Friday, October 30, 2009

It Is Finished - almost

We made it !  22 days, 43,000 miles (33,000 on a bus), 88 sheets of tp by Alan's count, 147 bottles of water, over 1400 pictures (yes, you may all come over and watch them all), more flys than could be counted, innumerable encounters with the radical religious right, many machine guns, fantastic sights and experiences, and some great friends.  When we began this in Cairo (still sounds wierd to hear that coming out of my mouth, but then I'm not really saying it, just thinking it but it still seems wierd) we bonded (carefully) with our group of 15.  By the time the next group of 27 joined us 10 days later, our tribe of 15 were pretty tight.  Like I said, we were one tribe on Survivor.  The 27 were another and the 15 stuck together.  It was interesting to see that happen. 

Our guide for the Egyptian portion was Mido.  He was an Egyptian Arab Christian who had a Masters in Comparative Religion and was finalizing his PhD thesis, and was the best guide ever.  We all loved him and he took care of us.  He would call us "habibi" for sweethearts and our call to get off the bus was "yalla yalla habibi", or hurry up sweethearts.  Belinda wrote a small book based on his explanation of the things we were seeing and he tied them to sections of the Bible.  You could not find a better guide.  And we didn't. 

Our guide in Jordan threw up a lot.  Not sure why.  Didn't want to ask.  He's the one on the left.

But we did get to see Petra.  It was awesome!  Just like the Indiana Jones movie, except for Indiana Jones.  Oh wait, that is Indiana Jones in the hat and shorts.  Geez it was hot. 

For this section of the trip, there was 42 of us on the bus.  Now you know me.  I like buses.  I've driven buses for high school sports, taken international students around Oregon, driven missionarys to Mexico but riding with 42 Americans just didn't do it for me.  For the first 18 of our 22 days it was a scramble to get a good seat.  Some people slept on the bus just to get a good seat the next day (not really).  Then our Israeli guide instituted a 4 seat rotation after some threats were made to those of us that always got good seats.  Hell, I'm a bus driver.  I deserve a good seat !  This was our group.  Don't they look happy ?

We made two especially good friends, Nancy and Yvonne.  They were angels.  They had brains.  They liked to drink.  We got along splendidly, although one of these ladies kept bumping into me, if you know what I mean !  If we lived closer we would probably replace Pam and Cheryl with them.

This trip was a very moving experience for Belinda.  Others had a very moving experience also.  For them, we had to stop periodically at a pharmacy to stop the movement.  Speaking of food, it was pretty good except there was too much of it.  Every hotel had a buffet.  Alan liked the desserts way too much and we both probably put on a few pounds.  A little more "movement" might have helped.  We were both baptized in the Jordan Creek, ah, River.  We both took communion at the Garden Tomb.  As I said, we ate too much. 

We are exhausted.  This tour was non-stop.  I don't think there was a morning we slept past 6am.  The one morning were could have was interrupted by a "false" fire alarm.  Dang thing was set off by a fire.  Hrump.  Our last night was short.  We had to get up at 12:30am to catch the shuttle at 1:30am to get to the airport and hour away to catch a plane at 5:30am.  Got to Berlin about 3:30pm and to Thomas' about 5:30pm.  Ate and went to bed.  Today, Thomas thought he would do something nice for us and took us to the Neues Museum to see Egyptian relics.  It was good to know the best stuff was in Berlin.  Would have been better to know this before we went all the way to Egypt.  But we did meet Mido.  And Pam II and Cheryl II.  And Belinda needed to crawl in and out of a tomb at the pyramids in Giza and climb Mt. Sinai.

Now a thing or two about tours.  If you know us, and you should if you are reading this, we are not tour people.  We like to meet the people, not 40 other Americans.  Pilgrim Tours crammed a lot of sights into 22 days.  It was pretty grueling.  Everything Overseas Adventure Tours did in 29 days for half the money.  And the Pilgrim Tour had a Christian emphasis, which was what Belinda wanted.  And, as I mentioned earlier, we did meet the religious right which helped us understand how we got into a war in Iraq and how Bush got elected - TWICE !!.  Some of the hotels were a bit dated, one was more than dated.  It was in the middle of nowhere.  And then there was the Days Inn in Aquaba, Jorden.  A little bit of heaven in an upbeat area of the city where we had the absolute best Nutella crepes and mocha.  Just what we needed after a more than filling buffet.  Who would have thought a Days Inn would be the best.  While we had a good tour and two great guides, we would have preferred a smaller group.  42 is just too big and we will share our feelings with Pilgrim.  We know that's how they keep the cost down and all in all it was worth it but fewer people and nicer hotels would have been a better choice.  We couldn't recommend Pilgrim because of this.  Or at least we couldn't recommend this particular Pilgrim offering.

Alan's favorite memory of Israel:

This one says it all for Belinda:

Good night and sweet dreams until the next trip with the Scott's

Monday, October 26, 2009

Shalom from Jerusalem

Hello from Jerusalem. We arrived here Sunday night after leaving the Dead Sea area. Let me back up here and share with you our experiences.

