Thursday, November 17, 2011

Israel - Day Two

Woke up at 4:00 AM and couldn't go back to sleep. It made for a leisurely morning however. Many more up identifiable items available for breakfast. A cappuccino to go with the pears, croissant, Greek yogurt and granola ( or the regional equivalents) did the trick.

From there it was a 30 minute trek to the Caesarea Archeological Park. This is a complex of amazing stuff first built by Herod the Great and then destroyed and rebuilt several times over. It includes a restored outdoor amphitheater, remnants of palace Herod built out into the Mediterranean, a hippodrome, a man-made harbor and even a crusader era citadel.

Then it was on to Mt. Carmel. This is the site where Elijah held a "contest" with the prophets of the Baal to prove which god(s) are the most powerful. Elijah won. I have a picture from our previous trip of Jake reading this story from 1 Kings.

Lunch was at a restaurant owned by a man in the nearby Druze town. (I'd tell you about Druze religion but apparently it's a secret.) this is a place I remember fondly from my previous trip in 2001 because of the delicious falafel! For $9 you get four falafel balls dropped into a pita and can fill it with an assortment of vegetables and tahini sauce. As with all our other meals, the buffet of vegetables was mostly a mystery to me. If you're ever in the region, I'd definitely recommend the falafel here! Mmmmmm good!

After a short trip we made it to Megiddo. Megiddo is an archeological site made famous in James Michener's The Source. The legendary archaeologist, Yigael Yadin, led this dig, uncovering something like 29 different eras where cities were built and destroyed on this tel. Megiddo is also famous for what Biblical prophecies say will happen in the enormous valley at its base: the battle of Armageddon. (I'm in no hurry and, well, frankly, I'll believe it when I see it.)

Nazareth is the next stop but before going into the city proper we head to a site called the Mount of Precipice. This is one of those traditional sites (Read: probably didn't happen here but it feels like the right kinda place) where a Biblical story is said to have occurred. In this case, Jesus might have ticked off a bunch of Jews and avoided getting thrown off a cliff.

From their we skipped the usual trip to the Church of the Annunciation - the biggest basilica in town - and went to the Eastern Orthodox Church of St. Gabriel. It is situated over the only known spring In in the oldest part of Nazareth. The Church of the Annunciation was built over a cave that is thought to be the childhood home of Mary. Except for the fact that it wasn't the Flintstone age and people lived in houses, not caves. As "traditional" sites go, I'm gonna put my money on St.Gabriel's.

It's 5:00 PM and dark. Time to make our way to our hotel, the Ma'agan Holiday Village.

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