A Travellerspoint blog

May 2019

See of Galilee (lots to see!)

Boat Ride, The Restoration of Peter, Capernaum, Magdala, the 1st century boat, baptisms in the Jordan...

105 °F
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Today was so full! And it was so HOT!! They said the temperature only got up to 105F in the shade. And the Sea of Galilee makes sure there’s always some humidity in the air so it’s not a dry heat! We feel very special since the average temperature for this time of year is in the mid 80’s. (Dan wrote most of this day’s blog while I was packing. Maybe I can catch up!)

We started the day with a ride on the Sea of Galilee. We have 5 tour buses for our group (about 215 people, all from the US), so we needed 3 boats to hold us all. Our tour guide told us that actual storms on the Sea of Galilee are unusual but strong winds that raise substantial swells are common. Today the surface of the sea was like glass. We also got a lesson on the storms of life from one of the Moody profs, and then, after cruising around for another 20 minutes or so, we disembarked at a dock at a kibbutz on the northern end of the lake. We were at the kibbutz that discovered the 1st century fishing boat that had been buried in the mud of the Sea of Galilee for about 1900 years. We saw a film on the finding, the raising, and the preservation of the boat and then the boat itself (or what's left of it) .

Our tour guide said the water level in the Sea of Galilee is an indicator of the emotional state of the Israeli people. When the lake is full, the people are optimistic; when it is low, the people are low. Israel has had a drought for the past 7 years and the lake level was so low, there were very long mudflats before you could get to the water. Many docks were useless because there was no water beneath them. (We've seen that with the Atlanta area lakes in droughts.) Last winter they had a lot of rain, and the Sea of Galilee is full. The mud flats have turned into beds of reeds, which are acting as nurseries and nutrient sources for the lake's fingerlings. They expect the fishing this summer to be the best in a long while.

We made a brief stop at the ruins of Capernaum. Only the foundations of a few buildings have been excavated but these include portions of a 500 AD synagogue built directly over the one that Jesus would have taught in, a large home that belonged to a wealthy family next to the synagogue and a house that is believed by some to have been Peter’s. The Catholics have built a church over the top of what they believe to be Peter’s house and it looks like some sort of flying saucer.

After this, we went to a church on the edge of the Sea of Galilee that commemorates Peter’s restoration to the ministry after he denied Christ (x3) and then went back to fishing. The actual location is not known, but it was somewhere on the coast and this site is at least representative. At this site, one of the professors gave a talk about Peter’s redemption and how it can relate to our overcoming our failures.

After lunch, we went to the ruins of Magdala, the home of Mary of Magdala. The city was completely destroyed by the Romans in retribution for the rebellion of 67 AD and was never rebuilt. It was discovered by accident when they were digging a foundation for a new hotel. Magdala was once a very prosperous city that had a continuous source of water flowing down from the mountains and had large pens in which they kept live fish caught in the Sea of Galilee so you could buy fresh fish at any time. They also had a business drying and salting fish to sell to the travelers of the region. In addition, there were the foundations of a synagogue Jesus taught in. They said this is the only 1st century synagogue in a city that Jesus was known to have preached in. It was a beautifully decorated synagogue in its day, with expensive colored mosaic pavement on the floor and richly colored frescoes on the walls inside. It was made of basalt, a common building material in this part of Israel.

Our final stop of the day was at the Jordan river at a kibbutz that ran a site specifically for baptisms. Our tour guide, an Israeli, commented that Israel today is the “land of milk and money” - salvation is free to anyone who believes, but baptism in the Jordan will cost you $10. About 45 of our group chose to be baptized or rededicated. He also explained that what gentiles call “baptism” is called a “ritual cleansing” in Judaism and is performed many times, including before a wedding ceremony.

After a fine dinner we had an evening session with one of the professors who is an American Messianic Jew and 3 members of his family who are Israelis and are not believers in Christ as Messiah. They talked about life in Israel, differences between Jewish and Gentile culture and between the cultures of Sphardic Jews and Ashkenazi Jews. They also touched on their families experiences with the holocaust and the ongoing efforts of the Arab world to “remove Israel from the face of the earth.” It was very interesting and often very funny.

