Sunday, June 26, 2011

Caravans 3 - March 2018 - Itinerary

DAY 1,  Monday , March 19:
                         "Ahlan wa Sahlan!"

    Arrive at Alia International Airport, Amman               

        It’s strange that one of the places that seems most like home to our 
            family is Amman, Jordan and when driving into the country after a     
            time away, we breathed easier, felt more comfortable and eased a  
            sigh of “home”.  Why we would feel such a fondness for this dry,       
            dusty city situated on  7 jebels (hills) in the northwest area of Jordan
            is most probably due to the fact that we lived there for 7 years
            during 3 different tours, raised our children there, taught school, 
            ambled about its paths and roadways and watched it grow from a 
            small, straggling city spread over open fields, with herds of sheep
            and donkeys munching in the open areas next to our houses, to a
            large, modern city experiencing dynamic growth and change to the
            point that we will probably have trouble recognizing it.  The 
            Jordanian and Palestinian people we knew were gracious and friendly
            and made us feel comfortable there and our lives as expats were
            interesting, easy and pleasant.  Amman is considered to be one of the 
            oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and has passed
            through the reins of a notable list of “Who’s Who” in Middle East
            history including the Assyrians, Persians, Nabateans, Romans 
            (at which time it was one of the cities of the Decapolis – a group of 
            10 important cities in the eastern reaches of the empire), Egyptians
             (who named it Philadelphia), the Ottomans, etc.  The current name is
             derived from the Ammonites who called it theirs during the Biblical 
             period when it was known as Rabbat Ammon.  In 1921, King 
             Abdullah I – the current king Abdullah’s great-grandfather selected
             it as the capital city of the newly delineated country of Trans-Jordan.  
             With the influx of refugees from Palestine, Iraq and Syria, the city 
             has grown and flourished and is now considered an important
             financial and tourist center in the region.                   

              Dinner:   Fahkredin's Restaurant

      Overnight:  Amman Marriott Hotel

            The biggest treat for our children was staying at the Marriott
                   Hotel in Amman when we first arrived in country!  The staff
                   made a fuss over them, the hamburgers tasted like a ham-
                   burger should and they had a delicious strawberry cake in
                   the bakery! Truth be known, we enjoyed the Marriott as
                   much as they did! 

DAY #2 - Tuesday, March 20:
 The King's Highway - The Road the Israelites                   took to the Promised Land

  AM:   Madaba, Heshbon, Mt. Nebo. Wadi Mujib

                    MADABA:    Madaba is an early Christian settlement on the 
                    eastern side of the Jordan River, known as the city of Mosaics,
                    the most important being a mosaic map of Jerusalem dating
                    from the 6th century, one of the oldest in existence.

                HESHBON:  You remember the scriptural reference, right?
               "For Heshbon was the city of Sihon, king of the Amorites, who
                had fought against the former king of Moab and had taken all
                his land out of his hand, as far as the Arnon." (Numbers 21:26)
                Talk about obscure, but Rich always stopped here to show
                friends the tombs, complete with large flat stones that roll in
                front of the tomb entrances - like that which sealed Christ's 
                tomb - a visual that even the Garden Tomb doesn't offer.
                Heshbon was an ancient city conquered by the Israelites as 
                they passed along the Kings Highway en route to their 
                promised land.

Image result for Mt. Nebo, Jordan

            MT. NEBO:    At the age of 21, I gasped enthralled when I
            first stood on this mountain where Moses stood and looked 
            out over the Great Rift Valley (the lowest point on earth)
            and the Jordan River to Jericho below.  I must have sensed 
            then that this was  indeed a land of promise for me.  This 
            spot inspired my first and one of my fondest memories of 
            Jordan and upon each of our returns, at our earliest 
            opportunity,  we took a picnic out to this barren mountain 
            top, where goat and sheep herds still graze and looked 
            again out over vistas of promise.  That promise was real-
            ized for us and our family as we held seminary lessons
            there, shared this view with Bro. Hunter & Bro. Faust, met 
            with apostles as they dedicated the land to missionary 
            work, sang Christmas songs on Christmas Eve for Catholic
            services.  It is fitting that your first view of the promised 
            land should be from this same mountain top! A small 
            church nearby is built over ancient mosaics floors of    
            former churches also impressed with patriarchal 

   PM:  Shobak Castle, Wadi Musa, (Petra by Night)

             SHOBAK CASTLE:
             Although Karak grabs the headlines, Shobak Castle, a short way
             further south, was in fact the Crusaders’ headquarters in Jordan, 
             and the first castle they built in the region. Known then as Montreal
             – or the Royal Mountain – Shobak dominates the folded, semi-arid
             hills on the approaches to Petra.The legacy of widescale rebuilding
             work in the 1290s, under Mamluke control, is everywhere, most
             notably in the carved stone panels adorning the external walls and
             towers, which feature strikingly beautiful Arabic callligraphy. 
             Roam the ruins to discover the original Crusader chapel, a palace 
             complex and even a set of secret passages, one of which heads
             down a flight of steep and crumbling steps into blackness,
             eventually emerging through a small gateway at the base of the 
             castle hill.

                      WADI MUSA:
                     The valley in which PETRA nestles, one of the wonders of the world
                     (according to Reynolds' figuring).  Among the weather
                     sculpted hills, the valley and village of Wadi Musa (Valley of
                     Moses) derive their name from the tradition that Moses passed
                     through the valley with the Hebrew Tribes as they traveled
                     along the ancient route of the King's Highway that would
                     eventually take them to Mt. Nebo.  There Moses would have his
                     view of the promised land, before being taken from his people,
                     leaving them to pass across the Jordan River to make conquest 
                     of Jericho.  At the water source, Ain Musa (Spring of Moses)
                     one can imagine that even a prophet would have to strike a rock
                     a time or two to call forth water in this impressively desolate

              Overnight:  Petra Marriott Hotel

                    Sleep well tonight.  You will need all your strength for the rigors of
                    exploring Petra!  Dream of the adventure of a lifetime, for so it is!

DAY 3:  Wednesday, March 21:
                   A Wonder of the World....

