I get messages everyday from people headed to Rome. The most popular question is no longer “is it safe,” but rather, “is it still empty?”
Rome is crazy crowded now and has been for about six weeks. I think it’s more crowded now than in 2019.
Hotels are full. Tour guides are booked through summer. I am getting requests almost every hour for my day pilgrimages. Restaurants are packed — I’m even having trouble getting a table at my favorite places. 😅
It’s beautiful to see tourism returning, even if it was zero to one hundred overnight.
I know many people who waited to travel are disappointed.
Those who were able to get away when Italy first reopened were rewarded with a once in a lifetime experience.
That is what is currently happening in the Holy Land.
Israel fully reopened on March 1st and I’ve already taken two groups.
My first group in March had literally everything to ourselves. An hour alone in the church of the Nativity and in the Holy Sepulcher. And completely alone at most every other stop along the way.
I just returned home from another pilgrimage. The crowds are starting to get bigger. There are more tour buses, hotels are busier, and while the sites are nothing like pre-pandemic, I could definitely tell a difference.
Here’s my group from the last week…
My group did have the Church of Nativity all to ourselves and we were one of only two or three groups at Holy Sepulcher, but there were some waits at other sites.
I think after this summer, the Holy Land will look like Rome, more crowded than the high season of 2019.
So if you want to have a chance to experience the Holy Land before it’s crazy crowded again, come on my July pilgrimage.
Here’s the link with all the details:
For this pilgrimage, I’m giving the option to extend your trip to Jordan. I’ve taken groups to Jordan since 2015 and it’s always an awesome experience... The actual spot where Christ was baptized, Mount Nebo where Moses saw the Promised Land, the place where John the Baptist was beheaded, a day in Petra, a night in the Wadi Rum desert, and two nights at a Dead Sea Resort.
Father Augustine Tran is the one who invited me to Italy for the very first time back in 1999 which led me to start The Catholic Traveler.
Father Tran will be celebrating a few of our Masses in the Extraordinary Form. If you are unfamiliar with this rite, he will prepare you beforehand.
In Israel we have my guide, Shafik. He grew up next to the church of the Holy Sepulcher. He spent a decade working security for the US Embassy and is now one of the few Catholic guides in the Holy Land. You will love him.
It always amazes me how many pilgrimage companies only allow their groups to eat at hotels. We eat most of our meals in restaurants with the locals. For this trip, we are having 14 meals in some of the best restaurants. We also have an exciting and diverse menu — we don’t just eat hummus at every meal 🙂
All the hotels are great… The Scots, Notre Dame, a beach resort, but I know you are going to love the Wadi Rum experience.
Israel just dropped the two PCR requirement. They dropped the vaccine requirement back in March. All that is required now is one negative rapid COVID test taken 24 hours before your flight.
Hope to see you in the Holy Land!