Having done nothing truly challenging but float in the Dead Sea and take a lame bus tour, I woke up Tuesday morning feeling like a zombie, but I moseyed downstairs excited to throw myself into the river of religion that is Bethlehem. Every time the word Bethlehem crossed through my mind, a cartoon image of Noah’s arc and two of every animal kept popping up. Needless to say, it was nice to finally see the city and replace those childish images.
Walking through Bethlehem was like stepping back in time to a period where humans were a non-existant breed. It was a bit barren and as crazy as it sounds, it felt like I was living in a story from the bible for a few hours. I mean, it’s Bethlehem. If there is anything in Israel that people will go the extra mile for, this is it. Stops included a visit to the Church of Nativity, the room where Jesus Christ was born, Franciscan Grotto of the Lady Mary, underground caves and wells that are still in use today, and olive press shops where we witnessed a little boy pee on the wall. First time for everything.
Not growing up in a religious household, I don’t think I appreciated the visit to Bethlehem as much as I could have. It was still an honor to walk through the ultimate holy land that people cherish so much. I wanted to add as much variety as I could, during my time in Jerusalem, even though I knew I would enjoy some tours more than others. The ultimate goal is just to learn as much as possible.
On the way back, we got a 180 panorama of Jerusalem, Mount of Olives, as well as the graffitied walls which I could spend a full day looking at. That’s one of my dreams for Detroit is to be plastered in detailed graffiti living amongst jazz and Motown.
The second half of the day was more my speed. I went with a small group of 6 people from the hostel to ride ATVs through Wadi Qelt canyon. We drove up and down through the desert along the Jesus Trail for about 2 hours total, bypassing hikers (who I was extremely jealous of, by the way), and we hiked up to a nearby spring where we dipped our feet in the cool water and drank tea like it was any other casual afternoon. Picture perfect, right?
Next to me in the ATV was a guy from Australia (Jack) and a young woman from Holland. Jack was driving and taking the turns quite vigorously. When we neared the edges of the trail we were on, we could see far enough below to make my heart skip a beat. What a thrill.
Every photo of this canyon is postcard worthy especially when the sun starts to set, and it’s supposed to be one of the most beautiful hikes in Israel. Learned all about life in Israel and South America from our guides who are the type of people I could sit by a bonfire all night with and talk for hours.
Every day in Jerusalem was broken up into two parts. Half the day I would spend learning something new and different about Israel or Jerusalem in particular whether it was through a tour or talking to people, and the second part of my day would be some kind of physical activity. It was a balanced way of breaking up my time that made for a more enjoyable week.
This article is part of a two week series of adventures in Jerusalem. You can read the others below. All tours were booked through Abraham Hostel.