Monday, May 1, 2023
We have just returned from a two-hour walk from our hotel to the Western Wall to the Jewish Quarter to the Jaffa Gate and back to our hotel. That was well over two miles (on stone pavement with lots of ups and downs). I think everyone will sleep very well tonight. My day’s total for steps is 17,000, and 7.30 miles. Wow. So this may get short (you may cheer now) since I’m not sure how long I can stay awake.
We started the day with a lovely breakfast on the Dead Sea. This group is beyond punctual, and we were on our way to Masada BEFORE 8:00 am. That is so helpful on this day because Masada can get quite full. But we stayed ahead of the wave and had a lovely visit on top of the mountain. It is May 1st and the breezes were cool and it was not too hot at all. Just lovely. I’m in shock. We’ve had perfect weather this whole trip.
We walked down the back side of Masada, only to find many, many Israeli students swimming up the mountain. They weren’t the best at sharing space, and hogged the handrails….don’t they know old people depend on those inventions? Apparently not. We made it down the mountain and students kept coming. They filled up the restrooms (the women’s side, of course) but let our folks cut in line. That was thoughtful.
Back on the bus for the ride to Arad. The drive across the wilderness is always unique. The desolation is difficult to describe (and I didn’t take any pictures). We were the only bus at Arad (typical) and walked around the Israelite structure at the top all by ourselves. As we were leaving, another bus came (I didn’t feel quite so crazy anymore). But again it was cool and lovely and I enjoyed every second.
Back to the bus and on to Beersheba, but it was time for lunch. There are tourist trap restaurants out in the desert, so we opted for the “best coffee and sandwiches in Israel” – the Aroma. I had a delicious sandwich – avocado and hard-boiled egg on sourdough. I really enjoyed it. The Wilborns opted for Mexican. The rest had some delicious sandwiches, at least I think they all did enjoy them. Aroma is the Israeli version of Starbucks. Manny recommended dessert – an iced coffee with American ice cream (soft served on top….and lots of it). Oh wow, it was GREAT. I could be a real fan. Others found ice cream bars down the way, and calories were consumed.
Back onto the bus and we were at Tel Beersheba in just a few minutes. Another lovely visit, though we were getting tired. I come for the views and the geography, and we were not disappointed.
The next stop was Jerusalem, which took a couple of hours, I guess. We traveled north along the flat plain and eventually turned eastward and began the slow assent up to Jerusalem. We hit some traffic as we got into Jerusalem (road construction). I think we got to the hotel about 4:15ish.
Folks are really liking this place (The Ambassador Boutique Hotel). We checked in quickly and got some time to rest before dinner (6:30). And dinner? Oh wow, it was wonderful. Each option was delicious and we could not have been happier with the meal. And the desserts? Oh. My. Word. Can’t wait for tomorrow night, without a doubt.
At 7:45 we left for our night tour of Jerusalem. I think folks really enjoyed it, most have never been and it is beautiful at night. We explored at our own pace and saw the Western Wall, Jewish Quarter, Jaffa Gate….and the long walk back to the hotel. It was a very nice time in the city and with each other.
So now I can go to bed, right? I’m beat and my feet are sore. But….I returned to the hotel without any knee pain (like I had last September). So that is progress. We head to the Mt. of Olives in the morning and Gethsemane. More walking!