Travel in brief
This past week my travels took me to Israel. The best way to see this country, in my opinion, is to join a tour group. Not having ever been on a guided tour before I wasn’t sure what to expect; It was a life change for me, I knew that many of the places I wanted to visit would be both hard to find and time consuming, so on the advice of my travel agent we (my wife and I) joined Insight Vacations for our Israel and Greek tours.
Our journey started in Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest and also its most modern and vibrant city. Highlights are the Habimah National Theatre, Rabin Square and the Carmel market. After a couple of days we left Tel Aviv and drove along the seashore to the ancient port of Jaffa. We spent some time in the flea market and several artists’ galleries. Also we visited mini Israel, a miniature, featuring 330 replica models which showcase Israel’s cultural, historic, and religious diversity.
The next day we toured along the coastal road and explored the Roman and Crusader ruins at Caesarea; then further on to Haifa, Israel’s northern port, and on to Acre. One thing I did not know was that part of this port Israel leases to Jordan so they can gain access to the western markets. We saw the fortress, the old harbour area, and the Crusader crypt before continuing on to Nazareth.
Day four dawned and began with a ride on the Sea of Galilee on an old wooden boat, similar in style to what was used 2000 years ago except this one had a motor. The ride was a highlight; it was so peaceful and beautiful and we learned an Israeli dance which was really fun. Later we visited Capernaum where Jesus is said to have entered the Synagogue and taught then on along the Jordan valley to take a dip (or should I say, float) in the Dead Sea which is ten times more salty than sea water,
Day five, we left our hotel early to take a cable car ride to the top of the ancient fort/palace, Masada, where in 73 AD, 967 Jewish Zealots held out against the Romans for four years until choosing mass suicide rather than slavery when the Romans finally found a way to breach Masada’s walls. From there we drove past the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered and visited the tomb of King David on Mount Zion and the Western Wall, better known as the Wailing wall, Judaism’s most sacred site.
Day six was taken up with sightseeing around Jerusalem’s famous sites and a side visit to Bethlehem, which is under Palestinian authority.
Day seven we walked around the Garden of Gethsemane then the quarters of the old city. Later we viewed the Temple Mount, one of Islam’s holiest sites. Then e walked in Jesus’ footsteps along the Vi Dolorosa and the Stations of the Cross; saw the Ecce Homo Arch, Pool of Bethesda and finally reached the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on the site of the Crucifixion.
We were fortunate to have a guide who was so knowledgeable about the history of the region. Next, on to Greece…more later…creating more of the life style