November 27, 1961 – Lebanon

Riviera Hotel, Beirut, Lebanon – Clear, Warm

     This morning I got up a little earlier than Edith because I thought I might go back to that store to purchase the gold bracelet I liked instead of eating breakfast.  However, as I gathered my things and Edith got up I decided against it because I didn’t want to take a chance on holding up the others going to the airport. 

     After breakfast our group took the bus to the airport to catch our flight to Jerusalem, Jordan.  Our hour long trip was a pleasant one.  From the plane I had a wonderful view of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea which was exciting to see.  Curt told Edith and I that Jerusalem was 2,500 feet above sea level and had a population of 60,000.  He also mentioned that the dominate religions were Roman Catholic and Muslim which surprised me since I had assumed it would be Muslim and Judaism.  Our guide book noted that the annual average rainfall was 25 inches which was more than I thought it would be after seeing the desert with practically no trees or shrubs.   I decided I had several misconceptions about this area and it made me feel bad.

View of Jordan River and Dead Sea from Plane

     Our drive into Jerusalem revealed that a majority of the buildings were unpainted limestone and brick.  The rocky hills were barren except for very short grass which was the same color as the earth.  Edith mentioned to me that she didn’t have as strong a sense of reverence as she thought she would have before she got here.  We found the city was surrounded by a rock wall, only had a few gates and really didn’t cover a very large area.  I understood what she was talking about but wondered how I would feel once we visited some of the holy sites later in the day.

     We checked into the Ambassador Hotel and then made ourselves comfortable in our rooms.  The hotel once again turned out to be very nice one and I was pleased when I found our room had a delightful balcony overlooking the city.  After we freshened up and put a few things away, Edith and I joined the remainder of our tour group in the dining room for lunch.  The food turned out to be simple and similar to what we’d been served the last few days.  I was excited once we were done eating so we could go on a tour.

     Our afternoon took us on a walking tour of the fourteen Stations of the Cross starting at the Court of Pilate, walking on the Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross) till we reached the Hill of Golgotha and ended at Mt. Calvary.   We saw the Chapel of Condemnation and visited the Holy Sepulcher where Jesus was anointed along with His tomb. 

Via Dolorosa

Via Dolorosa Shops

     As I meandered around the Holy City I knew I was treading on the same ground that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, St. Paul and many other Biblical figures including Jesus had walked on when they lived.  There were so many things that looked the same as it likely did in the Old and New Testament times and those ancient days unfolded before my eyes in a way I decided you had to see to experience.  I was so glad I had come on this trip so I could see this area.

Street in Old Jerusalem

Another Street in Old Jerusalem

     We continued on our touring by visiting the Chapel of Flagellation, the Ecce Homo Arch, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Tower of David, Pool of Bethesda, and Pilate’s Judgment Hall which was now a Roman Catholic convent.  Next we went to the Mosque of Omar that had a huge sacrificial rock inside its front door.  The mosque, owned by the Muslims, was now where King Solomon’s Temple once stood.  The sacred spot covered one sixth of the area which made up Jerusalem.  Our last stop of the day was the beautiful Church of All Nations built in 1919 which had a spectacular mosaic ceiling.

Via Dolorosa Ecce Homo

Via Dolorosa Ecce Homo

Church of All Nations

     In one short afternoon we had covered quite a bit of area and seen so much I was emotionally and physically drained.  However, many of us, Edith and I included, decided to investigate a few of the shops that we saw lining both sides of the streets.  There were vendors with push carts that we had to watch out for so as to avoid a collision.  I saw some interesting trinkets that I thought about getting but finally only decided to buy a gavel for 40 cents. 

     Once we returned to the hotel Edith and I forced ourselves to eat the mutton served for dinner but we finished as quickly as we could so we could return to our room and collapse.  Edith and I flipped a coin to see who got to take their bath first and I lost.  However, I wasn’t upset because that meant I would be able to stay in the tub as long as I wanted since Edith would have had her bath.  By the time I crawled out of the tub the water was cold and I was ready to go to bed.  I was glad the mattress was a good one and it didn’t take me long to drift off to sleep.

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