This is a very exciting post for me to share today!
I’m sure most of you are either running around town trying to finish up some last-minute holiday to-dos or enjoying time with loved ones, but I figured I’d pop in with a new post documenting our time overseas anyways. Take me back!
I almost didn’t go back and cover our trip to Israel that took place over Halloween, but that would be silly. I felt a bit overwhelmed to take on the task of condensing everything to share a snapshot of our trip and photos that I took there. The experience of visiting the country was one that I don’t take for granted and hope to revisit because our time was so limited.
We arrived in Tel Aviv, recovered from jet lag, checked in with Scott’s contacts for work, and only realized that we had a free day to explore by the late-morning. We debated on what to do with our time and decided that a half a day spent in Jerusalem is better than no day at all. So, we found the best route by bus and walked through the city a little after lunchtime.
We didn’t have the easiest time figuring out the bus system and how to pay for it, but we eventually navigated our way with excitement to see the sights ahead! We took a bit of a gamble on where to get off, but I think we made the right decision that led us through a walking tour through both modern and old-city Jerusalem.
With limited time to walk around in daylight, we moved swiftly and stopped for a quick lunch in the shopping district of Modern, West Jerusalem that has a large selection of restaurants, cafes, and stores. I had a falafel pita, and it was dreamy. It was also really neat to see both very old and very new elements existing in the same place.
We arrived at the Western Wall by the mid-afternoon and realized that we, sadly, wouldn’t make it over to the Dead Sea that day. There wasn’t enough time this trip, but we fully plan on a return in the future. Instead, we took our time exploring Old City Jerusalem and taking in the historic sights that mean so much to many people around the world.
The one-square-kilometer walled area is central to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity — making up one third of religion practiced across the world. It’s an indescribable place, and the photos I have to share only serve as a small preview to what it’s like in person. The views are simply incredible.
Walking up to the Jaffa Gate in Old City felt surreal. It’s exactly like I pictured it to be from story books and so much more. We took our time taking pictures, soaking it all in, and saying a prayer as we entered the gates. I remember looking over at Scott and mouthing “these are the streets that Jesus walked,” even though I still didn’t believe it myself.
We took a tour through the Tower of David while we waited for our friend to arrive from the hotel, which provided a lot of history and information on Jerusalem. We could have spent hours there, but we kept a steady pace to be able to fit more in for the day. Learning more about where we were at was really cool, but let’s talk about these views from the top.
The top of the Tower of David had the best views of the city and it was really hard to break away from it. I’d never felt so at peace and happy with exactly where I was in the moment.
Our friend arrived as we were exiting the Tower and we spent about thirty minutes or so walking through the Arabic Market. Again, we could have made our way in and out of the shops for a lot longer, but we had a mission to see the Church of the Holy Sepulcre before the sunset.
If you’re not familiar with what the Church of Holy Sepulcre represents, it’s known as the place where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected, and dates back almost 1,700 years.
The Tomb of Christ is now surrounded by a 19th century shrine called the Aedicula within the church, along with other famous sites like the rock and cross of Calvary. We walked right into a popular stopping point where you can touch and pray at the slab of stone where Jesus was cleaned in preparation for entombment. It almost didn’t even feel real.
By the way, admission to the site of the Holy Sepulchre is free! Visitors of any religion can enter inside, but they are advised to be dressed modestly.
There is no crowd control at the church entrance so it can get overcrowded, and you’ll most likely have to wait in line to actually be able to walk through the tomb. The wait while we were there was over two hours long, so, unfortunately, we were not able to see it any closer than from the outside.
We did, however, witness a prayer ceremony which felt like an out-of-body experience. I kept saying this to our group, but it just didn’t seem like everything was happening in real time. I walked out of the doors upon closing feeling like I just woke up from a dream. It was such a special and one-of-a-kind thing to witness.
We headed back to the Jaffa Gate after the church closed its doors and ate dinner before getting back on a bus towards our hotel in Tel Aviv. I wish we would have had more than half a day in Jerusalem, but I’ll take what we were able to experience any day.
Jerusalem is known as the ‘City of Gold’ and is unlike any other place in the world. While our time was short, I firmly believe that no visit to Israel is complete without a visit here, even if it’s just for a few hours!
Thank you for reading about my journey overseas today, and I’ll be back later this week with the rest of the highlights from our week-long trip in Israel.
Also, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!