Tiberius to Jerusalem
Trip Start Dec 18, 2010
20Trip End Jan 04, 2011
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Woke up early (6:00 am). I knew sunrise was at 6:18 am, so I quietly (trying not to wake the girls) threw some clothes on and went out on the deck. What a beautiful sunrise coming over the Sea of Gallilee and the Golan Heights. Need to savor those...don't know how many beautiful sunrises we have left.
After a great breakfast (again), we packed up, checked out and met our guide Uri at 8:00 am.
First stop was the place on the Jordan River where some people believe Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. There's another place claiming that right too, but Uri said it was on the Jordanian side of the river and the road is sometimes "mined!" Say what? Good call! Some people were being rebaptised by their minister in the river. Very cool.
Next, we headed for Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle by turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana. As with many holy places, a church was built over the spot, many of which by Constantine's Mother, Helena. The local gift shops try to see you wine.
We continued to Nazereth, where Jesus grew up. First stop was the Church of the Annunciation where the Angel Gabriel revealed to Mary the upcoming birth of Jesus. It's built on the site of Mary's original home. Very cool place, made even cooler when a group of Spanish speaking folks were having a mass.
We then moved to Joseph's house...who knew they lived only blocks away from each other? That was cool. We went on to visit Mary's well, where she supposedly drew water.
We also visited the market in Nazareth...everything from fruits and vegetables to "junk shops" as Sandy calls them to olives and even four fully butchered hogs hanging up....say what? Pork? The place is mostly Jewish and Arab...who eats the pork? Guess there's a sizable Armenian group there too who not only eat pork, but celebrates Christmas...several said, "Merry Christmas" to us.
Then a long drive down the Jordan River valley to Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. You know, shepard loses one of his sheep (or goats), throws a rock down a cave and hears pottery breaking. Ten years later, archeologists have gleaned 14,000 scrolls from various caves in the area. They were written by the Esseens, a celibate (I'm out!) group of monks 150-200 strong who lived austere lives in isolation. Some say Jesus may have been an Esseen, or at least an exhaulted person in the group. Interesting thought.
On to the Dead Sea itself. Laura couldn't help taking a dip. Sandy and I didn't. Tased it though...disgusting. And got my picture taken in front of "The Lowest Bar in the World!" Great fun!
Then it was on to Jerusalem. Gotta say I was psyched for this city. From the mountains 10 miles away, we could see "The Dome of the Rock" and "The Mount of Olives."
Found our hotel. Laura showered (The Dead Sea stinks!) and we were on our way to the Old City in Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate. Made our way through the market which was closing (6:30 pm) and on to the Church of the Holy Seplechure (Golgotha) where it is believed by some that Jesus was crucified and buried. The last 5 "stations of the cross" are located in this church. Strangely, the church is opened and closed each day by a Muslim gentleman!!! Very moving place! (We'll see the other possible crucifixion and burial (Garden of Gethsemene) tomorrow.)
Final stop of the day/night was the Western Wall or Wailing Wall which never closes. They do, however, run you through a metal detector before entering. This was cool too....Sandy and Laura went up to the wall on the "women's side" - it's segregated - and actually touched the wall. The wall is the last known piece of Harod's temple.
Dinner at a local cafe near a mall (Sandy's going back, I'm sure!) which was outstanding. Couldn't get over the two young men sitting next to us. They were in the Israeli Army and had Uzzi's with them. Not a picture we see very often here. Nice men, who let me take their picture (I know, you want to see 'em!)
Sandy went back to the hotel and Laura and I went and had a beer at a "trendy" restaurant. Home and started writing this update for you. Can hardly wait to be in Bethlehem tomorrow night!