The following is an account from my personal travel diary of the trip I took with my mother to Israel last year (2019). We spent 9 days traveling the entire country, which is about the same size as the state of New Jersey. From morning to night our days were filled with the ripe culture, exotic food, breathtaking landscapes and unparalleled history.
Waking up to a view of the pristine Sea of Galilee is completely surreal. A handful of fisherman are launching their small boats at dawn and the sleepy shops below are beginning to open up.
This region is a migratory pathway for over 500 species of birds heading from Africa to Europe so the shrills and caws from a number of birds dance into my hotel room through the open balcony door while a cool salty breeze wafts in and carries the sheer curtains hanging in the doorway with it.
The day is supposed to be warm and clear, so I'm packing a light travel bag and heading out. I also like to have a small crossbody bag or fanny pack for immediate access to cash and my phone (camera).
First stop: Capernaum. We lucked out and arrived just before a dozen luxury travel coaches carrying hundreds of tourists. This small town is where Jesus made his home after leaving Nazareth and where he recruited the first of His disciples. The story of Simon called Peter and Andrew casting their fishing net aside to join the adventure with Jesus comes to life in such an incredible way here!
Next: Mt. of Beatitudes. Believed to be the setting for Jesus’ most famous discourse, the Sermon on the Mount, this enchanting vista and garden are beautifully serene. The Church of the Beatitudes, is an elegant octagonal building with colonnaded cloisters, It was built in 1938 for a Franciscan order of nuns. The eight sides of the light and airy church represent the eight beatitudes.
Next stop: Tabgha. Catholic pilgrims from around the world are in the gardens when we arrive. They are taking communion and holding sermons. Tabgha is on the north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee. This site is best known for Christ’s miraculous multiplication of loaves and fish to feed a multitude after learning that Herod Antipas had beheaded his cousin, John the Baptist. It is also remembered for Jesus’ third appearance to his disciples after his Resurrection.
Next: A boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Not a cloud in the sky, we board 'The Faith Boat', captained by Danielle Carmel (A messianic Jew who looked a little like a jewish Antonio Banderas and sang us beautiful songs while sailing us out on the sea). He joked that his fleet also included 'The Hope Boat' and he's anticipating adding a third vessel later this year, 'The Love Boat' 😂. According to the Gospels, Jesus’ earthly ministry centered around the Sea of Galilee. While important events occurred in Jerusalem, the Lord spent most of the three years of his ministry along the shore of this freshwater lake. Here he gave more than half of his parables and here he performed most of his miracles. The Sea of Galilee is 64 square miles (nearly the size of Washington DC).
Lastly Bethesda: Pronounced Beth-say-da and means "house of hunting" in Hebrew (hunting fish, that is...🐠) was a small fishing village that sat on a hillside on the northeastern end of the Sea of Galilee, part of the triad of cities where Jesus did most of His ministry, with Capernaum and Chorazin completing the triangle. Bethsaida is known as the birthplace of three of the Apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip. Jesus himself visited Bethsaida and performed several miracles there.