We finally made it to Ashdod and here we booked a private excursion with a company called Private Tours Israel. As a requirement for entry, everyone had to pass through a face-to-face border control inspection and collect our Israeli permit which lasts for 28 days so can be used for tomorrow in Haifa. This process started at 6:30 and we joined the line at 7:00 and eventually got through at 7:45 where we were met by our guide. After a 20-minute delay waiting for others to arrive, we set off on the 1½ hour drive to Jerusalem, on the way, our guide gave us a very informative talk about Israel, its origins and the current political situation.
The first stop was the Mount of Olives where we were able to over to the old walled city of Jerusalem and see places we would later visit.
The next stop was the Garden of Gethsemane for a brief look around the area where Jesus experienced great anguish and prayed to be delivered from his impending suffering and also where he was arrested
Right next to the garden, the Catholic Church of All Nations is built over the “Rock of the Agony” this is where he is said to have prayed the night he was arrested.
It was then back on the bus where we were dropped off for a 2-hour walk around the old city. The first place in this section was the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall where we were given 15 minutes of free time to wander.
Next, we passed through the Muslim Quarter and followed Via Dolorosa which is the route Jesus to his crucifixion. It is marked along the way by several Stations of Cross which are events that are said to have occurred while he made his way.
The old city is a maze of alleyways and passages and our guide did an excellent job of keeping us all together considering how busy it was.
The final 4 stations of the cross are inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher which today we found had some large scaffolding being built right in front of it
We had 20 minutes of free time inside after being given a quick briefing on where and what to see as this is the most holy site in the Christian religion. Inside is where Jesus was crucified known as Calvary, and also the tomb where Jesus was buried and then resurrected. Today, the tomb is enclosed by a shrine called the Aedicula. Which had long queues to see inside.
Inside the church’s entrance is the Stone of Anointing, believed to be where Jesus’s body was prepared for burial. Many people bring things to place on the stone or touch it as miracles and cures have been said to have been experienced by people who have done this.
Everything we visited was extremely busy today and decent photo opportunities were few and far between.
We exited the city through the Arab Souk and then out via the Jaffa Gate. The last place to visit on our tour today was the Dead Sea which was a 40-minute drive from the city. There was just long enough to get changed, spend 15 minutes in the water, get showered and changed again before we headed back to Ashdod. It was a great experience but one I will be happy not to repeat.
It wasn’t at all what I was expecting with regard to both facilities and the sea conditions. Yes, you do float but there is still a bit of balance required to allow you to float on your back. Floating on your stomach or trying to swim is not advisable as it is much more likely you will get salt water in your eyes and mouth.
The drive back took over 1¾ hours and we arrived back at the port at 6:20pm Another thoroughly enjoyable day and with part 2 to follow tomorrow when we tour with the same company from Haifa.
Apologies if some of the above is gibberish, it’s been a long day and I need a drink or two. 🍷🍷
6 thoughts on “Norwegian Jade Postcard #4 – Ashdod, Israel”
Enjoying your blog very much, thank you.
We were in Israel for the first time last September doing a very similar tour to yours Mike. Maybe it’s due to my religion but I loved it as it brought the Bible to life. We didn’t visit the Dead Sea as I was informed that there wasn’t any shower or changing facilities, which was a definite no no for me.
Good morning. So pleased you made it into Israel Mike which has to be the highlight of the cruise. Also wise move to take a ‘Private’ excursion – we also did. The only difference being we stopped for the Dead Sea float on the way out.
Great report. You can go back later and touch it up. I totally get being exhausted and writing. You made me totally realize why I don’t have Israel on my list. Just not my cup of tea.
That used to be how I felt but yesterday was absolutely fascinating while seeing how this one small place on our planet has shaped how it is today.
Sounds like you had very interesting day