With the Best of Westbank Tour to Jericho, Ramallah and Bethlehem

by | 03/05/17 | Asia, Israel, Middle East, Traveling | 0 comments

My second trip to Palestine, the Best of the West Bank Tour, was one week after the day trip to Nablus and Jenin.

When I went to Jerusalem for the TBEX, I knew: This time, I want to go to the West Bank, I want to see Palestine. It’s called West Bank since it’s on the western banks of the river Jordan. Are you unsure if it’s safe to travel to the West Bank? Read here how my American friends from Bobo and Chichi felt during the tour and if they think people are in danger.

First, though, I want to underline that I never studied politics and I don’t want to take side for Israel or Palestine. I’m a simple traveler who wants to get to know people, countries, and cultures.

And now I would like to take you to the highlight of the tour to Jericho, Ramallah, and Bethlehem.

Baptism Site in the River Jordan – First Stop of the Best of the West Bank Tour

Our first destination was the river Jordan – to be precise: The place where Jesus was baptized.

taufstelle jesus jordan

treppe zum jordan

I read on other blogs, that it’s even possible to see people getting baptized here and that the site is really crowded then. When I was there it was a peaceful and quiet place.

jordan

taufstelle im jordan

Jericho – Second Stop of the Best of the West Bank Tour

Jericho is one of the oldest cities in the world – if not the oldest. Excavations show us that the first settlements are around 11,000 years old, so from 9,000 BC. They are right next to the Mount of Temptation (Djebel Qarantal), where Jesus was tempted by the devil.

The Archeological Site of Jericho

Tell es-Sultan is two kilometers from the city center of Jericho. Archeologists found 23 levels of destroyed settlements built one on another.

ausgrabungen jericho

blick jericho

jericho lowest place on earth

Elisha’s Spring

Right next to the archeological site is the Ain es Sultân Spring, also called Elisha’s Spring or Elisha’s Fountain. People say its water is keeping young. Our tour guide was joking:

“I drink from this spring every day and I’m 107 old!”

elija well drinking water

elija well

Ramallah – Third Stop of the Best of the West Bank Tour

Ramallah was founded in the 16th century by the Haddadines and is home today to parts of the Palestinian government (the other part is in Gaza-City). The two Arabic word Ram and Allah mean something like the Hill of God.

We Ramallah – Best of Westbank Tour

The city was controlled by different countries in the past: During the Arabic-Israeli War in 1948 it was governed by Jordan. In 1967, Ramallah was occupied by the Israelis and afterward controlled by them; in 1994 there were the Oslo Accords and the Arab-Israeli Peace Process, which brought the creation of the Palestinian Authority with the function of limited self-governance over the West Bank and Gaza. Officially, Palestine’s capital is Jerusalem, but the de facto capital is Ramallah which is the political, economical and cultural center of the Palestinian territories.

 

The Tomb of Arafat

Here you will find as well the tomb of Jassir Arafat, Palestine’s former president. He actually wanted to be buried next to the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, but the Israelis refused his last wish. So the Palestinians built a mausoleum in Ramallah.

grab palestine

Ramallah City

This is the “real” Times Square (at least according to Palestinians):

times square of palestine

And a visit to the local market is a must in every city in the Middle East. We eat bananas, strawberries, mandarins, and almonds, that are still green and kind of furry. People are friendly, smile at us and encourage us to try all those local delicacies.

market ramallah

Bethlehem – The Fourth Stop of the Best of the West Bank Tour

Our last stop was Bethlehem. I’m super excited, since I grew up in the Christian faith which makes this place very special. It’s the place where Jesus is supposed to be born. It’s the place of the three Magi who followed the star of Bethlehem, that led them to the divine infant.

This is our next destination: The Church of Nativity was built over the place where Jesus was born. In the upper part is a “normal” orthodox church.

church of nativity

Going down the stairs you come to a cave. This is THE place of Jesus’ birth:

in the church of nativity

in the church of nativity 2

When you go back up on the other side you get to a cloister and a Christian church.

christian part church og nativity

church bethlehem

krippe church of nativity

After that we took a stroll through the city. The atmosphere is really special: Bethlehem is the only Christian city in Palestine. Still there is a lot of Arabic influence.

alley bethlehem

The last stop of our Best of the West Bank Tour led us to the wall between Palestine and Israel and to the Banksy Hotel, The Walled Off Hotel.

 

The Wall

During the Second Intifada in 2000 the Israelis built a 708 kilometer wall between Palestine and Israel. Here are some impressions from the wall:

the wall

the wall in palestine

peace

free

barbaralicious prays for peace

at the wall

An abandoned house on the other side of the street – I wouldn’t want to wake up in front of this every morning either:

house at the wall

It makes me speechless, sad and furious. Why do people all this to each other?

Wall Mart

If you want to put your thoughts on the wall, you can get spray in the Wall Mart. Have a look at the souvenirs in the shop as well! You will see that the Palestinian have a very special sense of humor about the whole situation.

wall mart

 

The Walled Off Hotel or Banksy Hotel

We get to the end of the street and to The Walled Off Hotel. The whole hotel is a satire! It’s advertising itself as the hotel with the worst view in the world and was designed by an artist called Banksy, who related the interior to the Mideast conflict.

the walled off hotel

katze und taube

bild hotel

in the hotel

The piano is playing by itself, which is giving the atmosphere a spooky touch! The entire room depressing.

Banksy sprayed grafittis all over the city. I’ve seen two of them:

friedenstaube graffiti

banksey graffiti

I’m happy when I can get out of this and feel the sun on my skin. We drive back to Jerusalem on the other side of the wall. I’m thankful that I can do that. I’m thankful that I grew up in a country without a wall (let’s ignore the first two years of my life). I’m thankful for my German passport that is allowing me to travel wherever I want. While others can’t even go to the neighbor country. I realize how privileged I am. And I promise myself that I will use this privilege as much as I can – because I feel like it’s my duty to do so now.

Yours Barbara 1

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