A Travellerspoint blog

Beautiful Settings, Holy Places

This morning, we got up and while sipping the delicious Arabic coffee, watch the children in the family get ready for school. Our hostess called us a cab to take us back to Canaan Fair Trade, where we waited for everyone to gather and enjoyed trading the highly varied stories about their family stays. Common themes: enormous families, all living nearby; warm greetings; extensive discussion among hosts as to what to do about dinner as if it had not been expected or planned; ample, delicious dinners that had clearly been in preparation for a while.

Finally, our bus arrived, and we drove north to the checkpoint. The land that had been so harsh and dry for so long was now green with vegetable farms of various kinds, growing mangoes, avocados, bananas, and such, some in open fields, some in large greenhouses.

We were stopped at the checkpoint, and our driver and guide, being Palestinians, had to get off the bus to be questioned and patted down. (Yuval, as an Israeli, is not allowed to travel to the West Bank, so he was not with us.) Two Israeli soldiers with guns got on the bus and went through checking everyone's passport. Then the guide and driver came back, and we continued on our way. Faraj said that this was pretty typical, neither relaxed nor particularly tense. Some people said later that they had perceive a somewhat increased tension at the checkpoints today.

We stopped at a number of places today where "this is where___happened." Of course, that's not possible to determine. But major sites such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Church of the Nativity that target "the place" are highly subject to debate. But it clearly is the case that Jesus did wander through the Galilee. And thus the regional focus, much more than the site-specific shrines, was to me quite meaningful.

Our first stop was at Tabgha, the ostensible site of the miracle of loaves and fishes. This is marked by a pretty, twentieth century church built on the foundation and plan of the 5th century Byzantine church originally on the site.

We got really excited at the first sight of the Sea of Galilee, and we drove along it for much of the day. We stopped for lunch at "St. Peter's Restaurant" where we ate St. Peter's fish for lunch.

After lunch, we went on to Capernaum, a beautiful, shady spot along the sea, where we saw the dark basalt foundations of houses and synagogues of Jesus's day along with later ruins of a later synagogue built on the first one. There was an attractive modern octagonal church built above the ruins of the early church of the same shape, with a window in the floor for viewing the early church and glass walls all around for viewing the beautiful setting, including the Sea of Galilee.

From there we drove down to where supposedly the "thou are Peter" conver sation took place. Like many of the Gallilean sites, it is green and shady and beautiful by the Sea of Galillee with the Golan Heights across the sea in the distance. Some of us walked painfully over the gravel to wade in the sea.

After this we drove to the Mount of Beatitudes Guesthouse. What a beautiful, serene place! We were welcomed by one of the Franciscan sisters and went to comfortable, modern rooms. As I had not slept well the night before, I took a nap. We had a tasty dinner in the main building. It consisted of soup, bulgher pilaf, sesame chicken. After dinner, we met at their beautiful little church for a compline service. And so to bed.

St Peter's Restaurant

St Peter's Restaurant

Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee

Church at Guesthouse

Church at Guesthouse

Posted by mlld3536 17:00 Archived in Israel

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