      Full Day:  Petra & Little Petra   
            There are 2 ancient sites I have seen that made me stop and go,
            "Ahhh!"  Petra is one of them, the other the temple at Karnak, Egypt.
            The siq generally resonates with exclamations of wonder as tourists
            first catch sight of the rose colored treasury as they walk down the
            last few yards of the gorge that leads into the mysterious ruins
            of the Nabatean city.  A stone carving people, the Nabateans were
            an indigenous group that subsisted by working the trading routes that
            crossed between Syria and Arabia  in the 1st century AD. In fact,
            the Swiss Arabist, John Burkhardt had to muffle his astonishment
            beneath his bedouin head wrappings as he was guided through the
            secret ruins to offer sacrifice at the tomb of Aaron, the brother of
            Moses, nearby. Disguised as a Muslim from Arabia he devised this
            ploy to be allowed into the secret site in 1812.  But he wasn't quiet
            when once away and he blabbed his remarkable discovery to the
            world.  Carved in the soft sandstone marbled with rose, purple,
            orange, colors similar to those in Zion's Park and other areas of
            southern Utah - in fact I thought how odd that southern Utah and
            southern Petra, both places I called home, had such similar
            formations and colorings. The greatest difference is even less
            vegetation grows in the Jordan version. The siq, the 1/3 mile long
            slot canyon which serves as the entrance to the city is similar to the
            narrows of Zions but you walk on dry ground with 500 ft. high walls
            of sandstone on either side. On our first visits, most tourists rode
            horses down through the siq which could turn into a wild headlong
            jaunt, at the whim of the young Bedouin horse herders.  We always
            chose the fat, tired looking horses for the kids and offered a tip
            to the guides if they went slowly - "Schway...schway". The girls
            were more interested in the horses than the siq and were eager to
            know their names.  Odd, but every horse was named "Leila" - night
            in Arabic. Rich always laughed at that, certain that the locals didn't
            bother to name their horses but just had a name at the ready, should
            they be asked. In more recent visits, only the old and infirm use the
            horse-drawn carts to travel through the siq.  The rest of us walk!
            You can experience it better that way and since they've paved the
            pathway, navigating it has become much less tortuous on the feet.

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            "Al Khazneh" the Treasury:  The first building, which peeps its 
            beauty to the tourist as they enter from the siq, is carved into the face
            of a sandstone mountain of solid rock about 40 metres high.  The
            purpose of the building, built in the 1st century is something of a
            mystery, but was most probably a tomb.  Actually, upon entering the
            building, there is only a small interior room, but imaginations run wild
            while marveling at its facade, as in the movie, "The Last Crusade". 
            The name "treasury" originated from the legend that pirates had
            hidden treasure in the giant stone urn on the second story. Pock 
            marks from bullets fired by bedouins can still be seen along with
            the tracks of the original Nabatean carving implements.

           The  Theatre:
           Petra's theater carved into a stone valley is badly deteriorated by
           floods of the centuries but still allows one to sit and imagine as you
           sense the muted echoes of past civilizations.  Our children, never 
           allowing a stage an intermission of quiet, performed renditions of 
           "Tomorrow" and "Jacob and Sons" or whatever musical we were into 
           at the moment, creating new echoes that no doubt caused empty 
           tombs to reverberate. The theater, built in the 1st century AD, seats 8500
           and  faces away from the sun presumably designed to keep the glare
           out of equally sensitive Nabatean eyes.

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            "Al Deir" Monastery:
            The largest carved structure in Petra, the monastery is perched
            "High on a Mountaintop" and requires a walk up hundreds of steps
            carved into the side of the mountain up to the top. I myself, 
            frequently stop to enjoy the incredible scenery below. Our babies
            made the trek on donkey back - a testament to the sure-footing
            of the noisy beast. Similar to the Treasury in design, it is believed to
            have been a temple to the God Obadas. Glutons for more climbing,
            the adventurous hike up the steep hill into which the building
            is carved, to then pose on its urn capitol.

             The Royal Tombs:
             Most of the carved buildings extant in Petra today were tombs.  Along
             the mountain face across from the theater as one winds down the
             main road of Petra, you will see the Royal tombs, lined up in 
             formation. Known as the Urn, Silk, Corinthian and Palace tombs,
             none are as well preserved as the treasury but contain hollow empty 
             vaults, conducive to singing and kissing apparently.  Rich's sister was
             propositioned by a young Arab guide in one of the tombs and stills
             talks about it to this day!

             The High Place:
             Well named, I have only climbed the 800 carved steps  up to this 
             spot once, when I was 21.  The site itself was a place for
             worship and sacrifice and one can still see 2 stone altars as well as
             an open plaza - worthy sites in and off themselves.  But the view of
             the Royal Tombs of Petra, Aaron's tomb across a valley on another
             mountain and  Wadi Musa are the rewards for your sacrifice in
             effort to make it to the top.

           Little Petra (Al Beidha):
           Petra's little sister, is more of the same in a smaller, more intimate
           setting. Delightfully easy to explore, after Petra, a staircase of carved 
           steps lead you to a secluded box canyon.

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       Overnight:  Beyond Wadi Rum - Bedouin Camp & Dinner

            You have to experience Wadi Rum by starlight and by morning glow - 
            this expansive desert of sandstone mountains and red sand dunes is a
            fascinating landscape through which Lawrence of Arabia wandered.
            Here we will collapse for a much needed night of rest and rose-colored 
            dreams, once your legs have stopped trembling from the exertions of 
            the day.  Sleeping in a Bedouin tent, "luxurized" for the persnickety 
            tourist, - no "roughing  itinvolved - provided with comfy beds and
            a delicious dinner of meats cooked in pots in the ground, salads and
            shrak bread baked before your eyes.  Lawrence would have been en-
            vious of our modern take on the Wadi Rum adventure!  

