Day 1, Jan 7

07 JAN ~ Saturday ~ Caesarea, Mount Carmel, Megiddo, Sea of Galilee ~ We checked out of the hotel this morning after we experienced our first Israeli buffet breakfast. It was a feast of cheeses, yogurts, fish, eggs, raw vegetables, fresh fruit, cereals, wonderful breads and unique Israeli dishes. Our first stop was in Caesarea Maritima where Cornelius, the centurion, was baptized as the first Gentile convert (Acts 10).  It is also where Paul was imprisoned before traveling to Rome to appear before Caesar (Acts 23-26.)  The archeological site at this Roman capital, built by Herod the Great in honor of Augustus Caesar, includes restored Crusader fortifications, a Byzantine street, a Roman theater, amphitheater and well-preserved aqueducts. In Caesarea, Jeff used the acoustics of the Roman theatre as a perfect setting for our tour orientation and teaching.  Each group, divided by motor coaches, toured the archeological site with their Israeli guide.  A further drive up the coast brought us to Mount Carmel for Mass at the Carmelite monastery built on the traditional site where the prophet Elijah slew the false prophets of Ba’al (1 Kings 18.)  Next we visited Megiddo, the ancient chariot city of King Solomon that overlooks the valley of Armageddon.  Megiddo, the ancient “tel” revealing 20 separate layers of occupation, is referenced in Joshua, Judges, I and II Kings, and II Chronicles as an important stronghold along the trade routes and in Revelation 16 as the location of the final battle. As we traveled on to the region of the Galilee, we actually descended below sea level to the Sea of Galilee where we boarded two boats for a beautiful evening boat ride across the Sea. We checked in for 3 nights on the shores of the Galilee at Kibbutz Ma’agan.