Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Caesarea, Mount Carmel and Haifa Day 3, November 5, 2013

I finished last night about 11 pm and woke about 4 am…short night but good deep sleep!   The first thing I did was read yesterday’s blog and then correct some really bad errors!  But I also left out some very pertinent facts about yesterday.  We spent our first night in the Hotel Seasons in the town of Netanya on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea; our room had beautiful views of the water.  The names of our wonderful driver, Akram, and our fantastic tour guide, Raouf. 
  And the system we have for simplifying the counting of forty two heads each time we get on and off the bus.  We are divided into seven groups and the leader of each group is responsible for making sure their group is accounted for.  We keep hearing that the last group on board has to buy us all ice cream but so far we’ve all been so good that we haven’t had any ice cream!
We were ready to go this morning when the wakeup call came at 7 am; giving us half an hour to take a walk along the beach again before breakfast; a very tasty buffet with everything you could want available.  By 9 am we were on the bus including our luggage and on our way to our first site for the day.  Father Paw negotiated a late start for us this morning because of jet lag but from now on that wakeup call will be at 6 am or earlier depending on what is scheduled.
Our first stop was at Caesarea, a Roman City built by King Herod before Christ was born.  He was King of the Jews but not a Jew; he was a pagan and wanted a Roman city to enjoy.  He built so many structures he became known as Herod the Great.  In Matthew, Chapter two, he is remembered for ordering the death of all the boys under the age of two.   Why?  You’ll have to read the bible to find that answer for yourself!  We visited the ancient amphitheater, the Crusader’s Moat, and the place where Paul was imprisoned before he was sent to Rome.  We walked through the ruins of the race course for chariots and took photos of the ancient Roman aqueduct on the waterfront.   It is estimated that Caesarea had over thirty thousand residents at one time. 
We were back on the bus after about two hours, we didn’t walk very far but we spent lots of time in the sun listening to the stories that permeate this ancient place.   We even had a few minutes in a movie theater where they showed us a visual image of the changes over the past two thousand plus years.   Soon we were at a family owned restaurant where we enjoyed a lunch of falafel, pita bread, chicken and vegetables. 
By 2 pm we were back on the highway headed north for Mount Carmel.  We were early so we stopped at the Baha’l Holy Gardens in Central Carmel.  We so enjoyed these manicured lawns and golden domed Spiritual House of the worldwide religious group.  But, the gardens are closed today and tomorrow for a Baha’l Holy Day.   So, we could only take photos through the iron fence. 
Still magical and also we were able to get an excellent view of the third largest city in Israel, Haifa, from the area that is located high on the mountain that flows down to the sea and the port city of Haifa.  There were many ships laden with goods, especially grain, waiting to be unloaded in the harbor.  I know you’ll enjoy the views in the slideshow.
Back on the bus we continued to the Stella Maris Church where we celebrated our Mass for the day in one of their chapels.  This was originally the motherhouse for the Order of Carmelite Nuns that began here in Mount Carmel.  After much persecution they moved to Europe; but their  church that is built over a cave that was the home of the prophet, Elijah, is very beautiful and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.  It is known as the Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel.  Under the main altar you can view the cave from inside the church.

It was 4 pm when we started our drive north through the city of Haifa; traffic was heavy and it was a slow drive but we did get an opportunity to take photos as Akram drove very slowly past the bottom of the Baha’l Gardens then flipped a U-turn giving the other side of the bus the same opportunity.  The last photo of the day was of the huge granary that sits on the port to store all of the grain that is delivered by the boats. 
Finally we reached the edge of the city, traffic thinned and we were on our way to our new hotel in Tiberias.  On the way we said the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary together and soon we’d arrived at the Hotel Caesar on the shores of the Sea of Galilee ; we are fortunate to have views of the water from our room. 
Unfortunately due to traffic we arrived after dark and will have to wait until tomorrow morning to enjoy the views.  But, we’re settled in for three nights at this hotel; so we’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the Sea of Galilee; I get goose bumps just typing these words that I’ve read for the past seventy-five years.  You sometimes pinch yourself to make sure you are really walking in the same paths as Christ when he was alive.  And the best is yet to come.
Dinner was at 6:30 pm so we didn’t have to wait long.  After dinner we walked around the area surrounding the hotel checking out the shops.  But for most of us it’s early to bed for that early morning call tomorrow.  Hope you enjoy the slideshow. 

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