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    DAY 4,   Thursday, March 22:

            Morning:  Breakfast at Camp
                          Explore Wadi Rum
         Back in our day, which was about 20 years ago now, we would occasionally drive to Wadi Rum and camp with our children.  It was at that time well known from the movie "Lawrence of Arabia" which you might enjoy watching, but camping consisted of bringing everything we needed with us, which we did, including toilet paper and extra water.  The late sun and early morning were exquisite on the vast red landscape, features weathered from the sandstone, and smoothed to make hiking to enthralling views, easy. But when it was dark, it was dark and I wondered what creatures buzzed and bumped about my head in the cool night breeze.  Now days, organized tourist camps are nestled among the various outcroppings of stone and camels abound for riders - we suggest you ride your camel in Petra as they are cheaper and usually shorter rides.  As our son-in-law states, "2 hours on a camel is 1 hour and 45 minutes too long."  
       Wadi Rum is where I first learned I didn't particularly like riding camels.  After their first lurching stand from their knobby knees, you are up high and a captive - too high to jump - too cheap to give a tip to the owner to lower the camel back down! A note of caution - do not choose a camel with a ring in its nose.  It is there for a reason - to pull on if the camel becomes too frisky.  I was on such a camel and he liked to do something like a little skip as he walked. That was my first and last camel ride.  
      We prefer "wadi bashing" which is what the Americans called, piling in a 4-wheel drive and bumping about the desert floor. (Wadi is the word for valley).  Our Rum experience will include loading into jeeps and doing a version of wadi bashing to some of the main sites in the wadi.

Image result for Jeep rides in wadi rum

Afternoon:   Aqaba and the Red Sea

    We will leave Rum and drive about an hour south to the Gulf of Aqaba where the waters of the Red Sea border Asia: Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan and Africa: Egypt and you can see all four

countries from the beaches of Aqaba. If the 70 degree water doesn't bother you, you can stick your toe into the sea or swim in the hotel's pools as the historically minded among us explore the fortress of Aqaba. During WWII, the Ottoman forces were forced to withdraw from Aqaba and this fort in 1917 after the Battle of Aqaba, led by T.E. Lawrence and the Arab forces of Auda abu Tayi and Sheirf Nasir. The capture of Aqaba allowed the British to supply the Arab forces.

Image result for Aqaba fortress

     And today Aqaba is the only port in Jordan through which supplies flow to many countries of the Middle East.

A warm shower, a soft bed and quiet evening will prepare us for the wonders that await us in Masada and Jerusalem, all of which we will discover the next day.

Overnight at the Movenpick Hotel:

Sunset View towards Aqaba in Jordan, Red Sea, Eilat, The Negev, Israel : Stock Photo

  Early departure from Petra:

       Cross Allenby (King Hussein) Bridge across the
              Jordan River to West Bank/Palestine/Israel

               JORDAN  RIVER  CROSSING:
               You've heard all the songs, the "Jordan River is muddy and cold",
               "When I cross way over Jordan", etc. Alas, the Jordan River is really 
               not terribly impressive as rivers go and yet it has been a hotly 
               contested boundary between Jordan and the West Bank, between
               the Children of Israel and the Cannanites from Biblical times. Yes it
               is muddy, but is really a just a stone skipper at that. But the crossing
               has often been nigh unto impossible - depending on who held guns
               on the opposite shore. In our early days, every item in our luggage 
               was carefully searched but we had it easy.  Palestinians wishing to 
               visit West Bank relatives were submitted to complete body searches
               and humiliating treatment.  The Allenby Bridge (Israeli name) or King
               Hussein Bridge  (Jordanian name) has been easier to cross since
               the signing of the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel in 1994. 
               We are something of Bridge Crossing pioneers! With my BYU
               Jerusalem abroad group in 1972, we were the first group to cross
               the  bridge since the '67 War and then in 1995, the Reynolds' famiy
               drove the first private car across the Northern Bridge Crossing!  
               Once we cross (don't close your eyes, or you'll miss it) we will be in
               the West Bank/Occupied Territory or Palestine (Palestinian names),
               Israel or Green Zone (Israeli name) or "hot" as we call it and as close
               to the center of the earth as you can get!


                QUMRAN:  As we plunge 2,000 ft. down the winding, dusty road to
                the Wadi Araba and Jordan River, leaving Amman perched on
                 her pinnacle behind us, we reach the lowest point on earth. At the
                 sign that reads "Sea Level"  our children used to clog their noses as  
                 we went under the sea!  Near Jericho, where Joshua conducted the
                 trumpets to blow down the walls (the walls of the ancient city are
                 indeed "tumbled down") we will turn south and visit the
                 small site, once a bedouin camp, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were
                 discovered in the 1950s.  A bedouin shepherd boy, bored by his
                 task of caring for his docile flocks, throwing stones into a cave 
                 heard a hollow plinking sound and went to investigate, where he
                 discovered large clay pots that held ancient scroll documents.  

                MASADA:  The symbol to Israelis of an indomitable national will,
                Masada sits perched on top of a flat-topped mountain where King
                Herod built one of his many palace enclaves.  Here we will ramble
                about ruins of palaces, cisterns and storage vaults that allowed 
                Herod and his cortege to lull about in the dry desert air without 
                worry of thirst or hunger. But it was to a later habitation that 
                Israelis look for inspiration: that of the 960 Sicarii Rebels that fled 
                Jerusalem and harassed the Roman Empire from their defensive
                position. This story is now consideration more fiction than fact, but 
                Masada creates a dramatic backdrop for such a tale. Roman Legion 
                X did in fact lay siege to the community in 73 AD filling in an earthen
                ramp on which they could position their siege weapons.  The story 
                goes that rather than submit to slavery, the Jewish population 
                committed mass suicide & destroyed their stores, the night before
                the Roman attack.Today you can ride a gondola to the top!  By 
                carefully navigating you can also walk down the Roman ramp.  
                Did I mention almost losing a friend on a hike? This is where my
                mother almost disowned me.  Half way down what I assured her 
                was the path down, we came to a ramp-block and had to turn
                around and walk back up. Mom was never fond of dusty walks on
                hot days! Never navigate on 14 year old memories!  From the top 
                of Masada you can still see the remnants of the stone walls that 
                delineated the Roman encampments below. Young Jewish soldiers
                today go to the mount to swear their oath of allegiance and affirm
                that "Masada shall not fall again."

