Day 11: Jerusalem, Via Dolorosa
Day 11 was a whirlwind! We successfully evaded rough weather for our entire winter trip... until Day 11. We began our day in the absolutely frigid cold with sideways rain whipping us in the face as we walked from the bus through the streets at Mount Zion. Our first stop was the Upper Room, where tradition dictates Jesus celebrated His Last Supper. It is constructed on top a church-synagogue, likely the first church for the Jewish-Christian community of Jerusalem. Tradition dictates it is also the room where early Christians received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. We also visited the Church of the Dormition and David's Tomb.
After an hour or two of shivering in the cold, we retreated to the bus to dry our wet socks and pants and come up with an alternate plan that did NOT include going back outside... anywhere. Our hotel rooms were not ready but the lobby was available! We used the lobby bathrooms to change into dry leggings under warm pants and two layers of warm socks. Little did we know there was a restaurant on the roof of the hotel with a beautiful view of the Old City, the Dome of the Rock, and the Mount of Olives. We enjoyed delicious tea, burgers, pasta, soup, and hummus. From the rooftop restaurant we could see the storm systems as they rolled in every half hour interspersed with beautiful sunny moments.
It was in one of those sunny moments that we decided to make a run for it to the bus and drive to the Mount of Olives to overlook the city. We thought we were lucky that we had made it during a moment without rain. But then we stepped off the bus and realized the wind would not allow us to stand without whipping our ponchos around our heads like we were in a tornado! (There are some pretty hilarious videos out there ;))
Instead of risking walking (and falling) down the Palm Sunday procession, the most slippery, steep walk in Jerusalem without rain on the ground, we decided we'd sing "Hosanna" on the bus as we drove down the mountain. Katie stood in the aisle with her guitar as the bus sang "Hosanna in the Highest! Lord, we lift up your name with hearts full of praise. Be exalted, O Lord our God, Hosanna in the Highest!"
We drove down to the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations and spent time praying around the grounds. Following the garden visit, we prayed and walked the Via Dolorosa (the Stations of the Cross) to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site of Golgotha and the Tomb of Jesus.
Our night ended with a delicious meal back at our warm, dry hotel in East Jerusalem with a view of the Old City walls.