Ten inches of snow fell in Jerusalem overnight. I wakened about 4 am and looked out our hotel window to see snow resting on tree branches and stacked on our balcony railings. Jerusalem looked like a winter wonderland. Roads were closed all over the city and priority is getting the road to the airport open.
Our thirty-one congenial travelers are enjoying learning to know each other. Meal buffets at the Dan Jerusalem are amazing. Choices are varied and extensive and we are learning a bit about kosher laws i.e. no dairy along with meat. Heard of a traveler who smuggled in a small packet of creamer for her coffee, only to have a Rabbi call her out on it in the dining room.
About 10 am we gathered in the piano bar. “Sparky,” one of our travelers, played “The Old Rugged Cross” and the mood was mellow.
Our pastor, Rene Schlaepfer, led us in a devotional time together. At 11:20 the sun came out in all its glory, so at 12:30 we boarded our bus for a city tour. Schools were out and children and adults were playing outside. As the bus was hit by some hard snowballs, we realized there were rocks in those snowballs, older revelers hoping to break a window.
We sloshed through melting snow, around Gethsemane and its olive trees, and into the Church of Gethsemane. All the restaurants Kenny wanted to take us to were closed, so we hiked up the hill to a small food stand and enjoyed the man’s offer of hot coffee, tea, and grilled cheese sandwiches.
Entering the Old City via The Lions Gate, we walked to the site of Pilate’s judgment seat and on to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, believed by the Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Coptic Christians, Arminians, and two other groups to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. We wandered through the souks and down the Via Dolorosa, where retired police officer Robert struck up a conversation with some of the Israeli soldiers. By the time we returned to the hotel we were soaked, head to toe. Don used his engineering skills to rig up an umbrella to hold one of his tennies right under the air vent so the shoe would dry overnight. (It worked!)
Dinner ahead tonite, Dead Sea tomorrow.