Today was a long travel day. Starting out early from Tamar we traveled west and north past Tel Aviv to Caesarea. This is an extensive site which the Israeli Parks authority has developed into a very nice walking tour. Starting out from the Theater, we had a nice view of the Mediterranean Sea. The theater is used for modern performances, so I have seen the stage crowded with modern scaffolding and equipment. This time there was nothing on the stage so the view was beautiful.
We walked through an area of collected pillars and sarcophagi to the Palace / Pratorium. Once again this is a breathtaking view of the sea. Fisherman usually gather on the rocks for some deep sea fishing I have always seen them there, so I assume the fishing must be good. We saw one guy jump the fence into the park with his fishing gear to save the 38 shekels. Most of our group stopped to step into the Sea, marking the Red-Med-Dead trifecta in three consecutive days. That is a first for my tours, although unintentional. (There are a few people out by the Sea of Galilee this evening, so they may add that water to the list.)
Some of the mosaics in the public areas at Caesarea look like they are being restored, although I did not notice much change since the last time I was there in 2009. (Sorry 2011 people, we skipped this site on that tour!) There are a pair of mosaics with variations on Romans 13:3 in the 4th century “tax record office” to encourage the new Christian businessmen to pay their taxes accurately.
We lunched on Mount Carmel in the Druze Village on the way to the Carmelite Monastery. This might have been a bad idea since there were so many Israelis visiting Mount Carmel for Shabbat – the streets around the Druze Market were packed and there was a major traffic jam. Our bus driver Jimmy made his way through without problems, but it was slow going!
They have recently fenced off the hillside we used to walk down to avoid paying to enter the Monastery, and there was a fair amount of haze in the air by that point. Mount Carmel is the site of Elijah’s confrontation with the priests of Baal, and the monastery has a memorial to Elijah. What was interesting to me on this trip is that at 4:30PM the sun was at an angle which illuminated the Mediterranean Sea. Recall that after the priests of Baal had been executed, Elijah went to the edge of the mountain and looked to the sea to see of the drought would come to an end. Having visited this site earlier in the day I did not know that you could see the ocean from the general area of the Monastery.
We drove through the valley of Jezreel to Nazareth, although there is not much to see in that city. It is an incredibly noisy town, with no easy way to get through quickly. When we were making our way up the hill toward Nazareth Illit, the sun was setting and the valley was soaked in reds and browns. Turning toward Galilee we could see the rising near-full moon.
I have had an unusual number of coffees today, so I may just write tomorrow’s blog early. I think that an extra Turkish coffee has been known to evoke visions….
[Why no pictures? The internet at the Leonardo in Tibereas is expensive and slow, a bad combination. I will come back and add pictures when I get to a faster, cheaper connection.)