A Travellerspoint blog

Sea, Stones, and Sunset

Our last day, and what a beautiful one.

We bid farewell to the beautiful Mount of Beatitudes Guesthouse. I for one wished we could have stayed there just one more day, perhaps doing nothing but walking in the garden, looking at the Sea of Galilee, and enjoying the peace and relaxation. Such a glorious--and challenging!--trip this has been!

Our bus took us south past Nazareth, which we had skipped, somewhat to my regret. Unlike Bethlehem, Nazareth is a place where Jesus definitely lived. But it had been determined that a stop there would basically just involve another huge church atop a dubious specific site, Mary's house. With our time running out at this point, a decision was made in favor of Cesarea, the spectacular port of Herod the Great. Though I was sorry to miss Nazareth, I had wanted to see Cesarea ever since I saw it written up in the Washington Post a couple of years ago.

What a spectacular site this is! We started by walking through the arches of the ancient aqueduct and dipping our feet in the Mediterranean. Wow. Perfect water temperature, rolling surf, a pristine, uncrowded beach with a background of ancient stone.

Back in the first century, there was no port here. Herod gathered his slaves and had one dug. He built a huge amphitheater, a hippodrome, a temple to Augustus, and many other structures whose ruins can be seen today--beautiful golden stone, the color of the sand at their feet.

After viewing the ruins, we had lunch by the sea. I had hummus topped by ground beef and pine nuts, with frozen mint lemonade to drink. Wonderful. Then it was back to the bus for the drive down to Tel Aviv, where we checked into our hotel.

We were just in time for the last of our meetings with human rights activists, this time with Eitan Bronstein, director of an organization whose mission is to promote among Israelis an understanding of the Naqba or "Catastrophe," as Palestinians understand the founding of the state of Israel which led to widespread dispossession in their community. Their goal is "To commemorate, witness, acknowledge, and repair." They believe that only if Israelis do these things will they ever be able to establish peace with the Palestinians. His organization points out that Jews, of all people, should understand the importance of not forgetting events that destroy understanding between peoples.

After Mr. Bronstein left to enjoy Shabat, most of us got back on the bus for one more trip, this time to Jaffa. Jaffa essentially functions as an Old Town for Tel Aviv. When we arrived in Jaffa, Faraj walked us around to orient us to the old area with its blend of Ottoman-era buildings and its gorgeous seaside promenade. He set us a meeting time and place and then left us to it. Some of us headed toward the sea. On the way we saw a restaurant with a garden, so we went in and had excellent fish and a lot of laughter.

After watching the sunset, we wandered back to the meeting point and headed back to Tel Aviv for the last night of a wonderful trip.

Cesarea by the Sea

Cesarea by the Sea

Tel Aviv from Jaffa

Tel Aviv from Jaffa

Sunset at Jaffa

Sunset at Jaffa

Posted by mlld3536 17:00 Archived in Israel

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