So I mentioned in my post a couple days ago that I packed light since I knew I could do laundry at our hotels. I wore jeans for my two travel days, two pairs of shorts and a pair of white pants. On Day 2, our tour guide mentioned we needed to wear long pants, so I wore my white pants. Upon arriving at the end of Day 2, our tour guide mentioned we needed to wear long pants the following day (it is because sites maintained by the Franciscan orders had dress codes). No big deal, I thought. I can get away with wearing these white pants two days in a row.
Day 3 started with breakfast at the hotel, where we continued meeting people from our tour group, as well as continuing to build a friendship with Letha and Alan. Then we boarded the buses and drove to Caesarea, which sits on the Mediterranean Sea. In a word: GORGEOUS.
This location is where Lon spoke about how for a long time there was debate over whether Pontius Pilate really existed. For many, many years, historians could not find any mention of him outside of the Bible, thus debating whether or not he was real or a made up character. Then, during excavation of a Caesarean site in 1961, some Italian archaeologists discovered a piece of limestone at Caesarea engraved with his name. A replica of the stone is located at the beach, but the original is in the Israeli Museum, which we visited a few days later.
After running down to the beach to touch the water, we then drove over to the nearby Roman Aqueducts, before heading into a village near the Golan Heights mostly populated by Druze. The Druze don’t consider themselves Arab or Jewish, but are a secretive religious sect of only about two million worldwide. In this village we parked our four big tour buses and enjoyed a quick lunch of either chicken schnitzel (which is basically baked chicken that has been breaded) or falafel. I opted for the schnitzel. AJ opted for the falafel. While in the restaurant’s outdoor seating, a torrential rainstorm started. We had been told that our arrival in Israel a couple days prior was just at the onset of Israel’s “winter” which consists of 3-4 months of rain. The remaining months of the year they get no rain. Fortunately, the storm was brief and ended just as we boarded our buses and began the trek to Mukhraka, the site where Elijah battled the Prophets of Baal. The view, quite simply put, was astounding. I managed to get a good panoramic shot from the top of the church:
I should say that by the time we arrived at this spot, it was incredibly hot. And standing on the roof of a church, there is no shade. For 30 minutes our group stood on the roof in direct sun listening to Lon speak. Poor AJ was positively wilted by the time he was done talking. Yes, it was a good story to hear how Elijah battled the prophets of Baal, but it was one that could have been told in the shade at the base of the church. *lol*
From here we headed to Megiddo, where I took no pictures because, to be honest, I was exhausted from all the walking and step and hills. This trip was NOT for the weak. From Megiddo we drove to Nazareth for our last stop of the day, visiting the Greek Orthodox Church of Anunciation. Supposedly on the walk to the church we passed by Mary’s Well, which is the site where Mary was visited by the angel who told her she was to give birth to the Son of God. But I never saw it. And let me tell you why.
For a country which relies on tourism for much of its financial success, very little is spent on trash pickup. Israel is a dirty, dirty country. We saw piles of trash everywhere. It was endless. I find it baffling that they don’t have some kind of tourism program in place to keep the place clean. But the proof is there that they just don’t care. Which is tragic, because I’ve read elsewhere that Mary’s Well looks like an overflowing trashcan rather than a “holy site.”
Once in the Greek Church, where our group of 150 filled the entire place to the rafters, Lon shared for a while and then we closed with prayer and a song. The church was lovely, but you could tell the curates of the church were not happy that Lon was being so loud (he’s not a quiet guy).
At this point we headed back to our hotel for dinner and an early night because the next day we’d be traveling all day before heading to our new hotel location in Jerusalem. And we were told we had to wear long pants the next day. Once back in the room, I quickly washed my pants in the bathroom sink, so they’d have time to dry before I had to wear them again the next day.