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Tuesday 30 October 2012

[2012]
[Monday 29 October 2012]
**WARNING: Contains an instance of strong language!**

Tel Aviv–Caesarea–Acre–Nazareth–Tiberias
Before I lay down, I prepared doses of medication to take at, say, 1am and 7am; but the next I knew I woke up, and it was 5.30am! Dozed till 6.30am, then I woke Janet up, a little before the wake-up call came.

06:43:34 View of the Mediterranean Sea from the window of our room

06:44:26 View of the street below from the window of our room

06:44:48 View across the street from the window of our room

07:34:44 Zoomed-in view across the rooftops from the window of our room

There were four lifts, but they weren’t very big, seemed to take a long time to arrive, and when one did come it was full of other people. That was the case when we went down for breakfast a bit after 8am. The fruit juice from the dispensers was very watered down. There were things like salads and raw vegetables there, but nothing appetising, nothing that I wanted to eat — apart from breakfast-cereals, and when I operated the tap on the milk dispenser nothing came out. So I threw the bowl down on the table with a clatter that turned a few heads nearby. I guess I should have asked a staff-member about the lack of milk, but I didn’t. There were oranges in a pile intended to be sliced in two and squeezed on the juicer that was there, so I took one to peel and eat; but it proved tasteless. I had a bread-roll that was acceptable. We went back to our room to get the cases, then were waiting a long time for a lift to arrive, and even longer for one with room in it for us and our luggage. We were standing, standing— waiting, waiting— for perhaps ¼-hour in all. One lift arrived; there would have been room for one of us to squeeze in with a case, but the occupants said “No.” By this time I was feeling really pissed off, so I said, “Fuck off!” as the door was closing. (“Fuck off!”, I believe, is understood by speakers of Hebrew, much as “Hallelujah” is understood by speakers of English.) Here is the information supplied by Riviera Travel:

Day 2
After breakfast we leave Tel Aviv and travel to Caesarea, where we will have a guided tour of this ancient city built by Herod to honour Caesar Augustus.
Next we visit the Crusader city of Acre and, after time for lunch, we will explore the Citadel and parts of the old walled city, which was a bustling Arab port in the sixteenth century.
Travelling on to Nazareth, we see the Church of the Annunciation and the Church of St Joseph, constructed on the remains of a Crusader church that marked the supposed home and workshop of Joseph.
Tonight we stay at the four-star Leonardo Plaza Hotel in Tiberias. The address is 1, Habanim Street, 41403 Tiberias, with the telephone number from the UK being 00972 467 13333. Dinner is included at the hotel.
Despite the delay, we were checked out and ready to board the bus just for just about the specified time: 8.45am. Our luggage was stowed below and we found seats. Norman introduced our guide, Eric, who was a naturalised Israeli, though originally from New York.

08:57:44 On the coach, about to depart

We proceeded northwards, and stopped to visit the ruins of Herod’s palace at Caesarea. It was very hot — in the 30s — and sunny.


10:02:10 Entering the theatre, built by Herod the Great, at Caesarea

10:02:30 Entering the theatre, built by Herod the Great, at Caesarea

10:03:58 Our party in the theatre at Caesarea…

10:05:02 …being addressed by Eric, our Israeli guide

10:05:02 Detail from the above photo

10:21:56 The outer part of the theatre

10:22:48 On the way to Herod’s palace (original location of these stones on poles not known)

10:24:10 Remains of the upper palace. Paul may have been imprisoned in the palace grounds here (Acts 23:35).

10:25:20

10:27:28 The Pilate Stone (replica — the original is in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem). It is the only archaeological find, to date, with an inscription mentioning the name “Pontius Pilatus”. It was discovered in 1961 while excavating the theatre; it had been reused in the 4th century as part of a set of stairs leading up to the seating.

10:27:50 “… to Tiberius … Pontius Pilate … prefect of Judea … dedicated ...”

10:30:04

10:31:24 Looking back more or less from that point

10:31:48 The lower palace. The rectangular pool was fresh-water in Herod’s day; channels to the sea were later cut, either side.

10:32:02 Canoes entering the pool via the later-cut channel

10:32:02 Detail from the above photo

10:32:02 Another detail from the photo

10:35:46 Remnant of a mosaic in the lower palace

10:36:20 View south from that location

10:40:00 View north from that location, showing the hippodrome (right)

10:40:26 Hippodrome

10:41:08 Hippodrome

10:41:08 Detail from the above photo

10:50:02 Nearby Byzantine fortress

10:51:02 Some kind of succulent plant
There was just time to sit in the shade and have an ice-lolly [popsicle] from the shop at the entrance to the estate, before we re-boarded the bus and travelled a short distance to the north, getting out again to look at the fairly well preserved ruin of the aqueduct which used to supply water to Caesarea in the Roman era.

11:16:54 Aqueduct from the landward side

11:17:54 Aqueduct from the seaward side, looking south

11:18:10 Aqueduct from the seaward side, looking north

11:18:36
Then on to Acre, or “Akko” is it’s called locally. We didn’t go through Haifa, but turned right and skirted Carmel on our left.