     Drive up to Jerusalem:

     Overnight:  Jerusalem
            St. Andrew's Scottish Guesthouse


   DAY 5,  Thursday, March 17:
         The Golden City - within the Walls

    AM:  Dome of the Rock and El-Aksa Mosque,
              St. Stephen's Gate, Via Dolorosa, Pools of
              Bethesda, Ecco Homo

          Temple Mount:  Dome of the Rock & Al-Aksa Mosque

                 Old City of Jerusalem:             
                The old city of Jerusalem is an area of only 1/3 of a square mile
                the borders of which grew and receded through the battles,
                migrations and destructions of the episodes of history.
                The current delineation of the Old City is marked by walls
                constructed in 1538 by Suleiman the Turkish leader with 11 gates
                (7 currently in use) which lead into streets teeming with history.
                The stone paved roads and limestone blocked buildings contain
                several sites revered by Christianity and create an atmosphere
                appropriately Biblical.        

               The Old City of the Holy  City is divided into 4 quarters - the
               Christian, Jewish, Armenian, Moslem and never the 4 shall
                meet, the suspicious and embattled populations staying fairly
                close to home in their own quarters, but each is happy to sell
                to the passing tourist! In the Jewish quarter more expensive
                but lovely items including menorahs, gems and jewelry,
                phylacteries, woven items and candles are sold.



                    SHOPPING IN THE OLD CITY:
                    Shoppers, tie up your shoes, keep wallets handy and hone
                    up your bartering skills for a serious shopping afternoon! And
                    what do the merchants of Jerusalem peddle? A caravan of
                    tempting souvenirs - yours for the bartering! Favorites include
                    Palestinian pottery - plates, cups, bowls and knick-knacks
                    painted in vibrant blues and whites, leather sandals, jackets,
                    slippers, painted tiles, Roman glass set in jewelry, gold and
                    silver jewelry, oil lamps, ancient coins, spices, woven bags,
                    olive wood nativities, bibles, sheepskin coats, candles, t-shirts..
                    Our favorite shop belongs to Shabaan on Christian Quarter
                    Road, who can spot a Mormon a block away,
                    having catered for years to the BYU Jerusalem Center
                    population. He was always our longest stop in the Christian
                    Quarter as he would insist we sit and visit, offering typical
                    Arab hospitality in the form of fresh orange juice and kibbe -
                    a Palestinian meatball, the best being made by an old man in
                    Jerusalem. Shabaan would send a courier to fetch them for us
                    until the old man died, taking the wonderful recipe with him to


                        POOLS  OF  BETHESDA:
                         Site of public Roman baths in operation during Christ's life,
                         it was at this spot that Christ healed the lame man who could
                         not manage to crawl to the swirling waters to benefit from 
                         their healing powers. The ruins are now studded with bright
                         crimson poppies.  Several churches have sprouted on the site
                         in the centuries since, including St. Anne's, a small stone c
                         chapel, elegant in its simplicity whose domes and crevices
                         provide rich resonances for those inclined to sing Gregorian
                         type chants - we'll teach you our favorite one!

                         VIA DELAROSO OR WAY OF THE CROSS:
                         Though the current route dated to the 18th century make
                         unlikely as to being authentic, this path of some 2,000 feet
                         traces the route Jesus took from the site of his taking up the
                         cross to Calvary and his crucifixion.  Groups of Catholic
                         devotees follow that course every Friday, some with a 
                         volunteer playing the Christ as he carries a cross leading the
                         pilgrims, others dressed as Roman soldiers. The processions
                         stop at each of 14 stations where Christ was assumed to 
                         stop, such as Station #3, where he stumbled under the weight
                         of the cross, Station #5, where Simon helped him carry his
                         burden and Station #14 (inside the Church of the Holy 
                         Sepluchre) where he was ultimately crucified. In many 
                         Catholic churches today, as you look around the chapel, you
                         will see representations of each station in paintings, carvings,
                         or stained glass. There will  be a quiz at the end to see how 
                         many of the stations you can name!


                  Lunch:  Christian Quarter Cafe                  
             Many delicious discoveries await in the Old City as well,
                   including bakeries with hot Arab breads (khoubz and ka'ik),
                   buttery cookies, (grayeb), baklawa and knafi, street foods -
                   felafel and shwarma, fresh juices - and restaurants and cafes 
                   stuck in corners here and there.  Here we will munch and lunch!

        PM:  Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Shopping

                           CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE:
                           See Day #2.  Sitting in the courtyard of this most sacred
                           of spots, you will note the ladder which leans against the
                           facade of the second story as it has done since 1854.  It
                           is suggested that because of the friction between the
                           different denominations that control the church (Greek
                           Orthodox, Roman Catholic,  Armenian and Eastern 
                           Orthodox - though the Coptics have a small chapel in the
                           back and the Ethiopians a space on the roof) there was a 
                           dispute as to who should remove the ladder and so it
                           remains to this day. The keys to the church are kept and
                           controlled by a neutral 3rd party, two Muslim families, to 
                           avoid squabbling over the front door in a complicated
                           arrangement which exists between the interested 
                          Christian sects.  And that's only the outside of the building!

         Overnight:  Jerusalem - St. Andrew's Scottish
                     Guest House
             Who can sleep!  Your heads will be so full of all the
                   amazing things you have seen - visions of olive wood
                   will dance in your heads!  But the church bells and
                   muezzin calls of Jerusalem will sing out early to wake
                   you to another glorious day in the Golden City!

DAY 6,  Friday, March 18:
             More Holy City - Outside the City Walls....

       AM:  Hezekiah's Tunnel, Israel Museum,

                        HEZEKIAH'S TUNNEL:  
                        Though King Hezeikiah had the tunnel constructed 
                        in order to secure their very lives, one might think
                        this tunnel, 1/3 mile through stone in 700 BC, was for the 
                        amusement of modern-day tourists, because it's like a 
                        feature at an amusement park!  Claustrophobics beware!
                        The rest of us will don our shorts and with flashlights in 
                        hand, wade through the narrow tunnel, where water comes
                        at times up to the waist.  Historians have marveled at the
                        engineering feat of two teams working from opposite 
                        directions meeting in the middle without the benefit of 
                        modern-day equipment.  Bringing water from springs that
                        were stopped up outside the city, the tunnel served the 
                        pragmatic purpose of providing water to the Jewish
                        inhabitants of Jerusalem that they might withstand the 
                        Assyrian siege of the city, which they did! 

