Including Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum and Tabgha.
mainly focusing on the Church of the Annunciation.
We docked in Haifa, Israel at about 6:00 this morning. It was a beautiful day here. Bright sunshine all day.
It took a little while to get off the ship. Israel customs are very thorough and strict as you might image. Once we finally did get off the ship we traveled through the Carmel mountains and across the Jezreel Valley to Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is in northern Israel not far from the borders of Lebanon to the north and Syria to the east. Our first stop was at the northern part of the Sea of Galilee at the Mount of the Beatitudes. Christ delivered the sermon on the Mount from this hill. Below is a picture of the Catholic church at the top of the hill.
Below is a picture of me from the church with the Sea of Galilee behind me. You can't really see much of the lake (the Sea of Galilee is really a fresh-water lake) through the morning sun.
We traveled around the Sea of Galilee stopping at places where Jesus preached and performed many of his miracles. Our first stop was at Capernaum.
Below is the ruined synagogue where Christ preached.
The grounds of Capernaum were beautiful.
Our next stop was in Tabgha and the Church of the Multiplication which is believed to be the site where Jesus performed his miracle with two fish and five loaves.
The interior of the church and the rock where Jesus performed the miracle under the altar.
Next we had lunch at the country's first kibbutz. A very nice buffet, probably the best meal of the trip. We continued driving around the Sea of Galilee after lunch. We were now on the west side of the lake and with the sun higher in the sky I was able to get a decent picture from the bus window.
The mountain you see on the other side of the Sea of Galilee is in the country of Jordan. Our next stop was at the River Jordan. You can see people being baptized in the river on the left of the picture.
Our last stop of the day was in Nazareth, the place of Jesus' youth. A city of around 90,000 people today. But in Jesus' time this was a very small place of only a few families.
The church in the picture above and below is the Basilica of the Annunciation which is the largest Christian Church in the Middle East and is said to mark the grotto where Archangel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin.
The church was consecrated in 1969 and inside the church are the ruins of other churches.
Below is the interior of the church above the ruins you see in the picture above.
Pictured below is St. Joseph's Church and the Sisters of Nazareth Convent which are directly behind the Basilica of the Annunciation.
The sun is fully set by 5:00 here and it was after 6:00 before we got back to the ship in Haifa. We sailed away at 8:00.
We are now sailing down to Ashdod where we will dock early tomorrow morning for another full day in Israel.
and visit the Mount of Olives and the Church of Gethsemane.
walk the Stations of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) and visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
We docked in Ashdod, Israel shortly after 6:00 this morning.
This being our second day in Israel there were no immigration formalities to go through today so we were able to walk right off the ship. The first thing we did was drive to Jerusalem which is the capital of Israel although most countries, including the United States, do not recognize Jerusalem as the capital. All the embassies are in Tel Aviv. Our first stop was at the Mount of Olives where there was a spectacular view of the city.
Our next stop was at the Church of All Nations at Gethsemane.
Below is the Garden of Gethsemane and its ancient olive trees. It was here that Judas betrayed Christ.
Next we visited the Temple Mount and the Wailing Wall.
From the Temple Mount we entered Via Dolorosa, The Way of Suffering. We climbed uphill through the narrow cobblestone streets stopping at the different Stations of the Cross.
The walk ended at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
The site is believed to enshrine the sites of Christ's Crucifixion, entombment and resurrection.
Pictured below is the Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre (The Tomb of Christ).
After lunch we went to Bethlehem.
Our guide could not go with us to Bethlehem because Bethlehem is under Palestinian control and Israel won't allow Jews to enter. Once we got to Bethlehem an Arab guide joined us. He must have been in a hurry to get some where and rushed us through without seeing much of anything. Below is the Church of the Nativity.
Driving into Palestine was no problem, we weren't stopped once. Coming back was another story, we were stopped two times where Israeli soldiers boarded the bus with machine guns and searched the bus. We got back to the ship at 6:30 and sailed away at 8:00. The pictures today weren't too good. Every place was very crowed and almost impossible to photograph.
Tomorrow I will visit the only continent that I have not yet been to, Africa. I will spend two days is Egypt before sailing back north.
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