Where to begin. First of all, no picts again. Anyway we arrived at the Dead Sea about 7:30pm Saturday night after spending the previous two days around the Sea of Gallilee. Please forgive me if I mispell names here. So many have two or three or more spellings so I'll just use the ones I can remember. Now I'm wondering if I spelled "mispell" correctly. Bear with me. Oh, and you might want to grab a cup of coffee or a beer. This may be a long post as I purchased a 24 hour card.

OK, so we get to our Dead Sea hotel Saturday night and it was late and we couldn't see the sea... ha ha ha. We had dinner and it had been a long day in the bus. We are now rotating four seats each day. I discovered there are more dumb shits on the bus than I first thought. But I'm living with that now that I have a new outlook. I hope this lasts for a while. Anyway, we decided to just eat and briefly use the internet and get to bed, which we did about 11pm. The next day was the first time on our trip we could sleep past 6am. Our checkout wasn't untl 11am.  We were sooo looking forward to sleeping in. Well, at 5:03am we heard a beeping. Sounded like someone's watch alarm going off and since we have been at hotels with many tour groups we didn't think much of it and it stopped after a moment. Then, it did it again in a few minutes and stopped again. Sounded like something one of our bus compadres would do. Set their alarm so it would wake two rooms on either side of them. Well, it did it again so Alan stuck his head out the door and found the fire doors had closed. Curious that someone's wake up alarm would do that. Just about then the Russian across the hallway stuck his head out too and muttered something. Supposing it was Russian he was speaking I said "da, das verdanya". I remembered James Bond uttering something like that in one of his movies but now that I think of it, he was speaking to a woman at the time. Anyway, he looked at me and shook his head. He had a lovely pair of briefs, I think. Not sure what he thought about mine. I tried to call the lobby but no one answered.

So I went back to bed and then the alarm went off again and I decided I had better check it out. I put on my pants and headed down to the lobby fearing there may be some issue with fire. Being as how I was way up on the third floor, I decided to take the elevator. When I got on the elevator I was thinking to myself, "this is stupid". Not surprisingly, that was the first thing someone in the lobby said to me as I left the elevator. Behind the desk was one frantic young lady telling about 35-40 of us who had come down "there is no fire, there is no fire". Now think about it. This hotel had at least 200 people in it and only 35-40 of us came down to find out why the fire alarm was going off. But on second thought, it was probably just as well as a few seconds after she said there was "no fire", two young men came racing up the stairs jabbering (you know, they don't speak English here) and they ran around behind the desk and each grabbed a fire extinguisher and oxygen tank. I called Belinda and told her to get down here and she was smart enough to take the stairs. By the time she arrived we could smell smoke and the young lady was still saying "there is no fire, there is no fire."

So after reading the above, please select the best answer to the following question:

"The fire alarm sounded because:
1. There was a fire
2. There was a malfunction in the alarm system
3. There was a short-circuit in the laundry room
4. There was no fire
5. All of the above

Please tell me you selected #5 because I know all of you are very smart people.

Anyway, since we were up, we headed to the Dead Sea and floated around for a while, came back and took a shower, then headed to the bus and off to Masada and a couple of other places I've already forgotten.  The floating was very surreal.  And Belinda says "the exfoliating was wonderful."  Not sure what she meant.

This morning, after the riots, we left for the Wailing Wall, the Temple Tunnels (which Alan couldn't do because of his stupid claustrophobia so he went walking through the Muslim Quarter with a couple of other wussies) and also the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.  Bethlehem is under Palestinian Authority so it was two check points in and two out.  Men with machine guns all over the place.  Oh, do you know how you can tell if they are Arab or Israeli guards?  Arabs use AK-47's and Israeli's use M-16's.  A little trivia for your next encounter with someone who thinks they know everything.

By the way, some of you have emailed saying you are living through our blog.  Try living like this:

    1. Drink only bottled water, including brushing your teeth
    2. No ice in drinks
    3. Use only four squares of toilet paper
    4. Leave 10 cents in the bathroom every time you use it


Others of you have asked about the last photo of the butts of people leaning over a rail.  That was the finest example of a cluster***k I have ever seen.  I assume you read about the process to get on the ferry.  The process getting off was much easier.  "Here's your passports.  There's your luggage.  Get it on the bus."

We're thinking this is the last tour we go on.  At least the last cheap tour.  Next time it's five-star.  At least that's what I'm telling Belinda.

OK, you should have finished your coffee or beer by now.  We're headed to bed.  Then up at 6am, assuming no fire or any other alarms, and back to the old city and maybe the Temple Mount, if it has calmed down, and then maybe the Garden of Gethsemane, or something like that.

Goodnight from peaceful Jerusalem.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Live from the Dead Sea

Sorry but we are unable to post picts from this location.  It's just too dead !!!  ha ha ha

I guess there were a couple of minor rocket strikes yesterday.  They missed us so what the heck.... At least that was what one of the Fox News watchers said.  I thought about telling them it's really the Fantasy News Network.  We have had a few interesting discussions.  One lady asked our guide why the Palestinians still occupied Israeli territory !  I told her she had that backward but some of these people, oh nevermind.  Some are just dumb shits!

