Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem’

In Searcdh of...Jerusalem

image from www-josephinewall-co.uk

It’s taken a while but I’d like to explain why I use this image for each of my entries “In Search of”, The simple reason is that the title of the work is “Spirit Elements” and it seems fitting for my story. I hope you like it a much as I do.

Once on the coach at the Dead Sea Hotel we traveled through the Hebron Valley towards Bethlehem. After many calls and ‘agreements’ our guide had been given the all clear for those of us who wished to go into Bethlehem, to do so. It was explained to us that it would be our own decision and no responsibility would be held by the tour operators. Since Bethlehem was inside the West Bank, a Tour Guide from inside there had been arranged and he would look after us whilst we were there. There was still a set protocol to be followed to visit Bethlehem. At the time it seemed slightly odd, from the perspective of hindsight it was a trifle more ominous.

The tour bus driver was allowed to drive up to the West Bank access point, whilst the tour guide had to exit the bus a couple of blocks before the checkpoint.  The driver had been given instructions that he was not allowed to leave the bus under any circumstances, although we were not totally aware of the magnitude of that little statement.

Arriving at the checkpoint I noticed the high concrete wall around three sides of the ‘square’ and the shapes of armed soldiers along the top of the wall, all carrying machine guns! An ominous start. The access area looked, for all the world like a cattle grid, or the gates at the entrance to the Brisbane Exhibition grounds. Once off the bus the driver left immediately, and we were on our own. We moved towards our  entrance. There were swarthy looking characters watching our every move. It was increasingly tense as our every move was carefully watched.

At the other side we were met by the West Bank tour guide, Ibrahim. We later found out that the real tour guide was Ibrahim’s son, but since the recent conflict, the tourism trade had been badly affected and he had therefore decided to take the tour himself.  After the time we had spent in Israel it felt like a different world completely. The buildings were, for the most part, covered in steel grills and the windows or glass in the doors was papered over also.  Everything seemed dustier, the people less cheerful and much more aware of our presence. We were escorted to a restaurant for lunch and had little option but to order something. We were not leaving until we had eaten! We saw Hezekiah’s tunnel, the Church of the Nativity and spent some time being closely scrutinised in a large square in front of an official looking building.

The ‘tour guide’ seemed to disappear into the surroundings as we reached the square and we were left milling around wondering when he was coming back.  Finally, he strode into our midst from within a group of soldiers. We were hustled up the street quickly. The very unfriendly looks made for a tense atmosphere. At one of the unremarkable doorways we were ushered inside. It was a souvenir shop which appeared to sell religious knick knacks of a huge number. The women in the store had coffee, sweets and savouries which they pressed on us at every opportunity at no cost. We had been told that as soon as we were ready to leave we should ask the tour guide to radio ahead for the bus to be at the check point to pick us up. The driver was allowed ten minutes to be at the exit and collect us so timing was critical. However, despite being asked by more than half the group our tour guide was in no hurry to allow us to leave, in fact the door had been locked and bolted – for our protection! It soon became apparent that unless everyone bought something from the shop – which he owned – we weren’t going to leave any time soon.

After a hurried discussion we all bought a small trinket and the guide called for the Israeli bus. We made our way back to the gates under the watchful gaze of the locals and a soldier or two. I am rarely uncomfortable when out and about but it was with a very odd sensation between my shoulders that I made my way through the exit. The Israeli bus was a very welcome sight. We drove several blocks away and collected our Israeli guide, which is when we finally learned of the tension surrounding our visit to Bethlehem. If we had known I doubt that as many people would have gone.

From Bethlehem we drove to Jerusalem. It was such a strange transition, driving through lush countryside after the drab and desolate surroundings inside the West Bank. I am not making any criticism of the area, either the people of the place, yet I can say with all honesty that the only time on my trip I felt at all uncomfortable was whilst I was inside the West Bank.  The air of “something about to happen” was very real.

Jerusalem was yet again a completely diverse mix of modern and ‘ancient’. We saw the Garden of Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives. Nothing was as I expected, probably from too many movies. We, that is Mel and I, had an exciting trip to Ben Yehuda mall to find a new suitcase for me. Pulling an empty suitcase over a paved or cobbled area was hilarious. We were so hungry we stopped for Schwarma in the mall. The looks we got were priceless and watching the flow of people as we sat there was enough to write fill a novel. We managed to find a nifty little store that was crammed with everything imaginable and I bought a few laugh a minute items for my children when I got home.

