After the chapel and the grotto park, the bus took us to another biblical location:-
The pools of King Solomon, there are three of them in fact, some background can be found here. The bible mentions these in Ecclesiastes 2 It was a nice warm December day and you can imagine this being used as a storage for water which was so precious both back in Old Testament times and also today. The police drove past in a rather nice new model VW Golf GTI, this vehicle decked in stripes in the usual familiar Palestinian green. They asked one of the other members of the group to not sit on the wall as they seem quite protective of this ancient site. (I had already got off the wall by then) The actual pools are also guarded by fencing, although there is a small abandoned shed inside with graffiti on it.
Almost opposite these buildings there was this strange very new building, presumably built by the Palestinian government, its a conference centre and looks quite nice, but its not finished. The main structure is all done, but there are no windows, doors or any kind of fittings, the neatly built steps and pathways are covered in weeds. Its never been used. I am guessing it was built no earlier that 1990s. There is no sign of any nearby disturbance or damage, ie: signs of war. I don’t think Israel is to blame for problems here with this or other PA government buildings.
Found some interesting information on some of PA’s infrastructure. In preparation for planning to be an independent state, the Palestinian authority have an international telephone code of +970, Israel is +972, but either code can be used to call cities such as Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nabulus, Jericho as the telephone exchanges are still part of Israel, but some Islamic nations (Iran, Syria etc) bar calls to Israel that have the +972 code, necessitating the +970 code.
It was then back the the coach to take us to the main thing that was centre point to Bethlehem.
Right: Looking out of a large multistorey car park onto Bethlehem’s bus station
Left: Christmas in full swing in a shop inside the multistorey car park.