Anyway, as I mentioned in our brief email earlier, yesterday (Friday) we visited the northern-most border in Israel at Metulla (look it up) across the fence from Lebanon.  We saw the UN patrol and found out the houses behind us all had bomb shelters and we WERE ON A DAMN BUS WITH WINDOWS!   NOBODY ASKED ME IF WE WANTED TO GO HERE!!  Then things quieted down while we drove through the GOLAN HEIGHTS AND VISITED THE SYRIAN BORDER OVERLOOKING THE ARMAGEDDON VALLEY!!!  WHAT IS THIS, THE DARE PART OF "TRUTH OR DARE"?  This really makes flying look wonderful.  As I mentioned to some of you, this trip was for Belinda.  I looked at it like a colonoscopy.  You know you need to do it and you just want to get it over with.

We then took a boat ride on the Sea of Gallilee at sunset.  Beautius.  Then back to the kabutz, kibutz, kibbutz, whatever, for dinner.  This morning we had to walk through a flock of peacocks to get our feet in the Sea of Gallilee.

Today we visited a few other sites, Capernum, the Jesus Boat Museum, visited the Mount of the Beautitudes where Jesus did his Sermon on the Mount and the Loaves and Fishes site, and both of us were baptized by a Baptist minister in the Jordan River.  Then we headed on our way THROUGH THE WEST BANK THROUGH TWO ARMED CHECKPOINTS to finally get to our hotel on the Dead Sea.  We got here late so haven't seen the sea but will walk down there sometime before 10:30 am when we leave for Masada and the Qumran Caves, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.  OF COURSE, IT'S BACK THROUGH THE WEST BANK AND THE TWO CHECKPOINTS.  Then on to Jerusalem where we will stay our four final nights before flying back to Berlin.  Actually only three and 1/2 nights.  We have to leave Thursday morning at 1:30am to get to the airport.

It's been educational.  Our guide Micky is a Russian Jew and a Christian.  A great guy.  He's our Jewish mother, as he says.

Anyway, did I mention some of these people on the bus are dumb shits?  One guy, from Salem by the way, says something about "those Muslims" and I said "Do you know what they believe?"  And the discussion went from there.  You see, there is this town called Nazareth.  You've probably heard of it.  Anyway, it is now an Arab (Muslim) city under Israeli jurisdiction with separate malls, stores, etc. since 1948.  Since Jews and Muslims don't mix, kind of like there's a wall between them, Israel builds a new city up on the hill overlooking the old city and they name it Nazareth Elite.  This guy didn't see the irony in that or how it perpetuates the us/them mentality.  Did I mention there are dumb shits on this bus?  Some actually get all their news from Fox.  They don't listen to anything else.  One dopey Texan says "I gotta go watch Fox so I know what to bitch about the President."  But it does help me understand why I was sent on this trip.  To help some of these poor souls use their head.  I don't think I'm doing too well though.

OK, Belinda says enough swearing,  I've been baptized.

By the way, I asked some French kid who lives in Switzerland who's about Jesse's age, 35, who was on the ferry from Egypt to Jordan (geez, that still sounds strange when I say that) what he thought of Obama.  He said Obama has given the world hope but is not quite sure about why he won the Nobel Peace Prize.  He was open-minded enough to wait to see if the hope that Obama has created won't make a difference in the world.  Not like a few on the bus.  As I said, this has been an educational trip, in more ways than one.

Tomorrow I will attempt to get one more person on the bus to think.  Then I will have met my quota.  PTL

Shalom and goodnight all

P.S.  There were no rocket strikes that our guide knew about.  Don't know how Fox News could have gotten that wrong.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Arrived in Aqaba, Jordan

Goodbye Egypt, Hello Jordan, and of course, you folks.  Finally after 10 days a real working internet cafe.  We are in Aqaba, Jordan, arriving after a two hour ferry ride from Nuwiba, Egypt.  As I mentioned yesterday Belinda had one of her more spiritual experiences hiking up to the top of Mt. Sinai and catching the sunset.  This "could be" the place where Moses received the 10 Commandments.  Our guide says "could be" as there are three possible routes for the Exodus from Egypt.  We took the most likely route via Mt. Sinai.  It is in the middle of nowhere, if you consider that "Moses' Mountain" was nowhere.  To the Israelites at the time, it was THE place to be.  This is a photo of one of our travel mates.  You'll have to picture Belinda until we share our photos with each other.

This is the trail up to Mt. Sinai.  If you look at what looks like a "W" in the mountain, they were headed to the right leg of the "W".  After an hour camel ride, they had to hike 30 more minutes straight up the mountain and then climb 750 steps to the top.  Guess who was first?  No, I already told you I didn't go.  It was Belinda.  Not surprised after her conquest of Waynu Pichu at Machu Pichu.

Then imagine hiking down in pitch darkness with just the fantastic stars and a wind up flashlight.  WHAT A WOMAN !!

