Geneva Halterman, my great aunt, or grand aunt. My grandmother's sister. I have written about her before here on Reflections. She was a favorite of mine. Recently I was given this typed transcription of a piece she wrote on her 1972 travels to the Holy Land. It seemed appropriate to share at this time before the Holy Week for Christians.
It was a different time.
A VERY BEAUTIFUL DESCRIPTION
A TRIP TO THE HOLY LAND
in December 1972
My Friend, Miss Geneva Halterman
Yes, it was a wonderful trip to the Holy Land. The food was excellent on plane and boat. I should like to go again to see the beautiful country and to see how the people live on the other side.
I went with friends from the United Methodist Church in Philadelphia. It was exciting to fly in those large jets, B-747s, at the rate of 610 miles per hour. Made the trip from New York to Amsterdam in 6 hours, a distance of 3,700 miles, at an altitude of 39,000 feet (almost 8 miles). The temperature over the North Atlantic in places was 33 degrees below.
Amsterdam is a beautiful clean city. Then we transferred there to another plane, stopped in Athens, a beautiful city, then flew to Nicosea, the capital of Cyprus. There we toured the island with a guide from the country who explained things in English. Everywhere we traveled we always had a guide from the country in which we traveled. In the evening near Nicosea we boarded a nice boat which we traveled in was our hotel for nine days. Only one night we spent in a hotel in King David in Jerusalem. During the winter months the Mediterranean Sea is very stormy. IT was very stormy in sailing to Metsin and Tarsus Turkey at night. We traveled by boat at night, and in the daytime on sight seeing buses.
It was a beautiful trip to Lebanon, a nice agricultural state with many vineyards. Then we went to the capital, Beruit, a beautiful wealthy city where the rich people from Saudi-Arabia have lovely summer homes. A thriving city where the people live leisurely. Next we visited Boalbek where the ancient people worshiped false gods. The temples are now partially in ruins due to earthquakes. It was picturesque, as down in the valleys the citrus fruits were growing while 10,000 feet of barren mountains peaks were snow covered. They really glistened in the sunshine. There the mountains are barren due to volcanic origin.
One day we went to Damascus, Syria, a large beautiful city, the capital. There they have excellent shops of beautiful silks, brocades, etc. We traveled over the road that the Apostle Paul did going from Tarsus, Turkey to Jerusalem. There we visited a Mosque carpeted with Persian Rugs. We had to put on a black robe and take off our shoes before entering inside the Mosque. Inside, the Moslems were lying on rugs, kneeling and bowing as in olden times. Then we went down the street to one called "Straight Street," There we came to a building where the Apostle Paul was let down in a basket. One day we went to A Tel-A-Aviv, a modern Israeli city, resembling New York with its large skyscrapers. One building I noted was 33 stories high. Then we visited Joppa in the suburbs of Biblical significance. From there we went to Caeserea, where Cornelius became a christian. We saw the old Roman theatre and many excavations.
We visited the area around the sea of Galilee which is so beautiful. We rode on the sea of Galilee in a boat. Then we had a delicious fish dinner at Tiberias near there. Rode along the Jordan River, although I did not get any of its water to bring home as some of friends did. The Jordan River Valley is beautiful. The Jews have really made the desert bloom with their up to date farming methods, irrigation and fertilizers, enabling them to grow cereal crops in winter and cotton in summer. They have the finest oranges, enough to supply Europe if they had the labor to pick them, although, ten thousand Jewish refugees, some there annually. Strangers are welcomed there as they desire to build a strong National State since Israel became a State in
1948. Taxes are understandingly high there as money is needed to get the refugees established.
Their citrus fruit is fine, much better than Florida. I believe the State of Israel has 100,000, acres devoted to citrus friends. I never saw so many olive trees. The cabbage was the size of a dishpan, and the red radishes the size of turnips.
Mekiddo is a beautiful place in the Jordan Valley. This is supposed to be Armageddon in the latter days. There I walked through a large old tunnel 200 feet in length that led to the city's Water System in the early days, tasted the salty water of the Dead Sea. The cities are located on high hills with beautiful walls, a wonderful piece of masonry that put America's to shame.
We visited Capernaum, Acre, Nazareth, Jericho Bethlehem, Shepherd's Field, Mt. of Olives. Spent one day and two nights in the beautiful city of Jerusalem. While there, it snowed and sleeted while poinsettias bloomed outside. Jericho is so beautiful too, much excavation is in progress there. Saw the Mt. of Transfiguration from which Christ ascended into Heaven. Nazareth is so beautiful with its many walls situated so high. On top of the Mt. of Transfiguration's barren ledges is a large monastery. Jericho has many beautiful walls which impressed me deeply until they are worthy of a trip just to see them. Bethlehem is so lovely. We went into a number of churches there. About ten miles away we visited Jacob's Well. We hiked five miles through Old Jerusalem through rain and snow. The Alleys were full of water from the heavy rains. We saw so many shops there. We visited St. Anne's Church, also The Church of Many Nations, was in the Upper Room. Visited the Garden of Gethsemane. There were so many old olive trees there and many flowers in bloom. I had my picture taken there. Also visited the Rock of the Dome, where stands a beautiful gold domed Mosque of many stones where King Solomon's temple was. This can be seen all very the old city of Jerusalem. Saw the Wailing Wall where the Jews wept when they saw the temple had been destroyed. There are some beautiful churches there.
Saw via Dolorossa, the Steps Jesus took to Calvary. It was so inspirational to walk in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was betrayed.
Then to think that one walked where our Lord once walked and talked. We spend one night in Haifa, a beautiful thriving city of Israel, on the Mediterranean Sea. There is where we meet our boat. This city is the only one with a subway that leads from the top of the hill to city center. Automobiles are quite expensive there, we did not see as many cars there as in America.
It was the Jewish Sabbath when we were there, so cars didn't run, everything was very quiet in observance of the Sabbath. It was 168 miles from Haifa to Jerusalem over the Mts. of Samaria, so that is the reason we spent the night in Jerusalem that we would not have to return to Haifa where our boat was. It was most divine riding over the Judean Mountains, where the roads were good, but not many with hand rails, traveled through Israeli-Arab occupied territory. All was peace and tranquility.
We saw many Bedouinc taking care of their flocks of goats and sheep on the hillsides.
I am sorry we did not go to Egypt as was scheduled as I had wanted to see the Pyramids, Sphinx and the Nile River Valley. Due to tension between the Egyptians and Israeli it was called off.
On our return we went from Haifa to Nicosea by boat, from there to Athens by plane. In Athens we transferred to another plane to Amsterdam, from there to New York in another plane (Royal Dutch Airliner). In all that one day we traveled 7,000 miles via boat, three planes and two buses.
On our return, the visibility was good flying over Europe. We were able to get a bird's eye-view of cities in Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Austria, and Germany as well as the Alps Mts. in Austria. Could see fairly well the tops of buildings in Frankfurt, Munich, and Darmund, Germany.
Must close as I shall tire you with my hieroglyphics, so in all, I had a real nice trip and if the opportunity were to present itself, I think I would go again.
It would be nice hearing from you again.
It really was a different time to travel.