Sent: Monday, May 19, 2008 8:15 AM|
Subject: Passover Break
Here is another update on what I have been doing in Israel. During Passover break (two weeks), some of my friends and I went on a trip. One of them rented a car, which allowed us to do a lot more than if we had used taxis and the bus system. On Thursday (April 17) we drove down to the Dead Sea area. Our first stop was the mountain fortress, Masada. We rode the cable car up and walked around looking at the view and the archaeological remains. Rather than taking the cable car again, we walked down the Serpent Path. Next we drove to Ein Gedi, one of the places that David stayed when he was running from King Saul. At Ein Gedi there is a canyon with a stream, waterfalls, and pools. The pools are good for swimming, which we did when we found one without anyone in it. That was actually my favorite part of the day. After swimming we continued up to the foot of David's waterfall, which was the tallest of the falls that we saw. Then, we headed out. Our next stop was Qumran, where we watched a video, walked around the ruins, and took pictures of the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Leaving there, our last stop was a beach on the Dead Sea. It was a fun experience. We floated around and put mud on ourselves. After washing off, we headed back to Jerusalem for the night.
The next day one of us remained in Jerusalem and another friend joined us. We drove back toward the Jordanian border and headed north through the West Bank. Just north of the West Bank's border is a city called Bet She'an. We stopped there to see the ruins of the Roman city, which had been destroyed by an earthquake. It was very impressive. There was a theater, a bath house, and large columns lining the streets. We also climbed the hill on the north of the city and looked at the view. Next we drove to Tel Megiddo, walked around the ruins, and saw the water tunnel there. The main reason I wanted to go there was to see the Jezreel Valley where the battle of Armageddon will take place. It is a very large valley full of cultivated fields. Leaving Megiddo, we drove north to Nazareth. We had trouble finding our way once in the city. There were many very narrow winding streets. We got stuck once or twice and had to do some careful maneuvering to get out. Thank God that the car wasn't damaged. We eventually made it to the Church of the Annunciation, which is supposed to be where the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. The most interesting part of the church was the art work depicting Mary which had been sent from many nations around the world. Most of the works were mosaics, and most, if not all, depicted Mary as being from their own culture. After seeing that, we found a place to stay at the Sisters of Nazareth Convent that was close by.
The next day we went to Nazareth Village, which tries to show what life would have been like in Nazareth during Jesus' life. It's not a full village like it sounds. They have some houses, a synagogue, a small vineyard, and a small wheat field. It was very enjoyable. After that we took a long time finding a place to eat in the city, then we headed for the Sea of Galilee. Arriving at Tiberius, we headed north along the lake shore to the Mount of Beatitudes and saw the church there. Then we returned to Tiberius to try and find a place to stay. Most everything was closed because it was Shabbat, and also that night was Passover. We ended up pitching a tent in a campground on the lake shore. We played some cards and another game before we went to sleep.
The next morning I woke up to a yellow sunrise over the Sea of Galilee. That day we headed north towards Mount Hermon, which is divided between Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. We remained on the Israeli side. The first site that we saw was Tel Dan, where there are streams, a lot of greenery, and also archaeological remains. Tel Dan is where King Jeroboam had set up one of the golden calves that he made. It was very beautiful there. Next we drove to Nimrod's Fortress, set on the slopes of Mount Hermon. The castle was built after 1000 AD by Muslims. It was a lot of fun to explore the place. We then drove south and west through the Naphtali hills and reached the coast at Nahariya. Heading north, we came to Rosh HaNikra on the border of Lebanon. At Rosh HaNikra there are sea caves carved into white cliffs, and also a train tunnel built by the British. The tunnel is blocked now, otherwise you could walk into Lebanon. We were there before sunset, so the sun was shining into the caves and lighting up the water. It was very beautiful.
Next we headed back the way we had come to a small town called Peki'in. We wanted to spend the night there. We arrived when it was getting dark. The first hotel we tried was full, the other place cost more than we wanted to pay. We then decided to get something to eat in the center of town. We ate at a restaurant owned by a Druze man. They were very nice there and the man explained to us a little about their religion. He offered us a place to stay, but it also was more expensive than we wanted. So, we headed back to the coast and south toward Acco. We wanted to stay in the old city but didn't know where to find a place, so we wandered around for a while. Passing an open door with some Arab women inside, Zuzana asked them where to find a place to stay. The mother offered to take us to a place, so while she was getting ready they invited us in. We sat and talked with them, in Hebrew, though Grace and Zuzana did most of the talking. Before leaving, we took a group picture with the mother. She then led us to the cheaper of two places to stay. It was pretty late by then, but before we went to bed the lady that owned the hostel took us to get our car. She assumed it was in the main parking lot, which it wasn't, but from there we could find where it was. We ended up walking around most of the city's perimeter by the time we found it. We finally got to bed after that.
The next day we walked around the old city, saw the presentation at the Turkish bath house, and walked through the Templars' tunnel. We also looked at the shops in the Shuq. I found a coin from Latvia lying on the street. Leaving Acco, we headed for Haifa on the other side of the bay. After driving around for quite a while, we ended up eating in the German Colony beneath the Baha'i Gardens. The restaurant was themed after a certain composer, though I don't remember which one. After eating, we briefly looked at the Baha'i Gardens and then headed out of town. We drove south along the coast towards Tel Aviv. On the way, we stopped at a beach for a while. I didn't go swimming, just waded in the water. We then headed on, passed through Tel Aviv, and arrived at Jerusalem after dark. So ended a wonderful trip. I thank God for blessing it and keeping us safe.
Blessings to you all,