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My Pilgrimage to the HOLY LAND, where Jesus lived

How it all started

sunny 29 °C

It was something I desired to do for a long time. In fact my wife Chitra and I were to make this pilgrimage together. We did go together, to other places like Lourdes and Vatican in year 2000 and more places before and after. She is no more with us but resting with the Lord God. She departed in 2008. I miss her. Since then I did not go out of the country till now. Finally I made up my mind to go alone.

Two couples who are very close to us, Lionel + Indrika and Lionel + Nalini highly recommended this tour group. They did the same tour in April but I was busy then. That is how I opted to go with Global Connections Tours and Travels. The director Chris who joined the trip with us happened to live in my own home town.

I did a bit of research before the trip. But when I started writing this blog I realized I was learning only now. Having experienced those places, read about them now and look at the pictures I took, I get a better understanding of the land where Jesus lived.

So this is my experience. I hope you too will enjoy reading it.

I said goodbye to my little grand daughter Shenara (who is just three) before she went to bed. When I told her that I will be flying by a plane she said; "Seeya (Grandpa), I have a snow cap, take me with you and drop me near the Snowman." I consoled her saying that we will make a trip to a place with snow one day. Contended with my reply she kissed me good night and went to bed with her mother. large_DSC_0009.jpg

This is my Family now, Dilini, Shenara and Malinda.


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Later on, my son dropped me at the Bandaranayake International Airport, (Katunayake) Colombo at 2.30am, Friday, the 5th September. I did not know any of the other members of the group except the Tour Leader, Chris. I met them all for the first time at the Airport. All together there were 16 of us in the group. Only four of us were directly from Sri Lanka. Others were from Melbourn, Australia, 7 Sri Lankans living there, 2 Australian ladies, 2 New Zealanders, a father and a son and a South African married to a Sri Lankan lady and living in Melbourn.

Day 1 - 5th September 2014

Our flight took off at 6.00 am. We were flying Kuwait Airways and landed in Kuwait at 8.45am local time. Next connection was at 10.15 arriving in Amman at 12.30 pm. There we were met by a local agent who escorted us to a big tourist bus for the onward journey to cross the border to Israel at the Allenby Bridge. Although we drove without stopping, a Guild explained the surroundings as we travelled. Border crossing was a bit of a hassle. We had to change buses. Once it was over we drove direct to our hotel in Bethlehem, about 2km from Jerusalem. We retired early as we had had a long journey.
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It was a 4 star class hotel with comfortable rooms and delicious meals. I was given a triple sharing room with two young men, Shoan, a Sri Lankan and Morton the S. African, both of them married with children but joined this tour single. We got on very well through out the tour.

Posted by MILROYW 19:01 Archived in Sri Lanka

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Comments

Great blog. Very informative. I have a few questions:
1. As I understand there are several countries whose borders you have to cross several times during the trip. They are Jordan, Israel, Lebanon and Syria. I do not know whether Palestine is recognized as a country. Did you have to go through immigration procedures at each border ?

2. Are there any security checks and barriers on any of the roads you travelled ?

3. Are there many tourists coming to see the Holy Land ?

by fernando65

Thanks for your comment.
You do not have to go through Lebanon and Syria. They are further North of the other three countries. We flew to Amman in Jordan and from there travelled over land by bus. Strictly speaking even Jordan is not part of the Holy Land in the contest of the New Testament. I did not read or hear anything connected to Jesus with regard to Jordan. In the Old Testament, God showed the Promised Land to Moses from the top of Mount Nebo but it was Joshua who led the Israelites to the Promised Land. We visited the Memorial of Moses on Mt. Nebo. This site is "Custodia Terra Sancta" under the custody of the Holy Land.

You can fly direct to Tel Aviv too.

Entry and exit from and to Jordan you have to go through Immigration procedures. When entering to Israel you can request not to stamp the Passport. With Israel stamp on your passport you are barred from some countries like Pakistan, Malaysia,... Instead they give a slip of paper with their stamp and you have to protect it till you exit.

Within Israel and Palestine there are road blocks separating the borders and you have to show the passport if asked but no x'ray equipment and all. At times they don't even look at you when you pass the border. Guide used to say it all depends on the mood of the security personnel on duty at a check point.

I was confused as to where I was, whether in Israel or Palestine as we crossed the borders several times a day.

Yes, there are many tourists visiting Holy Land. But luckily for us we happened to be there at a time just after a raging war. So there were few. Our leader Chris said that this was his thirteenth visit to the Holy Land but the first time he visited the Church of Nativity and Holy Sepulcher without a queue and was able to spent as much time as he wished.

by MILROYW

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