Monday, October 14, 2013

Trip Itinerary

Hello Everett, Corinne, Ron and Loraine:

Thought I would share a bit of our trip itinerary with you being you are not with us like days of the past:

Day 1: Oct. 17 – Fly from Cape Town to Istanbul via Dubai.

Day 2: Oct. 18 – Arrive Istanbul.  Stay here 3 nights at Marriott hotel.

Day 3 Oct. 19 -   Tour begins:  Hagia Sophia, Hippodrome, Egyptian Obelisk, bronze sculpture entwined serpents of Delphi, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace.

Day 4: Oct. 2 -  Boat ride on the Bosporus, the water separating Asia from Europe; on to the Black Sea.  Afternoon finish tour of Istanbul.

Day 5: Oct. 21 -  Istanbul – Kusadasi:  Fly from Istanbul to Izmir near Ephesus. Visit Ephesus and surrounding areas. The house of the Virgin Mary atop of Bulbul Mountain, then explore best preserved theaters, fountains and buildings.  Sleep Kusadasi.

At Ephesus
Day 6: Oct. 22 - Philadelphia – Sardi – Smyrna:  Visit ancient ruins of Philadelphia, Sardis, Smyrna and more.  Return to Kusadai.

 On the Isle of Patmos
Day 7: Oct. 23 -  Kusadasi – Isle of Patmos:  Ship to Patmos, Greece; explore island of John the Revelator. Dr. Michael Wilcox will talk to us on book of Revelations in New Testament.  

Day 8: Oct. 24 – Kusadasi – Istanbul:  Free day, enjoy beach resort hotel.  Late afternoon flight back to Istanbul.

Day 9: Oct. 25 – Istanbul – Amman, Jordan:  Today fly to Amman, Jordan.  Spend night in our 5 star hotel.
 Petra - center of trade in the ancient world

Day 10: Oct. 26 – Amman – Petra – Amman:  Travel to Petra newly voted “Wonder of the World.”  Walk down narrow canyon to view of the Treasury – a city carved from cliffs of the canyon.  Sleep in Amman.

Day 11: Oct. 27 – Amman – Galilee:  Visit Christ’s Baptismal site on the Jordan
River Jordan
side of the Jordan River, swim in the Dead Sea before crossing into Israel.  Afternoon visit Masada.  Rising above the desert floor is Herod the Great’s fortress of Masada which we will visit via cable car.  Stop at the Qumran caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found then continue on to Galilee to overnight.   

Day 12: Oct. 28 – Nazareth – Galilee:  Travel to Elin Harod where Gideon chose his 300 men before routing the Midianites.  On to Mount Carmel where Elijah had his historic confrontation with the priests of Baal.  To Nazareth, home of the Savior for 30 years of his life.  Day ends with a sweeping view of the Jezreel Valley from Nazareth dominated by Mt. Tabor.  We will discuss the transfiguration of the Savior.  

Deborah and Barak gathered their forces at Mt. Tabor and defeated Sisera’s iron chariots.  On to Arbel cliff for an overview of the Sea of Galilee.  Then a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee where we discuss Jesus walking on the water and stilling the storm.
Sea of Galilee at twilight

Day 13: Oct. 29 – Galilee:  Journey to the north of the Sea of Galilee and visit Capernaum where many wonderful events and teachings of the Savior took place.  Stop at Mount of Beatitudes and ponder the great truths delivered by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.  Drive far north of Israel to the Canaanite city of Hazor and on to Tel Dan where Jeroboam erected a golden calf for the Israelites to worship, marking the beginning of a road that would end with the “lost ten tribes.”  The restored walls and gates give us an excellent idea of the fortifications Joshua would have faced as he conquered the land.  Visit Banias, known as Caesarea Philippi in the days of Jesus when he asked his disciples, “Whom do ye say I am?”  End of day return to hotel in Galilee.

Singing Carols in the Church of the Nativity
Day 14: Oct. 30 – Caesarea – Bethlehem – Jerusalem:  Focus shifts now to the West of the Mediterranean Sea and Apostles Peter and Paul as we discover Caesarea. Here the Roman centurion, Cornelius, became the first gentile convert to Christianity and Paul related his account of his vision on the road to Damascus to King Agrippa.  Visit a picturesque Roman aqueduct and wade in the Mediterranean Sea.  Conclude visit to Caesarea with visit to the roman theatre, and Hippodrome where chariot races were held.  Continue on to Bethlehem and recall the Savior’s birth,  Walk through the Church of the Nativity and sing Christmas carols. Have time to shop at the best OliveWood store in Israel, Nissan Brother in Bethlehem.  Sleep overnight in Jerusalem.

Day 15: October 31 – Jerusalem:  Explore ruins south of the Temple Mount and walk the sidewalks and stairs of Jesus’ time.  Climb the Temple Mount where both Solomon’s and Herod’s temples once stood and where the magnificent Dome of the Rock and Al Aksa Mosques now stand. Stop at the
Western Wall, the most sacred site of the Jewish faith, and write a prayer on a piece of paper and place it into the cracks of the wall as millions have done before.   Travel to the new city of Jerusalem and visit the Shrine of the Book where the Dead Sea Scrolls are located, and the model City, a reproduction of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus.  Visit the Jerusalem Museum.  Sleep in Jerusalem.

Exiting Hezekiah's tunnel
Day 16: November 1 – Jerusalem – Be it Lehi:  Walk through Hezekiah’s tunnel, built over 2500 years ago to secure the water supply of Jerusalem during the Assyrian siege.  Will need a flashlight.  At end of tunnel find the Pool of Siloam where the man born blind washed as instructed by Jesus and came away seeing. 

Head to Beit Lehi to experience firsthand an archeological dig.  Observe early Christian mosaics, oil presses, a mikvah (a ritual bath)  and the recently discovered Columbary where doves were raised by the thousands to be sacrificed at the temple.  See a New Testament period stable giving an idea of the one Jesus was born.  Stop at the Valley of Elah where David fought Goliath.  Then back to Jerusalem.

Day 17:  November 2 – Jerusalem:  Today the spiritual pinnacle of our pilgrimage.  We retrace the footsteps of our Savior during the last hours of his life and feel the deep appreciation these places create for the sacrifice of the Son of God. 

 We begin at Mt. Zion at the traditional site of the Upper Room where the Last Supper was shared with devoted apostles.  We visit St. Peter in Gallicantu, the possible site of the cock’s crowing and the Palace of Caiaphas where Jesus was tried.  From there we descend into the Kidron Valley to visit Gethsemane, the Garden of the Savior’s deepest prayers.  The afternoon we enter the Old City and continue the last hours of the Savior’s life.  We visit the Church of St. Anne where the Pools of Bethesda were located.  Here Jesus commanded the impotent man to take up his bed and walk.  We visit the Convent of the Sisters of Zion, the location of the Antonia fortress where Pilate tried the Savior.  Out highlight day concludes at Golgotha and the Garden Tomb where we will have time to ponder the Resurrection and final triumph of Christ.
At the Garden Tomb

Day: 18; November 3 – Fly home from Tel Aviv to the U.S.

Hope you enjoy this written excursion.  It would have been nice if we all could be on it but time, place, health, physical challenges, and money play their part.  There is a lot of walking involved and in Jerusalem busses cannot get to locations.  In preparation we are walking  45 minutes each morning instead of our normal half an hour and will probably boost it to an hour two weeks before our departure.   We are busy as we head toward the finish line and wrap things up.  We couldn’t have a better grand finale to our mission than to follow the steps of the Savior and apostles, walking where they walked.

Elder Stokoe

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