city, built by Romans, was the only city west of the Jordan River.

Steps of a temple.

Public bathroom

Public Baths

When we left we traveled toward Jerusalem going through Jordan.

We passed by the ruins of Jericho.

Arrived In Jerusalem! Had no idea it would be so emotional. Staying at Hotel Dan Jerusalem and it is wonderful! Have a view of the city from our balcony.

But I want to find a local grocery store and a local market. Doubt that will happen!

Israel Day 2

Our first stop today was the Mt of the Beatitudes.

This is the traditional site for the Sermon on the Mount. Our guide giving information as to why it is believed this is the place.

An Italian convent is built on the site. Tom in the gardens.

Matthew 5-7

After an hour ride with a great commentary we arrived at Caesarea Philippi.

Located at the foot of Mt. Hermon. We saw Canaanite shrines to Greek gods. This city was the northern limit of Jesus’ travels.

Ancient temple ruins.

Matthew 16:3; 17:1

Two cuties!

On the road again and we crossed the Jordan River.

Our next stop – and it is not noon yet – was Capernaum. This was the center of Jesus’ ministry His last 12-18 months. He preformed more miracles here then anywhere. We only see ruins because it was destroyed just like Jesus said it would be.

Probably shops or houses.

Front of a 4th century synagogue.

Inside that synagogue.

Next to the ancient synagogue was a modern Catholic Church built over the site where tradition says was the house the men lowered their friend in through the roof. You can see ruins under the church.

This picture is inside the church. The glass floor is over that house.

Matthew 4:13-17; 18-22; 9:9-13; 8:5,14; Luke 4:31-33

Then it was lunch at a restaurant on the Sea of Galilee. We didn’t have Asian food as the name suggests! Fish from the Sea if you are a fish eater otherwise chicken.

Then we had a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee! An absolutely incredible experience.

13-14 miles long, 7-8 miles wide; 686 feet below sea level. Windy. No words to describe being on that body of water!

We drove along the Israel/Lebanon border. It was there; I was seeing it; but totally not comprehending the significance of what I was seeing. Also drove along the Golan Heights.

Then we went to the Jordan River and 19 of our group were baptized in the river.

Tomorrow we leave Tiberius, do some more sightseeing in this area before heading to Jerusalem.

Side note: Kay Arthur is staying in our hotel. We had a quick hello with her this evening! Bonus!

Israel – Day 1

We were up early – not that was a problem as most of us were awake! We had an incredible breakfast buffet!

We were on the road by 7:30 heading for Caesarea, driving along the Mediterranean.

Our first stop was Caesarea. Herod the Great began building this seaport city in 22 AD. We went into the theater; saw the ruins of a palace (now submerged in the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean, and the hippodrome were chariot races were run.


Where the palace used to be.

Copy of an ancient stone from mentioning Pontius Pilot. Hope we get to go to the museum in Jerusalem where the ‘real’ one is!!!!

Ancient public bathroom.

with Pastor Kelly in front of our bus.

(Acts 8:40; 21:8-9; Acts 10; 9:30; 23:33-26:32)

We drove to the edge of the Mediterranean and took pictures by a Roman aqueduct.

From Caesarea, we drove through the Plain of Sharon (I Chronicles 27:25,29) a strip of land 8-12 miles wide and 30 miles long located between the mountains of Carmel and the Mediterranean Sea. The road (highway) we traveled was an ancient trade route.

We stopped at Mt Carmel were we had a fantastic view of the Valley of Jezrell. This is where it is thought Elijah had his fiery confrontation with the false prophets of Baal, but since everything was burned . . . Below we could see the Brook Kishon (I Kings 18:40).

Pastor Heath reading scripture in the garden on Mt Carmel.

Beautiful valley that used to be barren.

Joshua 19:17-23; Judges 4-5 & 7; I Kings 18:46

From Mt Carmel we headed to Megiddo. It is the Sabbath. We had a typical Sabbath lunch of falafel in pitas with many vegetables to top the falafel-balls off with. Was different yet tasty. I don’t think a picky eater would fair good here. I came with the thoughts that I was going to try different things and probably stick with mostly vegetables. (And desserts! 😊)

After our lunch we visited the ruins of nearly 4000 years ago. Megiddo is better known for prophecy in Revelation 16:16 – Armageddon. We looked on the vast plain where the final battle will be fought.

We also descended into a water system that dates back to 2800 BC!

Joshua 12:7; 17:11; II Kong’s 9:15,19; 9:27

Our hotel is right on the Sea of Galilee for 2 nights.

Israel – Travel Day

We are heading out on a new adventure. Not only are we going somewhere we have never been before, we are on a tour; something we haven’t done before! Our trip to Israel is put together by our church. A small group – 32. Not all are from our church and we don’t know many who are.

Those flying from Norfolk, gathered at the airport around 3 this afternoon.

Our flight for Newark left at 5:30. Our flight to Tel Aviv leaves Newark at 11:00 pm! Israel is 7 hours ahead of us on the east coast.

First indication that security is tight. Our gate is closed into the waiting area.

Our 10 hour flight was uneventful. We arrived in Tel-Aviv at 4:15 pm.

Customs was uneventful. We met up easily with our guide and bus driver.

One thing I had not thought of or read was everything in Israel is new since 1948 – the highways, buildings, construction all over.

The hotel is an hour north of Tel-Aviv in Netanya on the Mediterranean. Beautiful hotel.

Our view:

A short time in our room before an incredible buffet dinner. I took a spoonful of most everything. Going to be open minded. This is one of 3 stations.

It was the beginning of the Sabbath and there were prayers being said and candles lit.

How often do you see shelters in hotels?

Tomorrow will begin at 5:45, boarding the bus at 7:30. Will be a long day

Day 27 & 28 – Rome

We arrived in Rome early afternoon on Saturday. After checking in to our hotel and getting a little lunch, we took off for our typical walk:

The Diocletian Baths; American Embassy; top of Spanish Steps; then down them and to the left off to the Trevi Fountain. After a gelato, we hit a couple of churches before eating supper at the original Peroni brewery.

Trevi Fountain

A church

Sunday, we did our typical week to Santa Maria Majorie; St Peter in Chains; St John’s Latern; lunch then on to the colosseum and Roman Forum. Just a semi- leisure walk.

At 3:30 we had The Most Fantastic Tour of Nero’s palace. Built in the 1st century, it was covered up after his death and not discovered until the 1700s. It s an active excavation and tours are only during the weekends. I think we were told only 200 people a day are allowed in.

Exhausted travelers waiting for our tour:

Our tour begins:

We have to wear hard hats:

The floor plan:

Some inside pics:

At one point we sat and put on video goggles were we saw a video that showed how the palace looked when it was discovered; how the excavation progressed and in the end, what the palace looked like originally. It was incredible!

Frescos on the high walls:

Original mosaic floor:

A hallway:

The octagon room:

We were all very impressed!

A late night dinner.

Day 26 – Last Day in Sorrento

A chilly morning; a lazy morning. Laundry on the line; suitcases out to pack.

We did last minute shopping, picking up those things we might want to get but checking everything out.

We worked our way down to Marina Grande for lunch.

Was a beautiful day to eat by the water. The winds were gone.

Our lunch:

Tom had pasta with shrimp and I had calamari. We shared a tomato salad with the wonderful local tomatoes.

Our group:

We finished the afternoon packing and getting ready to leave Sorrento.

After lunch we picked up tons of seaglass!!!

What am I going to do with it???

Tomorrow is travel day.