Today, Monday, Oct. 19th, we left our, for want of a better word, crappy hotel just below Mt. Sinai and took the bus. . . . did I tell you we now have 45 damn tourists on this bus !!!  We went from 15 to 45.  Some are religious fanatics.  On a damn religious tour !!  DAMN !!  Some of these "newbies" are so out of touch.  Heck, they probably voted for Bush !!  Anyway, we took the bus to St. Catherine's Monastery where the Burning Bush and Moses met up, if he took this route.  I wish we were allowed to take pictures within the Monastery chapel because it was absolutely gorgeous!  Now if you know me, I don't use the word "gorgeous" often.  Usually it doesn't refer to a church but this knocked my socks off, if I had been wearing socks instead of sandals.  Belinda thought I was supposed to spell it "scandals" but I think she was referring to something else on the tour.

Anyway, after St. Catherine's, we headed to the Gulf of Aqaba, had a nice lunch at the edge of the Red Sea and got our feet wet.  We got to the ferry terminal and here's the routine:

  1. Sit on the bus for 30 minutes
  2. Get off and take our luggage from the bus through a security scanner.
  3. Took luggage to be loaded on cart
  4. Got back on bus
  5. Drove around the corner
  6. Got off the bus to stand in line for 45 minutes to have our passport stamped
  7. Got back on the bus
  8. Drove 2 blocks
  9. Get off the bus and get on the car compartment of the ferry
  10. Get our ticket checked while being herded on like cattle (Scotty mooed)
  11. Go to the end of the car compartment and get in line to go through the single line passenger door while cars were backing into the compartment (if the heat and fumes of the boat weren't enough, the exhaust helped)
  12. Climb the stairs to the passenger compartment where our ticket was taken
  13. Grab a seat
  14. Group gets told to move, refused
  15. One hour later get told to move again, refused
  16. Passports taken
  17. Two hours later arrive in port
Now it gets interesting. Our guide tells us to get luggage and go through customs.  Sounds simple but we don't know where to begin to tell you what happened.  Belinda is still laughing.  Mostly at our travel companions.

You figure it out !

More later...

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Hello everyone. Apparently I can't post pictures again so I will try the Flickr again I hope. I'll be brief here as the keyboard I'm using has some bugs. And I'm sure I mean that literally. I'm at the foot of Mt. Sinai and as usual, Belinda is at the top. She left about 6 hours ago for a camel ride/walk to the top. After the camel ride, she then has 750 steps to go up. She's in shape. She probably ran up! We had a great Nile River cruise. The food everywhere has been excellent, except where we are now. There's nothing else near us so we have no choice.

Anyway, our cruise from Luxor to Aswan was great. We took a three hour bus ride from Aswan to Abu Simbel. That was awesome. I'll probably use that word a lot trying to describe Egypt. The pictures I've posted on Flickr are just a few of the many, of course. When we get to Germany I will post more, unless I get a chance in Israel.

This morning we got on a bus with our new passengers. There are now 45 of us. Our original group of 15 was great. These newbies act like tourists !!! We are kind of like "Survivor" on the bus now. The original 15 against the new 30. Fighting for seats, throwing fits, bitching about the flys. And the new 30 are even worse. After about a 5 hour ride and a trip UNDER the Suez Canal, we arrived wherever we are and Belinda headed off to the top of Mt. Sinai. I decided to play cards with others who decided not to go. Had dinner and she still isn't back. Something about "rapture".

Gotta go. Trying to post picts on Flickr. Will let you know if successful.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Valley of the Kings and Nile Cruise Ship

Whew, we just finished a game of tennis on the roof top lounge of our luxury Nile River cruise ship. OK, so it was table tennis but it's still on a cruise ship on the Nile. Never done that before. A hot day, a DAMN hot day. About 110 we think. But cooler than August they say. Like that's supposed to make it tolerable. Then we go into Ramses tomb and it's not only hot but there is no air. It hasn't been changed in 3500 years!

I wanted to post some pictures here but for some reason I don't get the correct menu.

Anyway, it's hot, it's muggy, it's awesome. We went to the Valley of the Kings and went INTO the tombs of Ramses I, IV, and IX and then the Temples of Hatshepsut and Luxor. Beautiful. Tons of tourists !! Our guide is priceless. He has his Masters in Comparative Religion and just puts this all in perspective. We might as well be looking on the internet at stuff if not for him.

We checked into our Nile cruise ship this afternoon after a wakeup call of 3am in Cairo. Took a 1 hour flight to Luxor and then toured the Valley. Had lunch and a nap until 6pm, then stepped outside to visit the Temple of Luxor. Back about 8:30pm for dinner. Then a game of table tennis and this blog. Sure wish I could post some picts. I have some really good ones. Maybe I'll try Google web album and see if I can put a few there. Let you know if I can.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Joseph's Storehouse and other Biblical Stories

Hello everyone.  This is "Scooter" again.  Not driving today !!  Saw laser light show at Giza Pyramids last night.  Damn cool, except for the flipping tourists taking flash pics, what idiots.  Had to correct them.

