RTW 2011: Day 25

Today our tour of Israel continued with a new guide and a smaller group. The first half we had with a group that was 25 people total. Our tour continued with a group of 7, and a new tour guide and driver, Moshe. I must say, it was a step down. If you are able to request your Israel tour guide, definitely request Aharon: you’ll have the best tour ever! He was so informative, both historically and Biblically. Although Moshe was very nice, he didn’t give us nearly as much information about any of the places where we visited for the remainder of our tour.

We left for the Galilee region, where Jesus grew up and did a lot of his ministry. Our first stop today was Beit She’an, an ancient town located at the meeting of the Jordan River and the Jezreel Valley. Our tour guide told us to walk around the circle of the town and look at the bath house. It was ancient ruins, and reminded Josh and I a lot of Ephesus. There was a large amphitheater, a main street with large columns, various temples, houses, and bath houses. Ancient toilet design is a feature of this archeological dig site. It was a very hot day, so we walked our circle and arrived back at the top to see our “guide” sitting in the shade, waiting for us.

Our next stop was the Jordan River, where John the Baptist used to baptize people, including the Lord Jesus. It was beautiful and reminded me of Florida. I didn’t see alligators though, only strange looking otters and huge catfish among smaller fish. Someone was feeding the otters and catfish, but they swarmed so quickly it was a little frightening.

Josh and I dipped our toes into the water for a brief time. It felt so cool and refreshing.

We had lunch in Tiberius, which is a bit of a resort town on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Our tour guide didn’t have pre-picked restaurants for us to eat at. He asked us, “What do you like to eat? Shawarma? Falafel?” He repeated this the next day as well. I went for a Shawarma the first day (a pita bread sandwich filled with roasted turkey, cabbage, onions, hummus, pickles, and other toppings as desired). The following day I opted for the Falafel (a pita bread sandwich as above, except with fried chickpea balls substituted for the roasted turkey).

We stopped in Nazareth next, at the church built over the site where Jesus lived. There was even another church next door over the workshop where Joseph worked. This church was a lot more modern, giving it an entirely different vibe than a lot of the others we had visited earlier in our trip, but still: a humongous church built so that you can’t even imagine a humble house where Jesus dwelt among us.