Tiberias: Day 2

Today we spent most of the day around the Sea of Galilee, the western and northern sides specifically.

Actually, that’s only partially true.  I was up at 4:30 AM today in order to be in the lobby by 5:00 AM.  Our tour host, Linda, got into the travel business somewhat by accident.  She started out working on archaeological digs here in Israel.  Her work in organizing groups to come over and help with the digs earned her a reputation as a go-to person for travel arrangements.  Across the Sea of Galilee from where we are staying in Tiberias is the dig site that she has been working at for years – En Gev.  Situated at the top of a hilltop that rises alone between two ranges of mountains, this was one of the cities of the Decapolis that existed in Biblical times.  The name of the city in Latin was Hippolus, and in Greek, Scythopolis, both referring to horses.  
Our guide Shahdi drove us around the southern end of the Sea of Galilee and up to the area of En Gev.  After a short, steep hike, we found ourselves on the plateau top.  While you’d never guess it from below, the top is covered with the stone ruins of Muslim, Roman, and Greek civilizations.  As we wandered the ruins the sun rose over the hills on the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  It was chilly, but beautiful!
We raced back to the hotel in time for breakfast and getting ready to meet up with the group for the day’s ‘official’ schedule.  First off was a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.  We spent 45 minutes or so on a boat on the water.  It was peaceful for the most part, except for blaring Israeli versions of contemporary Christian music hits.  
When we got back to shore we saw a first century boat that was discovered in the mid-80’s at Ginosar.  Then we drove up to the Mount of Beatitudes, then drove to see Capernaum.  Capernaum is where Jesus seemed to operate from during a good portion of his ministry.  There are remains of a house purported to be that of John, son of Zebedee, as well as a synagogue.  Then we were off for a fish luncheon along the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  While stray cats have been ubiquitous throughout our travels, they were all over the place at this outdoor restaurant!  
Afterwards we visited the Church of the Primacy of Peter.  We were blessed that Shahdi was able to secure from the sisters of this Catholic church a key to a gated, private path that led down to an outdoor altar and seating facing the Sea of Galilee.  It was getting close to sunset as I prepared the wine and bread for communion.  We had a short service, reading passages from Matthew and John related to the feeding of the 5000, and then had communion together.  We were joined by a hyrax family and several frisky lizards, and it was a beautiful ending to not only the day, but also the bulk of our trip together.
We drove back into Tiberias where the group visited a diamond showroom.  I checked out a music store in downtown Tiberias, still hopeful of finding a nice decorative souvenir for our (hopefully!) new home.  But, to no avail.  While they had some ouds, they didn’t have any lyres.  I had a nice walk through town before heading back to the hotel to begin final packing, then dinner.  Hard to believe that tomorrow is our last day in Israel before boarding a midnight flight that will take us all the way back to New York City and have us home by noon on Thursday.  I’m not looking forward to that massive flight, but the trip has been well worth the considerable travel discomfort on either end of our journey!

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