Saw Saladeen's (Muhamed Ali, no not that one!) Citadel,  Coptic Christian Church and a crypt where Jesus and family hid after fleeing Nazaraeth.  Now that took MY breath away.  Can't begin to tell what it did to Belinda other than we did not have enough tissue !!  Trying to write this quickly as it is 8pm and we need to get up at 3am for a 6 am flight to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings !  JUST TRY SAYING THAT.   We are in Cairo and headed down the Nile freeking River to The Valley of the freeking Kings.  Holy Schnikey!!

Today went to Joseph's Storehouse in Fayoum. Then on to Memphis, and Sakkara.  Joseph created a 254 mile canal from the Nile to this area to create a farm land and created the first man-made lake and WE SAW THAT!!  Did I say Holy Schnikey yet?  Saw the FIRST pyramid ever built.  It was built by Imnopet or Imnotep (Look it up)  for King Gozer (not the Gate Keeper) and actually went down into a tomb and took some picts.  Post them later.  One of our tour people just handed me this internet card or you would not have heard from us until Saturday at the earliest.  Come to think of it, don't count on hearing from us at all.  Consider yourselves lucky to get these few words.  Great guide, Mido.  Has a Masters in Comparative Religion.  Really nice guy and a wealth of information.  As I said, there are no rules for driving so Cheryl you would do fine here.

OK, mom had her "local" beer and is falling asleep.  I've had one too many desserts, or is that desert?  Going to bed now.  Will be on the Nile until we fly back to Cairo on Saturday to actually tour the Giza pyramids and Egyptian Museum, then on to Goshen on Sunday and then to St. Catherine's and Mt. Sinai.

Take care of your selves...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Our first driver, Ahmed "Scooter" Bin Howdy, was apparently a novice driver and mistakenly thought it was appropriate to stay within the painted lane lines, which infuriated all the other drivers. Scooter forgot the first rule of driving in Egypt - THERE ARE NO RULES ! He was quickly replaced with Mr. Achmed, a much more professional driver who correctly interpreted "freeway" to mean, "I am free to drive any way I want." The bus apparently had the brake pedal wired to the horn. Although not as memorable as our baggage compartment bus ride in Peru, it did make Alan yearn for a plane ride, or more anti-anxiety pills? On the other hand, the machine gun toting policeman in the front seat was a comfort.Our ride to Alexandria took about 3 hours. We heard that while Egypt has oil wells, they only produce enough for their use but do sell their natural gas to four other countries.

We enjoyed the view of the Mediterranean from the Montaza Palace.  The air and view was much better here than in the Catacombs of Kom, from which Alan ran screaming like a little frightened child.  Just because we had to hunker down and head underground.  What a wiener !

Mr. Mido, our Egyptologist, gave us our first lesson in Egypt 101, which took about two hours.  If you want to know more, read a book or pay for your own tour.  We also saw the mis-named "Pillars of Pompeii". 

Our hotel.  Very nice.  Lots of foreigners !

OK, time to go party at the pool.  Yalla yalla habebe !

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Thomas takes us to lunch

Enough said !!

Arrived in Berlin

Had two decent flights on Continental.  Into Newark, then on to Berlin.  The weather here is nice, pretty much like Oregon.  But they speak oddly here.  auf zimbaubwaz and stuff like that.  Glad I have Belinda to translate into Spanish, then to Belinda-speak, which I understand.  Tomorrow we fly to Amsterdam and then Cairo at 1am Friday.  Picture one is our room at Thomas'.  Picture two is Thomas and Olaf.  Picture three is a view in the dining room of the fireplace.  The ceilings are about 12 feet tall and just beautiful.  More later.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Egypt-Israel Itinerary

Pre-Trip (Tuesday, Oct.6)
Continental flight (#CO485 and #CO96) departs Portland at 7:40am arrives in Berlin, at 8:05am Oct. 7. Our flight to Cairo leaves on the 8th so we will stay with Thomas the night of the 7th.

Day 1 • Departure (Wednesday, Oct. 8)
Flight on KLM (#1830 and #533) from Berlin (lv 5:40pm) to Cairo, arrives at 1am, Oct. 9

Day 2 • Cairo (Thursday, Oct. 9)
We arrive in the land of the Pharaohs, Jacob, Joseph and Israel during the famine! Upon arrival at the airport we meet our guide and are immediately transported into Cairo, the capital of Egypt. We transfer to our hotel to settle in and start soaking up the atmosphere of this exciting city.

Day 3 • Alexandria (Friday, Oct. 10)
Breakfast and then a day tour to the ancient seaport of Alexandria where we will see the Greco-Roman culture in Egypt. The second largest city in Egypt, Alexandria, known as "The Pearl of the Mediterranean", has an atmosphere that is more Mediterranean than Middle Eastern ; its ambience and cultural heritage distance it from the rest of the country. First stop is the Fort at Quit Bay which will be followed with a visit to the ancient Catacombs of Kom and Pompay's Pillar. Before returning to Cairo we will relax with the breath-taking views of the Montaza Palaces.

