(Israel Flag)


(Israel Map)


WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2009:

All of the images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

On a beautiful Wednesday morning we docked in Haifa, Israel.
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country,
with a population of over 265,000. The city is a major seaport located on Israel's
Mediterranean coastline in the Bay of Haifa. It is located 56 miles north of Tel Aviv.
The Royal Princess in Haifa, Israel Haifa, Israel Haifa, Israel

After clearing Israel security procedures I was on my way to the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.
The Sea of Galilee is the largest freshwater lake in Israel.
Many of Jesus' miracles are said to have occurred here including his walking on water.
The pictures below were taken on the southwest side of
the lake looking toward the Golan Heights on the other side.
The Sea of Galilee looking toward the Golan Heights The Sea of Galilee looking toward the Golan Heights

Our first stop was on the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount.
Church of the Beatitudes is a Roman Catholic church built on the traditional site of the Sermon on the Mount.
Popes Paul VI & John Paul II each celebrated Mass at this church during their pastoral visits to the Holy Land.
Beautiful grounds near the Church of the Beatitudes Church of the Beatitudes The Sea of Galilee from the Church of the Beatitudes

Capernaum was a settlement on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
The site is a ruin today, but was inhabited from 150 BC to about AD 750.
The town is mentioned in the New Testament and was reported to have been the home of the apostles Peter,
Andrew, James and John. In Matthew 4:13 the town was reported to have been the home of Jesus.
In the center picture below you can see the Catholic Church built over the ruins of the House of Saint Peter.
According to Luke 4:31-44, Jesus taught in the synagogue in Capernaum, ruins of which can be seen lower right.
Capharnaum Catholic Church built over the House of Saint Peter at Capharnaum Ruins of the synagogue at Capharnaum

Tabgha is an area situated on the north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee.
It is the traditional site of the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Mark 6:30-46)
and the fourth resurrection appearance of Jesus (John 21:1-24) in Christianity.
Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha

In the eleven minute video below I explore the holy sites in the area of the Sea of Galilee.
Including Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum and Tabgha.

The 156 mile long Jordan River which flows into the Dead Sea is considered to be one of the world's
most sacred rivers. We stopped at a section of the river just south of the Sea of Galilee.
The Jordan River The Jordan River The Jordan River

In the five minute video below I visit the River Jordan.

After a delicious lunch at Ginosar, a kibbutz on the western banks of the Sea of Galilee,
we headed toward Nazareth. Nazareth is the capital and largest city in the North District of Israel.
Known as "the Arab capital of Israel," the population is made up predominantly of Palestinian
Arab citizens of Israel. In the New Testament, the city is described as the childhood home of Jesus.
Nazareth, Israel The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth

The Church of the Annunciation is a two-story building constructed in 1969 over the site of
an earlier Byzantine-era church. Inside, the lower level contains the Grotto of the Annunciation,
believed by Christians to be the remains of the childhood home of Mary.
The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth

The video below is eight minutes long of my visit to Nazareth, the city of Jesus' youth,
mainly focusing on the Church of the Annunciation.

We watched the sun set on our drive back to Haifa. We sailed away at 8:00.
The Royal Princess in Haifa, Israel Haifa, Israel

In the eleven minute video below I sail away from the port of Haifa, Israel on the Royal Princess.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON OCTOBER 28, 2009
Hello folks,

We docked in Haifa, Israel at about 6:00 this morning. It was a beautiful day here. Bright sunshine all day.

Haifa, Israel

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.

Church of the Beatitudes

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.

Me at the Sea of Galilee

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.

Capharnaum

Below is the ruined synagogue where Christ preached.

Ruins of the synagogue at Capharnaum

The grounds of Capernaum were beautiful.

The grounds of Capernaum

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.

Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha

The interior of the church and the rock where Jesus performed the miracle under the altar.

Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha

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 Sea of Galilee looking toward the Golan Heights

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.

The Jordan River

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.

Nazareth, Israel

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 of the Annunciation in Nazareth

The church was consecrated in 1969 and inside the church are the ruins of other churches.

The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth

Below is the interior of the church above the ruins you see in the picture above.

The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth

Pictured below is St. Joseph's Church and the Sisters of Nazareth Convent which are directly behind the Basilica of the Annunciation.

