The Travels of Paula

I was a software engineer at the same computer company for 38 although the name of the company changed 3 times. In 2012 I retired and spend my time now golfing, volunteering and traveling (for fun and on missions).
Living in: Haymarket, United States
  • Day8

    Today we visited sites within the old city of Jerusalem. Our first step was the archaeological site of the Pool of Bethesda We walked the Via Dolorosa. The road of the Via Dolores is very narrow. There are shops along the road which a reminder that except for the products the road is very much the way it was when Jesus walled the roads. There were also cars on the road. It is not really what goes world have encountered, but He would have encountered donkies.

    The last site on the Via Dolorasa is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. When we got to their to see the tomb, our guide, Victor, asked if we wanted to stand in line for an hour. The answer was a resounding "yes!". Seeing the tomb and all that went before His death was very moving. The remainder of Lent and Easter will be different for me this year.

    After lunch we went to the Western Wall (also known as the Wailing Wall). I did not know before that there are separate sections for men and women. We were invited to write out a prayer and put it in a crevices in the wall (which I did). Twice a year the prayers are gathered up and buried in the Mount of Olives.

    After dinner we attended the Sound and Light Show at the Tower of David. It is a celebration of the Jewish history and the Jewish Temple done through sound and images projected on the walls of the Jewish Museum. The show presents the history from 1006 BCE to the present It was very impressive.
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  • Day6

    Today was a more leisurely day. The weather was a bit warmer today. We were about 10 or 20 minutes late heading out, but traffic was light, so were able to make good time. I really enjoyed Masada. We took a cable car to the top. Masada, based on the ruins, is an impressive place. And the history of Masada is just as impressive. It was a bit crowded, but most of the groups tried to give each other room.

    After lunch (a Falafel sandwich for me) we headed for the Dead Sea. We got into the Dead Sea on a public beach. Pat and Janie decided to pass on floating on the Dead Sea, but they kept our backpacks. Janice took some pictures. Marian & I decided to skip spreading mud on our body. The area we floated in was not very deep, so it was easier to start floating. Joyce, one of the women on my bus, was afraid of the water, but didn't want to miss the experience of floating in the Dead Sea. I told her I would hold her hand and not let go until she was floating. It only took a minute for her to float and she was so excited when she felt herself floating. We were all whooping and cheering and laughing when she started floating. We all stayed in the Dead Sea for about an hour. After showering and getting dressed we headed back for dinner.

    Yesterday we got our group pictures. Marian and I have been working to match the photos in the group picture with the names onlitare received in our travel packet.

    Tomorrow we tour Jerusalem. I am looking forward to seeing the city where so much in Scripture took place.
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  • Day5

    Today was a very full day with lots of walking. Marian & I headed down to breakfast at 6am. I think the food and selections are better here at the Olive Tree Hotel.

    Our first stop was a shop where high quality olive wood products are made and sold in Bethlehem. They also sell jewelry there. Although everything was of high quality, it was also expensive even with the 15% to 25% discount. I ended up buying two small olive wood necklaces (w/o chains). The two cost me $2. I think we spent well over an hour there. I would have liked to have spent more time at the sights.

    Our next step was the Church of the Nativity. Currently the church is in the midst of major restorations. During the restorations Some mosaics on the walls were discovered. These mosaics are made of gold leaf and small fragments of glass called tessera. The ones we could see were beautiful. The line to see the place where Jesus was born was very long and moved very slowly (it took us almost an hour to get through the line). The long wait and jostling was beginning to wear on everyone's nerves. But then you were seeing and touching the spot and nothing else mattered. It was a deeply emotional experience for all of us on our bus. Many of the people were brought to tears. Although I didn't cry, I was surprised at how deeply I was affected. After that are looked at some more of the restoration.

    From there we went to lunch and then went to the Shepherd's field where the shepherds heard the good news of Jesus' birth. There is a church on the property. Visiting these two sites will broaden how I experience Christmas and the images that will come to mind when I think about the birth of Christ.

    From there we drove to Mt. Zion to see the Upper Room and the house of Caiaphas. The original building that housed the upper room was destroyed. It was replaced by another church. The original upper and the house of Caiaphas were in the same area. Jesus would have walked down the same path to get to the Garden of Gethsemane freely that he walked backup in chains. In Caiaphas' house we saw the jail Jesus was lowered into before he appeared before Pilot.

    When we returned to the hotel, we had a little more than 15 minutes to change cloths legit ready to leave for our dinnerina Christian home. There was a long line to get on the elevator. I thought it would be quicker to take the stairs. It was quicker to take the stairs, but since we are on the 8th floor, it was anything but easy. Marian switched to an elevator on the 4th floor, but stubborn me continued onto the 8th floor.