Day 4 • Coptic Cairo, Hanging Church and Alabaster Mosque (Sunday, Oct. 11)
We begin our sightseeing with a visit to the Hanging Church - the most famous Coptic church in Cairo. The Hanging Church was named so as it was built by the Nile River over the Roman Gate of Babylon. During a walking tour, our guide will point out that this section of the old city was definitely the route taken by Abraham, Joseph, Moses and the family of Jesus - an inspiring thought. Next we visit the beautiful Alabaster Mosque of Muhammad Ali to better understand Moslem religious practices. Completed in 1848, the Ottoman-style Muhammad Ali Mosque is the most noticeable in all of Cairo and has dominated the skyline for the past 150 years. A stop will be made at the papyrus factory store, where we see the process of creating lovely Egyptian art pictures.

Day 5 • Memphis, Sakkara, Joseph's Storehouses (Monday, Oct. 12)
We enjoy a day of touring in and around Cairo with a short bus ride to Memphis. Founded around 3,100 BC, Memphis is the legendary city of Menes, the King who united Upper and Lower Egypt. From a Biblical perspective, Memphis is most likely where Abraham lied to Pharaoh about his wife Sarah being his sister and where Joseph served as second in command. While in Memphis we will view a very large and well-preserved statue of Ramses II. Next is Sakkara, which is one of the most extensive archaeological sites in Egypt! Sakkara is dominated by the Step Pyramid of King Zoser, dating back to 2700 BC. It is one of the oldest stone structures in the world! Following an interesting stop to see how local Egyptian carpets are made, a short drive to the south finds us in Faiyum, the region created by the divinely inspired wisdom of Joseph. Here you will find ancient storehouses and a man-made lake created by a canal, who's construction was ordered by Joseph. It was this lake that provided irrigation for a desert land and supplied the food needed to survive his prophesied seven year famine.

Day 6 • Transfer to Luxor, Nile Cruise (Tuesday, Oct. 13)
Early this morning we transfer to the airport for our flight to Luxor, where we check in to our 5-Star river cruise. We then set off to visit the Valley of the Kings (where many ancient pharaohs were buried) and the famous Temple of Hatshepsut, the princess who perhaps pulled baby Moses out of the Nile River. We visit a courtyard that was likely to be frequented by Moses during his days of princely training. Time will be allowed for those who wish to visit one of Luxor's famous perfume factory stores. We re-embark for lunch, enjoy the sundeck and pool before an evening tour of the famous Temple of Luxor, which was founded in the reign of Amenhotep III, grandson of the pharaoh of the Exodus. Nile Cruise Boat

Day 7 • Karnak, Esna to Edfu (Wednesday, Oct. 14)
After breakfast, visits include the Temple of Karnak (temple of the New Kingdom period) and the East Bank of the Nile. It was during this period that the bondage and Exodus occurred. Karnak second to Giza’s Pyramids, is one of Egypt’s most important Pharaonic sites. We board our ship for lunch and continue sailing towards Edfu, having dinner as we cross through the Esna lock. Overnight on board.

Day 8 • Edfu, Kom Ombo, Aswan (Thursday, Oct. 15)
This morning after breakfast we visit Edfu, the location of one of the best preserved Egyptian Temples. This site was initially developed 1000 years before Abraham came to Egypt! Lunch and sailing to Kom Ombo, where we visit the remains of Kom Ombo Temple, situated on the riverside. Unlike most, this temple is dedicated to two gods - the crocodile god of Sebek and the solar god of war, Horus the Great. Overnight on board.

Day 9 • Aswan High Dam, Free Time, Abu Simbel Option (Friday, Oct. 16)
Our touring today is in and around the modern city of Aswan. Included will be a visit to the High Dam, built from 1960 - 1971, and a major factor in Egypt’s agricultural success. We then also spend time at Philae Temple on the Isi-Island. This complex was moved from up river due to the impending destruction upon the completion of the High Dam. This afternoon we disembark for free time to stroll through the city markets.

An optional (half day including flights) tour is also offered to Abu Simbel, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the "Nubian Monuments." Our Egyptologist guide discusses the relevance of this spectacular site from Egyptian history. We will also try to put in perspective the long history of Egypt. Here we visit the massive temple of Pharaoh Rameses II, perhaps the greatest builder of temples in ancient Egypt (13th Century BC) and a second one of Queen Nafertari, Rameses's most beloved wife. Overnight on board.

Day 10 • Cairo Pyramids and Tutankhamen’s Treasures (Saturday, Oct. 17)
An early morning flight back to Cairo will allow for a full day of touring the wonders of the ancient world, some of which date back to 1000+ years prior to Abraham. We spend time at one of the seven wonders of the world- the pyramids. Cheops, with an original height of 496 feet, is the most colossal pyramid ever built. Today, we will also see the Sphinx and tour the Egyptian Museum, location of Tutankhamen's treasures and ancient remains.

