One thing Tel Aviv has in common with Dubai is it gets pretty warm in the morning. But that is what you get in summer.
We woke early and had a small breakfast before being picked up for our first tour in Israel. We were dropped off at the meeting point and met the others who were going to join us on our tour, quite a random bunch of people from all over the world - USA, Mexico, Holland & Nigeria (probably got the money as a Nigerian Prince) and the tour guide, Haya.
Haya was awesome as a tour guide. She was knowledgeable about her country but was also quite funny in an older lady who-takes-no-shit-kind-of -way. We drove for about an hour through country Israel before reaching Nazareth.
Nazareth is the Arab capital of Israel but also the supposed birthplace of Jesus Christ (not Superstar, just the original).
Just above the entrance to the Annunciation Church
We visited the Basilica of the Annunciation, a beautiful old church where the Virgin Mary was told she would give birth to the Son of God. It is a big church that was financed by the Medici’s and built by Italian Giovanni Muzio We toured through and were able to see the cave where the angel visited Mary and also some remains of the original church.
Views suck but gas and electricity costs were next to nothing
The second floor has a magnificent lily dome and paintings donated by various countries (including Australia) lining the walls and a large painting behind the dias depicting Jesus, the Virgin Mary and St Peter.
After the Anunciation Church we went to St Joseph’s Church a little down the road where it is believed to be the carpentry workshop of Jesus’s father, Joseph and where he taught Jesus carpentry. Smaller than the Annunciation Church, the lower levels of the church have an ancient water pit/well, mosaics, caves that have survived since the 1st century. Access to the crypt (the ancient areas) used to be accessible to the public, but no longer except on Christmas. However people still throw money and photos into the tunnels for some reason.
Joseph's workshop, like mine, hasn't been used in a long long time.
We departed Nazareth and headed to Tiberias, in the region of Galilee, where we viewed the Sea of Galilee and visited Capernaum, the home of Jesus Christ after he was banished from Nazareth. It was another place where the ancient times still stood. You could see the black stones of the houses, some walls still standing (though only a couple of feet high) and the white stone of a synagogue with it’s pillars and some walls still standing. There were even etchings in the stone still readable (if I could read the language). It was quite amazing.
We also saw the Octagonal Church that sits above the remains of St Peter’s house, which is still viewable today.
Like I said, amazing.
Lunch was along the Sea of Galilee, about a 2-minute drive from the Synagogue. We stopped at a restaurant with a great view of the water and had the amazing Capernaum fish for lunch. Delicious. The tour is worth it just to taste this fish.
After lunch we departed for Yardenit, the baptismal site on the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized. It was possible to pay $10 to get baptized if you wanted to, it was also tempting to do it just to get in the water. It looked so clean and refreshing and it was so hot today. However I didn’t and I still remain a heathen…except my hands. I put my hands in the water, so when I die, my hands will be waving at me from heaven.
The site was pretty cool but nothing memorable except that you have to pay 2 shekels to use the toilet. Needless to say I was outraged and didn’t pay out of spite.
The river where they dunked some poor kid
The tour finished there and we drove back to Tel Aviv and dropped off at our hotel. We put away our stuff and went a couple of blocks down the road to a German, restaurant called Bayern. We ate some damn good veal schnitzels and then returned home and packed for tomorrows tour.