Many have heard of Bethlehem but not all people realize it’s not in Israel – but in Palestine instead. The same for Jericho and other sites from the bible. This was my trip to see Palestine for a day… more specifically a West Bank tour.
Since we were on a short-ish trip (9 full days in Israel), we had only had allotted one day for Palestine. On your own, you’d likely only get to visit one city in the West Bank so we thought a tour that let us see many of the highlights was the way to go. We used Abraham Tours, as they were also the owners of the hostel in which we were staying.
This tour was jam packed. The bus picked us up at the Western wall and we drove straight towards Ramallah. Our guide, a Palestinian, was unable to join our group until we had crossed the border. Palestinians are heavily restricted from entering Israel.
Our first stop was “Breakfast”. This was a feast and one of the best meals I had on the trip… the food and tea just kept on coming. Yum!
We then walked thru the city streets and markets…
Eventually arriving at the tomb of Yasser Arafat, the cleanest and most kept up building in the whole city.
We then hopped on the bus and headed east, stopping at the river Jordan. People come here to don white robes to get baptized.
The river make the border between Israel and Jordan. You’re allowed to only go in the marked sections, the one on the opposite side is Jordan and you can talk to the people they’re so close. You don’t want to know what happens if you leave your little section.
We stopped in the town of Jericho, the world’s oldest city. I drank some water from Elijah’s spring.
There is a view of the mountain in which Jesus was tempted for 40 days. The Greek Orthodox have built this massive monastery at the base.
Not far away you can visit Zacheas’ tree.
There was an accident blocking traffic on the road to Bethlehem so we needed to take a short-cut thru Jerusalem. The guide had to take a taxi on the long way around since Palestinians can’t enter Israel. We were supposed to have an all you can eat lunch but I was too stuffed so we decided to go for a little walk instead to see some of the typical sights of Palestine.
We met the group for our guided tour of Bethlehem, stopping at the Milk Grotto,
Olive Wood carving factory, with a great view from the roof. It’s amazing how similar the buildings are, you can only tell they’re Christian or Muslim from the cross or crescent on the steeples.
Next we were onto the Church of the Nativity. I was disappointed that we weren’t able to visit the nativity site, but apparently the line was too long.
Our afternoon snack was at an Arab Sweet shop. We at this thing that was a huge slice of once-melted white cheese with syrup and nuts.
Our last stop of the day was the wall. We visited a portion of the wall that had graffiti by Banksy.
Thoughts about the West Bank Tour
If I were to come to Israel again, I’d like to spend more time in Palestine and do it on my own. The Abraham Tour West Bank Tour was a bit expensive and very rigid but we really did get to see so much – it would probably take 3 days to see as much by public transportation.
Traveled May, 2016