This morning, we packed up and said goodbye to the beautiful Ma'Gaan resort at the Sea of Galilee. I have absolutely loved staying there with it's spacious rooms, gorgeous grounds, and amazing lobby that we hung out in. We then began our trip south to Jerusalem and we stopped at many places on our way there.
Our first stop was at Gideon's Springs, which is where the story from Judges 7 takes place with Gideon and his army being made smaller by God so that God could be glorified when the Israelites won the battle. It was very pretty there and we took lots of great pictures.
Then we stopped at an oasis and hot springs in the middle of the desert. It was beautiful there and the water was so clear and blue. This might have been a spot where Jesus stopped to rest on his long journey from Capernium to Jerusalem.
Our next stop was at Beit Shean, which is one of the oldest Roman settlements in Israel. The city was buried in an earthquake and many of the structures were left unharmed. It was Fun to explore, with ancient marble mosaics and huge limestone pillars. It was a major metropolitan area in Jesus' time.
Then we headed into part of the West Bank. It is divided into 3 zones: A, B, and C. C is the safest and is controlled by the Israelis so it is pretty safe. We drove pretty close to the border of the country Jordan and in the buffer zone between the two countries we did see some mine fields with active mines...from a bit of a distance. We were safe, don't worry. Our tour guide is exceptional and knows where it is safe. We actually might end up not going to Bethlehem because it is in the West Bank in zone A which is under Palestinian control. I would love to go, but definitely not if it isn't safe.
Then we stopped at Leor's house on our way into Jerusalem to meet his family and have some refreshments. He actually lives in the West Bank: zone C.
We then drove through the Jordan Valley and the regions of Samaria and Judea. We drove through the desert and saw lots of beautiful things like camels, rocky cliffs, and cacti. Then we stopped for lunch at Abraham's Tent. We dressed up like they did in Abraham's time and rode camels to fet to our destination. Riding the camels was such a new and different experience and we all had so much fun trying to get on and stay on our camels. At the tent, we ate lunch. It was delicious. They had chicken with a date honey glaze, rice, and many other foods. The chicken was so yummy that we all had seconds. It was a ton of fun to eat in a tent reclining on cushions around the table and the view outside the tent was spectacular. It looked out on the mountains of Judea and out the Jordan River Valley.
Then we drove into Jerusalem for our first view of the Temple Mount from the mountains. Then we wove our way around the city until we reached our hotel. It is much more fancy than our other hotel, but I don't like it as much. It is interesting though. In order to turn the lights on, you have to insert your room key into a slot. I guess it saves them money and electricity, but it is kind of a nuisance. Then we also arrived on Shabbat (the Jewish sabbath) which started at sundown. Dinner was a grand feast, all kosher of course. Lots of salads and weird Israeli and Jewish foods so I didn't really eat much.
After dinner we all hung out in the lobby, just chatting about the days events and bantering with each other. This is probably one of my most favorite things about this trip, just hanging out with our group. I have gotten to know all of them so well and I know that I will be sad to see the trip come to an end in a few days.
Well, I gotta go. See you all soon. :)
Note: This post was from Friday, March 11th.