Well, not exactly. Rather, we decided to forego the last leg of the journey for many reasons, but mostly because the trip from Magdala (or from Ginosar where we are, next door to Magdala) to Capernaum we've already done. While we did not walk the entire way, we have visited every site between here and there and decided that there were other places we would rather spend our time seeing. Another reason is that we would all be able to do it together. (Plus it was hot!)
So, we began by heading north again toward the Hula Valley in Upper Galilee to the Hula Nature Reserve. This is where thousands of migratory birds stop on their long trips going both ways between Africa, Asia, and Europe. While we missed the migration season, we were able to spot several different species than we've seen and it's simply beautiful, and similar to what Jesus would have known. We pictured it as a rest stop for He and his disciples on their way north to Caesarea Philippi, considering that many times the scriptures give us gaps in Jesus' journeys. We pondered what those gaps were filled with: more stories, healings, questions, conversations, and more, in locations that are never mentioned. Today was a "gap" day for us, too.
After watching the corpu (think short, fat otters), catfish (big ones!), carp, turtles, storks, cormorants, doves, bee eaters, ibis (white), glossy ibis (black), common terns, and about a dozen others, we boarded the bus for places north to the very northern tip of Israel where it meets Lebanon and Syria called Metula. It's a beautiful community, high in the Hermon hills, where got a great perspective of the beauty of all 3 countries. It's sad that there is so much strife between peoples there. With so much history and archeology both countries would be excellent places to visit, but I don't see that happening within my lifetime.
Leaving Metula, we traveled to Banias, eastward in the Hermon hills, where the springs from Caesarea Philippi become mighty waterfalls as they flow down the valley to meet 2 other springs to become the Jordan River. Banias Falls is one of the most beautiful falls in all of Israel, and the one with the most water, often called the Niagra of Israel.
From here we grabbed lunch at our new favorite spot in Israel called Aroma before heading to the ruins and nature reserve at Dan. One of our favorite spots in Israel, the springs of Dan (another Jordan River source) being cold and beautiful as they rush down the hills. The vegetation is lush and thick and looks very different than most people would think about Israel. This place has the sound of rushing water every place you go. On the many acres of this site, which includes the ruins of the old city of Dan, fresh water springs up nearly everywhere, so you are always walking over a stream or around a small pond. It makes for a relaxing stroll.
The ruins of Dan are as impressive. The walls found here date back not only to the Israelite period, but also to the time of Abraham! The old city gate recently discovered is the oldest standing city gate in the world. To think that there are still structures standing that date back to a story from Genesis 14:14 still boggles the mind! (4000 years ago!)
We traveled back toward our guest house in Ginosar where I took my last opportunity to take a dip in the Sea of Galilee. In all of the times I've traveled here, this is the first time I've actually swam in the sea. I've waded many times before, so this was a new experience. I did discover with my first step, though, that I can't walk on water! (Which should come as no surprise to just about everybody!)
A nice dinner among a wedding reception prepared us for an evening of rest as we begin our journey toward Tel Aviv in the morning, and then home on Monday.