  Or......Option B:

             THE  ISRAELI  MUSEUM is host to the finest biblical and 
                    Jewish antiquities collections in the world.  Its star exhibit is that 
                    of the Dead Sea Scrolls housed underneath a roof shaped like 
                    the lid of the vases in which they were found. The Jerusalem 
                    Model of the 2nd Temple Period, was great fun for our children 
                    to walk through, the waist high structures making them feel
                    Goliath-like! Other exhibits include a reconstructed Jewish
                    Synagogue from eastern Europe during the diaspora and 
                    fascinating scrolls and records of religious significance. 

PM:  Mt. of Olives & Churches, Western Wall, Friday Prayers

                      JERUSALEM  OVERLOOK:
                      The most photographed panoramic view of Jerusalem is 
                      offered at a plaza on the slopes of the Mt. of Olives.
                      skyline of Jerusalem) With the Jewish cemetery sepulchers
                      crammed and jumbled like clumsy barnacles across its
                      skirts, the Mt. of Olives perches just East of the Holy City
                      and provides an unparalleled vista of the Temple Mount and
                      the Herodian wall that encompasses the old city. The East-
                      ern Gate (Golden Gate), sealed since Suleiman's time in
                      1535 to delay the 2nd coming of the Savior (Suleiman the
                      Magnificent, Turkish Ottoman ruler), stands as a testament
                      to man's lack of understanding of the power of the Savior,
                      not to be intimidated by stone sealed with mortar! The
                      Kidron Valley gouges a deep rift between the mount and the
                      city to define this sentinel of the eastern approaches. The
                      Garden of Gethsemane rests further below and a mosque
                      marks the spot on the top of the mount from which Christ
                      ascended to visit his other sheep, after his resurrection.

                          ORSON HYDE MEMORIAL GARDEN:  
                          It was to this same popular mount that Joseph Smith sent
                          Orson Hyde in 1841 to dedicate the land to the return of
                          the Jews. They haven't stopped coming since and now
                          claim Israel as their homeland and they the rightful
                          inheritors. A memorial was placed and a garden created
                          by the Orson Hyde Foundation in 1979 though the park
                          has suffered at the hands of vandals with the changing
                          political climate.


                          RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH:
                          The Russian Orthodox Church, Church of the Magdalene,
                          built in 1886, is recognized from a distance by is beautiful
                          golden onion domes. Not far away, the Church of All
                          Nations, constructed in 1922 by the Roman Catholic
                          Church, with donations from "all nations", sits in the
                          Garden of Gethsemane once again a Catholicized version
                          of the garden. The claim is made by some that the trees in
                          their courtyard are the very same that witnessed Christ's
                          agony as he prayed in their grove. Perhaps from the same
                          roots, but though ancient, not the same trees as the
                          Romans raised the city to the ground during their conquest
                          in 77 AD (didn't every empire take their turn?) The
                          bedrock upon which Catholics believe Christ prayed during
                          his agony is exposed in the center of the church near
                          remains of preserved remains of Byzantine mosaics.


                   WESTERN WALL:
                   One side of the retaining wall that surrounded Mount Moriah,
                   and provided the support for the magnificent structures of
                   Solomon's and Herod's temples, holy to Jews as the last extant
                   remnant of their days of glory. On Fridays at sundown, the
                   beginning of the Jewish Sabbath (when we will be there). the
                   faithful come to the wall to pray and leave tiny notes written to
                   God, in the cracks of the stones once quarried and carved by
                   compatriots of the Solomnic era some 3000 years ago. The 
                   former name of the spot was "The Wailing Wall" as it was at 
                   these cold and merciless stones that Jews wailed for their lost 
                   city. During the'67 War, when Jews reclaimed the site, there 
                   was no longer cause for wailing; hence, the name change.
                   On the Temple Mount today, sits the beautiful gold-domed,
                   "Dome of the Rock" built in the 600s by a Muslim caliph. The
                   much less impressive, silver-domed Al-Aksa Mosque, hunkers 
                   on the southern end of the mount, but is the more revered. 
                   In fact, the 3rd most significant spot in Islamic tradition: the 
                   spot from which Mohammed the prophet, ascended into heaven
                   on a great white-winged steed to view the glories of Allah.
                   This hotly contested Temple Mount is the very bone of contention
                   between the modern-day inhabitants of Israel. To Jews as the spot
                   of their great temple, to Muslims as their 3rd holiest spot and let's
                   not forget the Christians for it was to this mount that Abraham 
                   came to offer his son Isaac as sacrifice to show the Lord
                   unwavering obedience. David the King bought the land from a 
                   wheat thresher for the temple in around 1000 B.C. - did he have
                   any idea what a contested bit of earth it would become and the
                   fortunes and lives that would be spent in its pursuit after him? 

                   Friday Prayers at Sundown (Shabbat):

                   Jewish Quarter & Rampart Walks:

  Overnight: Jerusalem, Scottish Guesthouse
                        Having trouble sleeping again? Little wonder. Either that or you
                        will sleep as though you yourself are awaiting the resurrection.
                        If you are among the insomniacs a game of scrabble or a quick
                        run out for felafel, prowling the Arab quarter by night, will fill in
                        the sleepless hours!

DAY 7,  Saturday, March 19:
                   Walk today where Jesus walked....

    AM:  BYU Center (church), Golgotha, Garden Tomb

                   BYU JERUSALEM CENTER:
                  The BYU Jerusalem Center was built in 1988 in a remarkable
                  setting on Mt. Scopus, the hill adjacent to the Mt. of Olives that
                  overlooks Jerusalem. (Photo Op #4 - skyline of Jerusalem) The
                  Center houses BYU students attending study abroad programs
                  and is the meeting place of the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv branches
                  of the church. The western wall of the auditorium where church is
                  held is a curtain of windows which allows you to gaze at Golgotha,
                  where Christ was crucified, the Temple Mount where Solomon's
                  temple stood and the road to Damascus as you sit in the services -
                  the perfect visual aid to whatever is being taught!

