To catch you up to speed, check out these earlier posts about my trip:
Israel I: Modern Tel Aviv
Israel II: Jaffa (the Old City)
Israel III: Modern Art and Bauhaus Architecture
Israel IV: Caesarea and Haifa
Israel V: Acre (Akko)
In my last post we were leaving Akko and driving in the dark to Tiberias, which is the largest “city” around The Sea of Galilee. When we arrived that night we were hungry and hoping to just check into the hotel, drop luggage and grab dinner. We had been warned that Tiberias was like the Reno of Israel, and now I get it.
When booking our hotel in Tiberias we decided to go for something more rustic instead of the giant hotels with tour buses out front. We stayed at the Pilgrims Residence which seemed like a nice alternative to one of the giant hotels that surround it. We learned quickly that where we were staying did not have a parking lot, so we parked down the street and explored until we found the hotel. We had to ring the doorbell (it’s a locked hotel) which was a minute long hymn loudly echoing through the place. It was a cash only hotel (so we had to do a late night Israeli atm run) and everything was priced in US dollars (given the exchange rate, it meant things were more expensive than they seemed). It looks like an old castle-esque building which added to the eeriness of this place. It’s also a religious establishment so the other guests were nuns and clergy members in their robes. It was like being in a Scooby Doo episode. There were lots of religious artwork, and I was watching to see if the Jesus eyes in paintings would follow us around the room. I decided not to unpack incase ghosts chased us out in the middle of the night- I’d be ready to run. We ate dinner at the restaurant below the hotel, which also had an eerie feeling to it. Thankfully we ordered some meze and drank wine. This night was a very memorable experience, as there was even more oddness I won’t get into here.
The next morning we enjoyed the included breakfast at the same restaurant where we had dinner the night before. Then we went on a hunt to find real coffee (many places serve instant turkish-style coffee with grounds, so we had to hunt to find “real” coffee). The views from our hotel were pretty amazing, as the photo above is from the roof terrace of the hotel.
We walked along the water in Tiberias, which the night before had been busy with vendors selling goods and tourists exploring. At 10am this same spot was completely desolate. Such a change from the night.
So quiet and peaceful. This is Galilee where Jesus walked on water.
This place was so strange, we had to snap photos with the place. Well at least we have the stories from it.
We had lots to see today, as this was the most ground to cover in one day for the whole trip. We hit the road going north along the west side of the Sea of Galilee.
We were driving and saw 6 or 7 tour buses pulled over by an old church and thought- we should probably stop here. We aren’t super religious but did want to see some of the “biggie” spots from the bible, but hadn’t done too much research into this. Thankfully seeing the tour buses was a good marker. We were at the Church of Multiplication (or Church of Loaves and Fishes). This is this area where Jesus fed the 5,000 (turning not much food into a lot of food).
This alter has a rock under it, which is supposedly the original rock alter where Jesus placed the bread. This adorable little church is clearly new compared to that rock, but the tile work is significant because it’s from the 5th century and the earliest known examples of figured pavement in the holy land. You can see the bread and fish design in front of the alter. I’m glad we stopped in here since it was adorable and it was also a story I remembered from my childhood Sunday Church School.
Just up the hill from here is the Church of the Beatitudes, which we could see it’s dome from the road. Given our tight schedule we didn’t stop in here. This hillside is where Jesus spoke to the Beatitudes, which we saw from the road. Maybe we missed out, but I was so excited to see the next section of Israel: Golan Heights. That’s my next post!