Our Trip to Israel: Nazareth & Galilee

Happy Friday everyone! I’m so so so happy the weekend is here!
Today I wanted to share another installment of photos from our trip to Israel back in November! We were there for eight days and got to see so much for the country…and we have the pictures to prove it. So because putting all the photos in one post would be way too many, I’m trying to break it up into different parts. When I left off, we had just spent the day in Tel Aviv–we left Tel Aviv on Friday after breakfast to head up to the northern part of the country, towards the Galilee region. I’ll admit, I was super nervous about renting a car. I thought for sure it was going to be a huge inconvenience and that we were going to get lost and it was just going to be terrible, but Cameron was dead set on renting one…and in the end I’m so happy we did! It was actually a really easy drive from Tel Aviv to Galilee, and we didn’t have any problems with finding our way around. And thankfully having our car allowed us to see so much more of the Galilee region than we could of without it. 
Before we arrived in Galilee, we made a stop for lunch in Nazareth! This was a city we definitely wanted to see as it’s where Jesus grew up and lived a majority of his life (hence why he is referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth”) It’s also a very interesting because unlike many other places in Israel, there is basically no Jewish presence there. The population is split between Muslims and Christians and they actually have Christmas decorations (albeit really crappy ones) up in town throughout the entire year.

Signs towards Nazareth–all the road signs were in Hebrew, Arabic, and English
Cam cool as a cucumber driving on the Israeli freeway
It was interesting to see the scenery change as we drove north!
Coming in to Nazareth
We had amazing falafel for lunch…the food in Israel is definitely delicious!
The center of town
Walking around town
After lunch, our next stop in Nazareth was the Basilica of the Annunciation. This is a church built on the (supposed) spot where Mary lived at the time when the angel came to her and said she would be the mother of Christ. The actual church itself was built really recently (1969) so it’s not very historic, but it was still a neat sight to see!
In the courtyard of the church, they had beautiful mosaics of Mary and baby Jesus that were donated by various countries around the world. It was so interesting to see the varying depictions of the Madonna and Child!
I thought this one was so cool!

Inside, the church is two levels and you can actually go down to what are believed to be the remains of the Mary’s original childhood home.

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
Luke 1:26-38

Upstairs in the sanctuary

Afterwards, we walked over to the Church of St. Joseph, which is believed to be in the spot where Joseph’s carpentry workshop was. The church is smaller and there’s not much to see, but it’s located basically right next to the Basilica of the Annunciation.
After spending the afternoon in Nazareth, we headed up to the Galilee region to our hotel, which was located in Tiberias. We stayed at a place called Emily’s Hotel; it was brand-new, really clean, and provided a perfect home base for exploring Northern Israel.

Orthodox Jewish customs say that a man and a women are not supposed to share the same bed…during that certain time of month…yeah. So that’s why there was this random extra bed!
Our hotel was a really short walk to downtown Tiberias, so we were able to take a nice evening walk. They had this crazy light up musical fountain that told some long tale of the history of Israel (in Hebrew) complete with colored lights and pictures projected on the water.
Pretty high-tech! Also, because it was Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) a lot of the restaurants were closed…so we may or may not have ended up going to McDonalds. Which was interesting…ha! They had all these random sandwiches like the “Big Miami” and the “Big Chicago”…oh and since it was kosher, no cheeseburgers or McFlurries!
On Saturday morning, we got in the car and headed north from Tiberias around the Sea of Galilee up to Ginosar, a kibbutz on the western shore. (A kibbutz is a collective community and they’re found all over Israel. You can actually stay at them and many are more like resorts now) There is a museum at the Nof Ginosar kibbutz that contains a 2000 year old boat that was discovered in the Sea of Galilee that’s been dubbed the Jesus Boat.

