THE HOLY LAND - ISRAEL/PALESTINE:
Day 12: Thurs, Sept. 12 - Jericho - St. George's Monastery
We proceed to the Allenby Bridge, also known as the King Hussein Bridge. After finishing border proceedings we again rejoin our bus and drive to Jericho, considered by many to be the oldest city in the world, to view the traditional mountain of the temptation of Jesus. Ascending the Roman road along Wadi Qilt, we stop for a look at St. George’s Monastery, then drive back to the main Jericho/Jerusalem highway, passing by the Good Samaritan inn. Finally, atop Mt. Scopus, we behold the majestic Jerusalem where we will have dinner and overnight at the Hotel Inbal Jerusalem.
Day 13: Fri, Sept. 13 - Mt. of Olives - Old City Jerusalem - Mt. Zion - Shepherds' Fields - Bethlehem
We begin the day with an orientation to Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives. Then following the traditional Palm Sunday route, after viewing Jerusalem’s Golden Gate, we walk downhill to the Garden of Gethsemane. We then drive to Mt. Zion for the best view of the city of Jerusalem from the west. Driving south, we visit Solomon’s Pools, Jerusalem’s main source of water for thousands of years. After stopping in Beit Sahour for a visit to Shepherds’ Fields, where the shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks at the birth of Jesus, we conclude the day with a visit to Bethlehem, walking through its alleys and markets to the Church of the Holy Nativity. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Inbal Jerusalem.
Day 14: Sat, Sept. 14 - Jerusalem: Western Wall, Dead Sea Scrolls - Israel Museum
Begin with a visit to the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site. Then visit the Western Wall tunnel which enables us to examine the length of the outer Herodian Temple wall, mostly preserved in mint condition, including two stone blocks each weighing about 600 tons. At the Temple Institute we examine the ruins near the south side of the Temple complex, including steps where certainly Jesus and the disciples walked. In the afternoon drive to the Shrine of the Book, housing the Dead Sea Scrolls, and also visit the Israel Museum. We conclude the day with a visit to a model of Jerusalem, representing how the city looked around AD 66 when the Jews revolted against Rome. The revolt resulted in destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by Titus in 70 AD. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Inbal Jerusalem.
Day 15: Sun, Sept. 15 - Jerusalem: Pools of Bethesda - St. Anne's Church - Via Dolorosa - Holy Sepulchre Church - Garden Tomb
Walking toward the Old City, we will meet our bus and board it for a transfer to St. Stephen’s Gate (the Gate of the Sheep). Just inside the gate find the Pools of Bethesda as well as St. Anne’s Church, preserved from the Crusader period, and with perfect acoustics. We then follow the Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) back as far as the Holy Sepulcher (Church of the Resurrection to locals), ultimately reaching the grounds of the Garden Tomb. We will then return to the hotel in the late afternoon. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Inbal Jerusalem.
Day 16: Mon, Sept. 16 - Qumran - Masada - Dead Sea
We transfer to the Dung Gate and walk by the Western Wall. Ascend to the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, where the Temple once stood. Return to the bus and drive through the Judean Desert to Qumran. Here view Cave 4, which contained the greatest quantity of Dead Sea Scrolls. Continuing south to Masada, take the cable car to the top, visiting Herod’s mountain bunker and the last stronghold of the Jewish revolt against Rome (66-73 AD). We conclude the day with a float in the Dead Sea, then return to Jerusalem. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Inbal Jerusalem.
Day 17: Tues, Sept. 17 - Jacob's Well - Mt. Gerizim - Megiddo - Tel Beit Shean
We drive north to Nablous (Shechem), passing Bethel on the way. Nablous is one of the oldest cities in the world, the original name Shechem given to the city by the Canaanites. Nablous is the largest city in the West Bank and has a rich and long history. At the entrance to the city we will stop at Jacob’s Well, where Christ met the Samaritan woman. We will drive through the city and up to Mt. Gerizim, the holy mountain for the Samaritan community, having the opportunity to visit the Samaritan synagogue that houses the world’s oldest Torah scroll, the Pentateuch. We then drive north through the city of Jenin, located in the Jezreel Valley, and cross back into Israel at the Jalamah checkpoint. We continue to nearby Megiddo for the background of the Battle of Armageddon. Driving through the Jezreel Valley toward Beit Shean, we shall climb the Tel and view the setting for the death of King Saul. There we will survey the magnificent Roman and Byzantine ruins: the theatre, bathhouses, ancient rest rooms, market areas, and colonnaded streets. Continue driving north into Galilee to Tiberius to check into the Leonardo Plaza Hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 18: Wed, Sept. 18 - Nazareth - Cana - Tiberius
We begin the day at Sepphoris, an interesting example of a mixed Jewish-Gentile city. It was the capital of Galilee when Jesus was growing to manhood just four miles away in Nazareth. Spending time getting acquainted with Jesus’ home town, we visit its spring where Mary would have done the family’s laundry. We will walk through the present day bazaar and over the site of the ancient village, to the church of the Annunciation. After a stop at Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle, walk to the edge of the Arbel Cliff, overlooking the northern part of the Sea of Galilee, including the main sites of Jesus’ mission. Return for dinner and overnight at the Leonardo Plaza Hotel.
Day 19: Thurs, Sept. 19 - Galilee: Mt. of Beatitudes - Beth Saida - Capernaum
We begin with a visit to the Mt. of Beatitudes, then drive to the site of Beth Saida, believed to be the traditional site of the feeding of the multitudes. At Capernaum we see ruins of the house of St. Peter, then we drive to Nof Ginosar kibbutz to see the remains of a fishing boat estimated to be two thousand years old. In the late afternoon there will be a cruise on the Sea of Galilee. Dinner and overnight will be at Leonardo Plaza Hotel.
Day 20: Fri, Sept. 20 - Mt. Hermon, Dan - Caesarea Philippi - Golan Heights
Begin at Hazor, the largest Canaanite city, to view Mt. Hermon and its surroundings. Pushing onward to Dan for a nature walk beside the upper Jordan River, we will see the ancient ruins, including the Israelite high place that once supported a golden calf for worship. A short drive takes us to Caesarea Philippi to view the stunning remains of a first century palace belonging to King Agrippa. We drive around Mt. Hermon for a glimpse of Damascus, 45 miles away, then head back over the Golan Heights to Tiberias and the Leonardo Plaza Hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 21: Sat, Sept. 21- Haifa - Mt. Carmel - Caesarea Maritima - Sharon Valley - Ben Gurion - LA
Tiberius to Tel Aviv. This morning we drive to Haifa, on the way ascending Mt. Carmel, the site of Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal. From there we will continue toward the Mediterranean coast and drive south along the coastal highway to Caesarea-by-the-Sea. We enter Caesarea Maritima to explore the Roman ruins, visiting the ancient harbor as well as the hippodrome, aqueduct, and theatre. We will drive south through the Sharon Valley to Ben Gurion airport where we will connect to El Al Israel Airlines just after midnight for the flight back to Los Angeles.