Wednesday, 28 August 2013


Where do I start?
How could it possibly compete with 3 days in the Holy Land?
It couldn't.
It didn't.
It started off well enough with a 0% chance of rain weather forecast.
And the main shopping street was ok- we bought 2 pairs of sunglasses to help their economy.
But then one by one shops appeared that were boarded up, or closed down...out of one arcade of 48 shops only about 12 were open and all those had a sale on.
There was only one thing for it.... HIT THE BEACH!!!!!
Lady Mile Beach was highly recommended by the tour guide and shop assistants but
THIS.... was the best beach???

What was even more mind boggling was... one taxi actually refused to take us there... he said the road was too dusty and it would dirty his car.
And the second taxi said "I'll pick you up in an hour"
He must have known we would be horrified.
The sea was AMAZING though, once I had CRAWLED in over the pebbles.
So warm and so swimmable.

So it ended up being quite a hoot.
We got back to the ship in time to see the last bits of the lifeboat drill (always reassuring)...

...and (we were getting good at this) baby tea
(these are tiny...on a saucer...just a mouthful)

which lasted (how conveniently) till Happy Hour.
Tom Collins and Singapore Sling (naturally)

so all in all it was a good day. It just wasn't the Sea of Galillee.


This was the view of the Baha'i Gardens from our ship at night. it would look even more spectacular in the day... if we could get up to the top!
We could have done with Moti and Dror for another day.
So for our 3rd day in Israel...
another fabulously hot sweaty hot... like spinning drippy hot...
we decided to climb up the hill in stifling heat , and see what all the fuss was about.
Wow- every tree trimmed to perfection, flowers planted in perfect mathematical shapes, each blade of grass the same height, and all with superb views of the sea, the terraces really were quite something.


Can you see Riviera?

oooh nice shorts - I won these for coming 2nd in my age group in the triathlon woopwoop.
But it really was so hot and so sweaty and so steep and we had run out of Israeli shekel (having bought an enormous bag of whole cashew nuts) (they didn't last long) that by early afternoon we returned to the boat for baby-tea (oh my word) and soaked up a few rays on deck.
Moti and Dror were magnificent - they made a great 3 days absolutely fabulous.

Monday, 26 August 2013


Oh my goodness. 

Jerusalem was absolutely fabulous and we had the most brilliant day ....but our time in Nazareth and around the Sea of Galilee was just SUPERB. TEN out of TEN -  it will take some beating. 
Once again DROR did an excellent job as tour guide, making our day so much fun.

We went in and out of a lot of churches, gatecrashed a wedding, helped ourselves to dates and figs, ate St Peter's fish, smashed an ipad and tried to walk on water. It was an AMAZING day. 
Dror, thank you so much.

First stop....was.... NAZARETH 
and although Nazareth itself is a bit grim (am I being a bit harsh there?)  it has the beautiful 
a Roman Catholic church,
(the largest church in the Middle East)
built over the house where Mary lived and where she was visited by the Angel Gabriel who said

Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: 

Luke 1: 26-28

It is a church of 2 levels - a modern church built over a Byzantine church built over Mary's house.... all the levels of Dror's lasagne simile!

The surrounding courtyard is filled with beautiful tiled and mosaic pictures depicting Mary. They were gifts from countries all around the world portraying Mary as their particular country saw her.

I'm not sure what Canada were thinking... (?!!)

The grotto where the angel Gabriel visited Mary to announce she would be the mother of Jesus.

M M M M the letter M for Mary everywhere you look, even in the M M M Magnificent cupola.

I love this statue of Mary. "Pregnant?? Who, ME??"

Next door to the Basilica of the Annunciation is the Church of St Joseph built over remains of a residential property and where Joseph, Mary and Jesus lived.

This was a lovely, simple church

The grotto where Joseph lived.

Meanwhile just down the road.....

 The Greek Orthodox Church believe Angel Gabriel visited Mary as she was collecting water from the well. So they built THEIR church ten minutes walk away from the Basilica of the Annunciation.

Great photos here of the highly decorated interior of the Church and also of the spring where Mary would have collected water. I DID like the idea of this being the place of annunciation -  anyone could have lived in the grottos where Mary's house stood but here there was definitely a spring and a well.

George slaying the Dragon. He featured in a lot of paintings!

Walking back to the car we passed a local family store selling all the spices you could think of, nuts and seeds and pulses, dates and figs. I was a bit open mouthed when Dror just helped himself to the dates and figs and then offered us some. They WERE delicious but I was, like,  are we allowed??? 

So tasty!

CANA  was our next stop.


5 couples were renewing their wedding vows at the church in Cana where Jesus turned the water into wine at that famous wedding feast. There was guitar playing and hugging and smiling and when they get home and look at their video they will be wondering who are those 3 at the back of the church?  =)

Saint Bartholomew was featured in the paintings as he lived in CANA. I have a fondness for Bartholomew, having nearly given birth to one.

St Bartholomew

So having joined in the Cana wedding celebrations (and having thrown up all through my 33rd wedding anniversary a few days before) it was a good opportunity to have a schneaky peck on the way out as Husb and I are still getting along just fine.

Meanwhile, just down the road...

The Greek orthodox believed Jesus turned the water into wine HERE and so built THEIR own church just round the corner.

(are you seeing a pattern developing here?!)


No, this isn't me! 

But you could get yourself a white robe and go into the River Jordan (although this wasn't EXACTLY the  place where Jesus was baptized)

Just look at these dates!  Dror drove us through a kibbutz where they had loads of dates in nets because they were nearly ready for harvesting. YUM! (If you remember we had helped ourselves to some dates earlier when we were in Nazareth) =)

But we were ready for lunch! 

St Peter's fish was on the menu! 

There is a lovely restaurant on the banks of the beautiful Sea of Galilee which sells St Peter's fish and it did not disappoint. Huge flakes of prime white flesh and if you were prepared to pick it up with your fingers.... could do a good job of demolishing it!


I used my fingers!

The statue of St Peter the fisherman.


St Peter's Church built over the remains of his house which you can see through the glass floor. to ruins of other houses 

..and the synagogue. How do we know it was a synagogue?
The altar was facing Jerusalem. There were inscriptions on the walls. There was a place reserved for the Bible.

"Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church"
Matthew 16.18

And here is the church that was built upon the rock... inside...

and outside....

We had eaten St Peter's fish and visited his church, so now we had to try to walk on water but it was quite tricky to say the least. The Sea of Galilee is 200 feet below sea level, (IT WAS SO HOT) and is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth but we still couldn't walk on it...

This was the best I could do.

Mount of Beatitudes 

Beautiful, BEAUTIFUL. Beautiful. BEAUTIFUL.
Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

The ceiling walls of this GORGEOUS church are in an octagonal shape. You can see the Sea of Galilee out of every window on all 8 walls and the verses of the Sermon on the Mount are displayed on each wall too. 

The sermon on the mount focuses on 9 verses:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake".

Simple but beautiful.

The Sermon on the Mount

Dates, dates so many dates =) YUM

The miracle of the loaves and fishes

The Sea of Galilee

The photo above was overlooking a banana plantation (now) but this was the place where Christ delivered his Sermon on the Mount - it is a natural bowl so his voice would have carried - it was like a natural theatre and ideal for delivering a speech.

I can't tell you how much we enjoyed this day. Absolutely staggeringly superbly wonderful.
It was so, so good. THANKYOU THANKYOU DROR    =)

But we had to get back to Riviera for a late dinner.