California to Jerusalem
Jordan River, Dead Sea, Jerusalem

We have arrived!

From Galilee we followed the Jordan River south to the Dead Sea where we stayed for the night and took a dip in the Salt Sea as it is called there. The next day we headed north and west into Jerusalem stopping at Massada and Qumran along the way. We arrived in Jerusalem 23 December, left the tour on the 26th, and stayed in the city until 13 January.

At Yardenit on the Jordan River, many are rebaptized. Several in our tour were baptized by a minister who was part of our tour. Here it is Petra's turn. This place is not he traditional place of John the Baptist, but that place is in a security zone so this is the surrogate. 22 Dec 10

A wide no-man's-land separates the Jordan River from the rest of the West Bank territory. A fence like this segregates the two. Here we were riding along the border of that no-nam;s-land. The distant hills are in Jordan. 22 Dec 10

I don't think this camel will find much in the gas station to satisfy him. We did however. The next-door tourist stop wanted 12 shekels for a 2-liter bottle of water. Petra discovered a package of six 2-lieter bottles for the same price in the gas station. 22 Dec 10

Hello! 22 Dec 10

Several palm orchards paralleled the road here in the desert. 22 Dec 10

The Dead Sea, called the Salt Sea here, has so much salt in it that you float much more out of the water than in any other body of water. It is almost impossible to orient yourself vertically; I felt like an unbalanced bowling pin when I tried. The water feels greasy. 22 Dec 10

We took a cable car to the top of Massada mountain but none of my pictures show anything very interesting. So to see it you have to go somewhere else.

Qumran is where they found the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947-48. Some were found in the cave here. Others were scattered in several caves around the area probably to hide them from the Romans during one of the Jewish revolts of the first or second century AD. 23 Dec 10

On 23 December we came to the top of the hill east of the city for our first real view of Jerusalem. The temple mount with the Mosque of Omar and the old city lay in front of New Jerusalem in the background. The graves of centuries line the hill below us. 23 Dec 10

Our official arrival photo. Twenty three months earlier we left Paso Robles headed for this place. Now we're here. 23 Dec 10

The Western Wall of the Temple of Solomon (center right) is the most holy place to Judaism. The Mosque of Omar (top left) on the mound is the third most holy place of Islam. They both contribute to the complexities of solving the problems of the peoples of the Middle East. 29 Dec 10

People praying at the Western Wall at night. 23 Dec 10

The interior of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The just visible stone slab on the lower right is where the people here say Jesus was laid after he was taken from the cross. 24 Dec 10

Inside this box of a room is where they say is Jesus' tomb. This said, all these places we saw in Jerusalem were known only by verbal tradition for 300 years till the time of St. Helena and Constantine when the buildings were built around them. There is another place outside the Damascus Gate, the Garden Tomb, that claims that it is the place of Jesus' tomb. The exact place is not important. The reminder of what happened here somewhere some 2000 years ago is. 28 Dec 10

These are some excavations near the Pool of Bethesda. The current level of the streets of the city is where I am standing and where you can see the railing going along the left of the picture. The excavated churches are from the fourth century. The difference in height is the amount of debris that has accumulated in the intervening 16 centuries. Today's city streets are actually 20 to 30 feet above where they were at the time of Jesus. 24 Dec 10

This is what is left of a large outdoor market in Jerusalem in ancient times. 24 Dec 10

Petra stands in an artist's conception of what that market might have looked like when it was in use. 24 Dec 10

And now we have the wall separating the Palestinians and the Israeli of Jerusalem. It is huge and visible from many parts of the city. 24 Dec 10

We got a chance to see the wall up close as we returned to Jerusalem from Bethlehem on Christmas day. Like similar recent walls it has it's satirist grafiti. 25 Dec 10

More graffiti on the wall. 25 Dec 10

And the sign on the left has its own level of satire and irony. 25 Dec 10

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Copyright © 2011-2012 Mike Metras,