Our first ‘day’ of our Israel trip consisted of a 10.5 hour flight, four hour layover in Jordan and a short 25 minute flight to Tel Aviv. By the time we arrived in Israel, it was dark there and we had (mostly) lost a night of sleep to bad airplane movies (Space Jam??) and even worse airline food. I was never so happy to see a Starbucks when we landed in Jordan, and the guys found a McDonald’s. Such American tourists we are.
After a short but good night’s sleep, we woke up to this gorgeous view of the Mediterranean we had no idea was right outside our hotel window.
We then got acquainted with the group we were part of and our tour guide over breakfast. The Israeli diet doesn’t consist of anything terribly unusual. They have similar foods to us, only more fresh bread, vegetables and fruits, and less meat and dairy. And when I say more vegetables, I mean they serve salad with every meal … including breakfast. While all of the fresh food was an amazing change to the lack of winter options here; I will admit, I haven’t touched salad since we got home a week ago.
Next, we headed out to explore Tel Aviv and it’s sister port city of Jaffa. We only had a few hours here and hardly scratched the surface of seeing this vibrant, young and busy city.
Isn’t this gorgeous? Even though it is their winter, there was still plenty of green, palm trees and flowers, in addition to all of the agriculture we would see as we drove different places.
In the afternoon, we stopped for some more authentic Israeli food and continued on to Caesarea. Caesarea was an ancient port city built by Herod the Great to serve as a link to the Roman Empire. It took 12 years for the initial grandeur to be built, but then it was conquered and rebuilt … only to be destroyed and have the cycle repeated by the next dominant power.
Here, historians have found the only archaeological mention of Pontius Pilate – the Roman governor who ordered Jesus to be crucified. The port later served as the apostle Paul’s point of landing on his evangelistic journeys; and Cornelius, the first Gentile convert to Christianity, heard and believed the gospel here.
Today, a national park preserves much of the ruins and evidence of ancient cultures that came and went. I think that is what struck me the most about Caesarea and other ruins we visited: people spent their lives building what they perceived to be magnificent, only to have it demolished by their enemies who would do the same. It was a poignant reminder to me to be intentional about what I am building my life on.
Much more to come!