Saturday, October 9, 2010

Holy Land Tour Day 5

Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee from our hotel room window!
 It was with some degree of reluctance that we moved away today from the Sea of Galilee. It truly is an unbelievably beautiful landscape and is a fresh water sea in the middle of Israel with such significant history. This inland sea provides water for the huge agricultural and farming areas which we seem to travel through endlessly. No farmhouses as workers live in small towns and commute to the farms to work. The market gardens are abundant - mangoes, olives (of course) pomegranites, grapes abound.
We were thrilled to capture sunrise in this way before we checked out of the hotel that morning.

View from Mt Carmel across the valley of Jezreel
 From one spectacular view to another - this time we are on top of Mt Carmel on our way to the coast and the Mediterranean Sea. On this mountain the prophet Elijah challenged 400 prophets of Baal (this was in the time of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel). A Carmelite church  marks the spot and above it a fantastic viewing platform that overlooks the entire area and we can see agriculture happening  for 360 degrees.

On this journey we also visited Megiddo and from a similar high vantage we could overlook the same valley. Megiddo is considered the place of Armageddon in the New Testament that is where the final battle will be staged according to the book of Revelation. The mountain was once a home to a large fortress and going back thousands of years already there have been countless battles for this spot. Archeologists have uncovered layer upon layer of civilization, if that is the right word, in this place. The ruins are enormous and we climbed way down 153 steps into an underground passage way that ancient people would use to collect water from the spring outside the city wall. This tunnel is still very well preserved and safe and thankfully it was 80 steps back up and out to the waiting bus.

Our last blog view for this day is from the heights of Caesarea (not Philippi). This City is a significant Port today and has been going back to Roman times. The Governors of the Province of Judaea had their summer palace in this place. There is even evidence of Pontius Pilate staying here. The ruins on the foreshore of the Mediterranean are extensive and included a massive hippodrome for horse racing, the palace and a Roman theatre - which is still used as a performance place today.

Looking back towards the Port of Caesarea and out to the Mediterranean sea

Our next views  from the bus this afternoon would be looking across at Tel Aviv and then finally as we approach the City of Jerusalem.

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