It’s been more than a day since I’ve posted an entry here. I hadn’t wanted to miss, but, well, crowded days and fatigue will do that to an otherwise ambitious blogger.
We were up and out of our hotel quite early yesterday, taking the folks that we’re hosting here down to a place just off the road from Jerusalem to Jericho where they could ride camels for a while. They enjoyed it.
Then, on a blisteringly hot day, it was off to the Dead Sea and afterwards south to Masada, the famous place where Jewish zealots committed suicide rather than surrender to the Romans (commanded by Peter O’Toole), which remains as impressive as ever.
We followed Masada with a visit to Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls community lived. In the intense heat, the place seemed far more austere and forbidding, even, than it usually does.
Next, we took them floating — note, not swimming — in the Dead Sea, which is a once in a lifetime experience. (And I’ve already done it more than once, so I skipped it this time.)
Then, driving up the Jordan River Valley, we dropped in at Yardenit, “The Jordan River Baptismal Site,” a place that I cordially despise and that cannot possibly be the actual site of John’s baptism of Jesus. (In my opinion, we saw the likely-genuine site –across the river in Jordan, and, hence, inaccessible to us, practically-speaking — down by Jericho. I first visited it a number of years ago, when BYU President Merrill J. Bateman and I were guests of the president of the University of Jordan, and I find the place very plausible for a number of reasons.) Yardenit is pleasant, though, and there is shade there — a very desirable commodity in mid-June.
Finally, we arrived at The Scots Hotel, in Tiberias, on the Sea of Galilee. It’s a very quaint place that originally served as a hospital and residence for Church of Scotland missionaries here at the beginning of the twentieth century, and it’s still owned and operated by the Church of Scotland. I’ve never stayed in this hotel before, and, given its expense, probably never will again. But I like it a lot. With beautiful gardens overlooking the lake, it has a lot of character.
When we had rested a bit, we walked a couple of blocks along the shore to the Decks Restaurant, which was superb. Our little group had a table all to ourselves out on a wooden pier on the Sea of Galilee, and everything, from the salads and the blue-fin tuna carpaccio through the grilled meats to the crepes and waffles at the end, was superb. Huge portions, though.
Posted from Tiberias, Israel.