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weather gods ... please be kind to us!


View Shalom Israel - 2020 on Ils1976's travel map.

Since we weren't leaving Netanya till 9.30 in the morning, I had the luxury to sleep in and I must say, it felt rather good. But awake is awake and as soon as I jumped out of bed, had a nice hot shower and arranged myself some warm cloths, I was more than ready to tackle the day!

Inès told us yesterday that it was going to be a shitty day weather-wise with storm and rain, but as soon as I left my room, the sun was shining bright in the sky and it was rather hot for this time of the year ... it even made me think to loose some cloths as soon as I had my breakfast but look and behold, almost half an hour later, it started to rain and the weather changed completely.

Glad to have our own weather wiz, we quickly ran to the bus with our luggage coz tonight we were going to sleep at the lovely town of Tiberias, where we were going to stay for 2 nights.

It has a real biblical ring to it, so I was really looking forward to see this holy city, but not before we first visited that other mystical city ... Caesarea!

But first things first coz we can see as much as we want, but without the much needed "dinero" we weren't going to make it till the end of the week. Inès found us a few ATM's and as soon as we were feeling like millionaires, we drove off to this Phoenician harbor city conquered by the Romans.

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Upon our arrival it was very windy and I was glad that I had my jacket on, but still at times even with my jacket on it felt really cold. I so hoped that the weather gods would agree upon us and hoped that from tomorrow on we had nothing but good weather.

However, wind nor rain could stop us from visiting the city and after we've got an introduction film about the glory days of the city, Inès led us through the ruins of this once great city.

Although it was not the best of weather ... when the sun is shining at this part of the world, it must have been a magnificent view. Some of the rooms are already taken by the sea and besides a theatre build by Herod the great and a part of the hippodrome, there is not much to see but stones, stones and more stones.

We must have been walking through the ruin city for about 2 hours when we left and drove on to our next stop, an incredible impressive Roman aquaduct a few miles away from the Caesarea site.

You can take as much pictures of it as you like, but taking them is not the same as seeing the impressive structure with your own eyes. I can't even begin to imagine how it must have been like when they were actually building it ... I was speechless without a doubt.

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Once back on the bus, Inès had some bad new for us and it was a huge let down!

As we left our countries, we were already faced with the Corona virus or Covid-19 and being here in Israel far from Europe it never came into our thoughts that something could go wrong, but sadly enough it did.

While we were enjoying the wonders of the ancient world, our guide received the news that Bethlehem was closed for all visitors. A few Greek tourists had brought the virus with them and some workers in a hotel got sick, so they immediately had a lockdown. Nobody could get in or out of the city. Bummer!!!

Since we were supposed to stay for 3 nights in Bethlehem, this meant a huge problem and although Inès insured us that our trip could go on, unlike many other tourists who were not allowed into the country, she still needed to figure out what we could and couldn't see.

Needless to say, once we reached our lunch spot, we were all a bit let down. A few people booked this trip exclusively to see Bethlehem and for me as well, this was the place to see besides Jerusalem. I was disappointed without a doubt.

On the other hand I was glad we still could proceed our trip but I was scared as well that many things were going to get cancelled as the week went on because Inès told us also that most of the sights those Greek tourists visited were going to get closed to make sure that the virus got isolated.

It was but a quiet drive to Nazareth, the city famous in the New Testament and known as the city where Jesus grew up. As we arrived, it even rained so hard that the walk up to the Basilica of the Annunciation was a real tough one with all the slick cobblestones. Forgotten were our worries about Covid-19 now that we had to tackle this problem. Most members of our group where at the age of 60+ so I admired them a lot for their perseverance.

The church of the Annunciation is a real pelgrimage for Christians all over the world because this is said to be the place where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced to her that she would conceive and bear the Son of God who we know as Jesus. This event is know as the Annunciation.

Born and raised as a Christian, but not practicing it for one bit, I must admit that I somewhat have forgotten all the stories and it seems fun to hear them all over again. Although our guide Inès is Jewish and wants to tell us even more of the Old Testament, which on itself is also interesting, she sticks to the stories people want to hear. I am more of a facts girl, but sadly enough it seems that this isn't going to happen on this trip, or at least not as much as I want. I have high regards for our guide trying to find the right balance between people who are religious and people that are not.

As we entered the enormous church I must say that I was really impressed. For the first time ever, I felt so "little" (for me this is hard to search for the right word), when I walked into this two-story building which is so serene at the same time. It was mind-blowing!

On the lower level there are remnants of what is said to be the Grotto of the Annunciation. Many Christians believe it to be the remains of the original childhood home of Mary and therefor alone it is a place of worship.

Improved, if you may call it that, through the years during the Roman, Crusader and Mamluk period, the church was completely demolished but since the 20th century a new impressive church arose that can be visited by everyone who wants and believe you me when I say that although modern looking on the in- and outside, it is a church not to be missed when visiting the country.

We had an hour of free time and after taking lots of pictures, listening to an Italian mass for a while, for me this was enough of religion for one day and I soon wondered of the premisses and admired all the paintings depicting the Virgin Mary.

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Once outside I was happy to see that the rain was gone and the sun was shining, according to our guide Inès, this was a sign that the rest of the week was going to be a good one with nothing but good weather! Of course she was joking but as she looked up the weather forecast for tomorrow, the rain should be gone. Halleluja ... praise the Lord!

When we were all back together we walked back to the bus and drove off to Tiberias, where we arrived at approximately 5 PM.

Dinner was at 7 PM this evening so I rested a bit in my room and met up with the group around dinnertime which was once again very delicious, not even mentioning the delicious desserts.

Since it was still early, some people of our group went to the bar and this was as good as any time to get to know some people in our group a little bit better. Yesterday we were all knackered, but now with a good glass of red wine, we were all in a better mood.

Emptying the last bottle just before midnight, this was a sure sign for me that it was time to go to sleep because tomorrow another interesting day awaited us.

Posted by Ils1976 07:32 Archived in Israel Tagged landscapes beaches churches art sea rain monument religion history clouds road tour sights group asia grey_weather

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Comments

Thanks for your interesting story...Keep well please.

by Vic_IV

Thank you Victor ... you as well ... stay safe!!!

by Ils1976

What a shame that Bethlehem had to be missed off your itinerary! But Caesarea sounds fascinating and the church in Nazareth very impressive

by ToonSarah

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