Day 91–Wed., Apr. 6, 2011–Ashdod (Jerusalem), Israel

     We had to be up by 6:30 am to be ready to go get our passports and Israeli Landing Permit in order to go ashore.  We went to the Lido for breakfast and then we were called.  We were not expecting to be visiting Israel at all.  It was added when we had to cancel Egypt.  I was always nervous to visit Israel but we’re here and we booked a ship’s tour.  We chose Leisurely Jerusalem which was an 8 1/2 hour tour leaving at 8:30 am which cost us $139 pp.  Some of the other tours were 10 or 10 1/2 hours which had a lot more walking.

Jerusalem Pano

     These are Ray’s thoughts:  “Ashdod was an unexpected blessing.  Nearing the last few weeks of this exceptional cruise we went to Jerusalem and IMG_0938made a short pilgrimage to the Church of all Nations that houses the rock   that Jesus was sitting on when the Romans came to arrest him. Garden of Gethsemane There were 3,000 year old olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane.  These trees, after being dormant for many years, produced olives last year.  Right next to the Garden we saw the tomb of Jesus’ Grandparents.  We went to the top of Mount Olive and had a magnificent view overlooking Jerusalem.  We stopped and went in the old city to the Wailing Wall IMG_0978 and witnessed men and women praying and leaving notes in the cracks of the wall.  I said a short prayer at the wall also.  Saw the Battlefield where David slew Goliath.  This was a very moving and powerful day for me, a place I thought I would never see but so glad I had the chance.” IMG_0909

     We left Ashdod port and drove via the Judean Mountains to a museum with their tanks and a wall of names of those killed in action. IMG_0889 We then had a tour around the city as we  drove to the Mount of Olives for a panoramic view of the old city.  IMG_0899There was a camel just hanging out.  When we drove out, he was rolling on his back.  We then went to the Church and Garden of Gethsemane and went for a Kosher lunch at a lovely hotel.  Next stop was the Dung Gate and going through security to enter the old city and view the Western or Wailing wall—the last vestige of the ramparts that surrounded the holy temple of the Jews built by Solomon.  We had a shopping stop and then headed for Bethlehem.  The sign outside Bethlehem says:  “Entrance to Palastinian (that is their spelling) Authority Territories – No Passage for Israeli Citizens.”  It is also surrounded by a “wall of separation” built by the Israelis.  We then passed through a few checkpoints on the Left Bank before heading back to the ship.

 Entrance to Bethlehem IMG_1064

     We made it back to the ship in time to eat in the dining room and then waited for a one show only of the Ashdod Academy of Dance.  These girls were unbelievable.  They put on a non-stop show for 45 minutes of energetic routines.  I ran our of room on my SD card or I would of taped the entire show.  They will have no trouble with boot camp when it comes time for them to enter the service.  This was truly an amazing day!

The Ashdod Academy of Dance The Ashdod Academy of Dance

“The way to develop self confidence is to do the thing you fear.                 –Jennings Bryan-

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