John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Wednesday 31 October 2012

[Tuesday 30 October 2012]

Tiberias–Capernaum–Ein Bokek
One thing that Norman had recommended, was to watch the sun come up over Kinneret. I was awake before the wake-up call came, and went to the window, camera in hand.

05:32:06 View southwards from the window of our hotel room

05:33:36 Pre-dawn glow across Kinneret



Janet joined me to see the sun come up.

06:12:04 The limb of the sun finally appears.

We went down to breakfast ca.7am. I had “rice crumpies” (not called this here, though; →Monday 18 June 2012). At home I eat Kellogg’s Rice Krispies without sugar; these here were already sweetened, though. I also had a bread bun made in the form of a spiral. We went up to the room for a final look round and to get our cases; went back down without experiencing any delay, for this hotel was equipped with adequate lifts; checked out; assembled, ca.8am — and were led out, into another hot day, the short distance down to the lakeshore where we boarded one of four boats moored on a short pier there. Here is the information supplied by Riviera Travel:
Day 3
After breakfast and checking out of the hotel, we take a private boat on the Sea of Galilee and visit Capernaum, where Jesus lived, healed the sick and recruited his first five disciples. We also visit the site of the miracle of the loaves and fishes at Tabgha, as well as St Peter's House and the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. The order of the morning's itinerary may be reversed dependent on the weather/sea conditions.
This afternoon we will make our way to the Dead Sea to arrive early evening at our hotel for one night with dinner, the four-star Daniel Dead Sea Hotel. The address of the hotel is Ein Bokek, Dead Sea, and the telephone number from the UK is 00972 866 89999.
One of the boats was the “King David”, which remained moored there; one was obviously occupied by Americans, for they raised the Stars and Stripes and we heard the strains of “The Star-Spangled Banner” wafting over; one boat was ours; and there was another also which cast off about the same time. We headed northwards.

08:20:52 View from the starboard side: 
♫ “Oh, say! can you see by the dawn's early light…?” ♫

08:20:52 Detail from the above photo

08:21:58 View (from the port side) of the other boat


08:30:38 View from the port side
There were recorded songs played, one a catchy and much-repeated “Shalom aleichem”, and another “Yerushalayim shel Zahav”. At one point, the engine of the boat was switched off, and we drifted for a few minutes’ silence, tranquillity and meditation. For a time we gathered together and sat on the canopied deck, and Eric spoke to us. And Norman had arranged for one of our number to do a relevant reading from the Gospels. The crew also had souvenirs to sell.

08:34:32 Eric addresses us


08:54:52 The hills on the port side

08:54:40 The hills on the port side

08:55:24 View from the prow

09:08:24 Views ahead

09:09:04 Views ahead
We went ashore at the kibbutz Ginosar (i.e. Gennesaret) at the north-west “corner” of the lake, and had a “comfort” stop and refreshments at its Beit Yigal Allon Museum before assembling (always a bit of a trial for me, having to stand waiting) and proceeding to the coach.

09:13:52 About to reach our mooring

09:18:08 See the detail from this photo, below

09:18:08 “Heron the Great”

09:44:54 Rear exit of the Yigal Allon Centre (Beit Yigal Allon)

09:44:54 Detail from the above photo
From there we went to the Mount of Beatitudes, where there was a garden and a Roman Catholic chapel. Janet and I were a bit spoiled, as we walked through the garden and saw the Beatitudes displayed separately, verse by verse, by Monty Python’s Life of Brian: “Blessed are the Greeks”; “Blessed are the cheesemakers”. We gathered in the space before the chapel, Eric addressed us, and there was another reading. Mention was made at some point of the location seeming to satisfy the requirement of Matthew 5 (“up on a mountainside”) and of Luke 6 (“on a level place”). The quiet of the chapel was not disturbed by murmured conversations taking place there; it WAS, however, disturbed by repeated utterances of a loud “Shhhhhhhh!” and calls for silence over the PA system!

10:06:04 Mount of Beatitudes, seen from the coach

10:07:16 Mount of Beatitudes, seen from the coach

10:17:22 Gathering in front of the chapel

10:27:04 Entering the chapel

10:27:32 Entering the chapel

10:27:32 Detail from the above photo



10:33:40 Looking out from the entrance to the chapel

10:38:20 The garden, and a hazy view across Kinneret
Then we went to the “Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes” in Tabgha. Again, there was a gathering for Eric to speak — he mentioned that the multiplication was recorded as having taken place towards “Pesach”[1] — and a reading. Janet was feeling unwell because of the aforementioned need to pass wind and the inability to do it “safely”.
[1] John 6:4: “The Jewish Passover Feast was near.”

11:12:06 Olive tree in the courtyard of the Church of the Multiplication

11:12:30 Large fish in the little pool just in front of the olive tree

11:14:44 Repairing the mosaic floor inside the church

11:15:24 Part of the mosaic floor

11:17:34 Part of the mosaic floor

11:19:50 Interior of the church, with people blocking the view of the altar

Similar view from Wikipedia, showing the altar, with a block of limestone underneath that is venerated as the stone on which the miraculous meal was laid

Detail from the above photo

11:23:56 Returning to the coach. See how yellow the grass is on the hillside (cf. Mark 6:39: “Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass.”)
As we returned to the coach, I commented to Eric that not many tourists would have taken a picture of a hillside of yellow grass, as I had just done. I told him why I’d done it. He said that the grass would be green in winter or spring. I added that it agreed with what he’d said about “Pesach”. From there we went to the ruins of Capernaum, the base of operations of Jesus’ Galilean ministry, and home of Andrew and Simon, James and John. There was a bit of a walk from where the bus stopped to the entrance of the estate. Janet was by now feeling very ill and sat on a low wall in the shade of a tree not far beyond the entrance, in danger of throwing up. Thinking that there was little I could do, though, and wanting to see what was there, I caught up with the group. Eric was explaining about the shape of the remnant of a wall visible underneath the modern Church of St. Peter’s House — eight-sided, indicating a 5th-century Byzantine church. But it was built over another structure that had also been used as a church, itself developed in the 4th century from a ca.1st-century private house: Peter’s?

