Posted by: David Stewart | June 21, 2013

Galilee – peaceful backcountry in Israel

This is part of a series of posts about our Spring 2013 trip.

Galilee, Israel

The Sea of Galilee

Tuesday, April 30

We drove up to the Galilee area today. First we stopped by Mount Tabor, which is known as the Mount of Transfiguration in the New Testament, where Jesus was visually transformed before the eyes of Peter, James and John, as written about in the Bible. It’s a lot of fun seeing a place like this which is written about in the Bible, and to put it into context.

Galilee, Israel

View from the top of Mount Tabor

The mountain itself is a convenient stopping point between Tel Aviv and the Sea of Galilee, and the road up is a steep series of switchbacks. At the top is a fairly new Catholic church and monastery plus the ruins of an earlier monastery. Here we encountered a large number of tour groups, which due to the twisty road, need to be shuttled from their large buses up the mountain. While we were visiting, was a large number of Egyptian pilgrims from Cairo.  Inside the church, there was a group of folks handing their hats and kerchiefs to a priest to have him bless them. The art work was mostly Christ-centered and focused on the events of transfiguration. However one chapel featured the all-seeting eye symbol from the US dollar bill. I was under the impression that this was a Mason or Templar symbol so perhaps they had a role in building this church.

Galilee, Israel

Mount Tabor church interior, showing the “all seeing eye”

From Mount Tabor we grabbed a hot dog at a local grocery store and drove on to Kinnereth or the Sea of Galilee. The lake is below sea level, and it’s easy to see the other side of this “sea”. We drove up to the north shore of the lake to walk through the Church of the Beatitudes. This very scenic and peaceful garden is a Catholic church and convent. There were a few tour groups here as well, worshipping with a view towards the lake.

Galilee, Israel

After this church we took a wrong turn and started heading out of the sea of Galilee area, so we looped back and entered the Cappurnaum park from the opposite direction from what I was expecting. But eventually we were able to get to the ruins of the village of Cappurnaum, which includes a 2nd century synagogue built on the foundation of the one from Jesus’ day, and a modern church built floating over the ruins of what could have been Peter’s house. It seems like a reasonable place for a fisherman to live. The rocks in the region there are mostly basaltic and black which meant that the ruined stone buildings were mostly black as well.

The area around the lake has banana plantations and other agriculture which are part of the kibbutz system in Israel. We had a good read about the movement from a great link Deb found on the web, explaining the history and sociology.

That night, we were pretty tired and decided to just grab some take-out from one of the Bograshov restaurants and eat it in our apartment. Mexicana is about two blocks off the beach and has reasonable Tex-Mex. But the margarita Deb had while we waited for our food was pretty odd, based as it was on Rum and Sprite.

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