Visiting Bethlehem (Palestine)

Before my trip, I will admit I was mostly ignorant about the history of Israel and Palestine.  As the time for our trip neared, I found myself becoming obsessed with watching all things about the people of Palestine.  Part to learn what they think about tourists coming to visit and just to learn a little about their lives in general.  I came across a great series of videos on You Tube called the Ask Project put together by Corey Gil-Shuster.  If you ever find yourself on You Tube, I would really recommend you check his stuff out.

I was very excited to check out any of Palestine (aside from Gaza which you are not permitted to visit).  We decided to spend part of a day in Bethlehem, since it’s obviously a very well-known place and also for it’s proximity to the border wall.  I was under the impression we would have to get a taxi to the wall, cross over into Palestine and then get a Palestinian taxi once on the other side of the wall.  We discovered in Jerusalem that Arab taxi drivers who have a special license are able to cross easily between Jerusalem and Area A, which was fine for what we needed.

Our taxi driver was super friendly and once were were inside the Palestinian area, he took us along the border wall to take in some of the art.  I personally was very fascinated by everything I saw.

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Along parts of the wall, there are stories such as this.

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This image was so breathtaking in person.  All of the art is so cool!

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Apparently they also have opinions on our politics….

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We made a quick stop at the Walled Off Hotel, which has been made famous by the artist Banksy.  We didn’t have time to take a tour but we did check out the local art exhibit upstairs.

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Can see the close proximity of the hotel to the wall outside.

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Our taxi driver arranged to have a guide waiting for us at the Church of the Nativity (he waited for us during the tour so we didn’t have to call for him to come back).  We were delighted to find our guide to be very warm and welcoming as well.  He gave us a brief overview on the history the Church and forwarded us about the crowds which would waiting once we got inside.  He was not wrong!  Getting to the spot where they say Jesus was born was a stressful experience of merging a large group down into a small space.  And all of those god-loving religious people were pretty damn pushy!  So much for being kind to your fellow man!  LOL!

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Small entrance into the Church

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Me making an ever so graceful entrance….

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Our guide showing us an example of the columns before the restoration process (what a difference!)

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Crowd waiting to narrow down into the entrance of the birth site.  Everyone was pushing and shoving – very intense and stressful experience!

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The metal star is the spot where they say Jesus was born

After finally escaping the crowds at the church, we finished our time in Palestine just driving around before heading back to Jerusalem.

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I really enjoyed our time in Bethlehem and I wished we had planned to spend the night there or in another area nearby.  I would have enjoyed talking to more people there and getting their insight on the whole situation and ongoing conflict.

In the next blog, I’ll cover the side trip that Donna and I made to Egypt.  A truly memorable experience!