On the way to the hotel   we stopped at a little coffee shop. They were really nice letting me drag this large suitcase inside with us. We had the most delicious chocolate mousse filled with hot syrupy chocolate. It was so delicious I could have scrapped the plate clean!

The next day we set off for a tour of the old city. We walked from the Western Gate to the many churches and the ‘birthplace of Christ’. There was so much to see and not enough time. We stopped for a while at the Wailing Wall and walked the length of the Via Dolorosa, the “Way of the Cross”.  Stopping at a sidewalk café for drinks and something to eat seemed surreal and at the same time so ‘every day’ that I wondered if I was just an observer in a strange land.

After an exhausting day we went back to the hotel and, being the first two in the business centre, Mel and I hit the computers to write home and keep a running diary of events.

The next day was spent exploring further and a haunting visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial. It was impossible not to be moved by the enormity of all we saw.  Mere words and photos cannot really do our time in Jerusalem justice. It could easily fill a small book.

The next morning we packed up and the bus headed for the airport at Tel Aviv, the Ben Gurion airport for the next leg of our tour in Egypt. But first we had to get through customs!

All around us was so much history, it was impossible not to try to capture as much as possible so we could have our memories with us later.

It was a beautiful and challenging visit. The two sides to the same coin, but the differences were so great. After the tense and uncomfortable trip to Bethlehem, it was difficult not to make judgement calls….. rightly or wrongly, we were all glad we were in Israel. I felt I had been protected, and I also felt that ‘we all’ would be safe. It was good to have an angel on my shoulder.

I hope you have enjoyed this…. previous chapters are located throughout the archives. Please use “In Search of..Part “..” and you can catch up if you need to.

Next Week –  Airports and Cairo

Read Full Post »

Revelations

image from www-josephinewall-co.uk

“…When a choice will make a real difference in our lives—obvious or not—and when we are living in tune with the Spirit and seeking his guidance, we can be sure we will receive the guidance we need to attain our goal.”
― Dallin H. Oaks

My trip through history really begins……

From Acre we took a leisurely drive overlooking the Galilee and Jezreel valleys, but were unable to go up to the Golan Heights was it still considered a ‘delicate’ area. We stopped for the night at the Kibbutz Ginnosar where the Sea of Galilee Boat or Jesus Boat was discovered in 1986.  Due to its preservation in the mud it is still able to be seen how and what the boat was made from, but the effects of exposure to the open air is now causing problems.  The next morning we were able to ride on a similar boat on the Sea of Galilee.  The cool air as we sailed along was really pleasant as the day began to heat up.

From there we drove to the Church of the Beatitudes.  Amazing frescoes in the church and sights from the mountain across the Sea of Galilee to Jordan on the far side gave one a feeling of what life must be like on a daily basis. On one side the peaceful sounds of the church service and the smell of incense and on the other, so near to an ancient enemy. It was almost too much for the mind to take in. Leaving there we drove to Nazareth where Jesus spent his childhood and after a couple of hours walking round with our guide, we left.

Traveling back towards the ‘border’ we drove down to the Dead Sea. It was surreal seeing the Palestinian villages on one side of the road and the Jewish settlements on the other. There were even occasions where there was a Jewish and Palestinian village side by side.  It was impossible to miss the high wire fences around the Jewish settlements.  It seemed sad that they could work side by side and yet need to be barricaded inside an enclosure at night to be safe. By day, they were almost neighbours, but by night enemies once more. The electric fences were the only thing keeping the Israeli farmers safe.  The voices of the past echoed around me.

Following the Dead Sea, we drove to Masada. It was an incredible landscape of dry and desolate land. Masada was an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel, situated on top of an isolated rock plateau (akin to a mesa) on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. The Siege of Masada by troops of the Roman Empire ended in the deaths of the 960 Jewish men and their families hiding there. (This is my understanding: “Since suicide is a sin a secret lottery was taken by the men. Everyone was killed the night before the Romans intended to overrun the settlement. The unlucky lottery ‘winner’ killed everyone before committing  suicide. In this way only one person would have broken the commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill”, and committed the sin of suicide.”)

