Israel Day 1-3

To those who may not know, I'm finally on a tour of Israel after almost two years of planning for it!  This feels like its only day 2 because that's how long I've been here, but I guess its day 3 since I was on a plane for a whole day. I cannot describe how awesome it was to get on a plane in -23 and tons of snow and step off into +23 and sunny!  It was almost worth the trip just for that:)  But already it has been so much more!  To those who don't care to hear about my trip every day for two weeks, I'm sorry, but I wanted to keep up for my family:)  Also, this blog for the next two weeks is my way of remembering, sort of like keeping a diary.  We have seen so much just today that I know in two weeks I'll already be forgetting details.  So let me take you on a mini-tour of Israel and Turkey for as many days as I have access to wifi:)

The trip over was pretty uneventful, just the regular squishing yourself into a tiny space for 12 hours sort of traveling:)  Although I do have to say, El Al airlines had great food.  Our whole group had four different arrival times so the first group, which I was in, went into TelAviv into the old city of Joppa or Joffa, and did a quick tour there.  It was beautiful.  When we first started to walk around on these ancients streets in Joppa, my eyes just started welling up with tears.  I'm in Israel!  How amazing!  It may have also been a bit of jet lag and exhaustion, but it was mostly happiness:)



And we got our first look at the Mediterranean Sea.  Gorgeous.


We've been joking that we're on our second honeymoon, just with 57 other people:)  So we set up a romantic picture of the two of us with Michael's sister and Dad photobombing us:)


The first night we stayed in Netanya in a beautiful hotel on the Mediterranean.  This morning we started our first full day of touring.  What a whirlwind!  A crazy but absolutely beautiful and fascinating day.  We started off in the city of Caesarea.  It was amazing to be standing on rocks and foundations that were over 2000 years old.  First we went to the theatre.



The theatre has been partly restored so it was even comfortable to sit there for a few min:)  We even got to go down the stairs to the rooms underground where the actors had their change rooms.  I think it was a little more rustic than most theatre stars today:)


Michael and his dad, Bruce, and sister, Kerri with the Mediterranean in the background.

Then we went over and saw my favourite part, the Hippodrome.


I think it was my favourite because it hasn't been restored!  This was where 7000 people could watch the chariot races.  You could even see the bathrooms:)  Quite an ingenious system, if not very private:)  Michael and I took off exploring during the free time and found the public bathhouse.  You could even see some of the original mosaic floors.  Unbelievable.  We then had to jump over rocks and run for the bus, but we weren't the last ones, so we were ok:)

Harod the Great's famous Aqueduct was next.  Pretty amazing.


This is the view from the top of Mt. Carmel where Elijah called the fire from Heaven.


You're looking down at the valley of Jezreel.  That's exactly where the battle of Armageddon is supposed to take place.  Not only is a beautiful view, but its awesome to look at a place and know its history AND its future!!!

On to Megiddo!  This site has been excavated in the last 25 years.


The round circle of stones on the right is believed to be an altar.  So this would have been one of the "High Places" the Bible refers to.  They found animal bones right on top!  On the left you can see the layers from years of rebuilding on the same site.  Megiddo was an extremely important city in Middle Eastern history because it was in the middle of the only trade routes.  So they said whoever ruled Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley ruled the world.  Isn't history cool??  Also at this site were the stables of King Solomon.  Some of the troughs for the horses are still completely intact.  At the end, we walked down 160 steps to see the water tunnel that was built to bring water into the city.  Thankfully, there were only 80 steps back up:)

We ended the day at Nazareth, the town where Jesus grew up.  We went to this little but ornate church where it is said the angel came to Mary to tell her that she was pregnant.  None of my pics turned out because it was dark, but it was pretty cool.

Four sites in one day.  Tiring, but so, so fun.  We have a great group of people, an awesome tour guide and many more days to go!  I'm just so blessed to be here.


Our shadows in the Mediterranean Sea.  The water is clear and gorgeous