11:44:30 Approaching the Capernaum estate

11:44:30 Detail from the above photo

11:48:34 Ruins of Capernaum, foreground, and remains of the 4th-century synagogue, background

11:49:44 Ruins of the octagonal 5th-century Byzantine church, said to be the site of Peter’s house, under the stilted present-day Church of St. Peter’s House

11:50:08 Ruins of the octagonal 5th-century Byzantine church, said to be the site of Peter’s house, under the stilted present-day Church of St. Peter’s House
Then our party went over to the synagogue. I checked with Janet: she was going to find a loo. The synagogue was not the one mentioned in the Gospels; it was a 4th or 5th-century rebuild on the foundations of perhaps the one in the Gospels.

11:54:40 Moving on to the synagogue

12:03:46 The 4th or 5th-century synagogue

12:04:54 The 4th or 5th-century synagogue

12:06:46 Ruins of Capernaum, with Church of St. Peter’s House to the right
Then our party started to leave the estate, but I couldn’t see Janet anywhere. I hung around where I’d last seen her, looking in vain for her; then I thought perhaps the only toilets were the ones outside, so I left and hung around that area. Eventually she appeared, having gained some slight relief, and we returned to the coach. We went for optional lunch to the not far-off lakeside “St. Peter’s Restaurant”; but the only option including their signature “St. Peter’s Fish” was a full lunch, which I felt was too much to eat and too much to pay — so I settled for a bottle of Israeli beer, and Janet had two Pepsi Max. Then we went for a walk, as much as my foot would allow, to the nearby shore. I saw a dragonfly with a blue body — but the black patch on each wing made it look as though two insects were flying together, till it landed and I could make it out clearly.

13:38:10 Dragonfly with a blue body and a black patch on each wing

13:38:10 Detail from the above photo

13:39:02 Shingle beach
There was a longish wait at the coach-park. It was hot, my right foot hurt, and the only place that would have been available to sit down was a rock between two coaches; but they had their engines running and the air was getting foul with exhaust fumes. Our coach had developed a soft tyre, and had gone off for repair; so we were waiting for a temporary replacement to pick us up and take us to our coach’s location. This was an unexpected bonus, in fact, because that location was at Yardenit, a baptismal site on the Jordan River not far from where the river flows out of Kinneret. So we had an unscheduled visit there. In fact, when Norman asked if anyone wanted to be baptised, five women from our group responded. There was a gift shop at the location, and a place where one could hire white robes. We went down steps to where they waded into the river. It was teeming with small to medium-sized fish. From the riverbank Norman recited the trinitarian formula for each of them, as they immersed one of their number each in turn. It was suggested that this was the place where John baptised, but I always assumed from my reading that his activity was in the southern part of the Jordan.

14:40:06 “Yardenit, the Baptismal Site on the Jordan River”

14:32:36 View of the Jordan River upstream

14:32:36 Detail from the above photo

14:32:46 View of the Jordan River downstream

14:44:16 Five members of our party, attired in hired white gowns for baptism

14:50:40 Baptism, administered by the other members of the group



There was now a long journey down the Jordan valley to Ein Bokek on the western shore of the southern part of the Dead Sea. (Because of diversion of water from the Jordan, the Dead Sea is now in two separate parts joined by a canal.) Much of the terrain was arid, but there were many groves of, e.g. palm trees, watered by Israeli-developed drip irrigation, i.e. through tubes that leaked water to the roots. (What can they possibly do with all the colossal quantities of dates that must be produced by the endless acres of palm trees? That’s what we wondered.) We passed Jericho on our right, and went still some way before a refreshment and comfort stop. It was getting dark by this time. By this time Janet was in a lot of distress, and going to the loo didn’t relieve it. She thought the griping pains and nausea would be eased if she could lie down, so we arranged through Norman that the people on the back seat would swap with us, so Janet could lie across it. Eventually we got to the hotel: there was the collection of luggage and distribution of envelopes with key-cards, and we went up to our room. Then we went down to the restaurant, and were shown to a table for two — which suited me more than if we we’d been dauntingly placed with a group. I’ve started to find with buffets, that if I look too closely at the choices, especially if I get the odour of them, my stomach turns sour; but I managed to find a sausage that looked OK, and a shish kebab — and some chips (always acceptable!). But it turned out that both meat items were too highly spiced. We didn’t stay long — my stomach was turning, and Janet had unexpelled gas — and we returned to the room. Janet did finally get relief; then she showered, washed her hair, updated her journal, etc., and went to bed. It had been a long day, but thankfully tomorrow we would have almost all of the morning free. I set up the “little feller” and edited 62 images from today (20:04–23:15) before going to bed.

[Thursday 1 November 2012]

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