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Europe Cruise Day 20
Saturday, September 25th
Haifa, Israel

Scheduled arrival time here is 8:00AM. Here is where the ship will be.

Day 20 Map

Time and time zones get interesting here so here is the current time in Israel.


Israel goes to their standard time on September 12th, so by the time I get there it will be on standard time.

The shore excursion for the two stops in Israel is an expensive overnight trip. It is called Haifa to Ashdod Overnight Tour strangely enough. Holland America's description provides all the necessary detail so here it is.

Day 1 (L, D)
Leave the ship in Haifa and drive to Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus. Also called the City of Annunciation, this is where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, telling her that she would bear the Son of God. Visit the Church of Annunciation built over an ancient house believed to be Mary’s house and St. Joseph’s Church built, according to tradition, over his carpentry shop. A delightful lunch will be served on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Continue to the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount and pass through Tabgha, where he performed the miracles of the loaves and fishes. At Capernaum, St. Peter’s village, you will see the ancient synagogue where Jesus taught, and St. Peter’s house. Visit the Yardenit baptismal site by the Jordan River then drive down the Jordan Valley and through the Judean Hills to Jerusalem. After checking in at your hotel, dinner will be served, followed by a drive around the magnificently illuminated Old Town walls.

The L, D at the top indicates the meals included. I will include the Day 2 description tomorrow because that is when it will happen.

Meanwhile, the ship will sail from Haifa at 11:00PM. heading for Ashdod tomorrow.

How it actually happened!!!
(written November, 2011)

Today begins with the ship approaching Haifa harbour. Here is one panorama and one single picture taken while the ship approached.

Haifa Panorama 1

Taken from Haifa Bay.

Bahai Gardens

The Bahai Hanging Gardens in Haifa.

The blog for this day starts like this.......

The ship docked at Haifa Saturday morning just before 8:00AM. This rather expensive shore excursion left the ship Saturday just after 8:00AM and returned Sunday evening at approximately 5:15PM. There were some complications with the return which I will note later.

The weather both days was more of the same, hazy sun, few clouds, with high temperatures in the 35-38C range (that is 95-100F for those that like/know the old one better). It was not as hazy in Jerusalem and it was quite clear until the dust came. More below! It is a good thing that it is a dry heat or this would really be ugly (it is ugly enough as it is!).

So the excursion headed out with four buses and 138 people for Nazareth, about an hours drive from Haifa.

Here is one picture taken as the excursion headed for Nazareth.


Cotton by Road

This is cotton by the road on the way to Nazareth.

The blog continues, referring to Nazareth.........

This one stop there covers the Church of the Annunciation, and the St. Joseph’s Church. The Church of the Annunciation is built over what is believed to be the house of Jesus’ mother Mary. Due to it being the weekend with services going on, amongst other things, we were not able to get as close to some of these things as the group would have liked. We were able to see them from a distance.  St Joseph’s Church is believed to be over the remains of Joseph’s carpentry shop. As some of you may remember, the town of Nazareth is where Mary was told by the angel Gabriel that the Son of God would be born to her. Both of these churches are of recent construction and built over and/or around the ruins involved. It should also be noted here that the city of Nazareth has nothing of any other interest than these two religious sites. It is really a rather unremarkable place otherwise. 

Here are pictures taken in Nazareth starting with the groups arrival and showing most of the places mentioned in the blog note above.

Nazerath 1 Nazerath 2
The Church of the Annunciation. Our guide telling us what is to happen next with the church in the background.
Nazarath 3 Nazarath 4
Much of Nazareth's population is Muslim. The facade of the Church of the Annunciation.
Nazareth 5 Nazareth 6
The courtyard of the church. More of the courtyard.
Nazerath 7 Nazerath 8
One of the main entrances.
Apparently shows events from Jesus's life.
Another door with more events.
Nazerath 9 Nazerath 10
Part of the lower level of the church heading towards the grotto. The grotto around what is thought to be Mary's house.
Nazerath 11 Nazerath 12
A taller view of the grotto. The upper level of the church.
Church of Annunciation Panorama 1a
The upper level directly above the grotto below.
Vertical Panorama 1B Nazerath 15
The vertical panorama shows the dome above the opening in the floor to the grotto that is directly below. This opening can be seen in the vertical picture two above. One of the stained glass windows in the upper level.
Nazerath 14 Nazerath 13
I think these are in the Church of the Annunciation. More of the same from the previous picture.
Nazerath 16 Nazerath 18
A different part of the courtyard. Some of the ruins under the church of St. Joseph.
St Josephs Ruins Panorama
Most of the ruins, supposedly of Joseph's carpentry shop, under the church.
Nazerath 18 Nazerath 20
The church of St Joseph. What would appear to be an alter in a chapel of the church.
Nazerath 19 Nazerath 21
May be for baptisms. The wall is a fountain with water running down it.
The statue of the Virgin Mary in front apparently has some special healing powers.

