Thursday, May 4, 2023
8:09 pm

Back from dinner and ready to write.  Sort of.  My feet still hurt from the day, but the shower felt great, and dinner was delicious (again). We spent the day in the Old City of Jerusalem, which means lots of walking on stone pavement, lots of ups and downs, and did I mention all the streets are made of stones? The last time I did this I knew that something was amiss in my knee.  Now, the knee made it through the day with flying colors…my feet are just sore.  But this too shall pass.

We began the day by loading up the bus at 7:30 am, after breakfast. We headed straight to the Dung Gate (the construction is not getting any better in two days). Our goal was to get up onto the Temple Mount without waiting too long in the inspection line. There was no line.  None at all. But when we got onto the Mount, there were lots of people and groups. But the place is huge so that is not a problem.  Just getting up there can be a problem.

We had a nice tour around and avoided the upcoming heat of the day. After the wandering we headed out the gate near the Lion’s Gate. It was on to the Pools of Bethesda and St. Anne’s Church. And guess what? We found all the groups that avoided the previous line. It was pretty packed but we were able to sing in the acoustically amazing church – and enjoy some other groups as they sang too. It was fantastic.  Ours was the only group in English, what a treat to hear praise in other languages.

Then we explored the pools of Bethesda before heading back out onto the Via Dolorosa. We passed most all of the stations on our way to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. And let me tell you, that place was very crowded.  There was some sort of service at the Stone of Unction (right inside the only entrance door) so people were everywhere. I didn’t go up the Calvary and waited down in the main area with Renata. In a few minutes the service ended and could find a place to sit and rest our wearing feet.  Yes, they were weary already.

Over at the empty tomb, there were once again more people than could be counted. So we saw what we could see and then headed to the door.  There’s only one, remember?

Manhal discovered that the only time slot open for lunch was right then (11:30), so an early lunch at the Panorama Restaurant. Chicken shawarma for me.  Yum. One of the best features of lunch at that place is that we eat on the third floor – with stunning views of the Old City and Dome of the Rock.  It’s great.

Then we had a shopping break.  Not too long, but it satisfied some of the urge to shop. For most.

Then we walked through the Jewish Quarter and then down toward the Western Wall. We came across a Bar Mitzvah along the way and had to enjoy the festivities. Those are always so interesting. We went through security again and entered the plaza of the Western Wall. No one wanted to go down to the wall, since we’d been there on our own…was that Monday? Besides it was getting very hot.

It was close to time for our reservation for the Tunnel Tour, so the group headed over. Renata and I had a chronic case of sore feet, so we decided to rest during the tour. The group went ahead, but no early birds anymore.  You must enter at the precise time. But the group told us we could wait on a bench in an air-conditioned lobby, instead of on a narrow rock clinging to some shade in the heat.  So, we opted for the lobby.  The tour was much longer than we thought it would be, so that was a wise move.

They didn’t get done with the tour until 2:45 I think. And Manhal couldn’t call for the bus while on the tour because he had no cell service.  With traffic, we would not get to the Israel Museum today.  By then, however, the sore feet issues had spread to everyone in the group, so we decided to head to the bus and come back to the hotel.
And this is our free day, anyway.

So we got some down time at the hotel before dinner.  At dinner I got the sad news (for us) that Mary Jeanne Buttrey had passed away. So tears were shed.  But she is where she longed to be…because of the work of the Savior in whose footsteps we follow here in Jerusalem.

We are on the bus again tomorrow at 7:30 am.  Herodian. Israel Museum. Garden Tomb.  Another full day. Only two more to go…..

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