Shofars for sales at the gift shop
The boat
The 12 types of wood that make up the boat
The metal frame helps keep it together
They used this foam stuff to pull it out of the water without it disintegrating
Cam by the Sea of Galilee, which is called Kinneret or Lake Gennesaret over in Israel

After seeing the boat, we headed north to the town of Tabgha to check out two churches that marked two significant biblical events. The first was the Church of the Multiplication, which commemorates the spot where Jesus miraculously multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed the five thousand (Matthew 14:13-21).

The church itself is actually fairly new, but it’s built over the remains of earlier churches
Beautiful restored mosaic from the 5th century
Up at the altar is a restored mosaic depicting the loaves and fishes
The next spot we visited was The Church of the Primacy of St. Peter, and it supposedly marks the spot where Jesus dined with his disciples after his resurrection. It’s also a newer church that’s built over the remains of earlier churches, and it contains a stone known as the Mensa Christi, which according to tradition is where Jesus laid out food for his disciples and instructed Peter to “feed my sheep”. (John 21:1-24)

Outside the church, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee
Our next stop was the Church of the Beatitudes, where Jesus is said to have given the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7–it includes the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer, and much of Jesus’s moral teachings). The grounds of this particular church were absolutely beautiful, and Cam and I were able to sit outside overlooking the Sea of Galilee and read the Sermon on the Mount (on the Ipad we rented for the trip) and that was SUCH a neat experience!

I realize I have like 129308 pictures of me in this post, but Cam much prefers taking a picture of me vs. asking someone to stop and take a picture of both of us…plus this church was beautiful!
Pretty incredible
They had a nice little garden with different scriptures sprinkled throughout
We were lucky to have such a beautiful day!
Finally, we headed even farther north around the Sea of Galilee to the town of Capernaum, which is the town where the apostles Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew were all from and the town is mentioned throughout the gospels as a place where Jesus conducted different miracles. There are mainly just archaeological ruins from different structures, primarily built after the time of Jesus.

One of my favorite (and most surprising) things about the trips was how many tour groups we saw from all parts of the world. I don’t know why but I thought it would be mainly Americans/Europeans at all these Christian sites, but we saw so many groups from Asia, South America, and Africa. It was cool to see Christians from all over the globe and observe how other people are so expressive about their faith as a lot of these tour groups were super excited to be seeing all these places.
Cam was really interested in seeing Capernaum!
Statue of Peter
All the different excavations weren’t very well-marked so it was kind of hard to tell what you were looking at
These were the ruins of an old synagogue I think…
This area was supposed to be the house of Peter, however, I think that the stone structure that you actually see is something that was built a few hundred years after Jesus time to protect the house
This was a tour group that was from Nigeria…they all had on these matching outfits, it was great
Famous Sea of Galilee sunset
One of my favorite pictures from the trip!
Although Northern Israel doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of big cities, it was definitely interesting to spend time seeing the area where Jesus spent much of his life and ministry. Basically all the churches we saw were Catholic churches, and while we’re not Catholic, it was still really cool to see them as they signify such important biblical events. And thanks so Cam being so dead-set on having a car, we were able to see all these different sites, as we never would have been able to do that otherwise. Most of the other people at the sites were part of tour groups and had buses that took them from place to place, but it was really nice to have the freedom of having our own car to spend as long as we wanted at each place before moving on to the next one.

After our long day in the car on Saturday, Sunday morning we had a giant breakfast at the hotel then headed out of Northern Israel towards the Dead Sea. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and so I was able to snap a few final pictures of the Sea of Galilee. It’s actually about the same size as Lake Tahoe (although LT is prettier in my opinion, but then again, I’m a little biased!) and I’m really glad we got to see so much of the region.

…and that’s why I don’t take jumping pictures…ha! What can I say, I can laugh at myself 🙂
Oh and last but not least, today is my beautiful Mom’s birthday! I so wish that I could be with her today to celebrate, but I’m really glad that we were able to spend Christmas together this year. She is kindest, most patient person I know and I’m so blessed that she’s in my life. Happy Birthday Mom, love you! 
On that note, I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend! Xoxo

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