An early start to the day! We checked out of our hotel in Jerusalem and boarded the bus to head to the ruins that may be the remains of the fortress of King David. There are layers in layers of history piled on top of each other! 13th, 10th, and 8th century ruins are all mashed together. It's incredible the amount if history there, even besides the possible David fortress. There are ruins for when Egyptians and Romans ruled the Jerusalem area. We also walked through a Palestinian village and talked to some if the members of the community.
Next we headed to Tantur, an Eccumenical Institute that came out Vatican II with programs for students and groups from around the world and of any religion to come and learn. We toured the facility and had lunch while learning about the opportunities the institute has to offer.
Back to the bus we went and in our way to Bethlehem, going through a checkpoint into the West Bank, passing through the wall. Once we were checked into the hotel, we walked a block to the Church of the Nativity, built over the in where Jesus was supposedly born. We weren't able to see the actual place because a Greek Orthodox service started in the church, closing the tours during the service, and leaving us no time to get through the long line. We did look around the rest if the church, including the mosaic tiling floor dating back to the 3rd century, and the small doors to the church meant to keep animals out, or crusaders from invading (I heard both explanations).
Next we made it to the International Center of Bethlehem where we were welcomed to the famous city by various members of the community, including the Reverend Dr. Mitri Raheb (author of several books including Bethlehem Beseiged- a definite recommendation) and a representative of the Bethlehem City government (the mayor unfortunately couldn't make it). After dinner at the ICB, we watched a performance by the Diyar dance troop, an organization meant to help provide creative outlets, education, and job training for Palestinian citizens.
Overall it was a wonderful day, and yet again I am a day behind on blogging. We are just so busy by the end if the day I'm exhausted, and once I'm done hanging out with my new friends for the night, I hit my bed and am out like a light! Thanks everyone for reading my adventures I far!