Galilee 2010

DAY ONE  

We flew from Portland, OR to Newark, NJ on Continental, then Newark to Tel Aviv.  We do not usually fly Continental but were quite pleased with the flight.  We had a seven hour layover in Newark, and despite the fact that many people said to just stay in the airport, we ended up renting a car and having a nice dinner in the Ironbound District of New Jersey with plenty of time.  We arrived in Tel Aviv and were greeted by someone holding up our name who took us directly to our guide who was waiting outside.

Like I said we usually do not travel with such great service – but it was not hard to get used to – and there were more great services later on!  We hopped in our guide, Menachem’s,  Mercedes SUV and drove to the Galilee.  We were already learning interesting things about Israel.   It was early evening when we arrived at Nof Ginossar, our hotel,  so we just settled in and had dinner. Read my review of Nof Ginossar here.

DAY TWO

 Almost everyday with Menachem started at 9am which I thought very civilized!  Now, let me just interject here that my parents and I are Jewish, but we also believe that Jesus is the Son of God – so we are Hebrew Christians.  My hubby was raised Catholic and we now attend a Presbyterian Church.  This is merely to explain that we were interested in seeing all the Christian sites but also very interested in Jewish sites, hearing Jewish history and learning about the formation of the State of Israel.

Our first stop was at the Mount of Beatitudes – this was my first introduction to the fact that every significant spot in Christ’s life is commemorated by the Catholic church building a church on top of it.

Menachem did point out that the Catholic church built their churches on top of Byzantine church sites that were built in 300-400AD, which is why they believe many of these locations are the correct locations.  I will leave out the words “supposedly” or “believed to be” when describing a location and just say “this is where Peter’s house was” or “where Christ did this or that”, etc.

From there we headed back to Nof Ginossar  as they had a dock located there with boats to take you on the Sea of Galilee.  We ended up being on this large boat with only the six of us and one other couple.  My Dad read passages from the Bible where Jesus calmed the storm, walked on water and fed the thousands with the loaves and fishes – it was amazing and very beautiful.

Next up was Capernaum where Peter’s house was located as well as several ancient ruins including those of a synagogue.

We headed to Nazareth for lunch and got stuck in some awful traffic.  Did not arrive at the restaurant until almost 2:30pm.  But boy was it delicious!!  We ate at an Arab restaurant called Diana.  Our first introduction to mezze and mixed grill that we absolutely loved!!  When we were with Menachem we would just have him order for us.  We started out with mezze, which was an elaborate display of at least twenty small dishes of salads and appetizers.  Beware – if you finish a plate they will quickly bring you another one, so when we would decide we were done, we would leave just a bit of food on the plate.  But everything was wonderful – they do amazing things with eggplant there.  Then came the mixed grill – wonderful lamb chops that you could just pick up and eat, great beef on a kebab and their version of shish kebab, which was ground lamb and ground beef mixed together into a ball and put on a kebab – an excellent combination!!

Since we ate lunch so late we just had enough time to see the Church of the Annuniciation – where Jesus grew up and the Angel Gabriel came to Mary plus,  the Church of St. Joseph which was right next door built on top of Joseph’s workshop.

On our way back to the hotel we stopped at Cana to see the church that was (you guessed it) built on top of where Christ turned water into wine.  I have to say that this was by far my favorite church that day (and maybe even the whole trip).  I liked that it was smaller and loved the materials they used.

DAY THREE

We checked out of our hotel at 9am and drove to Yardenit on the Jordan River.  It was set up so large groups could be baptized – but there were no large groups while we were there.  Not the exact spot where Christ was baptized – that location is in Jordan.

Next up was the Church of the Transfiguration which is on top of Mt. Tabor.  It is a beautiful church as well as having absolutely stunning views of the valley and the Jewish and Arab villages below – definitely worth the short drive up Mt. Tabor.

Menachem then drove us to Beit Alpha where an ancient synagogue was discovered in the early 1920’s when pioneers were establishing a kibbutz.  There is a beautiful mosaic floor that had been well restored and maintained.  Also, a well done movie (10-15 min.) explaining the synagogue and the floor.

From there we drove to Beit Shean.  Before entering the ruins we stopped for lunch at a restaurant in the small town.  We had another incredible meal of mezze and kebabs – with probably some of the best pita bread.

Unfortunately I did not write down the name but it is on a corner as you entered the town.

We enjoyed our visit to the Byzantine and Roman ruins at Beit Shean.  Again, it is amazing how well preserved much of it is, particularly the amphitheater and the cardo.  It did get quite hot there since there was no shade.

From there we drove through the West Bank along the Jordanian border to Jerusalem – our first look at Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock was exciting!!

Read about our time in Jerusalem here.

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