Haifa (Tel Aviv), Israel
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2 Days/1 Night
Day 1 (L/D)
Depart from Haifa port and drive to Jerusalem. Familiar names will catch your attention all along the way. Upon arrival in the capital, begin with a magnificent view over the Golden City from Mount Scopus.
Then, walk through the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus spent the last moments before his arrest. Early Christians were already holding gatherings here before the first church was built around AD 380. Visit the beautiful church that is here today and see some of the oldest olive trees remaining in Jerusalem.
Re-board your coach for the short drive to Mt Zion and a visit to the Room of the Last Supper and walk past King David's Tomb. Enter the Old City on foot via the Zion Gate and walk through the Jewish Quarter and the Roman Cardo to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on the site of Christ's resurrection. The original vast sanctuary built here by Emperor Constantine was destroyed centuries later, but a replacement was eventually rebuilt by the Crusaders. Inside the church you will see the last five Stations of the Cross.
Walk through the colorful bazaar to the Jaffa Gate.
After lunch, drive to Bethlehem and visit the Church of Nativity, built above the place Jesus Christ is said to have been born. The actual Cave of the Nativity is a small crypt with a vaulted masonry roof. Poor Bethlehem families used the rocky hollows of the region as stables or dwellings, so the tradition that places the Nativity in a cave is not at odds with the story of the manger.
On your way out of Bethlehem, you will have an opportunity to shop for souvenirs before you return to Jerusalem.
Check in at your hotel, and after dinner, relax on a drive around the illuminated walls and monuments of the city, including a visit to the Western (Wailing) Wall. This is the last vestige of the ramparts that surround the Holy Temple. Observe the crowds who come to pray by the ancient stones. Dinner and Overnight at the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel (or similar) after an exciting and memorable day.
Day 2 (B/L)
After breakfast and hotel check out, you'll descend 1,400 feet to the lowest place on the surface of our planet -- the Dead Sea, in the Judean Desert.
On your way, you will pass by Jericho and Qumran, stopping to take a picture of the cave where the first Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947.
Continue driving along the shores of the Dead Sea to Masada. Visit the Masada Fortress, located a little to the north of ancient Sodom. The mountain fortress of Masada looms high above the Dead Sea's desolate landscape. It has often been described as the most spectacular archaeological site in Israel. Here, King Herod built a luxurious refuge complete with magnificent palaces, swimming pools and excavated rock cisterns to provide water supplies. Around AD 73, after a prolonged Roman siege, more than 950 Jews took their own lives at Masada rather than face a future of slavery. A cable car will convey you to the summit for a walk around the site of this last stand. Among the fascinating sights are the wall, bathhouses, upper palace, synagogue, church cisterns, western palace and Roman ramp.
Re-board the coach and drive to Ein Bokek in time for lunch at a hotel on the shores of the Dead Sea. After lunch, take a swim in these waters that are so mineral-rich, you can't sink. Following your Dead Sea experience, you will return to the ship in Ashdod.
Please note: Modest attire is required; knees, shoulders and midriffs must be covered. The Bethlehem part of the tour will be guided by a Palestinian guide. You will need your passport to enter Bethlehem.
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