    109 members of the tour had dinner with 22 families. Marian, Pat, Janie and I had dinner together with one of the families. The dinner with the family was a wonderful experience. We met the wife, mother, 2 daughters (one married and one engaged), a son-in-law, a frience and the granddaughter. The food was very good and the conversation very informative. The family is a Christian Palestinian family. It was enlightening to hear them describe life for them. I really enjoyed this dinner experience.

    All in all the day was great. I just wish I had not felt so rushed to get to the dinner.
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  • Day4

    Third Day of Touring

    March 2 in Israel

    This morning we loaded up our luggage and headed for Jerusalem. Our first stop was Qumran. There we saw the archaeological site of the Jewish sect called the Essenes. They are assumed to be the ones who wrote the Scrolls. We also saw one of the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.

    From Qumran we headed for a restuarant in Jericho. After lunch we visited the Jericho ruins. We saw a portion of a wall and a part of a watchtower. These ruins overlook present-day Jericho.

    Then we returned to the bus and headed for Jerusalem. We drove to the Mount of Olives where we took a group picture (our group consisted of the 43 people on our bus - the Blue Bus). From there we walked down to a place where we could see the walled city of Jerusalem. Our guide, Victor, pointed out many of the Biblical landmarks like the places where Jesus was then to be judged, firstgth Jews and later by Pontus Pilot. Victori provided both the history, the current state other sites and the Scripture.

    Then we continued down to the Garden of Gethsemane. The name comes from Gat + Shemanim which means rOlive Oil Press. It was actually a grotto. Next to the garden is a church.

    It is hard to explain what I felt when I arrived in Jerusalem and later saw the Garden of Gethsemane. I was in Jerusalem!! I am looking forward to visiting all the places Jesus walked.

    From Gethsemane we headed to the hotel. The Olive Tree Hotel is very nice. At this hotel Janie & Pat are in the room next to us.
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  • Day4

    Second Day of Touring

    March 2 in Israel

    The day did not have an auspicious start. We were late leaving for the boat that would sail around the Sea of Galilee because one person on our bus got on another bus by mistake. We were given geography information which helped us get our bearings with respect to the towns that border on or near the Sea of Galilee. Then we had devotions and some singing. It was a wonderful way to start the day. Marian, Janie, Pat D. and dpurchase small pendants.

    From there we traveled to the Mount of Beatitudes. It was a beautiful place. There is a church on the site and an extensive garden and grounds. It was a beautiful place for contemplation. I walked and took pictures by myself. The travel days before the actual tour are hectic and tiring. This place gave me the opportunity to rest and the adapbreath- a chance to slow down and enjoy just "being". It wasn't "real" Contemplative" Prayer, but it gave my soul a time to breath; a time to rest.

    The third place we traveled to was Magdala. The town of Magdala was invaded by the Romansin 67AD and buried. It was discovered in 2009. Our guide in Magdala was an Irish nun. She had a way of describing life during Jesus' time that enlarged my understanding of the incidents described in Scripture. Along with the archaeological site there is a building called "Duc in Atium" which means "Put out into the Deep". The building includes four small chapels with beautiful paintings of some of the encounters Jesus had during His ministry in Galilee. The one that I found most moving was a painting depicting the hemorrhaging woman who touches the hem of Jesus' clothing. The picture shows the feet of two people and a woman's hand touching the hem of one of those feet. I found to be powerful painting.

    After visiting Magdala we went to a restuarantfor lunch. Most of us had talapia. lt was very good, but it was served whole. It was a challenge for me and others to eat the fish with it's head on and it's eye looking at you. The fish was accompanied by a cabbage salad, the Israelieversion of a bloomin' onion and fries. For dessert we had dates.

    After lunch, we traveled toTabgha. It is situated on the north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. It is traditionally accepted as the place of the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes and the feeding of the 5000. From there we traveled to Caperhaum and then to the Chapel of the Primacy of St. Peter. Our last stop was the Yardenit Baptimal Site. Four people on our bus remembered their baptism with an immersion in the Jordan River. Marian, Janie, Pat D. and I used the time to do some window shopping in the gift shop.

