Wednesday 2 April 2014

My Holy Land Diary: 10th March 2014

Joyous start at Indu's house
It all started with our friend Indu Rao wanting to do something really special for her youngest sister Sushila’s 60th birthday. Much brainstorming later Indu and Murli struck on the idea of a Holy Land tour. A mail was shot out to family and friends, confirms poured in and in twenty four hours a group of fourteen was signed and sealed. Many among us had made attempts to go but for some reason it didn't materialize. It strengthened the belief that you get to go, when you get the call.

Six months of excitement ensued. Indu as at it, planning and drawing the itinerary with A K Travels, reading about the destination, adding some place and subtracting another. Ensuring we get only the best. Israel and Jordan being the birthplace of three of the world's largest religions - Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, it was a challenge to edit sites as you have to, when one is on a time bound visit.

The white peacock ceiling and pillars at the T2 Port Cochere
The day finally dawned. Excitement was at its peak, to make it convenient Indu organized a lovely dinner at her place so that we could all set out together for the airport. Rima, Indu’s daughter had to drop out last minute, her characteristic radiance was something we knew we would miss her for, every day of our trip, but proceed we had to.

T2 our all new international airport terminal blew us away. The peacock motif inspired; foyer, ceilings, pillars and skylights with tinkling chimes on arrival, efficient technology, the grandiose art walk. A simply jaw dropping start!
Smooth as silk movement at Mumbai's pride Terminal 'T2'
A five hour flight on the Royal Jordanian with a two hour stopover at Amman and finally a short 45 minute flight and we were in Tel Aviv. Our courteous guide Gabriel was waiting with the bus all set to start us on our cherished trip.

Seeing us all fresh and chirpy he suggested a change in plan. ‘Why not go to St. Peter’s today itself’ – a chorused ‘yes’ followed. The bus wound its way through quaint and modern Tel Aviv. Full blossomed Orange and Lemon trees dotted the sideways and gardens. White sun washed Lime stone houses dwarfed by contrasting clusters of chic glass and mortar buildings whisked past until we reached the vicinity of St. Peter’s church. Lunch was a quick choice between Falafel and Shawarma wraps and drinks of our choice all for $10 each.
Hello to the land of Falafel and Shawarma
We stepped out and walked up the hill with inviting alfresco café’s along the side walk. We stopped at a viewing point to gape at the aquamarine blue sea, feasting our eyes on the layers of colours from blue to emerald green, speckled with pearl white by the shining sun. The lighthouse with its blue green minaret added to the beauty. Not far away we could see the unique Bauhaus-style designed houses with their signature terraced levels cascading on one side while the other side stood vertically tall, German influence and now a World heritage conserve. 
Pristine beauty of the sea and the light house on our walk
up to St. Peter's Church
The Church, we were told would be shut for a while, so Gabriel walked us through the cobbled path and down the time-worn stairs to Simon the Tanner’s house. It was so indescribable to know that St. Peter had walked the same path and stayed here, in this very house where he raised from the dead the pious Tabitha one of Jesus’ disciple. Here he was also witness to a dream that changed the course of Christian history and marked the start of Christianity's split from the Jewish religion.
On the steps of Simon the Tanner's house
It was our first encounter of the blessed path and the impact was felt by all. We strolled down further seeing little alcoves with embedded boutique shops selling handicrafts of the land. Down below was the Jaffa port; we walked down to it and climbed up again to the church.
Breeze by the bay at Jaffa Port
The warm red brick façade of the church takes you by surprise in a city built of lime stone. We sat for a while observing the vaulted ceiling, the exquisite stained glass windows and the large painting above the alter depicting St. Peter’s dream and soaking in the history of a church twice destroyed and rebuilt to tell its tale.
The twice destroyed red walled St. Peter's Church
The first day’s travels were coming to an end as we headed to our bus to check into The etropMolitan, our hotel for the night.
At the lobby we discovered Wifi was on the house, all fingers got busy while rooms and roommates were being allocated and bags tagged. We headed to our rooms to refresh and come down for a lovey buffet dinner.

Tomorrow will be another day, our second. More in the next blog.

Our group: Top left to right: Indu Rao, Murlidharan Srinivasan,Beena Mansukhani, Sushila Sharma, Tabassum Varma, Ravi Varma, Lynda Verma, Mithu Basu, Kunal Verma, Lucy Gonsalves, Iris Babu, Ima Lobo & Eaujean Rao.

1 comment:

  1. Wow Mithu - good job done. Interesting reading. Reliving the trip