Sunday, December 4, 2011

Haifa, Israel, December 1st

After a day relaxing at sea where I went to the gym, read and floated like a buoy in the salt water pool in the middle of the ship, we were relaxed and ready for Haifa.  I was quite amazed by the pool and loved the feeling of floating on my back in the pool, in the middle of the ship, looking up at the blue sky; it was like I was floating in the sea.
As for Haifa, we had a private tour scheduled with Avi who was to take us around northern Italy.  So at 9:00 we met Avi in the parking lot of the port terminal and we left for the Sea of Galilee.  We started at the Mount of beatitudes where Christ did the Sermon on the Mount.  It was a lovely area overlooking the sea of Galilee, peaceful and well maintaining by an order of noun. 


Next, he took us a little down the mountain to Tabgha, we Christ performed the miracle of the fish and loaves.  There’s lovely little church built over the rock where Christ performed the miracle.  I can’t say felt any special connection to the area.  It was nice but I wasn’t in awe.  In Rome, at the Vatican, I felt like l was seeing something great, something special.  I guess because you can’t actually see anything, I really couldn’t wrap my head around the concept.  Maybe it’s because I don’t know the scriptures enough.
Rock of the Miracle of the Loaves

Where I really felt like I was seeing something fairly special was at our next stop: Capharnaum, where Jesus spent the last years of his life.  In that village overlooking the sea of Galilee, you have Peter’s village and a white Temple where Jesus gave sermons.  There is a fair amount of the fishing village left as well as the temple.  The view is amazing and can really understand why it was believed to be the Promise Land.  Dad even went to dip his toes into the sea!

From Capharnaum, we went to visit a Kabutz which was really disappointing.  It really didn’t provide any insight into the society or cult; however you want to see it.
We next went to the River Jordan which is the site where Saint John baptised Christ.  You could, if you so chose, to redo your baptism.  We skipped that part, but had a really good meal.  We ordered tabouleh and hummus with beef kebabs and the restaurant offered us about 10 different salads.  We had baba ganoush, tahini, marinated carrots, cabbage, some marinated peppers and tomatoes, a Greek salad.  We also sampled some local beers.  It was delicious and we really enjoyed it. 
The river Jordan is much greener then I expected, it reminds me of rivers in Western Canada.  Speaking of Canada, we met the local wildlife, the Israeli interpretation of the beaver.  Really, the looked like a cross between a beaver and a giant rat!

From there we went to Nazareth to see the church of the annunciation.  Again, neither Nazareth, nor the Church was what I expected.  Nazareth looks like a rundown town.  It looks poor but industrialised and not at all what I expected for such holy land.  The church that they built over the remains of the church of the annunciation is way too modern to my taste to represent the site.  I believe they could have done a better job of blending into the scenery. I was glad to see it but it wasn’t what I anticipated.
Overall, we had a great day with Avi and saw a lot of great places I never thought I would see.  By the time we got back to the ship around 6pm we were exhausted.  We had an early dinner then headed to bed early.  As you saw from my earlier post, the next day of exploration in Haifa was done on our own, where dad and I went to the gardens and walked down, culminating in a nice afternoon snack at Cheers!

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