    I have packed up. Tomorrow after touring we will drive to Jerusalem. Our luggage needs to be outside our door by 6: 50 am. Breakfast is at 6:30am (as usual). And we head to Qumran, our first step at 8am. Heading to bed.
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  • Day2

    Holy Land-First Day of Touring

    February 28 in Israel

    We began with singing and a devotion. Then we got a lot of historical information. Although I probably won't remember everything, the information gave me a better perspective of the places we went. Although the churches in Nazareth and Cana were interesting and both included more archealogical objects, they were more crowded. They were the last sites are visited. My favorite sites were Caesarea and Megiddo. Caesarea is on the Mediterranean Sea. The amphitheater was impressive especially with the backdrop of the sea. The engineering that was done to create the amphitheater, the hippadrone specular stands and the area for ships to dock was impressive. Near the hippadrone were public outdoor toilets built at the same time as the hippadrone spectator stands. Meggido was also an outdoor site. There were several archaeological excavations. We saw some stone animal troughs. It gave me a better idea of the manager Jesus was placed in after His birth. There was an optional trek through the Megiddo Water system. We had to climb down 187 stairs and then go backup 135 stairs. I took it on as a challenge. The most disconcerting part was that a portion of the stairway down was in the dark. We were all a bit rattled until we reached a lighted area again.Read more

  • Day2

    Finally in Tiberius

    February 28 in Germany

    We finally arrived at the hotel at around 11pm. It was definitely a looong trip. The hotel had cold plates in our rooms. The rooms are nice. I am glad I don't need a hairdryer, because the one in our bathroom doesn't seem sufficient to try anyone's hair. Marian and I are all unpacke and ready for our first full day with Holy Land. Breakfast is at 6:30 am and we leave at 8 am. Tomorrow we visit Caesarea, Megiddo, Nazareth and Cana. It is after midnight and I need to go to bed so I will be ready for the day of touring (Marian is already asleep).Read more

  • Day1

    Heading to Israel.

    February 27 in Germany

    I am looking forward to the trip. I am excited to see what God will show me and how He will speak to my heart.

    Marian and I got a pleasant surprise at the airport - Tsa - Pre on our boarding pass. Although we are in economy seats, they are pretty comfortable. The flight is not very full, so Marian & Inow have 2 seats to ourselves. Another unexpected perk has been free wine. I chose a German white wine both as a before dinner"cocktail" and I had a glass with dinner. We are supposed to have access to free WiFi, but I have not been able to successfully connect to it. I didn't really have a need for it, I was just curious. Grenal will try to see if I can get some sleep.

    I watched "Three Billboards over Ebbings Missouri". It was good but strange.
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  • Day9

    Day 8 - Blenheim Palace & Oxford

    August 16, 2017 in the United Kingdom

    Our first this morning was to Blenheim Palace. The Palace is the residence of the Dukes of Marlborough. The first Duke of Marlborough was John Churchill. Although not a Duke, Winston Churchill a member of that family line.

    The tour guide and the house were wonderful. We got an early entrance and thus were able to beat the crowds. After the tour we were free to explore the grounds and the other exhibits. My favorite was the exhibit called Destiny. This exhibit gave an overview of John Churchill's tactics in battle and explained how the victories of the 1st Duke inspired Winston Churchill during his time as a political leader. Winston Churchill often said that it was his destiny to follow the path he did.

    After the exhibit and walking around a portion of the vast gardens, we had lunch outside at the on-site cafe. The bees nearby were drawn to our sodas. As a bit of entertainment (for me) or a challenge (for John), John spent his time after eating capturing bees in each of our 3 cans of soda (one bee per can).

    That night in Oxford dinner was on our own. We selected the White Horse Pub featured in some of the Inspector Morse shows. The food was okay, but nothing to rave about. I think we prefer what are now referred to as "gastro pubs". After dinner we walked around Oxford for a while and I got a scoop of caramel ice cream.

    Once we got back to the hotel it was time to pack up to be ready to leave for Bath in the morning.
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  • Day8

    Day 7 - Stratford–Upon-Avon & Oxford

    August 15, 2017 in the United Kingdom

    After checking out of the hotel, we headed for Stratford-Upon Avon. In Stratford-Upon Avon we toured Anne Hathaway's Cottage, the Shakespeare's Birthplace Museum and Shakespeare's New Place (the home Shakespeare and Anne to after their marriage). Of the three, I enjoyed Anne Hathaway's Cottage the best. New Place, there was a 30 minute talk before the "tour". We were 3/4 of the way through the talk before we realized that the house no longer existed. I would not recommend anyone going there.

    After lunch we headed for Oxford. We dropped off our things at the hotel and the group was divided into two smaller groups for a walking tour of Oxford. This helped us get oriented so we could explore the next afternoon on our own.
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