Friday, February 13 -- Caesarea, Mt. Carmel, Megiddo & Cana

Friday, February 13 -- Caesarea, Mt. Carmel, Megiddo & Cana
[I apologize that this is being posted late. We had internet problems posting it last night.]
Happy Birthday Lorrie!
We managed to be on the bus and away right on time this morning. Larry and I did a devotion based on stories of two places we planned to visit during the day. The weather was very unsettled, with blue sky and dark clouds taking turns, but we were optimistic. We crossed the checkpoint with no fuss, unlike a few years ago when we had to show our passports and were carefully scrutinized by Israeli security.

Travelling generally north on a multi-lane highway, our first stop was a service centre. Several of us immediately lined up for the co-ed washroom. No biggie for the women, but the men whined a bit about the long line-up. Boo-hoo, welcome to our world.

 Then on to Caesarea. We parked for a few minutes at the beach near the Roman aqueduct and walked to the edge of the surf. The Mediterranean was as rough today as the Dead Sea was the other day. Amazing to think these aqueducts have stood there for around 2000 years. We went into the old part of the city itself and suddenly the wind and clouds came up, there were thunderclaps and rain, then hail.

 We sheltered in the gift shop until it let up, then went to the marvelous amphitheatre. We listened from a seat at the top as 2 of our group (Pastor Rick and Dan, I think) sang onstage. Great acoustics. Then another drenching rain sent us scurrying back to the bus. Driving was treacherous, with icy slush on the roads, but Mamoud got us safely to the Monastery at Mt. Carmel. Luckily there was a break in the weather while we were there so we climbed to the roof and enjoyed the view stretching off in all directions.

We had been discussing the story of Elijah's triumph over the prophets of Baal at this site, so enjoyed seeing his statue in the garden.

At Tel Megiddo we had lunch before starting our tour. By the time we gathered outside, clouds were also gathering, and sure enough, just as we reached the top, rain began pouring down.

 We took a quick look down into the valley that is said to be the location of Armageddon, the final battle between good and evil, before scampering to the tunnel entrance for the return to ground level. The tunnel consists of steep stairs, some with metal mesh treads that really set off the vertigo, but we all made it safely to the bottom and ran to the waiting bus. After this many times in the rain, most of us were damp, with wet feet, and chilled through. The heat on the bus is a bit wonky, so we never really quite got over it.

 Cana was not on the agenda for today, but we stopped there anyway, since we had time. In a small outdoor chapel, 8 couples re-affirmed our marriage vows. I cried, as I had at our wedding, but this time 'round Larry didn't.[ I had tears in  my eyes, I did! ].

 We visited a lower-level room below the Franciscan church, to see a stone vessel like the ones Jesus used when he turned water to wine at the wedding feast, and the foundations of a first century house, traditionally thought to be the site of the miracle.

 Of course, we had to visit a wine store to sample the local product. It was sweet and tasted like sherry or port. Oh, did I mention? It poured rain through all this and we had to walk 3 or 4 blocks to and from the bus. Nanci had a gift for each couple who'd re-affirmed their vows -- a sweet little carved chalice. Thank you Nanci, we'll treasure it as a remembrance of today.
We were all SO ready for warm and dry by the time we reached Tiberius and the Royal Plaza Hotel. Our host reminded us that the Sabbath would begin shortly, and that the dining room would be very busy. It certainly was! One large group was enjoying a boisterous Bar Mitzvah celebration, while many others had quieter family dinners. Scattered among them were several busloads of EO pilgrims. Doris had bought a couple of bottles of much-better wine at the wine store, and shared them with everyone on our bus, as part of our "wedding feast". Thanks Doris, that was most thoughtful. The food was pretty good and very plentiful, our rooms are basic but clean and comfortable and it is lovely and warm!

Link to All Photos For February 13