I was bleary eyed and guzzling my second coffee cup already. It was early. And I and a handful of other wedding guests were on our way to Jerusalem.
Our guide finally arrived and announced: "Hello everyone. Today we'll be going to Jerusalem and (dramatic pause) WEST BANK!"
My mind raced: "West Bank???? WEST BANK???? Bloody Nora, but that's a war zone. It's the place I see on the news, not the place I visit. Will they be taking us to Hebron to throw some stones???? Aaaaaaarghhh! This is not what I signed up for. "
The guide then continued as if he could read everyone's panicked expressions: "We'll be going to Betlehem. The place where your LORD JESUS was born. It's quite safe."
"Well, if you say so, bruv."; I thought.
We were bundled onto the bus and taken across barren landscape. In the distance I could see the wall dividing Israel from Palestinian territories. It was huge.
We arrived at the checkpoint. At that point we left our Israeli driver and guide and were taken over by their Palestinian counterparts.
"We're not allowed in.", explained the Israeli guide.
And just like that, we were in West Bank.
Betlehem was bustling with morning shoppers and kids going to school.
I wanted to have a look around, but we were immediately taken to church complex and told not to wander around.
Palestinian guide gathered us around little corner of the church and proudly announced: "And this, my friends, is where your LORD JESUS was born."
As if on cue, millions of cameras flashed. After all, it's not every day you get to see baby Jesus' birth place.
Truth be told, I was more interested to see what's outside and how people lived in this, very newsworthy place, but the tour was all about Jesus. At least, the older members of the tour party were interested.
"Imagine!!!"; they exclaimed: "We are standing in the same place were Jesus stood!!! I think I'm going to cry!"
I took some tissues out at the ready, but the promised tears from the elders were not coming.
There was just enough time for a few more camera clicks and then we headed to Jerusalem...