Day 11 • Marah, Amalekites, Mt. Sinai (Sunday, Oct. 18)
This morning we depart Cairo with stories of the "Land of Goshen" to the north and travel the southward route of the Exodus through the Wilderness of Shur. We learn of the terrain and the history of this region en-route as we stop at Marah (Springs of Moses), the Wilderness of Sin, and further to the south, the Oasis of Feiran. For those who are able, we climb a small hill to the ruins of an ancient chapel that overlooks the palm tree valley where Israel battled with the people of Amalek. One may have his picture taken with arms raised in remembrance of God's victory as Moses' arms were held high by Aaron and Hur. Arriving in the late afternoon to the hotel at Mt. Sinai (Mt. Horeb), we have dinner and rest for our early morning activity.

Day 12 • Mt. Moses, Red Sea Crossing, Aqaba (Monday, Oct. 19)
Just into the new day, those who desire and are physically capable will depart for a memorable early morning walk up Mt. Moses. Whether you choose to ride a camel part way or not, stop at one of the stations to take in scenery along the climb to the summit (750 steps) for a sunrise to remember. Once at the top, enjoy a time of praise and then depart down the mountain for breakfast. A visit to St. Catherine's Monastery, claimed to be built around the area of Moses' Burning Bush, will be followed by a short ride to the Red Sea. A stop for lunch along the shore will provide a view of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel to the north. Gazing across the Gulf of Aqaba, we can begin to imagine the miracle of the parting of the sea. We board a ferry for a scenic crossing to Jordan and our lodging for the evening in Aqaba, Biblical Ezion Geber - the lovely seaport of King Solomon.

Day 13 • Petra (Tuesday, Oct. 20)
This morning we turn north toward the amazing mountain fortress of Petra, known to be inhabited by the Edomites - the descendents of Esau. Begin the tour with a walk through the "Siq," an immense crack in the Nubian sandstone, to the city of Petra carved out of the rose red rock. The Treasury, El Khazneh, is one of the most elegant remains of antiquity. Beyond El Khazneh we are surrounded on both sides by hundreds of Petra's carved and built structures. Departing Petra, we travel northward on the King's Highway through the land of the Moab where to the east we view the hilltop palace/fortress of Machaerus, the place where John the Baptist was beheaded. We overnight in Amman for this evening.

Day 14 • Mt Nebo, Mabada, Tel Aviv (Wednesday, Oct. 21)
Our morning tour begins in the town of Madaba, the biblical Medeba, 30 kilometers south of Amman. Madaba is best known for its Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics and at the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George we view the earliest surviving mosaic map of the Holy land. Mt. Nebo, believed to be the site of the tomb of Moses, commands a spectacular view across the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea. Study the panorama as we read the scripture of God showing Moses the "Promised Land" before He brought him home to heaven. As we travel west toward the Allenby Bridge, we view to the north the Plains of Moab, the area where the tribes of Israel camped before crossing the Jordan and picture Bethany Beyond the Jordan, the place where Jesus was baptized. Crossing back into Israel, we drive to Tel Aviv area with the remainder of the afternoon free. You may wish to take a devotional time with the sunset over the “Great Sea,” a time of prayer and thanks for the special blessings ahead, a prayer for the people of this land, and then enjoy a good night’s rest.

Day 15 • Caesarea, Megiddo and Nazareth (Thursday, Oct. 22)
After breakfast, we travel by private motor coach along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea to Caesarea, where Gentiles first heard the Good News from Peter and were baptized. We’ll see the Roman Amphitheatre and aqueduct, and then journey on to Mt. Carmel, where Elijah challenged King Ahab and the prophets of Baal. Next we travel through the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo, the Armageddon Battlefield, where archaeologists have unearthed 20 levels of civilization. We drive through the area of Cana and Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus, where we visit the Nazareth Village - a wonderful recreation of Biblical times with costumed guides. We will have dinner and overnight lodging for the next two nights in the Tiberias area on the Sea of Galilee.

Day 16 • Capernaum, Dan, Caesarea Philippi and Mount of Beatitudes (Friday, Oct. 23)
Following breakfast, our morning travels take us to two valuable northern sites emphasizing the loss of God's blessing on Israel. Dan is where the children of Israel fell to the depths of pagan worship and Caesarea Philippi which is also the site of Peter’s Confession. In order to save valuable time, a box lunch will be provided. In Capernaum we will visit the ruins of an ancient synagogue and Peter’s home. Then we travel on to the site of the multiplication of loaves and fishes and the Mount of the Beatitudes overlooking the Sea where our guide will reenact Jesus’ famous “Sermon on the Mount.” A relaxing cruise on the Sea of Galilee with easy viewing of the nearby Golan Heights brings to life the experiences of the fishermen disciples and a conclusion to a wonderful day.

Day 17 • Jordan River Baptism Site, Beth Shean and Dead Sea (Saturday, Oct. 24)
We begin our day with a visit to the Jordan River Baptismal site. Next we travel southward to Beit-Shean/Scythopolis, the most magnificent archeological site in Israel, located at the strategic juncture of the Jezreel and Jordan valleys. Like Jericho, it has been almost continuously occupied throughout history. After defeating Saul and his sons on Mt. Gilboa, the Philistines hanged their bodies on the walls of Beit-Shean. During the intertestamental period, the city was renamed the "Scythopolis." Archaeologists have uncovered a huge number of ruins of the Roman/Byzantine Scythopolis. During the time of Jesus, Scythopolis was one of the chief cities of the Decapolis -a league of ten cities sharing Greek culture and government. Following the fertile Jordan Valley southward, your guide will point out the agricultural restoration of the “Land of Milk and Honey,” the Kibbuzt system and Israel’s intricate irrigation development. We pass ancient Jericho, view from a distance this city famed as the oldest in the world, before coming to our lodging for the evening at the Dead Sea – the lowest place on earth. Spend time in the special spa and enjoy a dip in the Dead Sea for a relaxing float before dinner.