There were a couple of buildings under excavation too. Walking around the mesa was an eerie feeling. History spoke from every corner. As I walked around there was the sound of ancient footsteps and quiet voices. Spirit was crossing the ages for me.

The ‘strange’ part of the story begins here. After the Romans entered the settlement late in the day and found the dead bodies, the Commander ordered that the bodies be thrown off the plateau the following morning. However, the next morning not a single body could be found, neither in the settlement nor around the base of the plateau. They had simply – disappeared.

After a leisurely ride down in the cable car, we drove to our hotel at the Dead Sea. As we gathered to collect our suitcases prior to check in, I found my case had met with an accident. The wheels had been ripped out of the bottom of the case. How? I have no idea, but the idea of struggling with my case for the rest of my holiday made me shudder. A nice letter from the hotel manager, which later proved to be useless, was filed away with my paperwork.

Booked in, we all changed into our swimmers (old ones) and a shirt, to troop down to the Dead Sea. Suitably lathered in sunscreen with the warnings that:- we could spend no more than 5 – 10 minutes in the water and MUST shower at the beach before returning to the hotel.  Oh, and of course, there is the oft repeated statement, ”Everyone can float in the Dead Sea” or “No-one can drown in the Dead Sea”.

Down we go, in two’s and three’s we wander along the walkway into the Dead Sea. Like the petals of a flower slowly opening, people float off around the end of the walkway, a colourful explosion of laughing people. Of course being a chicken considerate person I held the cameras so Mel could go in first.  She thought it was great, just floating along without effort was a dream.  Then it was my turn.  All I have to do is walk out and let my feet float up in front of me as I lean back slightly. No trouble at all, just so easy, nothing could go wrong. Wrong! Oh damn! I leaned back a little and my feet started to come off the bottom. A surge of adrenalin hit me and I tried to stand back up.

Oh No – No Way was that going to happen. My feet kept rising, my arms were windmilling and very unladylike squeaks were coming from my mouth. As my arms windmilled and I squeaked, the obvious happened.  The one thing they really, strongly advised us against. DO NOT GET WATER IN YOUR EYES OR MOUTH.  They could have also added nose, but I presume they thought everyone would have got the message. Well, I did get the message, but, try flailing madly with your arms and stopping water from getting in your eyes, nose, mouth and ears. Someone finally realised I wasn’t playing around and grabbed my arm and I found my footing. Of course once found, I made an immediate exit from the Dead Sea.

My eyes, nose and throat burned like the dickens. A bottle of water later and all I could taste was salt. By this time Mel arrived so we both made a dash for the beach showers.  After ten minutes we gave in and made our way quickly to our rooms. Showered, shampooed and a bottle of moisturiser later I called her room and went over. I had run out of eye drops and was still feeling salty. We agreed; we felt as if we had been pickled in brine. We spent a small fortune on soaps and lotions and still our skin peeled off. I dread to think what it did to my stomach.

Cases packed, and in my case, manhandled by the porter, we climbed back on board the bus for Jerusalem. We had one stop to make…. to Bethlehem in the West Bank.

Ciao,  Susan x

Next week –  Jerusalem

Read Full Post »

It's partly cloudy, outside and inside

It’s partly cloudy, outside and inside

When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.  Albert Einstein

It’s been a strange day, partly cloudy with sudden showers and then fine periods.  That’s the weather forecast, and they managed to get it right – which is a novel experience.  There are days when you feel it’s almost ‘flip a coin and choose an option’ to see what kind of weather we’re going to see.

It’s also been a very apt description of the kind of day I’ve had, partly cloudy (brain fog) and fine periods when thought has been sharp and clear. Needless to say when the cloudy periods hit I’ve been a tad frustrated because it has stopped me doing things I wanted to.  Like this blog, and in deference to “Clear Thinking” I am delving into a time when Lyme dis-ease hadn’t overtaken me.