Posted by dasafish 12:58 Archived in Israel Comments (0)

Our First Day on Tour

Caesarea, Mt. Carmel, Megido, and Mt. Arbel

sunny 102 °F
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[pictures to be posted later]
All that I am about to relate happened yesterday, as I write this. We had a “family barbecue” for supper last night, and including the conversation with new friends, it lasted until after 9pm. Once I got to the room, I modified the photos (cropped and reduced file size) and tried to upload them, but they wouldn’t. After we got back from our touring today and eating supper, Dan found a better wi-fi spot and got them uploaded. They now are in the Netanya post.

So… Yesterday we started our 6-7-8 schedule, up at 6, packed by 6:30, breakfast at 6:30, and on the buses by 8am (breakfast was earlier than the 7am in the standard schedule).

We headed up the coast to Caesarea. Wow, there was a lot I didn’t know about Caesarea!! It was built by Herod the Great (to flatter/placate/announce loyalty) for Caesar Augustus. It was a totally Roman-style city, with
Herod’s Mediterranean palace on the sea, 56966ca0-8289-11e9-b6ce-53730091c43e.JPG
a prison (which later held Paul),
a theater (an amphitheater is a full circle of stadium seating, a theater is a half-circle of stadium seating),251b13a0-828a-11e9-b6ce-53730091c43e.JPG
a hippodrome that would hold 10,000 people, 4ba78130-8289-11e9-8a53-45d5387b09fb.jpg
a man-made (Herod-made) harbor for sea-commerce,
an aquaduct for water, 83494110-8288-11e9-8a53-45d5387b09fb.JPG
and all the other niceties of a “modern” Roman city. It took Herod 12 years to build this new city in honor of his emperor.

Later, Caesarea was the seat of Herod Antipas; he died in Caesarea after the people flattered him, telling him he was a god. The angel of God stuck him for not giving glory to God and H.A. died 5 days later.

Secular archaeologists love to claim that because they have seen no archaeological proof of the existence of someone in the Bible that that person never existed. Pontius Pilate was one of those, until a repurposed plaque in Caesarea (it had been turned into a stair tread centuries ago) was uncovered when they were excavating Caesarea. It states that
Pontius Pilate was prefect in the time of Caesar Tiberius. Pilate, as had the prefects before him since 6 A.D., used Caesarea as his administrative capital.6c766660-8289-11e9-b6ce-53730091c43e.jpg

After Caesarea we got on the bus and went up the road to Megido. Medigo is a city that has been built and razed many times. It was discovered in the early 1900s and initially excavated by the British. It has about 25 layers of cities.
Among the earliest layers is a Caananite altar, a large, round rock altar with steps up to it. 559417d0-8289-11e9-8a53-45d5387b09fb.JPGMegido was one of King Solomon's chariot cities. It says in the Bible that Solomon used Megido and 2 other cities for his chariots.
There were several horse troughs5567b0a0-8289-11e9-8a53-45d5387b09fb.JPG in the King Solomon level of Megido, which the guide said were highly indicative of a lot of horses based there. Megido is mentioned in the Bible as the “Hill of Megido,” which in Hebrew is “Har-Megido.” The name has been warped over the years into Armegeddon. Megido lies in the Jezreel Valley, which is sometimes called the valley of Armegeddon. The Jezreel valley is very wide and long. It stretches from the coast almost all the way to the Jordan River valley. It was in the Jezreel valley that Elijah outran the chariot of Ahab. From Megido you can see from the Mediterranean to the mountains of Gilead on the other side of the Jordan River (on a clear day – our day was quite hazy).

Next was Mt. Carmel; several mountains were pointed out to us there. Mt. Carmel borders the Jezreel valley; that was where the contest between 450 priests of Baal and Elijah was held.
Elijah’s God won! 55dd2ec0-8289-11e9-8a53-45d5387b09fb.JPG One of the things that surprised me is you can see Nazareth (or the hills that surround it) from Mt. Carmel. Israel is a tiny land; our tour guide, Shmulik (a man), says it’s a little smaller than New Jersey. The bus drove part way up Mt. Carmel and we walked the last 15 minutes. I’m glad we didn’t have to walk the entire way.

