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Review: Tour of the Holy Land

Escorted Tour - Coach

A land of contrasts

  • By SilverTraveller JW-Denmead

    1 review

  • Apr 2011
  • Friend(s)

91 people found this review helpful

Although not particularly religious I persuaded my friend to accompany me on a "tour of the Holy Land" some 20 years ago. We flew from London Heathrow to Athens, for a short stop, and then on to Telaviv, arriving in sweltering heat! An overnight stay there in a comfortable hotel found us rested and refreshed the next morning, ready to join our coach tour. We proceeded to Caesarea and along the coastline via Haifa and Jaffa to Nazareth and then inland toTiberius on the Sea of Galilee. I remember arriving at the hotel overlooking the water, hot and sticky and greeted with a plate of fresh Jaffa organges in the bedroom, which we ate with great gusto!. The next day we followed the River Jordan down to Jerusalem and Bethlehem and went to see where the baby Jesus was born (not exactly a stable anymore!). Parts of Jerusalem were very hot and smelly, especially the old market, displaying meat such as whole sheep's heads and piles of intestines, surrounded by flies. A lot of haggling over goods went on here, and one stall owner was very upset when I wouldn't buy a leather pouffe at his price. He followed me for ages shouting and waving the unstuffed pouffe in the air ! From Jerusalem we travelled through the Judaen desert, via the green, lush oasis town of Jericho (with its old walls) – a striking contrast to the hot, dry desert. We then followed the Dead Sea for some miles and stopped to bathe on its shores. Being seven times saltier than ordinary sea water it was impossible to swim in. You just waded into the water and at waist height your legs would just bob up in front of you and you would be virtually sitting in the water. We were warned not to get the water in our eyes due to its extreme salt content. After a bathe we came out and plastered ourselves with the black, mineral packed mud at the water's edge, and then lay baking ourselves in the hot sun. When we coudn't stand it anymore we hosed ourselves down with fresh water, the black sticky substance reluctant to leave our skin! This was followed by a dip in the nearby warm sulphur springs, which was very relaxing but of course had that pungent "bad eggs" smell. The whole experience was very enjoyable and after a meal we proceeded on our way to Masada – a large rocky outcrop in the desert which proved to be the last stand of a Jewish community against King Herod. There was a long, winding path which took you to the top of the rock or you could join the queue for the cable car. Because of lack of time we were forced to join the latter. There were stunning views from the top, overlooking the desert and the Dead Sea in the distance. A truly remarkable place. There were also the remains of the small township which the Jews had built on top. In his attempt to secure the rock, Herod built a long ramp up to the top and then exterminated almost every living Jew that resided there.! We were now reaching the end of our spectacular tour and drove via Hebron back to Telaviv, taking in a very bumpy camel ride on the way. What a truly wonderful tour of a country full of land contrasts and people.



(Please note that In the box above asking for the date of my holiday, there was no provision for the date we went on the tour, i.e. 1994. The dates given only go back to 2011, so I was forced to type in that year, although incorrect!)

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