Everyone was up at dawn and at the Royal Well in time for the Castleways coach to set off at exactly the right time, 3-45 am.
In spite of a foggy journey to Heathrow we arrived on time and sailed through terminal 5 only to find the flight delayed by an hour because of fog.
Arriving an hour late in Tel Aviv we were met by Joanne and Omar and his coach and made our way through the rich fertile farmland around Tel Aviv up into the high limestone mountains. Within an hour and a half we reached Jerusalem, skirted around the city, passing the Tantur Ecumenical Institute where I had stayed last year.
We passed through the checkpoint into Bethlehem and made our way past Rachel's tomb, the Bethlehem Bible College up to the Star Hotel.
What a stunning location!
After unpacking we went up to the top floor of the hotel to a restaurant with wonderful panoramic views of Bethlehem and the mountains it is built on. It took your breath away. It's difficult to believe how close Bethlehem is to Jerusalem and how impressive the mountains.
We look across at the Church of the Nativity.
And in the morning our pilgrimage will get under way as we walk down from the hotel to the Church of the Nativity.
Remember us in your prayers and pray for the people of Bethlehem.