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the splendors of the Sea of Galilee


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

This trip was really agreeing to me coz till now we didn't have one early wake up call and I loved every minute of it, especially with all the wine I drank last night which reminded me to really slow it down for future sake!

Nine o'clock on the dot we left the hotel, said good morning to our lovely driver Boas, who has more than enough Arabic willpower in his blood, and slowly drove down the hill of Tiberias all the way to the harbor ... a 10 minute drive! I already asked myself why we were not walking the distance. It was such a riddle to me coz the sun was shining and although the majority of the group has a pensioners age, except for a few, they were really fit and I could only hope to have the same positive vibe once I reach that age!

Sadly enough there was nothing to do about it than enjoying the slow group mentality which on the other hand wasn't too much of a problem either!

Inès searched for our captain and once he was found, we were ready to go.

It seemed we were the only ones on the boat ... how cool was that! First I thought it had something to do with us leaving a little later than all the other tour groups but quickly enough I learned that it had nothing to do with time rather than the ongoing virus. Covid-19 made sure that loads of trips were cancelled and as I was talking to Inès I soon discovered that we were one of the last groups arriving here in the country. Most people were denied entrance or they had to go into quarantine for at least 14 days which on itself wasn't the ideal situation for a tour group.

It felt like luck really was on our side today, but I rather would have liked that the virus was gone by the time I got home. All the messages I got from the homebase were just worrying and while I was enjoying the most sublime view of the surrounding mountains of the lake, they were tackling daily worries.

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The Sea of Galilee has many names, but whatever the case, it is still the lowest freshwater lake on the planet and that on its own is quite remarkable. For me the lake will always be associated with Jesus walking on water. If it happened here or not that is besides the question, but when I was a kid of 7 years old, that was the only thing that sounded fascinating enough to stick in my brain for the rest of my life.

Did it really happen or not? I don't know for one bit and neither does our guide when I asked her. The lake on itself has many mysteries and although the water level drops every year, when Jesus was supposed to walk on it, it must have been almost half a size bigger, so it could have been a very windy day like today, maybe he even flew over it ... why not!?

We were boating for more than an entire hour when we almost reached the shores on the other side. Still not bored of the views, some of us wanted to stay a little bit longer on the water, but with my boating experiences, I was just glad that everything went smooth!

As we arrived at the Yigal Allon centre at the shore of the Sea of Galilee, I soon found out that it was named after a very important person who was a minister of many departments and if you find his life interesting you could go and see his exhibition of the "man in the Galilee". I however was more fascinated by the mystery boat they call nowadays "Jesus boat".

To whom the ancient Galilee boat belongs will remain a mystery for all eternity, but when it was discovered in 1986 it was a great found for the people living next to the shores. The boat dates all the way back to the 1st century AD and was found in a thick sediment during a very dry period. When seeing the movie how they got it out, it is nothing more than impressive and come to think about it, it is really amazing how it survived all that long.

Jesus' boat or not, it was worth the money and while the rest of the group was sipping a cup of coffee and did a bit of stone shopping, they themselves sponsored the local economy.

After a bit of rest, we met up with Boas again at the car park and as soon as we were all back together, we drove off to the Church of Beatitudes!

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To be honest, I had never heard of it and as we arrived at the mountain at the north side of the lake, I soon discovered that this was the place where Jesus had his Sermon on the Mount. Still thunderstruck and not knowing what this was all about, I was more than glad that our guide explained it to us. It turned out it was some kind of collection of sayings and teachings Jesus preached to his followers, it were his Beatitudes of which his Lord's Prayer is the most known ... now we are getting somewhere, this one I understood.

Although it is not certain that this was the actual spot where Jesus had his Sermon on the Mount, it was definitely somewhere in the vicinity, that's for sure. Walking towards the little church run by some older nuns, it was certainly not the worst of places.

The sun was shining and although there was a little breeze, I didn't mind that much because from every angle you looked, you had an amazing view on the lake surrounded by lots of grass and flowers. Thinking back of the time I booked this trip I thought Israel was going to be dry and dusty, but now looking at the lake I saw just the opposite. It was green and lushes and full of life! Not at all as I imagined it to be and I liked it very much.

I could already see Jesus sitting on his mountain between all of this ... it is just so peaceful. This dude really knew how to choose a spot!

Next up on our agenda of today was a place Inès really wanted to show us in the best of weather conditions coz it was the highest place we were going to visit during our 8-day visit here in the country.