St. Joseph's Church and the Sisters of Nazareth Convent

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.

Haifa, Israel

We are now sailing down to Ashdod where we will dock early tomorrow morning for another full day in Israel.

Tim
Click on email photos for the large full-size photograph.



THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2009:

On Thursday we docked in Ashdod, Israel at 7:00AM.
No security hassles today, having done that yesterday in Haifa, I was able to walk right off the ship.
Port of Ashdod, Israel

In the short two minute video below the Royal Princess arrives in Ashdod, Israel.

We drove directly to Jerusalem and our first stop was on top of the Mount of Olives.
Mount of Olives is a mountain ridge in east Jerusalem named for the olive groves that once covered its slopes.
You get a nice view of the walled Old City of Jerusalem including the Temple Mount.
Me on the Mount of Olives overlooking the city of Jerusalem From the Mount of Olives overlooking the city of Jerusalem The walled Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount

From biblical times until today, Jews have been buried on the Mount of Olives.
There are an estimated 150,000 here.
View of the Wall of the Old City of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives The Jewish Cemetery Kidron Valley

We visited the Church of All Nations (Gethsemane Church).
The church enshrines a section of bedrock where Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest.
Adjacent to the church is Gethsemane, a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives
where Jesus and his disciples prayed the night before his crucifixion.
Mary's Tomb is also located in the Kidron Valley, on the foothills of Mount of Olives.
The Church of All Nations, also known as Gethsemane Church and the Basilica of the Agony Garden of Gethsemane Tomb of Mary

In the nine minute video below I arrive in the city of Jerusalem
and visit the Mount of Olives and the Church of Gethsemane.

The Western Wall, sometimes referred to as the Wailing Wall or simply the Kotel
is an important Jewish religious site located in the walled Old City of Jerusalem.
Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls The Western Wall The Western Wall Plaza

From the Western Wall we walked the Via Dolorosa which has been traditionally held to be the path that Jesus
walked, carrying his cross, on the way to his crucifixion. It is currently marked by nine Stations of the Cross.
Via Dolorosa Via Dolorosa Via Dolorosa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Our walk along the Via Dolorosa took us to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
This is the site where the New Testament says that Jesus was crucified,
and is said to also contain the place where Jesus was buried (the sepulchre).
Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Painting inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Painting inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

To the left, or west, is The Rotunda of the Anastasis beneath the larger of the church's two domes,
in the center of which is The Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre itself.
Dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre The Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre (The Tomb of Christ) Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls

My tour of Jerusalem continues in the 14 minute video below where I visit the Western Wall,
walk the Stations of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) and visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

After lunch we ventured into Palestine. Our Jewish guide was not allowed to travel into Palestine with us.
The city of Bethlehem

After crossing into Palestine we picked up a local Palestinian guide who took us into Bethlehem.
In Bethlehem we visited the Church of the Nativity which is one of the oldest churches in the world.
The structure is built over the cave that tradition marks as the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth.
Bethlehem City Church of the Nativity Church of the Nativity

In the eleven minute video below I venture into Palestine and visit Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON OCTOBER 29, 2009
Hello folks,

We docked in Ashdod, Israel shortly after 6:00 this morning.

Port of Ashdod, Israel

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.

The walled Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount

Me on the Mount of Olives overlooking the city of Jerusalem

Our next stop was at the Church of All Nations at Gethsemane.

The Church of All Nations, also known as Gethsemane Church and the Basilica of the Agony

Below is the Garden of Gethsemane and its ancient olive trees. It was here that Judas betrayed Christ.

Garden of Gethsemane

Next we visited the Temple Mount and the Wailing Wall.

The Western 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.

Via Dolorosa

The walk ended at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The site is believed to enshrine the sites of Christ's Crucifixion, entombment and resurrection.

Painting inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Painting inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Pictured below is the Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre (The Tomb of Christ).

The Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre (The Tomb of Christ)

After lunch we went to Bethlehem.

Bethlehem City

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.

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.

Tim
Click on email photos for the large full-size photograph.

I return to the Middle East in 2015. Click HERE for my short visit to Jordan & the Dead Sea.


Click on the arrow above to continue to my next adventure, EGYPT.



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