Homer's Travels: 2022 Fall Travels, Part One - Israel - Tel Aviv, The Sea Of Galilee, And The West Bank

Monday, October 31, 2022

2022 Fall Travels, Part One - Israel - Tel Aviv, The Sea Of Galilee, And The West Bank

Wow … where to start.  Our travels this fall took us to four countries spread over two continents over forty-four non-stop days of adventure and awe.  We saw and did so much.  I guess I have to start for the beginning.

Our first destination was the nation of Israel.  Our flight there didn't go exactly as planned.  Our original itinerary had us leaving Omaha at 11:00 AM and, after stops in Chicago and Frankfurt, we would arrive in Tel Aviv.  We discovered after arriving at the airport that one of the airlines was going on strike and we had be rerouted.  So instead of arriving three hours before our flight (as they ask you to) we ended up arriving six hours before our flight.  Despite this unfortunate delay our flight arrived in Tel Aviv less than an hour later than originally scheduled.  This would be our only travel issue and I count ourselves amongst the lucky ones.

A view of Tel Aviv and the beach.
We arrived in Tel Aviv over a day before our actual tour started.  This gave us a day to wander the area around our historic Drisco hotel (Mark Twain stayed there during his travels).  The Wife went to mass at a 'workers" church.  We shopped around the Jaffa Flea Market and went to the beach where I got in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time.  This extra day also gave us time to adjust to the eight hour time change.  We met our travel mates - a mother daughter pair - and shared a welcoming dinner the night before the start of a very full tour.

The view of the Mediterranean Sea through the aqueduct arch near Caesarea.
Our guide met us the next morning.  Since we all had walked around Jaffa the day before our guide decided to skip the Tel Aviv part of out tour and we left the city heading up the coast to the city of Caesarea.  This Roman city by the sea was built by King Herod.

We left the city and stopped at a local winery where we learned how wine was made and some of us had a tasting.  Staying on the wine theme we moved farther along to our next stop, Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle (turning water to wine at the Wedding Church).

Inside the Basilica of the Annunciation.
The last stop of the first day was the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth where the angel Gabriel told Mary she would be the mother of Jesus Christ.  We also visited a Greek Orthodox church nearby where they believe was Mary's home in Nazareth.  Like most places in Israel, there is not agreement as to where things actually occurred and many of the places are best approximations and there are often multiple places claiming to be the real one.

After having lunch in Nazareth we moved on to out resort on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  I will get this out of the way right away - The rooms were incredible and the buffets were truly out of this world in both size and variety but the lobby service was crap.  Fortunately this was the only unexpected bad lodging issue during the entire forty four days.

Our second day in Israel we visited a museum to see a remarkable will preserved wooden fishing boat once used on the Sea of Galilee.  From here we boarded a boat to essentially do circles in the Sea of Galilee.  While the views from the boat were very nice, this boat ride felt a bid meaningless. I guess I can say I was on a boat on the Sea of Galilee now.  This would be the first of  five boat rides on this trip - fortunately the other four would be more meaningful and enjoyable.

Mount of Beatitudes Church.
After our boat trip we went to the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount.  The views for here were nice too.

We drove northward to Caesarea Philippi near one of the springs that feed into the Jordan River and saw the city dedicated to the Greek god Pan.  From here we ascended the Golan Heights where we could see Syria.

We head back towards the Sea of Galilee stopping at Tabgha, location of the multiplication of loaves and fishes. As we admired the mosaics a couple Coptic Christian priests came and prayed.

Our last stop was Capernaum where Jesus spent most of his time and chose his first disciples.  We saw the remains of a second century synagogue here.

Not far from Capernaum one of those special things happened.  Special things are unexpected things, often not on the original itinerary, that stick with you. There was a Greek Orthodox church that was not open to non-Greek Orthodox tours.  Out tour mates were Greek Orthodox and asked if we could at least drive by for pictures.  As we approached the church a bus pulled up and out came a Greek Orthodox tour, led by a priest, from Ukraine.  Out tour mate talked with the priest and he invited us to join his tour.  The group of mostly Ukrainian women entered the church and, led by the priest started to sing.  It was amazing.

The Ukrainian congregation singing.
(Videoed by the Wife)
On our third tour day we drove south through the West Bank.  The West Bank is divided into three zones - an Israeli only, a Palestinian only, and the roads which are open to everyone.  Along the drive we visited Yardenit (a popular Jordan River baptismal site), Beit She'an (an ancient city with five thousand years of history), Beit Alpha (a Byzantine synagogue with interesting zodiac based mosaic floors), and Jericho.  This was a very hot day and some of the visits were limited by how much heat we could take.

During this drive we discovered our guide was a bit biased.  Turned out he didn't have a kind thing to say about the Palestinians.  His favorite way to describe them was dirty.  A bit disappointing as Jews were often described as dirty by anti-semites.  You would think there would be a bit more empathy there.

Camels ... in Egypt I would learn to hate them.
We ended our third day with a view of old Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives and a stroll through the Garden of Gethsemane.  At the garden church the Wife was the solitary mass attendant.

Old Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.
The next day we would be exploring Old Jerusalem.

Photos can be found in my 2022-09 Israel Google Photos album.

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