Journey to the Holy Land with my family- Vicky Brito
Where was your vacation/trip and how long did you visit that place?
I traveled with my mom and my brother to Israel. Our journey to the Holy Land was without a doubt the trip of our dreams. We spent ten amazing days there touring the Biblical towns and regions of Galilee, Nazareth, Tiberias, Capernaum, Cana, Tabgha, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem, among others. Each of these sacred places provided a unique and exceptional experience.
Brief description of your experience.
It was a true blessing to have been able to visit the birthplace of Jesus, explore the places where Jesus began His ministry, witness the scenery where He performed so many miracles, and walk on the same holy ground where Jesus carried His cross, was crucified, died, and resurrected. The experience was breathtaking and one of a lifetime.
Your favorite thing to do and eat there
One of the most fascinating things we did was sail on the Sea of Galilee, the same sea where Jesus walked on water.
We also enjoyed visiting the spectacular churches in the Holy Land, each of them located over sacred sites that are traditionally believed to be correlated to an event in the life of Jesus.
The Basilica of the Annunciation is a Catholic church located in Nazareth, which consists of an upper and a lower church. The lower church contains the grotto where the angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. Also found in this church are numerous mosaic paintings of the Virgin Mary from many nations around the world, including the Virgin of Suyapa from our native country, Honduras.
The Church of the Multiplication is located in Tabgha, close to the shore of the Sea of Galilee. This is the site where Christ multiplied the two fish and five loaves of bread to feed the five thousand, as reported in the Gospels. One of the main highlights of the church is its fifth century floor mosaics. My favorite is a mosaic found in front of the altar, which illustrates two fish bordering a basket containing four loaves of bread (Christ is the living bread).
The Church of the Transfiguration is a church located on Mount Tabor in Israel. This is believed to be the site where the transfiguration of Jesus took place.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem commemorates the place of Jesus’ crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection. Within the church is the traditional site of Mount Calvary, where Christ was crucified and died. Also located inside this church is the Stone of Unction, where the body of Jesus was laid after his death on the cross, and the Holy Tomb, where Jesus was buried and resurrected on the third day.
What to eat? What we enjoyed eating the most was traditional Middle Eastern cuisine, particularly hummus with warm and fresh pita bread. A great local restaurant that we enjoyed while in Israel was Shakshukia, located in 94 Ben Yehuda in Tel Aviv. I highly recommend their Shakshouka, a traditional dish of chicken with eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions.
Also, a great option for lunch if you’re in Tiberias, Israel is St. Peter’s fish. Fresh from the Sea of Galilee, the St. Peter’s fish is served fried and is fantastic!
If you enjoy desserts, there is a local store in Nazareth that I highly recommend which has the best Turkish sweets and pastries handmade by the Mahroum family.
Where did you stay? (If a hotel, name and location) We did a road trip through Israel, which allowed us to spend different nights at various towns. However, the hotel that we enjoyed the most during our stay was Leonardo Plaza Hotel Jerusalem, located on 47 King George Street in Jerusalem, Israel. The location was perfect, only a ten-minute walk from the Old City of Jerusalem. The breakfast buffet offered a wide variety of food and the hotel had excellent customer service.
Would you go back? Why? I desire to return and experience the holiness of this place again. On my next pilgrimage to Israel, I would like to attend Mass at every Catholic church I visited.
A tip for someone planning to visit that place for the first time. Having a US tourist visa was sufficient for us, but just to be safe I would recommend checking if you need a visa before traveling to Israel. When you arrive, expect to be at the border control for a couple of hours, and be prepared to answer specific questions about your trip and who you’re traveling with. Upon arrival in Tel Aviv, we were held for an hour at immigration as their procedures for control are very strict and thorough. You will be issued a border control permit for the length of your stay, make sure you don’t lose it as you will have to present it when you leave. If you are planning to go to Palestinian territory, make sure you have your passport with you to cross the border.
If you are hesitant of traveling to Israel for safety reasons, I can say from experience that we never felt unsafe and it is worth the journey.
During your visit to Israel, I recommend you go to the Dead Sea (the lowest place on earth) to float on its salty waters and cover your body with mud, which is rich in minerals and extremely beneficial for your skin and body.
I also recommend you visiting Masada, which is an ancient fortification built by Herod the Great, which overlooks the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea.
Any upcoming trips planned for this year? Where and when?
Yes, I do have two more trips planned for 2017. I will be traveling to Temecula, California with my college friends and to New York City, NY with my family.