Israel and Jordan: October 2018

I was privileged to travel to Israel and Jordan with Ben, Josée and a group of friends. We were about 30 in total and the whole trip was organized by more friends, Ron and Judy Hamm, in conjunction with Immanuel Tours of Jerusalem. Our trip began on Oct. 06 and we came home Oct. 26. We were actually on the tour  from Oct. 12 to 25. Our trip would take us north from Tel Aviv through Caesarea on the coast north to the Golan heights. From there we turned south and traveled through the West Bank to Jerusalem. After Jerusalem we journeyed as far south as we could go to Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba and crossed the border into Jordan. We then went north through Wadi Rum to Petra and on to the Dead Sea. After the Dead Sea the trip took us as far north as Jerash in Jordan. We then came back south to Amman and departed for home from Amman via London.


Starting the trip we flew to London and had little time before going on so we visited Windsor and saw the castle.

At Windsor Castle.

We flew from London to Tel Aviv via Zurich, Switzerland and the company, Immanuel Tours, picked us up at the airport to take us to our hotel. We arrived a few days before most of the group so we looked around on our own.

Arrival at Tel Aviv

View across Tel Aviv from our hotel room.

We visited the markets in Tel Aviv and Ben and Josée even walked down the coast to Joppa and back.

Spice merchant in the market at Tel Aviv

On Oct. 12th the tour began and took us to the site of Caesarea Maritima farther north on the coast from Tel Aviv. There we saw the site of Pontius Pilate’s coastal villa and many other Roman ruins including the amphitheatre.

The governor’s villa at Caesarea Maritima

The Amphitheatre at Caesarea Maritima

We visited northern Israel, the towns of Capernaum and Caesarea Philippi and saw outposts on the Golan Heights. We stayed at a kibbutz on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. We took a ride on a Gospel Boat out on the Sea of Galilee and saw so much more. We walked in the places where Jesus walked over 2000 years ago. At one point four other members of the tour and I were able to renew our baptismal vows in the River Jordan. Pastor Ted and friend Dan did the honours.

Entering the historical ruins at Capernaum

The Synagogue at Capernaum

On the Gospel Boat

Outpost at the Golan Heights

Entering the Church of the Annunciation at Nazareth

The kibbutz at Ein Gev on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee

Leaving the baptismal site with Pastor Ted on my left and friend Dan.

En route to Jerusalem we stopped at Abraham’s place where camel rides were available. We walked down through the Garden of Gethsemane, saw sights in Jerusalem, visited the old city and saw a light and sound spectacular at the citadel of David.

Hip problems stopped me riding

Josée braved a ride

Ben and Josée with the Dome of the Rock in the right rear.

Walking down to the city via the Garden of Gethsemane

Our entry into Jerusalem through the Lions’ Gate.

After a few days in Jerusalem we motored south to Eilat, the southernmost town in Israel, on the Gulf of Aqaba. We had one night there before crossing the Jordanian border and heading to Petra, Masada, Qumran to see the Dead Sea Scrolls and on to the Dead Sea itself.

Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba at the Red Sea. Most southerly town in Israel I believe.

Crossing the border into Jordan on foot.

Red Dunes at Wadi Rum. We had a two hour jeep ride into the desert.

Spectacular scenery at Wadi Rum.

Transport is available through Al Siq (the snake) at Petra

The Treasury at Petra behind Ben and Josée

After Petra we traveled to the site of Masada which was one of the other main attractions of the tour for me. The story of Masada is amazing. I won’t share it all here as it would take too long, but it is a story worth reading. The siege of Masada was one of the final events in the First Jewish–Roman War, occurring from 73 to 74 CE on and around a large hilltop in current-day Israel. The siege was chronicled by Flavius Josephus, a Jewish rebel leader captured by the Romans, in whose service he became a historian. You can read more here

The view from the top at Masada looking back to the plains below.

Ben exploring the ruins atop Masada.

The Roman built siege ramp which led to the top of Masada

Josée (right) and Debbie enjoy a mud bath at the Dead Sea.

There is so much more I could tell you about this trip. Suffice to say it was so well organized by Ron and Judy working with the company. Immanuel tours treated us marvellously for the accommodation, food and transport were all great.

If you’d like to see many more pictures of the wonderful places we visited, click here. Each slide you see is titled at the lower left corner. Enjoy and God bless!







Viking River Cruise-Apr./May 2013 (10)

Tuesday, April 30-Day 11

I felt a nudge at 6 am this morning. No, it wasn’t Cynthia moving me over to my own side of the bed. Rather, it was the Idun docking at the Viking wharf in Vienna. As I stretched out a hand and partly peeled back the curtain, I could see the impressive skyline of modern Vienna across the river from our boat.

We had a light breakfast and at 9 am we boarded the bus for the tour of the city. Soon, even though we were in the morning rush, we reached the ring road which circles the city centre and contains most of the important and historic buildings of the city. The building below now houses the central library but adjacent to it is the home of the Lipizzaner stallions. As we wandered through the area, several crossed our path, being led from their training area back to the stables. I managed to catch a glimpse of one in the stable area and got this pic and a tiny video clip.

Lipizzan Stallion In Stable

Lipizzan Stallion In Stable

Huge Central Library Vienna

Huge Central Library Vienna

The region’s most influential dynasty, the Habsburgs, came into power in 1273, and for 600 years they expanded their empire by marriage and force. Their influence can be see everywhere in this city, through their massive summer homes and palaces.

Our guide Petra took us on a gentle walking tour though the centre of the old part of the city. Once again narrow streets with pastel coloured buildings contrasted with broad, tree lined avenues flanked by massive houses and palaces. This city looks so opulent and it pulses with energy.

Stephansdom (St Stephen Cathedral), Vienna

Stephansdom (St Stephen Cathedral), Vienna (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once in the city centre we arrived at the massive cathedral of St Stephen, named after the first Christian martyr, Stephen, who was stoned to death because of his belief. We were given a half an hour of free time to explore this beautiful pedestrian area, so we peeked in the cathedral, then Cynthia wanted to buy some specialty items, so we headed out and eventually found what we were looking for. A huge cleaning of the cathedral’s exterior was underway but as the scaffold is covered by massive pictures of that section of the cathedral, a passer-by might not even notice what was going on. At any rate, the cleaned parts were so good to look at in contrast to the parts blackened by years of traffic and weather.

St. Stephen's Cathedral-Note Cloth Covering Scaffolding Looks Like Cathedral

St. Stephen’s Cathedral-Note Cloth Covering Scaffolding Looks Like Cathedral

Eventually it was time to make our way to the meeting point with Petra and on back to the bus. We arrived back at the ship in time for lunch. That was followed by a relaxation time for the fab four so that we would be ready for dinner! It’s a tough life, but OK  if you don’t weaken. Seriously though, our dinner is early tonight (6pm) so that we can make it in time for the Mozart/ Strauss concert tonight. More to come on that.

Vienna Stock Exchange Conference Room (now concert hall)

Vienna Stock Exchange Conference Room (now concert hall)

After dinner we were treated to a wonderful concert. The bus took us into the centre to the concert hall which was formerly the stock exchange of the city. However, with the advent of computers and modern technology, such a large building was no longer needed. The building now houses concerts put on by the Vienna Residents’ Orchestra. About ten musicians were in the ensemble, made up almost equally of men and women. They played compositions by Mozart and Strauss. A mezzo soprano and a baritone sang for us, while appearances were made by a ballerina and her partner ,who danced to some of the music. All in all, it was a wonderful evening for some 400+ (our estimate) of us from (we think) five river ships docked in Vienna.

Goodbye for now and God bless.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.