I decided to escape for some ‘me time’ and organised a trip overseas. For many years I had wanted to visit Israel and since Mum had recently passed away I decided it would be a great chance to take her with me in spirit. I didn’t do much pre-planning, I walked into my nearest travel agent and sat down, telling her I wanted to go to the Middle East. Several hours later I walked out with my plans formed and told my family I was flying out in three weeks.

The  Acropolis, Athens

The Acropolis, Athens

After a short stopover in the middle of the night at the airport in Singapore I landed in Athens.  Jet lag not withstanding I only had four days here before my next leg of the trip. It passed in a whirlwind of sights and sounds. Madly driving vehicles rushing past, risking life and limb to jay walk across the roads.

Athens

Athens

It was with mounting excitement that I headed out to the airport after being thoroughly spoilt by hotel staff and everyone I met.  My next experience was unexpected.  Arriving at the airport I was shuttled off to the side and asked to open my suitcase(s)! Oh No!! They  were packed to the max – and it was a struggle getting everything in, in an orderly fashion and the case closed. Not only was I scanned and dope tested (my suitcase!) my case was thoroughly examined. Everything, and I do mean everything, was taken out and checked. Not only did I have to then hurry to try to pack everything back in, I had to rush back into the terminal as I was over my allotted baggage limit.

Once more I had a wonderful Greek attendant  guiding me along to the right place and then back to complete my check in. My first flight on El Al was an experience I have never had anywhere else. Everyone was talking to everyone else (except me – I think I had a stamp flashing saying ‘foreigner’), and standing up, walking around and generally behaving as though we were on the ground and not in the air.

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv, a walk around this city is a walk through history. From moment to moment you see ultra modern hotels and history side by side. It truly was walking with the past as we went to major historical sites with our guide and listened to the origins of each place from Byzantine, Romans, Crusaders and Israeli history. Magical.

Tel Aviv was the starting point. The tour visited Capernaum, Haifa, Akko, Jerusalem, Masada, Nazareth, Bethlehem, The Dead Sea where I proved it was possible NOT to float, and with so many incredible sunsets. Here is a snapshot look at this incredibly historical land ending with one of the magical sunsets.

On top of Masada

On top of Masada

Jerusalem at night

Jerusalem at night

A frantic rush through Jerusalem was necessary to buy a new suitcase. Damaged beyond further use I had no option but to replace it. Kebabs in the mall and chocolate mousse, sinful and delicious made the visit even more exciting.

The Old Town, Jerusalem

The Old Town, Jerusalem

Walking through the Old Town, along the Via Dolorosa, The Way  of the Cross and seeing the bazaar stalls was stepping into another world entirely.

Israel, history at a glance

Israel, history at a glance

The old, truly historical land and the modern at a glance.

Glorious sunset over the Mediterranean.

Glorious sunset over the Mediterranean.

I was gifted with more glorious sunsets like this than I could count. Each time I thought it couldn’t get better – it did! A fabulous way of ‘ending’ each day.

“You can learn as much about the history from reading about the present as you can vice versa, that is learning about the present through history, which is what I do for a living.”     Ken Burns

Read Full Post »

Bipolar For Life

Memoirs of a Wounded Healer

thoughts alone

Just some thoughts along the journey back home

A Window Of Wisdom

Whispers from spirit heard with your heart

Sacred Ascension - Key of Life - Secrets of the Universe

Discover your True Self through the Vibrational Messages from Behind the Veil

shamanictracking

Opening doors to enhanced life experiences by uncovering the unseen

Kindness Blog

Kindness Images, Videos, True Life Stories, Quotes, Personal Reflections and Meditations.

Witch Reads

magical book reviews

Kit Perriman

The Hill - A Historical Novel About Witches

weatheredwiseman

A Weathered Wise Man's Look At Life

Fireside Witch

A personal journey with the Ancients in a World of Ritual, with the Intent to Heal.

Mystical Magical Herbs

by friends who love herbs and want to share what they know...

Sunhealers

Nurture the Body, Free your Soul

aisha north

Channelings and words of inspiration

Dr. Bairavee Balasubramaniam PhD: The Sky Priestess

Astrologer, Doctor of Political Science, Spiritualist and Public Speaker

Circle of the PussyWillows

A Wiccan Circle Based on Green and White Magick

%d bloggers like this: