Israeli road trip

Hello!

Today we are taking a road-trip through Israel. (Disclaimer, my “facts” and spelling may be inaccurate–I am writing this in real-time and I don’t have resources to fact-check)

I thought I would give you a brief synopsis of the sights in Israel as we go. We just left Tiberias on the sea of Galilee. Yep. I put my hand in it. And I grabbed a rock from the water–for mom. It’s so beautiful; there are lush green mountains leading to the sea. It is almost noon. The sun is shining brightly and there is not a cloud in the sky.

I apologize for being a little out of chronological order–our first stop this morning was in Nazareth. Pretty cool, huh? We walked through the massive church of Annunciation. It was impressive–the largest Christian church in the Middle East. Now, we are driving past palm tree fields. They grow them just like any other crop. Very neat. Our next stop is well, something old that I can’t remember the name of–you can’t walk around this part of the world without running into something a thousand or so years old.

Well. We just left Tiberias. We saw many cool things. The sea of Galilee was the site of several biblical stories pertaining to Jesus and each has some sort of shrine dedicated to it: the place where he turned water to wine, the place where he fed the 5000, the place where he lived in Capernaum, the place where he walked on water, and finally the Jordan river. We are now driving along the Galilee and the Syrian border. We are very near where the Hezbollah rockets landed during the 2006 war.

Ok, so we only went a few miles and then stopped at the Mount of Beatitudes, which was the site of the Sermon on the Mount. Now there is a small, fancy catholic shrine/church there. The pope has been there–2 popes actually–Paul the 6th & John Paul the 2nd. Now on to Akko.

Akko was cool. It’s a relatively small city on the Mediterranean. It has a charming old city, just as all good, Middle Eastern cities do. We went for a short ride on a boat with about 20 other people from the marina out on the sea to see more of the city. It’s really quite beautiful. There are remnants of an old rock wall that surrounded the city. Evidently, the city was conquered by Napoleon. Several old cannons remain on top of the massive 30-foot-high wall. The wall is so large in places that you can walk up it and there are large platforms from which battle could be waged. It was fun walking around on top of the wall–particularly given the exceptional view of the Mediterranean below. The numerous sailboats made the view quite picturesque. We are now en route to Haifa.

We just left Haifa. It was beautiful. It is nestled in the cliffs along the Mediterranean with a few high-rise buildings and huge seaport. We had a drink at a restaurant on the edge of a 500-foot-tall cliff overlooking the city and the water. It was a great view. We stayed until sunset, which was fantastic. Now we are en route to Tel Aviv. The second largest city in Israel.

We got to Tel Aviv after nightfall. It’s a big city and very westernized, but it’s more of a European influence than an American. There are many tall buildings, and it sort of feels like being on the
edge of downtown Chicago. When you approach the beach it feels like San Diego. We went to the beach (the Mediterranean) and listened to the waves for a bit. People were gathered along the beach like they are anywhere there is a beach. It was a nice night, about 70 degrees
and calm. We then walked through the old city, which was extraordinary. It had what I think of as that classic Mediterranean vibe–lots of old brick buildings with quaint little cafes and restaurants.

Now we are on our way back to Ramallah. We just exited the very nice, new Israeli-only interstate (our Palestinian driver has a special permit to use the Israeli roads) and we are now on the Palestinian highway–a much less polished road.

Well, we made it back home to Ramallah. We left at 6:35 AM and it’s 10:15 PM. Not bad for our “day off”, not bad at all.

-JF

p.s. We leave for the Augusta-Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem at 6:45 AM.

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