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Well, we wandered around the crafts market in Tel Aviv yesterday andthen stopped in Caesaria before driving up to Haifa. Caesaria was a bit of a disappointment. The location is great – the ruins are right on the ocean. But they’re a bit too ruined. And we’ve just done too many ruins for now. The drive was easy and pretty, though. Today we drove everywhere. We visited the Galilee and the Golan Heights. We stopped at Nazareth first and saw the Church of the Annunciation believed to stand on the site of Mary’s home where it’s believed that the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she’d have a son. It is the largest church in the Middle East. There are paintings decided by Christian communities around the world, with the theme being Mother and Child. We also visited St. Joseph’s Church which is believed to stand where Joseph’s carpentry shop was.
From there we headed to Tsfat and saw what we could – most of it is closed for Shabbat (the Sabbath). The main exhibition hall for the artists’ colony was open. And then we wandered around the streets a little. Great views and narrow stone streets.Then we drove to Tiberias, which is on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. We visited the Rambam’s tomb (famous rabbi from the 1200s). We stopped at Yardenit where the Jordan River leaves the Sea of Galilee. Tour groups of Christian Pilgrims line up here to get baptized in the Jordan River. This is close to the location where Jesus is believed to have been baptized. Next we visited the remains of an early synogogue at Beit Alpha. It’s on a kibbutz – they started digging to build something and accidently uncovered a nearly perfect 1200 year-old mosaic floor from a synagogue. Pretty cool, and of course there was a multi-media presentation. In English. All National Parks have those. Next we drove around the Golan Heights. Beautiful. Incredible views. We stopped at one viewpoint and disappointingly they didn’t have a multi-media presentation, but they did have a button you could press and it told you (in English) all about the surrounding area. It was a great drive.
Tomorrow we’re going to try to get onto a tour of the Bahai gardens and temple, and to go to Akko, which is a walled old stone city just north of here. No matter what you’ve heard Israelis are not crazy drivers. Very often Wendy had to slow down… Okay, maybe that just says something about her driving…