7:55 pm
It is only 8 pm, but it feels like midnight.  The day was full, long, hot, an exhausting.  It was full of sites and walks – but Andre did a great job of avoiding the crowds that can come with this day around the Sea of Galilee. 

We got started early – and headed straight up to Tabgha.  Oh yes, breakfast we delicious and there is so much food.  Wow.  It was a little hazy as the sun rose, and it stayed a bit hazy during the day, but you could still see most of the highlights around the Sea of Galilee.

Our first stop was Tabgha, and we were the first bus there.  And the only bus until we were leaving.  It was so nice to be there all alone.  We could read the Scriptures and have some quiet time around the lake without interruption.  Tabgha is near where Jesus called his first disciples – and where they came after the resurrection and Jesus prepared breakfast for his disciples.  It’s a beautiful place – green from the natural warm springs – and there is a lovely beach down at the Sea of Galilee.  It was a great start to the day.

Then it was off to Capernaum, just up the lake.  There weren’t very many there either – we think they start up at the Mt. of Beatitudes so we beat the rush once again.  We had a nice visit in Capernaum, Peter’s mother-in-law’s house, the synagogue, and just the area.

We were off next to the Jesus Boat, we had a 10 am reservation.  We took off (and landed) from Nof Ginosaur, the kibbutz.  We actually had a very large boat, and they were very nice to us.  The usual US national anthem to get things started, and they we scooted up the coastline to opposite Capernaum.  Some info from Andre, a devotional from me.  And then we got a lesson in first century fishing techniques.  They cast the net on each side of the boat (because we didn’t catch any fish the first time!) and he caught a nice plastic fish on the second cast.  The water is actually too warm this time of year to catch anything in the net.  But it was interesting.

Then we all got to dance to Hava Nagila.  Entertaining, to say the least.  We didn’t do too bad with our Jewish dancing around the deck of the ship.

Back to dry land and off to Magdila.  Now, this proved to be very interesting.  I’ve never been, and it hasn’t been open all that long.  The dig began in 2009 and the first thing they uncovered was a first century synagogue.  Unlike the one in Capernaum, this one has never been rebuilt – so it is all original.  Small, but with mosaic floors and some frescos remaining on a couple of the walls.  Interesting to say the least.

They have also uncovered some of the first century housing area – with lots of ritual baths.  Magdila sits on the Via Maris just as it comes out below Mt. Arbel.  It would have been a place to refresh after leaving Nazareth.  They’ve also build a lovely church down by the water – with a replica of the Jesus Boat as the altar.  They had a painting created in one of the downstairs chapels with is stirring.  It is of the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and was healed.  I just had to buy a small copy.  It was beautiful.

Back to the bus and across the street to a St. Peter’s fish lunch.  Chaotic.  Noisy.  Crowded.  But the driver says the best around.  I split the lamb kabob with Christie.  Those who had fish enjoyed it.  It was just a bit on the slow and loud side.  Did I mention it was crowded.  I just love that.

Mt. of the Beatitudes
Mt. of the Beatitudes
After lunch we headed to the Mt of the Beatitudes.  And, surprisingly, it too was deserted.  I know there area is filled with tourists – because lunch was so crowded.  But our timing was impeccable and we just about had the place to ourselves.  Andre guided a bit.  Mike Potier read the Beatitudes – and we had some time for quiet in the gardens.  The views are wonderful – and the peace and quiet was a relief from the noise at lunch.

Back onto the bus for a swing north to Bethsaida.  This is the second “cursed” city to visit this trip.  It is pretty desolate up there.  No tourist buses in sight for miles.  There were a few people around, but we mostly had it to ourselves.  Ourselves and the weeds and the heat.  It was a visit that took most of what was left in us – out of us.  We were supposed to go to Kursi afterwards, but it was closed and we fortunately headed back to the hotel.

The view from Bethsaida is wonderful.  And it is goo to get a sense of the geography of that northern part of the Sea of Galilee.  Many disciples were born and raised there – and it saw many, many miracles.  But, it was also cursed by Jesus because of its lack of faith.

We limped back to the bus – and then back to the hotel.  It was an exhausting day, so a 4:30 arrival back at the hotel was a relief.  Some swam, some slept, some napped…but we had a break until 7 pm dinner.

Dinner was delicious, by the way.  A new selection of meats – and a full range of salads and desserts from which to choose.

But that is all done now – and sleep awaits.  Finally.  Hopefully a full night of sleep and rest awaits, but one never knows.

We are having a great time.  Tomorrow we head up north to Hazor, Tel Dan, and the Golan Heights.  Should be another great day. Can’t wait.

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