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- December 2008:
Middle East (Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Egypt) (498 photos)
It was the
second and the longest out of three trips at the end of this
year. This time Kate decided to stay at home finding the excuse that
someone had to take care about children and should keep an eye on the
business. It was a second such attractive trip organized by the priest from
our local Polish parish in Windsor. The first one was to Machu Pichu and we
missed it, so this time I decided to join the group. There were over 40
Poles from Windsor in our group. There were full three weeks of visiting the
places. We saw really a lot and travelled in four countries: Israel,
Palestine, Jordan and Egypt. It was also a very special trip since I do not
rememebr when I took last time three weeks off from my work. Probably back
at the university a long time ago.
The long-awaited trip through four of the world’s continents (America, Europe, Asia and Africa) has finally begun!
The first day of this three-week adventure involved a journey throughout three of these (all but Africa) within a single day!
Polonia (a group consisting of over thirty people) from Windsor met at the Windsor airport prior to the flight to the Holy Land.
I have to admit, I was one of the youngest of the people there; the majority of the journeyers were retired.
Prior even to my trip, I had heard more about the diseases in these lands than I had in the half-year preceding this.
Our flight to Frankfurt was delayed for over an hour.
It turned out that the plane did not have individual screens for each passenger as in the previous trip to Europe, and in turn there wasn’t really a choice of films, either.
However, the flight itself wasn’t bad, and we were even able to make up for some of the lost time.
In Frankenfurt, one of the more elderly passengers on our trip lost their ticket, and as a result we were left sprinting from plane to plane.
In comparison to this, our trip to Tel-Aviv was rather harsh, each passenger being checked thoroughly before being allowed entry.
The journey there, also, seemed much rougher: the three-hour ride seemed to stretch longer than the previous eight had.
Additionally, the gentleman next to me managed to wreck one of the two pairs of pants I had brought along with me by spilling beer on them.
He must have been rather stressed, because he drank three beers in the short time of our flight. And here I thought that headaches originated from drinking.
In Tel-Aviv we were forced to wait another three hours for a couple arriving from Paris. Our tour guide wanted to wait for the entire group to be present before taking us to our hotel in Bethlehem, on the boarder of Palestine.
Even more than lack of sleep, a sense of being cramped nagged at me by this point in the day, particularly taking into consideration that with my extremely tall stature, I was unsure of what to do with my feet on the plane.
The combination of all these things made me feel so ill that I couldn’t even make it back to the hotel in one piece: I fell asleep on the bus.
The only thing missing was evening mass, which (thank God!) the priest had called off for the night.
Early the next day, we were forced to be up and alive at 5:30. AM. However, the precious few hours of sleep that we received were the best possible medicine to regenerate our strength for the challenges we were faced with from then on.
Firstly, we we journeyed to the two largest mosques: Al-Axa and Dome of the
Afterwards, we visited several churches, having our first mass as a group within the one where Jesus’ tomb lies.
In the afternoon was the Cross road.
In this, we had to carry a cross, changing places every so often. We travelled through narrow streets in the old portion of Jerusalem in Golgote, praying at each station.
Inhabitatnts of the city stared at us as we passed, always either praying or singing religiously-themed songs.
The only thing waiting for us after all this was an additional two-hour wait to see Jesus’ tomb, where he was hidden after his crucification.
That evening we went out to the Western (Walling) Wall, where we witnessed a small group of Jews banging their heads against the wall in prayer – a sight that made us almost pity them.
Here, ladies were also allowed to pray, but were given a much smaller portion of the wall then were the men.
Around this area were many small stalls where vendors sold a large variety of things.
In the evening of the first day there was a short dinner followed by drinks in the hotel bar.