Israel Trip – Day 03 – November 8 – Tuesday

We got up today around 6:00am, showered, and went down to the grand buffet breakfast at the Dan Panorama Hotel.  Waffles, omelets, scrambled eggs, pastries, veggies, fruit, and lots of great food to fuel our morning.

Our first stop was at Caesarea – the secular Roman government center from the time of Jesus.  A giant open air theater, the “Pilate Stone”, ruins of an ancient palace, the hippodrome (racetrack and Olympic game site), remains of a Crusader city.  We saw ruins on top of ruins – Herod’s buildings, Byzantine ruins, Crusader ruins, and Muslim ruins.  Back on the bus, we then made a quick stop at the famous Roman aquaduct as well.

Our next major stop was northward at Mount Carmel, where Elijah faced the prophets of Baal and called down fire from heaven.  We had a time of worship and Pastor Tim from Fremont gave a message on the story of Elijah.  Then up to the top of the monastery there and we got a great view of the Jezreel valley as well as the Mediterranean.  Back on the bus and a short drive to a Druze café where we had falafel on pita bread.  It’s a busy place and all the tour buses seem to stop there.

Our next was Zippori (or Sephoris), the ruins of a city that dates back to the time of Jesus.  Zippori was only uncovered about twenty years ago.  It is a few miles northwest of Nazareth.  One of the things that stands out about this ancient city was the tile flooring.  It was everywhere.  The synagogue, houses, and stores all had ornate pictures telling stories, all made out of very tiny colored tiles embedded into the floors.  The synagogue tiling told the story of “redemption”, and the idea that God had not forgotten the Jews, even though their Temple had been destroyed.  A house had the story of the Nile, the annual flooding, and pictures of wild African animals.  Amazing stuff.

We still had a little time before sunset and so we drove up onto a ridge in Nazareth overlooking the city of Nazareth.

We’ve now made our way up to the Sea of Galilee and are settling into our hotel rooms at Nof Ginosaur, run by a kibbutz.  We’re heading for dinner in a little bit, perhaps an early bedtime and then tomorrow we’ve got an optional sunrise on Mount Arbel (leaving at 5:00am!)