After returning to Tel Aviv from Akko (Acre), it was time to head to the Galilee, to the Israeli Arab town of Rameh. We would be staying with relatives of friends back home. Here are the photos from two and a half days in the Galilee.
Markos and Herman wait for the bus in Tel Aviv.
As does yours truly.
Graffiti is everywhere in the world, including Israel.
Markos and Herman were intrigued by the passing sights on the several hour bus ride.
Our hosts' home in Rameh.
The extended family trickled in to welcome us.
See what I mean?
We had a fun time with this gentleman, the husband of our principal tour guide.
Markos was enjoying himself.
So was the wolfman, I mean Herman. :-D
The younger of the two would accompany us on our sightseeing tour the following day (once we pulled her out of school early).
The school in question.
Chapel inside the school (Rameh is over 50% Christian).
These two (relatives of our hosts) were dual citizens of Israel and Canada, and spent the majority of the year in Edmonton. They are literally screaming, "Go Oilers!" (I swear I am not kidding).
We moved on to Cana, famous for a very blessed wedding.
One that hasn't been forgotten two thousand years later.
The church complex.
Markos and Herman investigate the complex.
Clergy and others outside.
Christ Pantocrator icon.
The complex was very peaceful.
Inside the church.
Iconography depicting Jesus turning the water into wine.
According to tradition, this and the one following are the vats that held the transformed water.
In the Middle East, many churches (and mosques and synagogues) are behind gates.
The main square in Nazareth, the largest Arab city in Israel, most famous for a very well-known resident.
Inside the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, honoring the archangel Gabriel's revelation to the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to Jesus.
The church is over a fresh-water spring.
According to Orthodox tradition, Mary was drawing water from here when the angel Gabriel visited her.
Icon of the Annunciation.
Still inside the church.
Iconostasis inside the church.
Back out on the square.
And now it was time to see how the other half lived, and visit the Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation.
Very fetching exterior.
The church was well-known for its myriad artistic depictions of the Annunciation as well as the Virgin in general.
Artwork of Jesus on the door.
A mass in process inside.
The lower level can be seen from the upper level through this opening.
The upper level of the church.
Donated artwork from Japan (I believe).
Not sure which country donated this, but the Virgin is dramatically rendered in 3D.
Next, it was off to Capernaum, the home of many of the disciples (and Jesus) on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias). No shorts allowed.
Capernaum is full of ruins (no one lives here nowadays). It was rediscovered by the American archaeologist Edward Robinson in 1838 (USA! USA! - just kidding).
St. Peter is, aside from Jesus, the most famous denizen of the town.
I wish I remembered what every ruin's significance was, but alas...
However, I can tell you that this is the ruined synagogue that was built over a previous synagogue believed by many to be Jesus's synagogue.
The ruined synagogue.
The UFO looking structure actually houses a church honoring St. Peter's house.
Ruins (of a different synagogue?).
Markos and Herman are enjoying their first visit here (I went here in 2007, but didn't get to linger due to the fast paced bus tour).
The Galilee is pretty lush by Middle Eastern standards.
The Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Twelve Apostles in the near distance (which we weren't able to visit).
The Sea of Galilee itself, which Jesus and company crossed many times to and from Capernaum.
To our companion, this was just another lake.
The resorts on the Sea of Galilee were on the southern side of the lake... the shoreline was more unforgiving up on the northern side where we were. By the way, in the distance in the haze is the Golan Heights, which used to belong to Syria.
The nearby Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, in Tabgha.
As you may have guessed, this church honors the feeding of the multitudes with just a few loaves of bread and fish.
A woman venerates the spot beneath the altar that is traditionally believed to be the spot on which Jesus sat / stood during the miracle.
We then went to the nearby Church of the Beatitudes, also in Tabgha / Capernaum.
This is where Jesus delivered his sermon on the mount (indeed, the church is on a hill).
A Catholic church, the beatitudes are written in Latin on stained glass inside.
The complex and setting are very beautiful.
On the way back to Rameh, we stopped by olive orchards, where some trees were over a thousand years old.
The town of Rameh. Lebanon lies less than ten miles behind those hills.
The local Orthodox church in Rameh.
We went for evening vespers (obviously held in Arabic).
We walked back to the house after for some supper and fellowship.
And lots of Arabic coffee.
The next day = all good things must come to an end. This was our last meal with our hosts before departing for Jerusalem via the West Bank.
Quite the spread, I assure you (and even more delicious than it already looks).
We were grateful to God for this couple's generosity and fluent English (not to mention Arabic and even Hebrew).
One last look at the surrounding streets of Rameh.
The matron of the family on the left.
Ma'a salama! Shukran!
Coming up next = Jerusalem and the West Bank. Stay tuned.