The tour on our first full day was a whirlwind with a wonderful Mediterranean breakfast and an 8a.m. get-on-the-bus call. Our guide Shafiq led us on a historical and biblical tour with Father Bob providing spiritual input.
The day started at Cana, on one of two mount Karmiels (Carmel) that we saw today. Our guide explained the entire mountain range it called "Carmel," so there are multiple mountains with that name. Our first stop was were Jesus turned water to wine at a wedding feast at his mother's urging. We celebrated mass in the Franciscan chapel there, with the two couples on the tour renewing their wedding vows.
Then it was on to the next Carmel in the town of Haifa. Here was a Carmelite monastery located over the cave where Elijah lived. We also had a gorgeous view from the gardens of the Shrine of Bab, the founder of the Baha'i faith. Read more
After, we headed to Caesarea, visiting the site of Herod's town that he dedicated to Caesar Octavius, his friend. One part is a national park, right along the beach of the Mediterranean. We saw the remains of Herod's private quarters, an aqueduct, along with a coliseum and hippodrome, where the Jews and Christians fought wild beasts, including lions. A pillar bore an inscription with Pontius Pilate's name.
In Caesarea, Jesus baptized a Roman centurian, indicating that the Good News was not exclusive to the Jews. Also in this place, Paul set sail for Rome, further bringing the gospel to a wider audience outside the Jewish world.
Finally, a few of us picked up a handful of shells before boarding the bus to return to Tiberias and the Ron Beach hotel, with our beautiful view of the Sea of Galilee out the window.