Click on any photograph to enlarge it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


View from cable car on way up to Masada

Cistern, Masada

It is possible to walk up to The top of Masada on the Snake Path but in the heat, even in April, I took the cable car both ways. Best $25 dollars spent here.

Ethiopian Monastery on Roof of Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dead Sea

Looking across Dead Sea to Mt Nebo

Dead Sea Looking South

Twice I have camped on top of mount Nebo and looked across at the lights of cities in Israel and last year we drove the entire length of the Dead Sea on the Jordan side several time to check the view from all the side canyons. It's a little more complicated in Israel because of the A, B, and C zones in the West Bank but to my Palestine driver it is no problem. The zone letter indicates who controls the area and the security there. For example, the A zone is under full civil and security control of the Palestinian and Israelis are not allowed entry.

Damascus Gate

Heading out Damascus Gate

The Gate

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bell Tower, Church of the Redeemer


The Lutheran Church of the redeemer was built in the eighteen hundreds on land the emperor Charlemagne received as a gift at the beginning of the 9th century. Its bell tower has a great view being in the center of the old city. Getting to the top requires climbing the 178 steps on a very narrow circular staircase. Not only is it narrow but there is very little headroom and if you meet anyone else someone has to back up as there is no way to pass unless you are really small. The view from the top is great, well worth the climb.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Haram esh-Sharif, The Temple Mount

Dome of the Rock

Security at the Mosque

13th Century tiles inside Dome of Chain

Shields at Security Point


The Temple Mount is a vast rectangle in the south-eastern part of the old city. Traditionally it is the site of Solomon's Temple and became the site of a Islamic shrine in AD 691. It is now the third most important Islamic santuary and non-Muslims are not allowed inside.

The Dome of Chain is a small dome in the center of the Temple Mount which in one theory is the center of the world.

Carts in the Market

The old city is a maze of souks (markets).  Not only are they very narrow but none are level they are all up and down. To stock these markets these narrow carts carry everything from produce to refrigerators. They all have a scooter tire fastened on the back with a heavy chain which seems out of place until you see a heavy load going down hill. The operator puts the tire flat on the ground and stands on it for a brake.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Shepards Field

Some of the caves that were lived in over 2000 years ago. Right, the bench and table cloth in the top photo are not from that time but don't tell the tourists.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Western Wall

The Western Wall is part of a massive wall built by King Herod to create the plaza that is now the Temple Mount. The Wall is Judaism's holiest site and a place for prayer for Jewish men and women in segregated areas.

Armenian Church at Church of the Nativity

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is divided between three groups: the Armenians, the Catholics, and the Greek Orthodox. There were only two of us in our group and our guide got us into an Armenian service that occurs only twice a year. The doorway on the back right of the lower photo is the entrance to the Grotto of the Nativity and after the service he took us down there.
The central nave has a mosaic floor that was from the original basilica built by Helena, the mother of Constantine, in the 4th century. The church has been rebuilt many times including in the 6th century by Justinian and by Crusaders in the 12th century.

Catholic Chapel at Church of the Nativity

The most modern of the three chapels of the Church of the Nativity is the Catholic Church built in 1882 and it incorporates part of its 12th century Crusader predecessor.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Baptism site on Jordan River

Line for Baptism

Jordan river view downstream from Baptism site

Catfish petting zoo?

Last year while driving around Jordan we visited the Baptism site on the Jordan side of the river. It was further down river and the water was not nearly as clear and there was only a dirt path to the river. There rational for choosing that site was the fact it was shown on a 6th century mosaic map in a church in Madaba and was in sight of the city of Jerico across the river.
The location Israel chose for Baptism site is near where the Jordan River flows out of the Sea of Galilee and the water is much clearer. It has a very large Souvenir building and does a brisk business of baptisms. There are white robes with dressing rooms and showers and chrome rails going into the water for the pilgrims to line up on while they wait there turn. There is even a petting zoo for feeding the catfish. You can also buy bottles of water from the river for $3, $5, and up including matched sets of bottles of both water and olive oil. The $3 bottles are marked "not for religious use" and "not for drinking"

Bethlehems Wall

Bethlehem side of Wall

Graffiti on Wall

Wall by the Banksy Shop

Bethlehem is part of the Palestinian Authority but tourists with passports are allowed in but not Israelis. The town is now walled off with a wall that is taller than most of the buildings. Artists have covered the Bethlehem side with graffiti including the British artist Banksy. There is even a Banksy shop inside he wall near the checkpoint which sells posters and postcards showing the graffiti painted on the wall.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Capharnaum on the Dead Sea

Capharnaum: Home of Peter, Andrew, James, an John

Ruins of Capharnaum

Greek Orthodox Monastery

Sea of Galilee from Capernaum

Capernaum was a settlement on the shore of the Sea of Galilee that was inhabited from 150 BC to about AD 750. It is one place were you can actually see ruins but they are walled off so you only see them at a distance, you can't walk among them.
One of the houses was the house of Peter, the pope himself declared it so. The site of that house now consists of an ultramodern church built to look like a space ship.
From Capernaum you are only about 60 miles from Damascus Syria and Beirut Lebanon, closer than to Jerusalem.

Monday, April 7, 2014

On to Cana

Hills at the point of sea level on the road to the Dead Sea

Roadside attraction for Bedouin jewelry stand

Church at Cana, the wedding church

Inside Church at Cana