From Mt. Carmel we drove to Mt. Arbel. I looked on all the maps I could find and didn’t find a Mt. Arbel. Turns out the cliff on the side of one of the hills around Nazareth is called Mt. Arbel. When Herod the Great (both an engineering genius and a psychopath, according to our tour guide) had been “upgraded” from governor to king, he had to reconquer Judea for Caesar first. The people in the Nazareth area, seeing the weak military position of the new king, decided to rebel and fortified the natural caves in the top, craggy sides of Mt. Arbel (it looked like limestone to me, though there was some basalt there, too.) They figured Herod couldn’t attack them there. If he did, they could shoot arrows down on his soldiers and knock them off the cliff. Herod decided to come at them from above. He built large wooden cages that could hold 3-4 of his armed soldiers, and crane-like systems to lower the cages from the top of the mountain. The soldiers would be cranked to the level of a cave and would shoot fire arrows into the cave. When the rebels came out coughing, they would use specially made 8 foot long poles with large hooks on the ends to hook the rebels, pull them out of the cave, and let them fall to their deaths below. Yuck!

From Mt. Arbel we drove on to our hotel in The Sea Of Galilee, Israel, on the NE side of the lake. We have a very nice guest cabin with a jacuzzi and a sauna, and the food’s pretty good, too. Unfortunately with 6am wakeup calls and a return from tours with just enough time to shower and change before our 7pm dinner and post-dinner activities, we won't be able to avail ourselves of the amenities.

I’ve already told you about yesterday evening’s supper, so I’ll close for now and bring you today’s news tomorrow.

Posted by dasafish 14:09 Archived in Israel Comments (1)

A day in Netanya

Interesting history today, and a pretty walk


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[The photos are now inserted.]

Our tour starts (sort of) in Netanya, a city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, about 45 minutes north of Tel Aviv. Most everyone else in our tour flew in today, but we did meet a woman with our tour at breakfast this morning who also flew in yesterday evening.

Today was a gorgeous day! On the advice of the lady at the desk, we walked the 2 miles up to the center of town and walked through the shopping district. It was a nice walk, but by the time we got back to our hotel (6 miles later), I was dragging. We looked at several things, but the only thing we bought was a chocolate croissant at a patisserie; we split the croissant. It was very good.

While I recovered from our morning walk at our hotel (reputedly the best new hotel in town, the West Lagoon Resort), Dan went out to a memorial park nearby. It was a memorial to the many Soviet Russian soldiers who gave their lives to beat the Germans and, through this, save the Jews from the death camps. The town of Netanya is heavily populated by former Soviet Union Jews; many of the signs are in Hebrew, and then either English or Russian, or both. Here are some pictures Dan took of the memorial. It starts in a dark maze with the darkness of 1941 and the start of the Holocaust, with bas-relief pictures of mothers and children being rounded up or shot. One disturbing picture was of a German soldier taking a souvenir photo of a Jewish girl who had been hung. As you went through the maze of the memorial, it listed the big battles of the Soviet army,
2e20e8d0-823f-11e9-a5e4-fdc733808498.jpg
showed pictures of the concentration camps, and ended with the 1945. Just outside the maze memorial were a pair of huge white carved wings, symbolizing the birth of Israel after the war.
8ff4bd20-8226-11e9-956b-4d70e73d4a87.jpg
There was a garden surrounding most of the memorial. A flowering succulent plant we saw all along the sidewalk into town and at the memorial was the ice plant. Here’s a picture of one.
1f0877f0-823f-11e9-a5e4-fdc733808498.jpg
It was a very moving memorial, and after seeing the pictures Dan took, I asked if we could go together after supper.

Supper this evening was a meeting of the entire tour group, with directions for tomorrow morning. [We will be packed and out of our rooms at 6:30 am and headed to breakfast in the hotel buffet room. At 7:45 we will board our buses (there are 5 of them) and head up to Caesarea.]

So, after supper we went together to the memorial park, and then crossed the street to put our fingers in the Mediterranean and watch the sunset, of which Dan took some pictures.
2de08470-823f-11e9-a5e4-fdc733808498.jpg
We also read up on the history of the town of Netanya. It was the first Jewish city in what is now Israel. It was founded in 1928, 20 years before the start of the state of Israel. if you are interested, read up on it.

We are now back in the room, and are ready for a new day. I doubt this will be posted before tomorrow evening, but I did write it today.

Posted by dasafish 12:36 Archived in Israel Comments (0)

A long day

but we got there.


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There was no blog for the 26th, because we spent most of it in the air. We finally were airborne out of Miami about midnight (Miami time), and didn't get to our hotel in Israel until 1am (Israel time) a day later.