                         St. Helena, the mother of the Christian convert,
                         Constantine, ruler of the Roman Empire (300 AD) made a
                         pilgrimage to the Holyland in 326 and to her inspiration and
                         visitations is credited the location of several of the
                         Christian holy sites, but whose accuracy has been
                         questioned by historians and archaeologists ever since.
                         But who's quibbling - a site by any other name would be as
                         And so the Catholic version of Golgotha (or Calvary) is
                         housed within a Catholic Church - find the spot, build a
                         church and fill it with relics- the traditional way to pay
                         homage. Not even the church building went uncontested
                         and is now controlled by 4 separate Christian
                         denominations who lay claim to four specific areas of the
                         church. It is on this mount that Catholic tradition
                         suggests Christ was crucified and then buried - and it is
                         fittingly enshrined in old stone, festooned with candles,
                         gilded stars and incense perfumes the air. My favorite
                         touch are the thousands of tiny crosses carved in the walls
                         by crusaders throughout the centuries: the medieval
                         version of "Thomas was here."

                        THE  GARDEN  TOMB:
                        Now, a bit more humble and subdued is a protestant
                        version of a tomb, near a hill studded with more recent
                        Muslim tombstones, below which rumbles the Arab bus
                        station. Some say the face of this craggy mountain
                        resembles the face of a skull: the term "Golgotha"
                        meaning, place of the skull. Discovered
                        in the late 1800s, this humble tomb carved into the
                        hill, adjacent to Golgotha, complete with a trough
                        for rolling a stone to cover its mouth, is accepted by some
                        of the Christian world as the actual tomb where Christ
                        was buried. The hill is indeed on the road to
                        Damascus and outside the city wall, as designated, and
                        the lovely, quiet garden is much easier for some to
                        appreciate as the appropriate setting. In this small quiet
                        tomb my daughters and I sang, "When Jesus Wept" a

                        lovely hymn that recalls most sacred events that certainly

                        transpired somewhere nearby. We will enjoy the

                        ambience and pick a sprig of rosemary on our way out. 

     PM:  Bethany, Bethlehem, Drive to Tel Aviv, Emaus

                   RACHEL'S  TOMB:  
                   On the road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem,
                   sits a small domed building of two chambers, where tradition
                   from the 4th century  maintains Rachel, the wife of the patriarch
                   Jacob is buried. The current structure was of Muslim 
                   construction, thus the typical dome, and served as a mosque
                   but is also a site venerated by Jews and Christians.  In our
                   early days, we could see it as we drove by just at the side of the
                   road but by 1995 Israel had claimed control of the site and since 
                   have completely enclosed it and annexed it to Israel so it is no 
                   longer visible, but surrounded with security walls.  Lovely in its
                   simplicity, it is a humble memorial to the mother of Joseph and


                  BETHANY - Home of Martha and Mary and their prematurely                   deceased brother, Lazarus for whom Christ performed one of his                   most striking miracles.  A delightful trail (on a cool day) winds                  from the village of Bethany up and over the Mt. of Olives.  I                  almost lost a friend one day navigating that pathway as we had                   little water, inadequate walking shoes and promises of the Mt.                   of Olives seemed to be only rumors.  The walk went on and on                   and finally ended in a taxi, which knew the way over the top of                   the mount and down into Jerusalem, better than my faulty                  memory.  (Are you concerned about your tour leader?)  The                  tomb of Lazarus is the site to see, which is actually an under-                  ground tomb, hosting many graves but only one that gave up                  the ghost at the Savior's bidding!

                   BETHLEHEM:  Haven't you wanted to see Bethlehem, since a                   wide eyed child, enthralled by the beautiful Christmas story? The                   destination of the Wisemen, the compass of the star, the very                   spot on earth where Christ was born!  I was first impressed with                   how close to Jerusalem it is - just a walk over a hill, a few minutes                   car ride - just 6 miles to the south!  A favorite family memory                   involves going to the Shepherd's fields on the hills outside                   Bethlehem, on Christmas Eve with a picnic of felafel & hummous.                   Sheep and goats, now as then, ambled by, their bells tinkling,                   their modern-day shepherds wearing sneakers and jeans. In that                   idylic setting we sang every Christmas song we could think of                    with the word "Bethlehem" in it including, "O Little Town",                   "Angels  We Have Heard on High" &"Far, Far Away on Judea's                   Plains" and yet, when you are there it won't be far at all  and you                   will have to pinch yourself to believe it is so, because the bustling                   Arab town is nothing like the Christmas card  pictures of the                   sleepy village of the city of David.  And yet, upon entering the                   the Church of the Nativity, you would imagine it must                   be so!

                  CHURCH  OF  THE  NATIVITY:
                  To bring home the point, that every
                  knee must bow, you must stoop to enter the little door of the
                  church, another motley collection of construction projects by
                  different sects during different building frenzies throughout 
                  history. St. Helena was the first in 327 AD to initiate building 
                  a church over the site of the cave where she believed Christ 
                  was born. It is today the oldest continuously used church in the
                  world.  Though not glamorous, the stones smoothed by the
                  passing feet of generations yet echo with the tales of those
                  pilgrims.  And they are clean! We once visited the church a few
                  days after Christmas, our visit coinciding with the annual 
                  cleaning of the church by gasoline. Was it the fumes or the
                  sacredness of the holy site, that left us gasping for air?!


                    OLIVE  WOOD  FACTORY:
                    Manger Square, the market area outside of the Church of 
                    the Nativity, hosts several shops selling olive wood nativities,
                    bibles, spice containers, rosary beads, crosses, statues, etc.
                    our favorite being the shop that owns the workshop down the
                    road from the square, which lets you observe craftsmen 
                    carving and finishing the wood as well as a rooftop view of

           Drive down to Tel Aviv:


                             CHURCH  OF  EMAUS:
                             Ruins of a Crusader church mark the spot where
                             some maintain Christ met a few of his disciples,
                             following his resurrection. "The Road to Emmaus",
                             though the road itself has long since been paved 
                             over by others or now lies overgrown in sheep fields
                             and the location of Emmaus contested by 4
                             other sites.  Still, the setting is fitting and inspiring!

    Overnight:  Jaffa,  Margosa Hotel 

DAY 8,  Sunday, March 20:               
                        Med, Fed & Bed...


