Well, it has been long in coming, to let you know about our weekend travels and travails. I have finally acquired enough time and internet access to have the pictures accessible for this blog. So here we go:
The weekend before last, we traveled North as a whole and stayed in a Guest House in Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee. That alone was stunning enough, be we also had the opportunity to travel to many other important sites in the region.
We saw some of the head waters of the Jordan at the Tel Dan Nature Preserve, and stopped at the River Jordan itself at a place called Yardenit. I had two hopes for things to do while in Israel above and beyond learning and traveling. Thanks to Geoffery’s help, I was able to fulfill one here, that was to be re-baptized in the River Jordan.
We also saw the Galilee Boat Museum and Nazareth Village. We explored two crusader period castles, Belvoir and Nimrud. And, although far too briefly in my opinion, we visited the site of Megiddo. To round it all off, we went to Bet Shean, Banias, Caesarea Maritima, and Tel Hazor.
As if this wasn’t enough, myself and one of the other students decided to take on the task of seeing extra sites by ourselves in Tiberias. The bus was to let us out at the highest point, by Rabbi Akiva’s Tomb, so we could walk down, visiting the Tomb of Maimonedes on the way back the the Guest House. After being dropped off, however, the bus drove past the sign for Rabbi Akiva’s Tomb, realizing they had dropped us at the wrong point in the city. Intrepid adventurers that we were, we hiked for nearly an hour (taking the long way around, and, everyone with me… “uphill, because everything in Israel is uphill”). Thanks to a reasonable background in Biblical Hebrew, I was able to make out enough information from signs to eventually find his tomb. Sadly, however, I did not have the time to translate any of the Hebrew there, nor to stop at Maimonedes Tomb on the way back. But many pictures mean I can go back and do the prior later.
During this last weekend, we escaped the bonds of our captors and received a free weekend pass. Some went to Tel Aviv, rumors are that this was for the drinking and the bars. Some went to Jerusalem, it seems this was mostly for the Museums and perhaps some drinking. A group of eight of us, Sophia and myself included, made our way across the border to Jordan to see Petra… ok, and we drank in Eilat also.
This fulfilled my other major desire while in Israel (aside from those things already scheduled), seeing Petra. I can now return home satisfied. My only regret about the things that I came specifically for, was that none of them were long enough. We only had four hours in Petra, hardly enough time. We were rushed through Megiddo. We barely stopped in the Valley of Eilah. And my re-baptism was splashed upon my head, rather than full submersion. So my advice, make sure you set aside time for the things that are important to you. The other sites are incredible, beautiful, worth seeing. But I’m not sure they are worth the cost of enjoying what you really came for. (I did get a reasonable amount of time at Masada at least.)