The make-up of each day is pretty similar. Wake up call at 6:00, hotel breakfast at 7:00 and by 8:00 each morning the bus is pulling out, headed for our first destination of the day. Israel is still on its winter schedule so almost all of the national parks/tourist spots close at 4:00. We’re usually back at the hotel a little before dinner time. Danny and I struggle not to take a nap before dinner and so far, we haven’t been successful. :) After a big day of touring, I just want to put my feet up. When I do, the jet lag + pregnancy fatigue overpower me and I pass out quickly.
Ronnie is our tour guide.
He was born in Manhattan, New York but has been an Israeli citizen for the past 40 years. He speaks Hebrew and English interchangeably and has a wealth of knowledge on the country of Israel. He’s on the bus microphone throughout the day explaining everything from daily life during the time of Jesus to what kind of trees we’re passing along the road. We can ask him all kinds of questions and his quick wit and sarcastic humor keep us laughing all day long. When we get to a site he gives us a quick historical rundown of where we are before handing it over to one of our Bible teachers. Ronnie is also in charge of our schedule. He makes sure we’re on time and he’s in constant contact with the tour agency should any tweaks need to be made for security reasons. (As far as I know, that hasn’t happened yet.)
Dr. Bramer, Dr. Bailey and Dr. Dyer are our Bible scholars.
They lead us in worship at most of our stops. Then we walk through Scripture under their incredible knowledge, authority and authenticity. They don’t hold back from personal testimony (pretty or not) and like Ronnie, are engaged and approachable throughout the day. In other words, you can ask them anything and they don’t treat you like it’s the most ridiculous question they’ve heard all day.
Our tour group is made up of one hundred people from all over the country. About half are here with their spouses. Some brought their children. We range from elementary school to age 71. We’re traveling on two big buses that were assigned before we arrived. Sometimes they combine our groups for an on site teaching, other times we stay divided.
Israel is about the size of New Jersey. The rainy season is just about over so everything is the greenest it will be all year long. In a couple of weeks, everything will turn brown. The weather has been all over the map. In Galilee it was 70, at the Red Sea it was 90. When we go to Jerusalem it will be half that warm. There are mountains everywhere! At one point when we were driving north we could see the Mediterranean on our left and mountains on our right. If you drive for thirty minutes, you’ll see something completely different. It’s amazing how many kinds of geography are crammed into such a small country.
The food is predominately Mediterranean. Lots of pickled vegetables, marinated salads and fish. This meat and potatoes girl is doing pretty well. My nurse practitioner warned me, “Now don’t go crazy.” I did have this for lunch the other day:
It’s totally out of character for me, but it came from the Sea of Galilee! The meat was good once you cut past the eyeballs. :) We take snacks we brought from home to hold us over until the next meal. I can’t say we aren’t planning our first meal when we land back in the States. :)
One of the most helpful details of our trip is our headset. We were each given a portable listening device. It’s a little pack we wear around our neck with an attached earpiece.
It’s connected wirelessly to our guide’s headset so when he’s speaking we can clearly hear him from any distance. It’s so nice because I can walk around a site taking pictures and still hear every word he’s saying from 50 yards away. And it’s a huge time saver. No yelling across the way to gather everyone together when it’s time to get back on the bus. I love, love, love my headset!
Ok, that's it for some of the nitty, gritty. Next update will include some of the amazing sites!