               AM:  Jaffa
                           Jaffa is located along the Mediterranean coast, just north 
                                of Tel Aviv. 
                           -This is the site of the Biblical Joppa, the town to which 
                                Jonah fled to escape the errand of the Lord at which folly 
                                he was swallowed by the whale.
                            -Jaffa today has been restored to lovely stone streets 
                                winding among polished limestone shops and charming
                                restaurants, (including a favorite French restuarant which 
                                would undoubtedly serve whale sauteed in butter, if they
                            -The hill where Jaffa sits provides a beautiful panoramic 
                                view of Tel Aviv.
                 Lunch in Jaffa:

     PM:  Caesarea, Haifa-B'Hai Gardens, Mt. Carmel, Akko     

      Haifa - Ba'Hai Gardens

      Mt. Carmel

      Drive to Akko

  Overnight at Akkotel Hotel, Akko

DAY 9,  Monday, March 21:
               Richard the Lionheart Slept Here - 
                   Crusader City

      AM:  Akko, Tel Dan

Acre (/ˈɑːkər/ or /ˈkər/HebrewעַכּוֹʻAkko, most commonly spelled as AkkoArabicعكّا‎, ʻAkkā)[2] is a city in the northern coastal plain region of northern Israel at the northern extremity of Haifa Bay. The city occupies an important location, as it sits on the coast of the Mediterranean, traditionally linking the waterways and commercial activity with the Levant.[3] Acre is one of the oldest sites in the world.
Historically, it was a strategic coastal link to the Levant. In crusader times it was known as St. John d'Acre after the Knights Hospitaller of St John order who had their headquarters there. Acre is the holiest city of the Bahá'í Faith, and as such gets many Baha'i pilgrims. In 2014 the population was 47,464. Acre is a mixed city, that includes Jews, Muslims, Christians and Baha'is. The mayor is Shimon Lankri, who was re-elected in 2011.[4]

Akko was an important headquarters and seaport to the crusaders and more of the crasader ruins have been excavated and open to the public in recent years. 

     PM:  Lunch at Trout Restaurant, Caesarea Phillipi

              Tel Dan & Trout Restaurant

             Caesarea Phillipi

  Overnight at Al Mutran Guesthouse - Nazareth

DAY 10,  Tuesday, March 22:
                   "Oh Gallilee, Sweet Galilee.."

      AM:  Mount of the Beatitudes, Tabgha

               MOUNT OF  BEAUTITUDES:
               On the gently sloping hill on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, or 
               Kinneret as Israelis call it or Lake Tiberias, name for the Roman
               governor of the region - what's in a name anyway?"  On a mild 
               day, with a breeze blowing this is a lovely setting, standing in the
               cupola of the Catholic church built on the site it must now be
               more pleasant than it was when the Savior stood there to deliver 
               his sermon on the mount.  The actual site is not known and
               may have taken place on any number of other hills, but this one 
               is close to the fishes and has been celebrated for 1600 years!  The
               term "beautitudes" is taken from the Latin for "Blessed" with 
               which each one began.  As someone much smarter than we said, 
               "It was perhaps inevitable that this well-watered area with its 
               shade trees on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, where Byzantine
               pilgrims ate their picnics, should have been identified as the 
               location of two episodes involving the consumption of food, the 
               multiplication of the loaves and fishes and the conferral on 
               Peter of the responsibility of leadership after a fish breakfast.
               Then it became convenient to localize the Sermon of the
               Mount on the small hill nearby. (Oxford Archaeological Guides:
               The Holy Land, p. 277).  We've always maintained that it
               doesn't really matter after all where these significant events
               took place - what matters is that they took place.

               Very close to the mount, in a quiet, secluded setting is a unique
               little church dedicated to the miracle of the loaves and fishes,
               Rich has appreciated this site, specifically because of the ancient
               baptismal font in which baptism by immersion was practiced. 
               A mosaic floor represents the feeding of the 5,000 with the fish 
               and bread. 

        PM:    Capernaum,  Nazareth

               Now in ruins just as was prophesied by the Savior    
               in Matth. 11:23, they are yet wonderful ruins of a
               small fishing village on the northern shore of the
               Sea of Galilee.  This was the home of Peter, James
               & John and perhaps that is why Christ spent time
               there performing several healings, including the
               servant of the Roman Centurion and the paralytic
               lowered through the roof to where the Savior was.
               A carving in stone of the ark of the covenant provides
               an ancient visual aid to what it may have looked like.
               Peter's house is interesting and and my favorite, the
               ruins of a synagogue that some believe date back to
               the times of Christ. Standings on its gleaming white
               stones (most of the buildings were composed of black
               basalt) one can imagine the Savior speaking to the
               congregation about the lack of respect prophets
               prophets receive in their own countries.


Overnight at Al Mutran Guesthouse - Nazareth

DAY 11,  Wednesday, March 23:

          In His own country....


          Valley of Jezreel (Armageddon)

          Return to Jordan, Allenby Bridge

Overnight:  Dead Sea, Movenpick Hotel & Spa       east/jordan/amman/resort-dead-sea/overview/?gclid=Cj0KEQiArJe1BRDe_uz1uu-QjvYBEiQACUj6oukwr6WnohGlAFpyLuCJ_1hYgTAICwyr7wW_tbifB2saAkbA8P8HAQ

DAY 12,  Thursday, March 24:
                  Beyond the Jordan....

