Israel April 2011

The crossing was straight forward as we paid for the VIP service, sounds grand but it just means a private company handles all the details, which you pay for.

We are collected by our driver Ossama and then travel up to Jerusalem to collect out guide Ata, both were terrific, especially Ata who was friendly and knowledgeable.

The travel company is Premimum Global Tours

Jerusalem was interesting for us, so many religious traditions and names were part of our childhoods that it was fun to see and hear about so many! Here is a slide show – I think I have most of the names correct.

The next day we travelled via a small village of Ein Karem, then to the Israel Museum and then to Bethlehem, which is basically next door – it is divided between Israel and the new Palestinian Authority, along with the construction of the so called Peace Highway towards Jordan, it is the first steps towards peace, lets hope so! There is a clear difference between the affluence of the Israel side as compared to the Palestinian one, clearly tourism is vital and Cathie certainly supported their economy. Here is a slide show of some of the highlights.

At the church of the visitation we were reminded of the night King Herod tried to kill all the babies to eliminate Jesus and John the Baptist – Elizabeth hide John the Baptist between two rocks, which can be seen, at least so the story goes!

At the Museum, apart from the fantastic model of the old town of Jerusalem, we saw the sculpture depicting the Essenes idea of the pure world verses the evil one, that will be resolved in one final battle at Armageddon (which is town in Northern Israel). The Essenes were a religious group who occupied the area around Qumran and were responsible for the writing of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The final day took in the highlight of Masada, the site of the battle between the Romans and the Jews in 66AD and Qumran, where the Dead Sea scrolls were found.

We enjoyed the hectic tour very much and plan to go back!