The flight with Turkish Airlines was very nice. It was a 777 and the lay-flat seats we had in the business section were fairly comfortable, much more so than a standard airline seat you have to sit up in all night! The flight attendants were attentive and eager to please, though a request for a second cup of tea somehow got turned into a strawberry smoothie. It was a tasty smoothie, but it wasn’t a cup of tea. The food was excellent! Not your ordinary airline food. They bring a pair of chefs on the plane to prepare your food for you. I’m sure they don’t cook it from scratch, but it was tasty and very nicely presented. The clever part of the meals were the salt and pepper shakers – they look like tiny minarets, about an inch high. They each have a tiny hole in the side, just under the dome, that is covered with a narrow strip of tape. You peel the tape back and dispense your seasoning through the little hole. One meal’s shakers came on a tiny ceramic tray, and there were magnets in the bottoms of the shakers and under the corresponding indentations in the tray. Even with turbulence, your shakers didn’t shake until you wanted them to!

Our layover in Istanbul was not too long. We landed about 6 pm (Istanbul time) and had time to wander the airport a bit until a gate was announced for our flight to Tel Aviv. While we were traversing the airport (we came in at terminal A and were going out at terminal F), we found the Turkish Airline Lounge for their loyalty club and business class members. We showed our boarding passes and they let us inside. It was a huge room, with 3 large stands, or kiosks, for different kinds of food, prepared there in the kitchens in the stand. We tried something that had a vague resemblance to a quesadilla. It was a flat, thin, round bread baked on a large, slightly domed grill, then filled with yogurt and green stuff (a form of pesto?), folded in half, and baked some more. I had a cup of Turkish tea; you fill your cup half way with tea, and the other half with hot water. It was very good. By the time we both looked through the lounge, ate our wedges of Turkish quesadilla, and the desserts that Dan picked out for us, it was almost time to start boarding at our gate, so off we went to the gate.

On a side note, when we asked at the information counter about the lounge, we also asked about internet. Apparently the concept of free internet available at an international airport in Turkey is somewhat humorous. There was free internet at the lounge, though, but other than syncing my Fitbit with my phone, I didn’t get to use it.

Our flight from Istanbul to Tel Aviv left at 8:50pm and was relatively short, but they still had time to serve a hot supper. I had grilled chicken and Dan had Turkish beef ravioli. The raviolis were little squares of dough pinched closed on one end like a tiny Chinese potstickers. I liked my grilled chicken better.

Our plane arrived in Tel Aviv at 11pm, then was the customs line. Our tour guide company told us someone would meet us in customs, and a man did. He even arranged for us to skip to a shorter line through customs. That was nice! After he waited for us to get our luggage, he passed us off to a lady who walked us to the limo counter, and then handed us off to the “limo” driver. The limo was a Skoda (made in Czech Republic), and he got us to the hotel about 1am. Boy that was a long day! True, it was only 18 hours from leaving Miami (32 hrs from leaving our hotel in Ormond Beach) to arriving at our hotel, and it wore us out! We got into our room, and climbed in bed!

More tomorrow!

Posted by dasafish 05:46 Comments (0)

There will be change!

sitting at Miami airport


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We've had a good day. We got a good night sleep and had a leisurely morning before hitting the road to continue on our way to Miami. We stopped at the Costco in Lake Park, FL for gas for the car and lunch for us, but realized when we got there that it was one of the few Costcos without a gas station. We ate lunch, did a walk through the store, found a gas station down the road, and returned to the interstate.

We left our car at the hotel we'll use the night we return to the US (Jun 6) and took the hotel shuttle to the airport. We got to the airport when we planned, 3.5 hours early, checked our bags, and were told our flight is 3 hours late! So we are leaving a little before midnight instead of a little before 9pm, and they had to change our connecting flight from Istanbul to Tel Aviv.

But God is gracious. We had decided to splurge and fly business class because the flight is so long, and it turns out business class passengers on our airline can use the VIP lounge on the concourse. So we are sitting in the VIP lounge with a window seat over the ramp, watching the baggage trucks zip here and there and the occasional airliner lumber in or out. They also keep a buffet going 24/7, free for guests of the lounge, so we will be eating supper here this evening as we wait for our flight.
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Miscellaneous note of interest: All the announcements on this concourse are made first in Spanish by a native speaker, followed by a heavily accented English announcement.

Posted by dasafish 15:13 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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