I suspect that like most Christians, I am geographically challenged when it comes to the Gospel narratives. Like, I always thought that Jesus was more of a southerner, given his birth in Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem. But it turns out he spent most of his time northward. A fair bit north, actually.
We learned this firsthand when Joyce and I traveled to Tiberias on our days off. There are two routes to Tiberias from Jerusalem (which tends to be our starting point for any jaunt)--one through highway 60 to Afula, then across on highway 77; the other across toward the Dead Sea on highway 1 to join highway 90 southeast of Jericho then north. We had planned to take the former, but God and Hannukah had other plans.
When we started to the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem, we had forgotten that it was the 1st day of Hannukah, and that the station would be far more crowded than is usual. So it was, and we found ourselves in a dreadful scrum trying to board a bus that would not hold a fraction of those waiting.
Here's the God part: we had been driven to the station by a talkative Palestinian named Osama ("Yes, that is my name, and what can I do?"). We had taken his card with the phone number. He had offered to drive us the 3 hours to Tiberias for 600 shekels, or about $180 Cdn. We had turned him down at first, with a mind to our budget. But now, faced with having to try for a bus at nearly midnight (according to our best information) and only 3 days off, we phoned him and told him we'd give it a try. He agreed.
So we boarded a cab (Osama sent his brother and that was fine with us) and headed out to Tiberias. And here's more God part: our cab took the easterly route, which led us by the Dead Sea and parallel with the Jordan River, revealing sights to us that we would have missed completely on the regular bus route: the gardens of Jericho, the Jordan River Valley, the hills of the country of Jordan in the distance, the rocky terrain of the central mountains.
Our accommodation was in a house called Yakfie, the manse of the Church of Scotland in Tiberias. It has a spacious though plain lower flat, and it is here that we stayed. Tiberias, on the western shore of the Galilee lake (not really a sea at all, despite the Biblical nicname), is largely a resort/tourist town. Our host was Colin, the minister of the Church of Scotland, a genial, gentle Scot who offered the next day to take us on a tour of the lake itself.
But first, we needed some breakfast. We found a nice place on the main drag, where we made a little mistake--we ordered the breakfast special:
Later, Colin drove us around the lake as he had some free time. Our first stop was Migda, or Magdalene, the site associated with Mary Magdalene, just north of Tiberias. Here, we touched the water of the Galilee lake for the first time: it was cool and clean.