I cannot tell you enough what an experience it was to visit Palestine and on Christmas Eve at that. I principally wanted to see Bethlehem given the time we were in the Holy Land.
It was Saturday, our first Shabbat, in Israel. We scheduled our trip the way we did so that we wouldn't be stuck in Jerusalem when everything closed due to the Jewish religious day of rest.
Though Palestine is another country, getting there took no time at all. It was very, very close to Jerusalem. Just half an hour if I remember correctly.
Here is the itinerary we followed that day:
1. We first went to Ramallah, doing a quick tour of a fresh produce and meat market. Then we proceeded to a nearby bakery where everyone was given a sweet treat to try and eat. We walked to some plazas/squares and took pictures.
2. While still in Ramallah, we boarded the bus for a quick trek to Yasser Arafat's tomb. It was here our guide advised us to be very serious and not stray from the group.
3. Jericho was next to view the ruins of the old city. We met up with a guide from the town who showed us the ruins.
4. The itinerary also included a visit to the Jordan River where John baptized Jesus. A rope divided the river between Israel and Jordan.
5. Bethlehem was for me the highlight of the trip. Too bad it was too crowded because of the Christmas Eve holiday.
6. The unexpected trip to a local pastry shop to sample the famous Knaffe was amazing.
7. Last up but also one of the highlights was the visit to the Wall in the West Bank
I would visit Palestine in a heart beat. Our day long visit there was just a drop in the bucket. There is so much to see here and I hope and pray I get more opportunities to return and explore it in the near future. The entire tour was simply delightful.
This was the opposite side of the street where we stopped to eat some early morning treats from a local bakery.
Local newspaper for sale at a nearby stand
Thirsty for Starbucks coffee? There's none in Palestine. BUt, they do have the famous Stars N Bucks! How's that?
Sweet treats from a Palestine bakery
The welcome sign
The way to visit the ruins in Jericho
It was a pity we were here for a very short time. It would be wonderful to return to Palestine and visit the entire country. Hopefully that next time is not so far away.
The ruins in the old city of Jericho
At the Jordan River, site of Jesus' baptism by St. John.
It was Christmas Eve when we went to Bethlehem While it was the most joyous time of year, it was not the best time to go. There were millions of visitors!!! We had to walk to Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity. Our tour bus couldn't get us any closer.
These were our appetizers or starters at the restaurant where we stopped to have lunch in Bethlehem. Our main course consisted of lamb meat balls and rice. I liked it. I would have liked seconds but there was none offered.
This was in Bethlehem after the parade. Bands composed of very young school children walked down the streets of Bethlehem on Dec. 24, 2022 playing Christmas music. It brought a tear to my eye hearing the songs.
What can I say, these children's bands were simply delightful to listen to. It was Christmas Eve after all!!!
Artwork I came across while we toured Bethlehem
We had Knaffe for an afternoon treat. WE had coffee to go with it! What a delicious snack! I'd return to Palestine just to eat this!
The Wall at the West Bank was so powerful and moving!
We walked the wall's entre length
Fellow travelers from Hong Kong were given spray paint to paint on the wall. They were hesitant at first but when they realized it was no big deal, they painted away. It was not on this spot, just so you know.
We were told that many of the images on the wall change frequently. They get painted over by visitors reflecting the mood and the events of the day.
Some images were sad to look at.
This was the hotel next to the wall.
Here's the tomb of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah.
A local fruit stand in Bethlehem
Our arrival in Manger Square. It was too bad we didn't get to see nor touch the site where Jesus was born inside the Church of the Nativity. The line was horrifically long that afternoon! We were told it would take three hours from the end of the line to the exact spot.
Yasser Arafat's Tomb in Ramallah