We left Tel Aviv at 8 to drive north to Caesarea, following the Mediterranean, though we didn’t see it much of the time we were driving. I knew Caesarea as the headquarters of the Roman army during the time of Jesus, but its history is far more complex than that. Its buildings were destroyed and rebuilt each time a new conqueror came to town – it has a history with the Byzantines, with the Crusaders, and as a Muslim city. We walked around the ruins of the various phases, saw intact mosaics and marble, viewed where Herod once had a swimming pool right on the edge of the sea.
Next, a quick stop at the aqueducts:
We then drove northeast to Nazareth. First up was a delicious lunch — we had our choice of a falafel sandwich or a shawarma sandwich. I had shawarma -supposedly made of turkey – delicious and chock-full of fresh vegetables. Then the churches of the annunciation – one built over the site of the well Mary would have used, and one built over the cave where she lived.
Around the side of one of the churches are pieces of art featuring the annunciation from dozens of countries.
Last stop of the day was Cana where one can remember the miracle of Jesus turning water into wine — though even our tour guide admits no one really believes it happened right in that location. Still he gave us a beautiful explanation of what the miracle means to him (“with Jesus there is abundance”) and we took the opportunity for our first group photo:
Walking from one church to the other in Nazareth gave us a feel for what the town would have been like in the time of Jesus (hilly, with winding streets) and what it’s like now — a middle school was just letting out, and it could have been anywhere – cell phones, flirting, lots of jeans.
Driving from one place to the other, towns of white stone buildings pop up on hillsides. Here’s one of my favorite photos from today:
Our tour guide and driver are friendly and informative. Biggest surprise of the day? When our Christian Arab tour guide said that in his Christian community, if his daughter married a Muslim it would be a point of extreme shame. “I would not be able to show my face.”
Time for dinner. We are staying in a lovely hotel on the Sea of Galilee – boat ride tomorrow, then Capernaum, the Mount of the Beatitudes and Caesarea Philippi.