Day 18 • Masada, Ein Gedi, Dead Sea Scrolls, Abraham's Tent (Sunday, Oct. 25)
Our day begins with a cable car ride to the mountain top fortress of Masada. Here our guide will treat us to the history of the famous zealot stand. Afterwards we proceed to Ein Gedi, "Spring of the Goat," an oasis on the western shore of the Dead Sea. Because of its warm climate and abundant supply of water, the site developed a reputation for its fragrant plants and date palm groves. This is where King David hid from Saul, and where God defeated the enemies of the Israelites by praise and worship led by King Jehoshaphat. Next, we visit Qumran Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. This evening we will take part in the Genesis Land/Dinner in Abraham's Tent, where we enjoy a trip back in time: a reliving of life in the time of the Patriarchs, complete with costume, dramatic presentation, and authentic food. Our lodging for the next four nights will be in Jerusalem.

Day 19: Around Jerusalem, Bible Times, Holocaust Museum (Monday, Oct. 26)
Passing by the Protestant Cemetery, we visit the "Upper Room" just outside the Zion Gate where the disciple whom Jesus loved laid his head on His breast and where later Thomas cried, "my Lord & my God." An interesting and educational time awaits us at the Israeli Museum. Walk through collections of centuries old Israeli artifacts including the Dead Sea Scrolls, and a then a guided walk through an accurately detailed model of Biblical Jerusalem will help to prepare you for what you will experience in the following days. We conclude the day with a visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum, for a needed reminder of what the Jews have suffered as a people.

Day 20: Jesus' Steps, the Last Days - Messianic Lecture (Tuesday, Oct. 27)
Today we walk where Jesus walked; beginning the day with a panoramic view of the city, Mount Moriah and the Dome of the Rock from atop the Mount of Olives and then the Garden of Gethsemane. How many have wished to be whisked back in time to get a glimpse of our Lord or hear His voice if only for a moment? To walk between the ancient olive trees, read the scriptures of Jesus' prayer and take time for personal reflection is important here. Next we visit the House of Caiaphas where Jesus was beaten and spit upon. See a pit where he may have been held for the evening and the ancient hillside steps he walked as he was taken to be condemned. On our way into the city we will visit the Wailing Wall and then the fascinating Rabbinical Tunnels leading us through the Second Temple era. The tunnel and exhibit give a clear understanding of the amazing construction of the Temple Mount, giant stones, water supply and Roman street where our Lord was led to judgment. Before exiting the tunnel we see the immense cornerstone rejected by the builders. We move on to the Judgment Hall of Pilate, hear of those who conspired against Him and are reminded of His brutal beating and humiliation. From here we will also be able to see the Pool of Bethesda, Stephen's Gate and St. Ann’s Church. This evening we enjoy a special lecture by a local believer prior to dinner, giving us a perspective of Messianic life in Israel.

Day 21: Way of Suffering, Garden Tomb, Pentecost, Bethlehem (Wednesday, Oct. 28)
While walking along the Via Dolorosa, we are reminded of His way of suffering along with a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Our guide will explain the differing opinions on the route that Christ was led. The actual place of crucifixion and burial is a very interesting study. The climax of the day is the area of Golgotha (place of the skull) and the Garden Tomb, where we celebrate the resurrection with communion and a time of praise. This afternoon we visit the Southern Wall Excavations. This southern side of The Temple was the main entrance for the common folk, whereas the Priests and Levites had their own entrance from the higher eastern side. Parts of the giant stairs, which led to the Temple Mount from the courtyard have been unearthed along with the purification pools. From here Jesus entered the Temple Mount and drove out the vendors and money exchangers who were exploiting the people. It is also likely that this is the place that Peter stood and preached and where thousands were saved and baptized on the Day of Pentecost. We will enjoy a challenge from God’s Word and a song before an optional time this afternoon. Those who wish may stay in the city marketplace for shopping, while others may choose to spend the remainder of the day surrounding the birth of Christ, with a visit to Bethlehem.

Day 22 • To Berlin (Thursday, Oct. 29)
A 5:30am departure on KLM (#462 and #1829) from the Tel Aviv Airport for our flight to Berlin and our stay with Thomas

Nov. 4 (Wednesday)– Home
Depart Berlin at 9:35am on Continental (#CO97 and CO784) and arrive back in Portland at 9:37pm

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Welcome to the Scott's new travel blog. We're hoping this will be easier than individual emails and we can post pictures. We hope it works for you all. Please feel free to leave your comments. We will update this when we can. We hope you enjoy it.