   AM:  Dead Sea, Baptism Site

               DEAD SEA:   
               Looking for seashells, coral life, a pleasant dive to the
               sandy bottom or even for ruins of the destroyed cities of Sodom 
               & Gomorrah? You may find a pillar of salt but that is as close as
               you'll come to any treasures lying at the bottom of the sea - not
               because they aren't there, but because you won't be able to get 
               yourself underwater to see!  Floating on the Dead Sea is a unique 
               experience (unless you grew up near the shores of the Great Salt
               Lake).  You'll feel something like an inflatable child's toy bobbing 
               on the water. Once you get your bearings to this sort of weightless
               sensation you will have great fun.  And the intense mineral 
               conposition of the waters work wonders on your skin, especially
               if you opt for the mud treatment, or just scoop up handfuls yourself 
               and rub it on. Either way, once rinsed and dried, you will feel 
               rejuvenated! The marvelous spa and swimming pools perched
               looking out over the Dead Sea are a rare treat in luxury as well. 
               I once returned from a day at the Dead Sea unable to  move for the
               rest of the evening, I was so relaxed, drugged with its healing 

      Bethany Beyond Jordan - Baptismal Site:

     PM:  Amman Citadel, Museum, Theater

                   PHILADELPHIA (Amman)  CITADEL:  
                   The center of the ancient Rabbat Ammon, the citadel
                   crowns the city of Amman with pillars reaching up to a
                   remarkably blue sky to support roofs which have long since
                   crumbled; remnants of the royal palace of the Umayyad period.
                   But they were just the most recent buildings in a succession of
                   houses, shops and palaces that housed the generations of
                   inhabitants beginning in about 7,000 B.C.! Other notable ruins
                   include those of a Roman temple to Hercules built in 175 AD.
                   Remember the story of David sending Bathsheba’s husband to
                   the frontlines to die in battle? Somewhere near here he met his
                   doom. There was a grazing donkey in our Amman neighbor-
                   hood we named Uriah in his memory.

Amman Citadel - Amman
               This humble and rather unimpressive facility houses the one and 
               only copper Dead Sea Scroll but owned most all of the Dead Sea
               Scrolls until the loss of their East Jerusalem branch of the museum
               in the ‘67 War to Israel. While constructing new roads in 1983,
               Ain Ghazal, a Neolithic community was discovered near Amman.
               The museum touts statues of the same name as their most 
               important acquisition. Considered the oldest anthropomorphic
               statues (human images) made by human hands (circa 7000 B.C.) 
               32 of the statues were found in ceremonial(?) pits. Lime plaster 
               molded over cores of bundled twigs, the statues were painted with 
               clothes and hair with life-like eyes made of cowrie shells.

                   One of 5 you will see during our trip, the Roman theater in
                   downtown Amman seats 6,000 and is better preserved than 
                   Petra’s but not as large as Bet Shean’s but is still used today for
                   concerts &programs. It is built into a mountainside in a similar 
                   fashion to Petra’s but of limestone rather than sandstone – a 
                   more durable substance. Two small museums have been built 
                   on the site which contain traditional costumes and cultural items.

         Dinner at Kan Zaman

                   KAN  ZAMAN: 
                  (means Old Times or equivalent to “the good ole’
                  days”) Sitting on a hilltop outside of Amman, Kan Zaman 
                  transports us back in time through its restaurant and shops
                  created out of the old buildings of a Jordanian village. We’ll
                  eat in the horse stables but no horses will nuzzle in at the 
                  trough as the stalls have been emptied and cleaned to suit
                  human feasters. Here you will sample delicious Jordanian
                  cuisine, including roasted lamb and rice, stuffed grape
                   leaves, stuffed squash and eggplant and as much warm khoubz
                  (pita bread) as you can eat. The Silk Road, one of the shops in the
                  complex dealing in antiquities has supplied us in the past with
                  ancient ceramics, locks and even 2,000 year old golden Roman 
                  ear-rings! (rewards for good behavior for our spoiled children!) 
                  and emergency birthday gifts for Rich – the shop owner always 
                  had the “perfect” thing for him.

                  If you feel like going native, there is a photo shop where we will
                  dress up in local costumes and have our pictures taken hanging
                  out like a bunch of Old Testament patriarchs and matriarchs in 
                  a Bedouin tent.Rich often posed as the proud noble sheik with his
                  bevy of children arrayed about him (or child we should say!) The
                  word “child” actually means son in Arabic. There is no word for
                  daughter so when our 5th child was born (our only boy) Rich told
                  his Arabic friends that he finally had a child! Talk about

    Overnight:  Amman, Mariott Hotel

DAY 13,  Friday, March 25:               
          Roamin' with the Romans...

     AM:  LDS Church Services 

     PM:  Jerash 

                 JERASH:   Where the Emperor Hadrian once stood to address
                  the citizens of ancient Gerasa, we will stand as well and test the
                  acoustics of a beautifully preserved Roman theater.  No micro-
                  phones required as the construction of the theater was acoustically
                  designed so that speakers might be heard without the aid of modern
                  technology.  We’ve sung and danced on the stage many times our-
                  selves – thought he only appreciative audience member was Richard. 
                  Be sure to pack your dancing shoes – we may have an impromptu
                  talent show!  Two of our daughters, graduates of the American 
                  Community School, received their diplomas on this stage and played
                  “Pomp and Circumstance” in the band as their mother wept fresh tears
                  (not in keeping with the Roman tradition of weeping into glass vials to
                  preserve the tears) and listened to King Abdullah address the awe-struck
                  audience – awe-struck by the setting for sure! The stage is well
                  maintained – even some of the green room structures still stand - and is
                  the site of the annual Jerash Festival, an international cultural event
                  featuring singers, dancers and musicians from around the world.  You
                  will be Roman theater experts by the time we finish!  (The count is up to 
                  5 Roman theaters on our tour!)

                  Jerash is one of those Roman ruins where you walk down a street so 
                  complete that you can imagine yourself a Roman citizen out for a stroll 
                  about the town.  Much of it has been reconstructed –a great earthquake
                  in 747 wreaking havoc.  The columned Oval Plaza is particularly
                  impressive.  Another of the cities of the Roman Decapolis, the ruins 
                  were buried and forgotten until re- discovered in 1806 by a Swiss
                  Orientalist.  Excavations began in earnest in 1925 to reveal this treasure. 
                  One of Richard’s favorite tricks involves Roman columns and coins – 
                  ask him to show you.  On a clear blue day, fantastic photo opts await.
                  Since our time in Jordan,  Jerash has begun conducting chariot races in
                  the ancient hippodrome (or Roman Circus).  We’ve heard it’s fun to 
                  watch and worth the extra admission fee.

           Lunch:  Lebanese House Restaurant
           Up on a hill overlooking Jerash, it is delightful to sit and
                 lunch on the patio.  The food, particularly the local salad, 
                 fattoush, is particularly good.

       11:30 PM:    Depart for US from Alia 
                                 International Airport  











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