It’s been a couple of years now, but it feels like it was yesterday. Van and I drove to LA to stay the night before meeting our fellow travelers on our trip of a life time.
At 3:45 A.M.we shuttled over to LAX and met our group that was headed across the ocean via Canada. Let me preface one thing, I can’t sleep on airplanes and this was going to be a long flight.
After 16-17 hours not including the small layover in Canada, actually it was just getting through customers to be able to board the next leg of the journey, which was a close call in missing it.
We arrived at our destination. Israel! The land of our Christian beginnings.
Arriving in Tel Aviv, we spent a few hours in line to get our passport stamp. One line for foreign travelers and two lines for residents. I say a few because by now I still haven’t slept. As we met our tour guides and loaded up the bus I got my second wind, I was going to need it.
I thought okay next stop would be the hotel, we would check in then have lunch before we went to bed. I guess I didn’t look closely at the itinerary because that was not the plan. Our illustrious tour guide Dr. G short for Dr. Grasanti said we had a few stops to make before we would reach our hotel. Why waste time sleeping when you could see some sights before it got dark.
Let me tell you a little about Dr. G. He is a history professor at Masters Seminary in the LA area. His love and knowledge of Israel was at first overwhelming, but so very interesting. I didn’t realize that most of the historical events (before Christ’s birth) happened on the tops of mountains, hence the word Tel before the name. Like Tel Aviv. Dr. G had only one speed – fast. You wouldn’t think so because he is built like a bear, but he was fast. Even Van with his long legs had a hard time keeping up with him.
Our first stop was at Tel Afeq, a walled fortress above a valley. It had been a Philistine base which controlled the international route from Egypt to the north. There was a lovely park at the base with numerous trees and a large stream running through the middle. I was so excited when I got my first sight of school girls dressed in white shirts and sky blue skirts. Some had head coverings. They were on a field trip. I soon became a little disappointed, they looked just like ordinary kids in uniforms. I don’t know what I was expecting, something more foreign maybe?
Our second stop was on the Mediterranean Sea at the ruins of Caesarea. The breeze was wonderful and refreshing. It was now 2:00 Israeli time and our first stop was this tiny little mom and pop eatery with outdoor seating. I was pinching myself as I sat gazing over ruins to the bluest of seas, munching on a Schnitzel, which is a lightly breaded chicken, with slaw and other veggies all stuffed in a freshly baked pita. I tried to order this master piece at other restaurants, but they just weren’t as good.
We toured the area where Ceasar had built the Promontory palace and harbor. The palatial pools, which were open to the sea water, still had parts of beautiful thousand year old blue and white inlaid tiles. Next to palace was a large arena where they held chariot races. As we exited the area we climbed up the steps of an ancient Roman amphitheater which is still in use. A band was setting up for a concert later that evening. They didn’t pay any attention to the hundreds of people climbing all over the place.
Lastly we visited an ancient Roman High Aqueduct with impressive archways running parallel right to beach.
I have pictures to prove that I went to these places, but I’m now 30 hours without sleep and a zombie walking around and talking. By the looks I was receiving, I’m not sure if I was making any sense either. We finally made it to the hotel, checked in, had dinner, I think, then checked out, literally. To this day I do not remember what this hotel looked like, nor the room we stayed in. But the next morning I was raring to go.