The big Joppa as it was known in biblical days, is a city that now goes by the name of Jaffa and is part of the twosome that makes up Tel-Aviv Yafo city. Stretching back to at least 7,500 BC, the city has made the highlights reel in the Hebrew Bible four times and is extremely prominent in the Christian Bible, through the stories of Saint Peter and Jonah (the whale guy rather than the All Black). Within spitting distance of the beaches of Tel Aviv, this is a place that requires multiple visits (as we did on three separate occasions), in order to even scratch the surface.
We’ve really changed up venues. There’s a distinct smell of sea salt, sunscreen and ganga in the air and even away from the gorgeous beaches, every second person we walk past is either dressed in a bikini or has no shirt on. Worse, there’s a large proportion also dressed as hipsters. You’ve guessed it, we’re in Tel Aviv, baby.
If you haven't been to the Baha’i Gardens then you have been nowhere. If you follow the Baha'i religion or are interested in it, then this is the place to go. Grace, beauty and elegance will fill the air as you walk in. You will feel like you are in a wonderland of unity. I think harmony, tranquility and peace shines upon it from heaven. The thought of going somewhere magical like the Baha’i Gardens just lifts my heart.
You could spend a hundred years exploring Jerusalem and not see everything on offer. We tried our best with the six days we had and will come away extremely happy with what we did see. Walking the Via Dolorosa, ascending the Mount of Olives, chilling in the Garden Tomb and squeezing our way through The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem all hold special memories now. Dispersed amongst all of those places, we also saw plenty of other sights worth talking about. The following is a quick rundown of some of the other cool things we saw whilst wandering around.
For every main biblical event that we’ve encountered so far, there seems to be multiple places claiming that the actual event of significance took place there. Jesus’s tomb is no different, with at least three different places vying for the spot of his crucifixion and entombment. We’d already visited the first, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The bookies second favourite is a place called the Garden Tomb, which was first put forward as a potential site for his crucifixion in 1842.
It definitely seems like our luck has changed for the better. We’ve moved out of the Russian Compound down Hebron Road to an Arab part of East Jerusalem, called Beit Safafa. Situated along the Green Line, up until the Six-Day War in 1967, the town was under Jordanian rule, after which it became part of Israeli (disputed) territory.
You can’t help but soak up religious history when you’re in Jerusalem. Everywhere you turn there are religious buildings, sites or icons vying for your attention. Having had a quick peek at what the Russians and Ethiopians had on offer, we headed off to journey in the final footsteps of one of the most influential men to have walked the earth, Jesus Christ.