The Travel Factory Blog
Travel To Israel ---- The Holy Land
The above stated topic is one of my favorite places to travel....and for it to be so small, it gets in inordinate amount of world attention. Some say it was established in 1948, but in reality, it was established a long, long time before that. It has land borders on the north with Lebanon, Syria on the northeast, Jordan on the east, and Egypt to the southwest. Also the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip borders the east and west. There is so much written about that little country; it even takes up over 80 pages on Wikipedia!! They ranked 11th in the UN's World Happiness Report....whatever that is!! I looked into it and would still be reading it of all the information found.
One of Israel's biggest sources of income is from the tourist trade, and it has been increasing every year. Israel welcomed a record 4.1 million tourist entries in 2018, up 14% from 2017. It is the second consecutive record-breaking year in incoming tourist to Israel. The United States accounted for 897,100 of those entering the “Promised Land”. Interestingly, France was second accounting for 346,000 tourist and Russia, would you believe, accounted for 316,000 tourist.
In fact, The Travel Factory had a group of 48 that was a part of those counted in '18. It was my fourth time to visit that country, and I plan on going again in March, 2020. The tour company that we use is Educational Travel Services, a faith-based company, started by a Methodist minister back in 1974. In my estimation, one of the company's best assets are the guides that they employ. The ones that have been assigned to our groups have 30 years in the tourist business, have college degrees in history, and are very biblically knowledgeable.
We start our tour after landing in Tel Aviv by driving up to Tiberias, a little town on the southeast side of the Sea of Galilee. That will be our base for a couple of days, exploring for ourselves Capernaum where Jesus ministry began in that area. We stop for a visit at the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, and we visit a 1st-century synagogue site that was just discovered last year in Magdala, which was the home of Mary Magdalene. On to Caesarea Philippi where Peter made his great confession, Mount Hermon the traditional site of the Lord's transfiguration. And one of the more moving sites, the Jordan River, where tourist can be baptised if they so choose.
We then make our move over to Jerusalem where we will stay in a nice hotel for the next 5 days and from there branch out to other biblical sites, including Jericho, Qumran, and Mount of Olives. We spend an entire day seeing Jerusalem sites including Bethlehem, Garden of Gethsemane, Mount Zion, and the traditional location of the Upper Room. We also visit Old Jerusalem including the Western Wall, Pool of Bethesda, Via Dolorosa (12 stations of the cross), and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Winding down, we go south to Masada and the Dead Sea, both of which have wonderful stories in history. The last day we stay pretty close to Jerusalem, either visiting the Holocaust Museum or the Israel Museum. The last place we visit is the Garden Tomb where it is believed Jesus was buried. For the past two times we have gone, we have been fortunate to have a docent who volunteers his time for about 3-4 months a year guiding folks in this area. He is an Abilene native, and was baptised at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church, Joe Armstrong. What an amazing finish to an unbelievable trip!!!
We have another group going in March 2020, but it is sold out already with many on a waiting list. But we can still get folks on a such a trip with this tour operator and they will join you with a group so you will be with others interested in this busy, but fascinating vacation. If you go you'll come back knowing why they call it “The Holy Land”. Call The Travel Factory at 698-1421 or visit us at 4150 Southwest Drive, between Rosa'a and Chick-Fil-A.