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JERUSALEMVolleyball’s Rebecca Rice is currently overseas in Israel visiting with her grandmother and aunt. Rice will pen several features chronicling her activities and sightseeing while in Israel. Here is day one and two of her journey.

The day started when with a trip at 7:30 am to the Mt. of Olives. This was an extremely special place to get to see first with a lot of history and meaning. Our tour guide’s name is Hannah, and she probably knows almost everything there is to know about Israel and its history. An interesting fact about the graves at the Mt. of Olives is that there are many Jewish people are buried on the hill. Because of the heat instead of flowers, people will put rocks on the graves of loved ones. After this we visited a couple other neat sites such as the Lion’s Gate and St. Anne’s Church.

One of my favorite parts of the day was when we got to walk around the Jewish Quarter. This is their market place which usually is exceptionally crowded and busy with people buying and selling goods. Since we visited on the Sabbath however, it was not as crowded. After lunch we walked down to the Western Wall (also known as the Wailing Wall). This is an important holy site for Jewish people as well as Muslim people. Here people can go to the wall to pray, often placing prayers on small slips of paper and putting them in cracks in the wall. Men and women are separated, and it is important to never have your backside facing the wall. Once you are done praying you must walk backwards until you are an acceptable distance away from the wall.

Day two started off a little bit earlier than the day before. The first place we went to was the Masada, which was about an hour and a half away from the hotel. I had never heard of Masada, but for Jewish people this is a place which they think of with pride. It was an old fortress built by Herod the Great between 37 and 31 BCE. After Masada we went to Ein Gedi and the Qumran, both of which are important sites for Jewish people. After lunch we went to the Dead Sea for a really fun part of the day. The Dead Sea has the lowest elevation on Earth and the second saltiest water on Earth. When we were in the water it was easy to just pick up my legs and float with ease. The mud is full of minerals so there were many people who would lather themselves with mud and then wash it off in the Dead Sea. The day was long and incredibly hot (108°F), so after we got back to the hotel my grandmother, aunt and I all slept until dinner.

-- UNCG –