Nazareth and Cana

Trip Start Mar 28, 2011
Trip End Apr 03, 2011

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Flag of Israel  , Galilee,
Saturday, April 2, 2011

This was the fifth day of our travel and a little fatigue has set in.. Ashwin's been complaining loudly "Why do we always have to walk uphill?" So we took our time getting up and about. The hotel had a great breakfast spread and we had a leisurely time getting our energy levels back again for the trip.

We drove toward Nazareth, the town where Jesus is said to have grown up. It thus has a lot of significance for Christians and a popular tourist destination for people visiting the north of Israel. One of the things we realized about the GPS navigator from Garmin is that while it does its job of navigating very well, it does a terrible job of helping you look for places to go. In Israel, for whatever reason, they simply cannot standardize on the correct spelling of a place or street name. It could be spelt Ha-Kishon or Ha' Kishon street one place and Hakishon another, Nazareth in one map and Nazerat in another. The Garmin has pretty much everything in its database, but unless you spell it exactly right down to the apostrophes and dashes, it will not find it. For those of us spoiled by Google where a a search allows for minor misspellings and keyword searches, it is very frustrating. One would have thought that with iPhones and Android Google maps threatening to make them irrelevant, Garmin would work a little harder on its software.

The best way to find a site was to drive to the city or approximate area and then list all attractions in the GPS (it lists them in order of distance from where you are) and then select the right one. That was how we managed to find the Wedding Church in Cana where Jesus is said to have performed the miracle of converting water into wine. There are two or three churches at the spot competing for the recognition but we were told by the local souvenir shopkeeper that the Franciscan Church was the one-it was a beautiful building, constructed on top of the ruins of a much older church.

Cana (known as Kafar Kanna to the GPS!) and Nazareth are both Arab towns and you can see most of the shop signs are in Arabic. The traffic is a little chaotic but a breeze to someone from Delhi :-). We drove up to Nazareth and then looked at the GPS for a famous site to go to. We tried the Church of the Annunciation, but it led us to a Coptic Orthodox Church of Annunciation rather than the more famous Basilica of the Annunciation. It's a fairly compact town center, so we just decided to find a parking spot and walk. A friendly local showed us the way to the Basilica and sure enough, it was filled with tourists. It is a magnificent building constructed in 1969 over the ruins of the site where according to Christian tradition, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary telling her that she would become the mother of Jesus.

A short distance away from the Basilica is the Nazareth Village, a modern day reconstruction of a village from Biblical times. At 150 Shekels ($42) for a family, entry is a little steep, but it is worth doing. Our very friendly guide showed us how in the old days they built cisterns on the hillside to collect water, did carpentry, spun yarn and knitted shawls etc. The olive oil press was particularly impressive. 

We drove back to Tiberias by late afternoon and decided to just relax the rest of the day. We went down to the seaside and let the kids play on the pebbly beach. I taught Ashwin how to skip stones and he was pretty excited when he manged to get 5 skips on one of them. Unfortunately Annika's skills at skipping stones are inherited from her mother, so there was only so much I could do for her :-(

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