11:40:16 Arab town of Fureidis, which Eric reported as peacefully coexisting with the Jewish town of Zikhron Ya'akov on the next hill to the south (out of shot to the right)
Lunch (optional) had been arranged at a restaurant in the town, where tables had been reserved for our party. There was a choice of falafel or shawarma in pitta bread. I chose the former. There were shredded vegetables also in the bread, and other salad items on the table. Afterwards, there was a visit to the Citadel of Acre. My feet were more or less OK while we were walking, but I was in considerable discomfort during the lengthy pauses of standing while Eric explained the original functions of the places we visited, how they’d been preserved, etc.

13:24:20 Entering the grounds of the Citadel of Acre

13:28:12 Ottoman Citadel of Acre, built on the ruins of the citadel of the Knights Hospitaller

13:29:38 Entering the Citadel itself

13:31:10 Dungeon

13:31:38 Dungeon

13:34:26 Dungeon

13:48:48 Central court, with tables laid for some “olive” festival

13:49:44 Central court

13:50:06 Central court

13:53:16

13:54:02 Dining room

13:54:28 Dining room
Then we got back on the coach and were taken to the Templars’ Tunnel, some three or four hundred yards long, connecting the Templars’ fortress in the east to the city’s port in the west, which those who were not claustrophobic visited.

14:27:24 Entering the Templars’ Tunnel

14:30:16

14:31:08

14:35:22

14:37:58

14:38:38

14:39:50

14:41:24
From there we were taken to Nazareth. Originally a small village, it is now the largest city in the North District of Israel, spread over many hills. What impressed me was how steep and precipitous those hills were, around the original centre. Cf. the words from Luke 4:14–30 in bold, below:
 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
   because he has anointed me
   to preach good news to the poor.
   He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
   and recovery of sight for the blind,
   to release the oppressed,
   to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” 
 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
 Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your home town what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”
 “I tell you the truth,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his home town. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”
 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way. 
We stopped and visited to the Roman Catholic Basilica of the Annunciation. (The equivalent Greek Orthodox church is on a different site.)

15:39:58 Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth, completed in 1969

15:41:02 Façade: “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us”

15:48:14 Mosaic portraits of the Virgin Mary, as envisaged by different nations, in the courtyard at the front of the church

15:49:52 Entering the lower level of the church…

15:50:50 …the focal point of which is the grotto. According to tradition, this was the home of Mary and the site of the Annunciation. There are also remnants of former church-buildings around it.

15:52:24 Looking upwards to the upper level and cupola

15:53:40 The grotto

15:55:34 Upstairs to the upper level

15:57:06 The upper level

15:57:28

16:00:28 Courtyard at the rear of the church

16:00:50 Hilly environs

16:02:20 Courtyard at the rear of the church, with the tower of St. Joseph’s church in the background

16:05:14 Tower of St. Jospeh’s Church

16:09:16 Approaching St. Joseph’s Church

16:09:48 Approaching St. Joseph’s Church, where according to tradition Joseph had his carpentry workshop

16:10:50 Interior of St. Joseph’s Church

16:11:48 Interior of St. Joseph’s Church, left, showing the way down to the crypt. (We didn’t go down there.)

16:12:54 Retracing our steps back to the Basilica of the Annunciation

16:18:40 Basilica of the Annunciation

16:25:16 Remains of earlier structures in the foundations of the Basilica
All the walking and standing had proved almost too much for me; I could hardly walk from there to the coach, which was parked some blocks away down a fairly steep hill. (Going downhill or downstairs was harder for me — given, especially, the inflamed state of the right ankle — than going up.) Darkness fell as we proceeded on the coach through the Galilean hills down to Kinneret, to the Leonardo Plaza Hotel by the lake in Tiberias. Again, we collected our luggage as it was offloaded from the lower compartment of the coach, and assembled in the hotel lobby, where Norman distributed envelopes containing room key-cards. The only problem was that the hotel had worked from a previous week’s guest-list, so all the names on the envelopes were wrong. There was chilled juice available in the lobby — this seemed to be standard practice in Israeli hotels — it was somewhat watered but refreshing. There were also large prunes. The lifts at this hotel were larger and not subject to undue delays. The room was impressively large. I lay down for a while to rest my feet, especially the right one, and right leg, which had become quite oedematous, then set up the “little feller”. Ca.7pm, we headed off to the restaurant. We sat with a couple who introduced themselves as Michael and Elizabeth. As well as buffet items available for one to help oneself, there was a chef slicing roast beef, so I had some of that, medium cooked and tasty. I also enjoyed a half-bottle of Israeli red wine: Yarden Mount Hermon. My appetite failed me, though, and I couldn’t finish everything on the plate. We returned to the room, ca.8.30pm. It was still hot, so we opened the window. But that meant that the sound from some sort of light show with the playing of fountains below was intrusive. Janet seemed to have inherited the problem I’ve had on previous holidays (but escaped this time): the need to pass wind, but finding it “parlous”. She had a shower, sorted out stuff for tomorrow, and got into bed, ca.9.20pm. (She’d booked a wake-up call tomorrow for 5.45am because we were supposed to be checking out tomorrow at 7.45am.) It was annoying that the noisy light show below was repeated. I continued on the “little feller”, editing four of the photos from this morning (21:14–21:30), etc.

[Wednesday 31st October 2012]


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