April – ‘Silver’ wedding Anniversary
The Heathrow to Tel-Aviv flight was our first indulgence of travelling in Business Class (‘King Solomon’ on El-Al). As the security guard cleared us for the flight, he remarked that anyone with the name ‘Balfour’ was particularly welcome in Israel.
We had booked a guided tour for one week, followed by car-hire for a second week. When a limousine called for us on the first morning, we assumed that it was a ‘feeder’ to the tour bus, but after collecting an American lady at another hotel and a mother and daughter at another hotel, the driver announced that we were his tour for the week – photograph of four of us – and what would we like to see – historic, Biblical, modern, political or whatever? We agreed on Biblical, and had a fascinating week, covering ‘from Dan to Beersheba’, including a ‘float’ in the Dead Sea.
The holiday was planned with Easter weekend in the middle, after the tour and before the car-hire. We spent Easter Sunday at the sunrise service at the Garden Tomb (main image), then the Scots Kirk for their morning service and then a performance of the Messiah in the afternoon. For all three, we walked from and back to the hotel through the Jaffa Gate and saw no sign of trouble. The headlines in the international press on the next day were: ‘Massacre at Jaffa Gate’. At some time during the day there had been shooting – it shows how an incident can spark a headline, when for the rest of the day all was normal.
On Easter Monday we moved to the King David Hotel – they wouldn’t accept new arrivals during Passover week, so we had to stay elsewhere until then. With our hired car, we re-explored areas of interest, including visiting Joyce’s cousin Anne (Durie) and her husband Philip King-Lewis, who were working as a nurse and a doctor at the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society Hospital in Nazareth, where our Lesley had spent a year and where Sandy later worked.
Souvenir sellers everywhere – even this monk outside his monastery in Emmaus, built to commemorate Jesus’ revelation of himself to two travellers after his resurrection (Luke 23-31). (Three places vie to be the genuine site of the Biblical Emmaus.)