A 72km bike ride along the Sea of Galilee coast checking out prominent Biblical sites.
Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee (गॅलिले), slso known as Lake Kinneret (किनारेट), is the largest fresh water lake in Israel. This lake is 209 m below sea level, the second lowest lake in the world after Dead Sea (also in Israel and I’ll post abt it). The lake has several sites of Christian significance around it in addition to being historically important for the Jewish.
I rented a mountain bike from Hostel Aviv for 50 NIS and started on this route equipped with a map. The route going along the lake is 65 km long but since I took a detour, I had to travel about 7 km more. The terrain is uphill for the initial part (upto Capernaum) and then more or less a flat ride. Since I took liberal breaks at different sites, I finished the journey in 8 hours, but my average speed on road was abt 14 kmph, not bad! If you are visiting this area then I will definitely recommend a tour on bike, it is very refreshing 🙂
Ginosar: The Jesus boat
In 1986, two fisherman brothers discovered the remains of an ancient boat that dates back to 1 CE, believed to be Jesus era. 27ft long and 7.5ft wide, this boat is delicately preserved at the Yigal Alon (यिगाल अलोन) Museum in Ginosar (गिनोसार). There is an excellent documentary that shows how the boat was excavated, removed, cleaned and reassembled – a process that took 7 years. This was my first stop and I met some people from a neighboring Kibbutz here. I had only read about Kibbutzs before and it was good to talk to real people working there.
Mt. of Beatitudes
It is believed that Jesus delivered the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ at a place around this location around 30 CE. This sermon is said to contain the central tenants of humanity, something that is shared by many religions. For example – ‘turn the other cheek’ or ‘resist not evil’, ‘judge not, lest ye be judged’ or the Golden rule. Mount of Beatitudes (बेटिट्युड) is located on a hill. The church is very beautiful, and the surrounding garden gives me amazing peace of mind. Also, the climb to the mountain top was an overkill and I was sweating like crazy when I reached here. I shed my clothes, but then it was cold, so had to wear them again (hehehe). The restaurant sells stuff that is bound to burn your pocket, and I got mine burnt.
Tabgha: Miracle of the Multiplication
In this fruitful garden, Jesus fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish.
Nice Church at (टॅब्घा/ताब्घा).
There was a little water fountain outside and I had a quick shower there while tourists/pilgrims who were arriving from big tour buses looked at me with
disgust admiration and astonishment. Ah, it felt so good.
Primacy of Peter
This was a mystery as I did not have information about this chapel in my guidebook, nor did any tour bus stop here, so it was deserted except me, my bike and statues of Jesus. All I know is Peter was the favorite Apostles of Jesus of Nazereth and probably this Chapel is dedicated to him. The sepia picture shows a shepherd begging Jesus saying ‘Feed my sheep’.
Ruins of an ancient Synagogue (ज्यू मंदिर) where Jesus prayed
Jesus lived in (कपर्नॉम) town along with his disciples after he moved from Nazereth (नाझरेथ). There are several architectural excavations that reveal old Synagogues, Monasteries, houses and courtyards.
Rest of the journey:
I only paused briefly at the Greek Orthodox Church (the distinct red building in the pictures below) admiring the numerous peacocks and the ambiance it had. The Church was closed, but at a table outside, the priest dressed in black robes was having lunch with some visitors. Needless to say I was invited to join them but it was all meat and since ani simkhoni, I had to politely decline.
So, after 5 hours of up terrain cycling, I was pretty exhausted. I ran out of my power bars and oatmeal cookies and water. I did not eat breakfast because everything was closed when I left Tiberias, and unfortunately there were no little stores on this way. God I was starving. I secretly asked Jesus to come back and multiply bread and fish for me, but he didn’t come (maybe it was his Christmas break.)
Finally I found one restaurant on the side of the road – yes very much like our Dhaba! – on the Yehudiya junction (north-east corner of the lake). I was so hungry that I told myself that falafel and humus were the best foods on earth. I stacked the pita bread full of olives, pickles, cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes, beet, peppers and other veggies. The lady gave me freshly fried spicy eggplant and some other thing (I never found it anywhere again). I had both – freshly squeezed orange juice and mint tea. After a contentful burp, I hit the road again. Wish there was a place to nap 😉 (wow a whole paragraph dedicated to my lunch!)
The remaining journey was tiring, probably because there was nothing much to see. But the real cause of pain (pun intended) was the uncomfortable seating of the bicycle. I tried various innovative methods to make my (sensitive, precious, private) body parts at ease but then the whole area became insensitive.
Roads in Israel including this part are in quite good shape. The drivers are also considerate (compared to India, not Canada) but sometimes they like to ‘play’ with cyclists…hehehe. Only on a few occasions I was forced off the road, but it was fun nevertheless.
Kinneret beach was beautiful, but I had painful reasons to reach back to the hostel asap.
I was back to Tiberias before sunset. What a wonderful day it was 🙂 Cycling and walking gives me a strange feeling of connection with the area, something that I will always prefer over booking a tour bus. (Maybe its a good thing to do after 40 years when I am old.)
Update: While I was riding from Kinneret to Tiberias, another cyclist went speeding past me. I don’t like when someone overtakes me for no reason and I sped after him. But I couldn’t match. Later I spotted him relaxing on the promenade just before Tiberias and since he seemed friendly we started chatting. I made a very good friend Yair who comments here regularly. Others – if you are reading this but not commenting then I hate you 😛 (nah, ofcourse not 🙂 )
Next day I left to visit the ancient city of Beit She’an (बेट श्यान).