The Golan Heights or simply the Golan is a place known mostly because of the Six-Day War during the sixties and it didn't end there. It seems it will always be a war zone when you consider it lying between countries like Libanon, Syria and Jordan.

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Once up the mountain Bental while passing a few minefields, it certainly feels real and when you arrive in a cold and grey atmosphere, the picture is completed, that's for sure. Seeing Syria up close and even a hint of Libanon in the far distance, it feels strange. Seeing it, is believing it and although we see a few tents from the WHO, it feels unreal at the same time.

Not so long ago this was a war zone with trenches and all, nowadays we tourists are driven up the mountain with a coach and see neighboring countries all caught up with their own problems while an artist with a lot of imagination left some artwork behind and even when you think you have seen it all, there is a possibility to have a cup of coffee or tea at Coffee Annan.

Nope, it is not a wink at the former Secretary-General of the UN Kofi Annan, but it happens to be the Hebrew word for cloud ... it basically means drinking a coffee in the clouds ... well appropriated if you ask me!

Going back down the mountain, I was so glad to feel the warmth again and it suddenly gave me a hungry feeling, just in the nick of time too coz as soon as we were at the lake again, we were dropped of at a local tourist trap where we could eat the local speciality ... John Dory. To my surprise the fish wasn't all that bad, the scenery was beautiful near the lake as well, but the constant loading of one tourist group after another spoiled it all together. Needless to say, we were out of there as soon as lunch was over.

Next up was Capernaum!

Who in the heck would have believed that this frontier post with a fish-market would become infamous in the future. Not me, but then again, luckily for us, Inès gave us the full story. Somewhere in the past, Jesus moved to this little town known for its fishermen (wasn't he one as well???) and performed a few miracles.

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Teaching and worshipping in the local Synagogue made him a little bit famous and soon he had his first disciples amongst the most famous one being Peter. Till today when you arrive at the scene, you will see an ultra-modern Catholic church looking a bit like a spaceship literally hovering above a ruin which is believed to be Peter's house, where once Jesus has stayed and performed his most intricate miracle ... the healing of a lame person. Brought through the roof of the house, he forgave the sins of the man and he walked out the door like nothing had happened.

If this is true or false we will never know, but apparently during his time in Capernaum he also healed the mother-in-law of Peter, he introduced the Eucharist for the first time and he even pronounced a curse on the town ... what a guy!!

Nowadays, except for the ruins of Peter's house and a bit of the town itself, there are some remnants of a synagogue build in a period way after Jesus has lived here and I must say that the modern church alone is worthwhile a visit, that and of course the view on the lake.

Last stop of the day was Tabgha, which in ancient Greek means place of the seven sources and as we arrive at the little church by the lake, you can hear water running from every place at the entrance. This is so cool and soothing at the same time.

Most of the groups were gone and we almost had the place all to ourselves and as we walked onwards to the place of worship, we got to see the lake again. What a view it was. It is absolutely stunning!

Inès for some reason had never seen the water so close to the little church and felt like a kid again, she even convinced the whole group to go into the water and while we enjoyed having our feet dipped in the water, she told the story about the 2 fish and the 5 loafs of bread. I guess we all know that story and it immediately gave me a flashback of my first communion. Here we had the same tales told and I loved everyone of them. To me, Jesus was the coolest magician on earth.

As the sun was almost setting, we had a quick view inside the Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter and although this is quite a mouthful, it is for sure a lovely church and I immediately lit a candle hoping and maybe also a bit of praying that the virus would get out of this world as quick as it came. I just hoped it worked!

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Once back in Tiberias, I gave up the idea of going back into town again and instead I relaxed in my room a little bit till it was time for dinner and afterwards, the usual gang was there again for another round of enjoying some delicious liquids, only this time I was a bit more carefull and sticked to just 2 glasses of wine ... I was so proud of myself!

Posted by Ils1976 11:49 Archived in Israel Tagged landscapes churches people boats monument religion history lake river sights group asia viewpoint

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Comments

I see you were proud of yourself. That's true! You managed to experience a lot I must say...Good for you, Ils!

by Vic_IV

Thanks Victor ... I truly hope to see this place again, maybe not in 5 years time, but I wouldn't mind seeing it again after a decade, would be a great reunion! :)

by Ils1976

You are tempting me to visit Israel some time. We thought about it years ago, decided on somewhere else and have never come back to the idea, but it sounds as if there would be so much to see there! Plus I have friends in Tel Aviv who are always urging me to visit!!

by ToonSarah

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