|the Door of Humility, main entrance to the|
Church of the Nativity
I buy a bottle of water at the restaurant, tendering 20 Israeli New Shekels (ILS) and am given a 1 Euro coin by way of change. I think I have been robbed! A few minutes later I pick up a £1 coin outside on the path, so perhaps that is some recompense. I am still at a loss to know whether a fair price has been paid for the water: all very confusing!
This afternoon we are due to go to Manger Square and the oldest complete Christian church in the world, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, dating from the latter part of the sixth century. But first our bus called Hope drops us off at a Co-operative shop selling loads of different souvenirs, some rather lovely, some quite awful, and some jewellery including a necklace which the very persuasive sales lady tries to sell me for £800!! She must be joking but she is not. I am always pleased to support local traders and artisans wherever I visit, but not spending that kind of money!
|Constantine's 4th century mosaic floor rediscovered in 1934|
|twelve point silver star, traditional site of the birthplace|
of Jesus Christ
|Interior of the Church of the Nativity|
The church is owned jointly by the Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Catholic Churches, and there have been sad and well publicised clashes between them, over who cleans which parts of the church!
We have to queue for quite a while to see the Cave of the Nativity, and the visit is in danger of being spoilt by the touristy feel of the place and the hordes of obsessive photographers. Here is one place where I would rather take home memories and experiences than photos. To get back to our hotel for our evening meal we have to go thorough the one and only checkpoint separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem, at the gate known as Birqat es sultan, and we see a long queue of weary workers waiting to return home to Bethlehem after a long day’s work on the other side…