Monday, July 25, 2011

Galilee: Day 1

July 11, 2011

For anyone that knows me, you realize how much I love my sleep. I really like my bed, and sometimes the only way to get me out of bed is to pretend that there is a natural disaster… (even though I have been known to sleep through fire alarms.)
We had an early start, with breakfast was at 5:30, but my entire apartment slept in late, to be rudely awakened at 5:45 (and we were supposed to be on the bus by 6!) It’s a good thing that I am not a procrastinator… or I would have been really stressed. But how hard is it to pack when you only have 4 pairs of pants, 2 skirts, and a week’s worth of shirts that you like to wear?! I pretty much just moved everything from my closet to my bag. My problem with packing for trips is that I pack them, thinking that I will enjoy wearing everything, when the reality is I like comfort. Give me hanes v-necks any day! Even though I look like a slob.
Sorry mom, I know you did your best to make me grow out of the whole t-shirt stage… it came back with a vengeance!
The ride to Galilee differed from the way that they usually take student groups – we got to ride up the Jordan river valley to the Sea of Galilee (aka Kinneret, Lake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias). Techically this is in the West Bank (ooooooh!) But it was drastically different terrain from the Judean wilderness that we have been growing so used to seeing. Seeing green plains was definitely a sight for my sore vegetation-deprived eyes!
Our first stop as we made our way up to Galilee was Bet Shean (aka Beit She’an… you will notice that they don’t spell things the same here. And I’m pretty sure that they don’t even try to spell the English correctly either.) Also called Scythopolis, the earlier Canaanite city that was located on the top of the tell moved down to its base. [I realize that I might have been a little remiss in your education of archeology… a tell is a giant hill. What is cool about these hills is that they are composed of different destruction layers that have been built one of top of the other. We’ve seen a lot of tells. And you will see more too. No worries!] Bet/Beth Shean was the only city in the Decapolis that was located on the Western side of the Jordan River. So we talked about the probability that Christ came and preached here when he was visiting the cities of the Decapolis. An earthquake in 749 brought about the end of Beth Shean, and it never recovered. 
And of course, we had to get the typical jumping pic. 

And riding on the fallen columns.

Our second stop was in Nazareth. Even though today it is the largest city in northern Isreal, in the 1st century, it was a little hillbilly town in the hills (some people say that the population would not have exceeded 480 people). The word Nazareth actually means “branch” in some interpretations, which might be related to the prophesy of Isaiah 11:1. We started our visit walking through a museum in which they tried to recreate what life in ancient Nazareth would have been like, and as a gift at the end, we each got our very own Herodian-era oil lamps! 

After we left the museum, we went to the Church of the Annuciation, which was supposedly built over the home of Mary. Many nations contributed murals which were displayed outside in the courtyard, and others were in the upper chapel area. I don’t really understand what the American artist was thinking… but considering it was the 60s…
It just makes me think – tinfoil?

1st century Nazareth

synagogue at Nazareth... built on top of the 1st century one

Finally, our last stop of the day was Mt. Arbel, where we got our first real view of the Sea of Galilee. I’ve officially stopped trying to take pictures through the windows of the bus. No matter how excited I get, I never ever ever get good pictures. And it just makes me sad. So I’ve decided to give up, and just enjoy the view. And then you get these babies!

don't look down dad...

We finally got to Ein Gev (pronounced “ehn-gev” not AY-EEN gev…)! Which was to be our home for the next ten days. This was one time when I really wished that I had not packed a duffel bag… we got to stay in adorable little cottages, but they just kept… going… forever! I can’t say that I was farthest person from the front desk… but it felt pretty darn close! I was 4 away from the end.

The first thing we did (seeing as it was only 5:30, and the lifeguard went off duty at 6, and dinner wasn’t until 6:30…) was to get in the water! Best. Feeling. Ever! Especially after a super hot day in the sun. Oh sweet bliss! I think we were all just giddy that we were finally here. In the Sea of Galilee!
We all sat and watched the sun go down as a close to our first day, a perfect end if you ask me!

we had to write a paper about a service that we did for someone else in our group.
this is how much i am loved.

by the way, she's my roomie.

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