Saturday, November 19, 2011

Israel - Day Four

Between lack of sleep and 6:00 AM wake-up calls I may die before this trip is over.

The high point of the entire trip may very well have occurred this morning. My friend, Randy Myers, the pastor who organized this trip, asked me If I knew what my room number was. I said, "Yes, 203" to which he replied, "well apparently you charged your beer from last night's meal to my room (204) instead!" He was very gracious about it but, holy crap, I'm getting some good mileage out of having charged a beer to the pastor!

We drove up the east coast of the Sea of Galilee, which was part of Syria before the Six Day War in 1967. We traveled to Bethsaida, a town that Peter, Andrew, James and John were born and raised. More ruins and a couple of good stories.

Then we schlepped over to Kafar Nahum (Capernaum) where tradition holds there to be a home lived in by Simon Peter's mother-in-law. To commemorate this, the Catholic church built a chapel that "floats" over the ruins of the home. ( See below.)

There is also a cool 4th century synagogue built on the foundation of a meeting place dating back to the first century. As always, why build new if you can building top of something already there?

Yardenit is a site on the Jordan River where Christians often come to be baptized while in Israel. It is weird how a place with such significance for many Christians can be so commercially crass. Kinda made more fun by all the fish and nutria trying to share the water!

Lunch was at a nearby place called the Steak Shop but I'll be darned if they had any steak on the menu. They did have shwarma (kinda like falafel but with chicken) so I was in good shape. We ate outdoors but under cover, which was good since the 30 minutes or so we were there it rained hard!

Then it was on to Bet Sean which is easily the most impressive set of ruins on the trip. Although the tel here is the site of a Biblical city of the same name, at the base of the hill are the ruins of the Roman city of Scythopolis. It's huge! Roman baths, toilets, a cardo (I.e shopping mall), amphitheater and temple. It was destroyed in an earthquake in 747 AD as evidenced by the fact that all the columns of the temple, cardo and other areas toppled in the same direction.

From there it's a long drive down the Jordan River to the Dead Sea. Jordan is just a stone's throw away. On the Jordanian side it looks like one long continuous farm with crops and greenhouses stretching on and on and on.

Both sides of the border are fenced off and patrolled heavily, the Israeli side also has a kind of pressure sensitive fence that alerts them anytime something moves against it.

This route also takes us through the West Bank. Maybe it's just me but it seems noticeably poorer here. Lots of shacks and tent like dwellings.

The day ended at the resort hotel, the Leonardo Classic. Before dinner Several of us swam in the spa pool which features heated water from the Dead Sea but with the silt filtered out. Ya still float just the same and the healing properties should be just as effective as ever. In my case that means that I won't need another Botox treatment for months!

Feral cat count: 7

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