Sunday, June 26, 2011

Israel, Day #5, seriously? Already?

Day ...5? I had to go back and look to make sure.
It is hard to believe that we have only been here for 5 days.  We have seen so much of the country, well most of the Northern parts already and have headed south. 
So today.  Breakfast.  Checked out of the cabin and onwards we go!  First stop of yesterday, Capernaum.  It is the supposed home of Peter (Christianity) and also the site of a gorgeous White Synagogue.  It is the most exciting synagogue that we have seen.  There is evidence of great wealth in the synagogue, which makes it very different from all the others.  Beautiful ruins, beautiful mosaic floors.
Then we continued on to Tiberius.  It was hot as hell and I almost don't remember anything about it.  No, that's not true.  We jumped the fence and climbed on the ruins of Tiberius.  There was a water park and marina across the street that ruined some of the excavations.  But we were able to see a large supposed meetinghouse and a jail cell.  Then up the hill, we broke into the theater, which had just been excavated.  I know we broke in because there were a number of people hanging around outside the gate that we drove around to the back.  Beautiful.
Onwards.  That seems to be the word of this trip.  To Bet She'an.  Bet She'an is an old city from the time of the Romans (shocker).  It was at the crossroads between Tiberius and Jericho and a major intersection.  None of the residential homes were uncovered (because there is a city in the way) but the city center has been uncovered.  We saw two bathhouses, the main street, and the side street for prostitutes, and where the market stood during the Muslim time period after the Jews were gone.  This city was leveled first by the big earthquake of 749 and completely disserted.  Then the Muslims came and lived there much later.  Oh and I forgot, they had a theater that was HUGE!  It had 3 levels of seating and could house 7000 people!  CRAZY.  Of course the earthquake destroyed most of that also.  The bottom level still exists and most of the stage.  Nearby they found the coliseum.  Danny drove the car straight into it and growled, like a camel. 
We had lunch at the Kibbutz where Danny grew up.  It is famous for having a kosher meat plant.  The food was delicious.
Southwards - instead of onwards - towards the Dead Sea.  I don't know what happened next as I quickly fell asleep.  I do know that we decided not to stop and go into the Dead Sea, yea it is an experience but we didn't really have the time.  We decided instead to stop at Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.  Qumran is an old community composed entirely of men who wanted to live as holy a life as possible, in the middle of the desert.  They bathed and studied and worked and bathed and studied and worked and bathed.  The Romans also killed them.  It is thought that they saw the smoke from Jericho burning and then hid their library in the caves near their settlement and that no one lived to find them so the scrolls remained hidden until 1952 when a Bedouin went looking for a missing goat and stumbled upon them. 
Then we continued until reaching Ein Gedi, a nature park.  It was closed but we drove through looking for the mini goats/deer anyway until the gate.  In there, there are the remains of an old synagogue, which was also closed, except for the gate.  So we went in.  They were digging a pipe and hit a mosaic floor - surprise it’s a synagogue.  I need another word for beautiful, gorgeous, stunning.  It was. 
Okay to the hotel.  We are staying at Kibbutz Ein Gedi.  Checked in. shower.  Geez we smelled pretty bad after this morning.  And dinner is around the corner.  Okay stopped at the gardens on the way to dinner.  This kibbutz is crazy beautiful.  It is in the middle of nowhere and has the most beautiful gardens.  It is an oasis. 

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