The group on my coach finished the churches and started back to where the coach pickup was to happen. Here are some pictures taken during that process.

Nazerath 22 Nazerath 23
Having a soft spot for plush toys this attracted my attention.
I did not buy one!
A street near the church.
Nazerath 24 Nazerath 26
Nazareth is built in a valley that is surrounded by rather steep hills. The church as we headed back to the coach.
Nazerath 26 Nazerath 27
A local building as we departed Nazareth. Departing Nazareth.

From the blog.......

After about two hours here the excursion group moved on to the Sea of Galilee. 

The next group of pictures was taken on the way to the Sea of Galilee.

Nazerath 28 Olives 1
This may be Mt. Tabor, biblical site of the Transfiguration. Olives on an olive tree.
Enroute 1 Enroute 2
Some of the more modern local accommodation. Some of the scenery on the way to the Sea of Galilee.
Enroute 3 Enroute 4
More scenery on the 25 kilometre trip from Nazareth to the Sea. You can see the Sea of Galilee in the distance in this picture.

Before making our first stop by the Sea of Galilee we stopped to take some pictures of it. Here is a panorama showing those which covers almost the entire "Sea".

Sea of Galilee Panorama 2

The blog continues covering the next several stops on this side of the Sea of Galilee......

Once at the Sea of Galilee we did the following things as described in this excerpt from the excursion description, Continue to the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount and pass through Tabgha, where he performed the miracles of the loaves and fishes. At Capernaum, St. Peter’s village, you will see the ancient synagogue where Jesus taught, and St. Peter’s house. There is a recently built 8 sided church (I think 8 sides is correct, find out how many Beatitudes there are and you will know how many sides the church has) here. It is located near the spot where the Sermon on the Mount is thought to have taken place. As noted, the bus passed by Tabgha, which is a hill side near the previous site. The next stop was Capernaum where there are ruins that are believed to be St. Peter’s house and a Synagogue that was one that Jesus likely would have preached in. A more recently (about 500 years ago) built Synagogue’s ruins are on top of the first one. This was the hottest part of the day as well.

Here are several groups of pictures covering most (if not all) of the places mentioned in the blog entry above.

Mt. of Beatitudes 1 Mt of Beatitudes 2
The Church of the Beatitudes which is located on the traditional site of the Sermon on the Mount. The front of the church.
It is eight sided, one for each of the eight Beatitudes.
Mt. of Beatitudes 4 Mt. of Beatitudes 5
The inside of the church. The gold mosaic in the small dome.
Mt. of Beatitudes 6 Mt. of Beatitudes 7
A somewhat better view of the inside. Even more of the inside.
Mt. of Beatitudes 8 Mt. of Beatitudes 3
This is a view of the shore line of the Sea of Galilee looking towards Tobgha. Dates of a date tree.
Mt of Beatitudes Panorama
A small panorama of the view behind the church.

From the Mount of Beatitudes we travelled a short distance to Tabgha and the Church of Multiplication.

Tabgha1 Tabgha Church 1
The bottom name is the Greek name for Tobgha which means "seven springs". The entrance to the Church of the Multiplication.
This church rests on the site of two previous churches.
Tabgha Church 2 Tabgha Church 3
This limestone rock under the alter is believed to be the stone that Jesus's meal feeding the 5000 was laid upon. A wider view of the alter.
Tabgha Church 4 Tabgha Church 5
This is not a big church. You can see the alter behind the people.
Tabgha Church 6 Tabgha Church 7
These are 5th century restored mosaics which are the earliest known examples of figured pavement in Palestinian Christian art. A pond outside with some rather major what look like gold fish in it.
Tabgha Church 8
Lots of people here, many from the ship.

Another short trip and we arrived at Capernaum and St. Peter's house.

Capharnaum 1

The descriptive sign near the entrance.

Capharnaum 2 Capharnaum 3
A statue of St. Peter. The inscription under the stature says
"Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church"
from Matthew 16:18.
The current Catholic church sits over the site of an earlier church.
Capharnaum 4 Capharnaum 5
One of the first churches on this locations foundation. Some of the ruins of what is probably an old Roman town..
Capharnaum 7 Capharnaum 6
The following two pictures are of this. A view of the Synagogue.
Capharnaum 8 Capharnaum 9
A view from the other end. Some of the ruins near the church.
Ruins panorama
The ruins of the earlier church, seen under glass above in a picture several above, from underneath.

With all the visits on this side (I believe it is the west side) of the Sea of Galilee we headed to the east side and lunch. The blog entry states........

The logistics of this excursion and where lunch was scheduled meant that lunch did not occur until about 2:30PM at a former kibbutz on the east side of the Sea (or lake as the tour guide kept calling it) of Galilee. It actually is a lake, not a Sea. The former kibbutz was on the shore directly below the well known Golan Heights over which there was a war a number of years ago. This area is still an area of dispute between Israel and Syria. There is a long story about why this war happened that has to do with water. It is much too long and complicated to describe here. The upper part of the Jordan River is involved.

