Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Israel: The road to Galilee

Galilee, situated in the northern part of Israel offering beautiful sights of green valleys, rocky mountains and a lake that is called a sea.
My own journey through this part of Israel took me from the ruins of an ancient formidable city to a wooden boat sailing the waters of the Sea of Galilee.

Caesarea was once a busy city harbor built during the time of  Herod the Great. A place of economy and government during the ancient times.
It became the largest city in Judaea during that time and was an economic and cultural powerhouse.
Nowadays, Caesarea is dotted by the different ruins of that time.  One will not miss the remnants of old sculptures that welcome you into the Caesarea of today. One of the popular spot is the well preserved amphitheater which used to be the hub of entertainment during the Roman empire but now its exterior is destroyed by the elements of the sea water. As you sat down on the bleachers (which are replicas), you get treated to a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean sea as the blue waves roll into the harbor. A short walk away from the amphitheater is the hippodrome which is the ancient race track. Most of the walls that lined it has survived the times and are still intact. Farther out into the sandy beach are well preserved arches of the aqueduct which was the ancient city's lifeline as it carried water from the foot of Mt.Carmel into the city.

As the journey continues north, we stopped by the mountain where Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal - Mt. Carmel. Nowadays, there is a monastery which you can visit and provides a good view of the expansive stretch of the Jezreel Valley

We ascend from the Rift Valley to visit the city where Jesus played and ran in the streets just like any normal boy as he enjoyed his childhood in Nazareth. Nazareth village, recreates the village of Nazareth during Jesus' time. Enter into the garden dotted with olive trees and meet the old solemn-face shepherd busy tending his flock. Walk along the terraces and see the watchtower, the ancient wine press and burial ground. Pay a visit to the women of the village busily looming outside the house. Observe the carpenter in his workshed and perhaps lend him a hand in doing his woodwork. Enter the olive press and learn how they process the olive oil during the ancient times by using heavy stones and a donkey. Finish your tour with a visit to a synagogue.

700 feet above the Sea of Galilee is Mt.Arbel and is located in Lower Galilee. A short hike to the top will give you a breathtaking panoramic view of the whole of the Sea of Galilee.

Sea of Galilee
By the way the Sea of Galilee is not a sea but a lake and is considered as the biggest freshwater lake in Israel and is the country's biggest reservoir of freshwater. The best way to experience the Sea of Galilee is to sail its water in wooden boats just like what they used during the ancient times. From here you will have a different perspective of the region of seeing it from the blue water of the Sea of Galilee.

On another note, if you do find a St.Peter's Fish in the menu for lunch, it's not something that bring you to heaven's pearly gate but it's a freshwater fish most commonly known in our part of the world as Tilapia. Try it and see if there is a difference between  a Jewish and Gentile Tilapia.


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