After a decent night's sleep after a very long day of travel, the group met in the hostel's cafeteria for breakfast. The consensus seemed to be that the breakfast at the hostel was a far cry from a breakfast at any American hotel. Choices varied from eggs scrambled or hard boiled, to yogurt with granola and honeydew, various fruit and vegetable salads, toast with spices, juice, water, and coffee. It was a well needed meal as the day was very long.
We started off the morning with a ride along the Jerusalem belt road--the road the circumvents the city. From this road you can see the West Bank and many other small developments surrounding Jerusalem. At some points you can see straight across the desert to Jordan on the eastern side of Jerusalem.
We then moved on to the Mount of Olives. Located on the southern side of Jerusalem, this is the spot where Jesus entered the city during the Christian holy week, and where King David fled the city when his son Absalom tried to over throw him. From the Mount of Olives, you get a clear view of the old city, and it's surrounding developments. From one spot, you can see the Temple Mount, the church of the Holy Sepulchre, Gethsemane, the site of the last supper, and much more.
After a short lecture at the Mount of Olives, we walked into Gethsemane, where we toured the Roman Catholic Basilica grounds and visited the site where Jesus was said to have sat on a rock in contemplation, asking God to find another way to save the people without sacrificing himself. We then walked from Gethsemane through the valley to follow the Via Dolorosa (latin for the way of suffering)--the path Jesus took between his trial and his burial. After a great explanation from our tour guide Amir, we ate lunch at a small Arab shop, where we could choose from falafel or chicken pita sandwich.
Afterwards we continued our tour of the old city by visiting various historically important sites such as the oldest church in the city, nearly 1500 years old, it was one of the only churches not to be destroyed in one of many conquests Jerusalem experienced, seeing excavated sites around the Jewish quarter, including a 2300 year old wall of protection, and a central road erected by the Romans roughly 1800 years ago.
We then skipped ahead to modern times and began to discuss 'the seam' or the dividing line that divided Jerusalem in 1967. The seam has caused great separation in Jerusalem and is now the cause of anger over Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
We have another full day of travel tomorrow. We will again be touring Jerusalem and learning more about 'God's City' and it's religious and historical significance!