Here are a few things we saw along the way to lunch.

Upper Jordan River

The Upper Jordan River believe it or not.

Golan Heights 1 Golan Heights 2
The Golan Heights made famous by wars of the past. This guy sits on top the Golan Heights.
I do not remember (if I knew) why he was there.

We arrived that the former Kibbutz and had lunch. After lunch there was some time to take some pictures around the area. Here are some of those.

Lunch 1 Lunch Stop 2
The Sea (or more properly Lake) of Galilee. A walk way that was at the waters edge sometime in the past.
Lunch Stop 3 Lunch Stop 5
The welcome sign to our lunch stop. It was a hot day and these people were enjoying the beach.


Lunch Stop Panorama

This somewhat distorted but still interesting panorama shows our lunch stop along with the Golan Heights in the background.

We left the lunch stop and headed on to our last stop in this part of Israel. The blog continues.......

The reason for mentioning the Jordan River above is that it feeds the Sea of Galilee at one end and empties it from the other end. This is if the water level is high enough which it is not right now and this is a major problem for Israel at this time. It is also the last stop before leaving this area and heading to Jerusalem. That stop is the famous Yardenit Baptismal Site. For those of you at Fairview United Church reading this, this is where that infamous bottle of Jordan River water came from that we used to baptize a number of children during a previous ministers time there.  I can say one thing, the water there is not the best these days. Mind you it has not stopped people from coming to be baptized. A group of 700 from Brazil had been there this same morning being baptized. This may have been part of the reason that the order of things in our excursion was different than originally advertised.

Just before arriving at the baptismal site we crossed over the Lower Jordan river. Here is a less than perfect picture of that.

Lower Jordan River

The baptismal site can be seen in the distance down the river.
Do not try to read the sign on the railing unless you can read Hebrew.

The next group of pictures are of the Yardenit Baptismal Site.

YBS 13 YBS 1
The entrance. A different view of the entrance.
The Jordan River looking towards the Sea of Galilee. The river looking the other way.
The baptismal site. A closer view of the site.
Baptisms going on. One of the spots where baptisms are performed.
These little fish would swarm around peoples feet if they put them in the water. I wonder if this bird is after some of the fish in the previous picture?
YBS 10 YBS 11
Another view looking downstream towards Jordan. The area above the baptismal sites.
YBS 12
Wall of New Life.

From the blog....

Shortly after 5:00PM our bus started the just over two hour drive to Jerusalem where dinner was, then a night tour of the city, and finally the hotel to stay the night. 

Here are a couple of pictures showing the border between Israel and either Jordan or Syria. I think it was Jordan based on where we were at the time.

Border 1 Border 2
A border outpost between Israel and Jordan. A closer view of the border.

The blog continues......

Arrival at the hotel was at 7:15 after a drive along the Jordan River and very close to the border with Jordan. About half way along it got dark. It was dark by 6:00PM and many lights were visible along the way. We had time to check into the hotel. Dinner was at 8:00PM. It was a buffet style and all 138 people from the four busses on the tour were there. Between 8:30 and 8:45 the bus I was on left for the night tour of the old city.

The explanation above tells you why the next pictures you see below were taken just over three and a half hours after the last ones above. The blog continues talking about the night tour of Jerusalem.....

The tour showed the lighted city walls with a walk into the Western (or Wailing) Wall. There were two things that made this more difficult than usual, we were told. One was that it was Saturday, the Jewish holy day and the other was that an important Jewish festival had just started several days before and many Jews were coming to pray over the next week or so. It made it more difficult than normal to get around. As you will see later, when I get the pictures done, it is not easy getting around Jerusalem even at the best of times.

Here are some of the pictures from the night time tour of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem Night 1 Jerusalem Night 2
A night street shot in Jerusalem. The Church of Nations (or the Gethsemane Church if you wish) at the base of the Mt. of Olives.
Jerusalem Night 3 Jerusalem Night 4
I think this is the al'Aqsa Mosque. The al'Aqsa Mosque from the other side.
Jerusalem Night 5 Jerusalem Night 7
The men's side of the Western or Wailing Wall. The women's side of the wall.
Jerusalem Night 7 Jerusalem Night 8
The entire wall. The wall from a different angle.
Jerusalem Night 9 Jerusalem Night 10
Because of the festival going on there were lots and lots of people. Looking along the wall of the Old City.
Jerusalem Night 11
My group being given instructions by our tour guide.

Jerusalem Night 12 Hotel

The Olive Tree Hotel where I (we) stayed the night in Jerusalem.

The blog concludes this day continuing from above......

We managed and saw all the highlights and headed back to the hotel. I think we got back around 10:00PM. Off to bed.

And off to Day 21 of the cruise and Day 2 of Israel!

Page Created: August 3, 2010
After Trip Update Started: November 10, 2011
After Trip Update Completed: November 13, 2011
Last Updated: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 11:48 AM

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