I hate the umbrella. Typically it's some obscene shade of neon and being waved high in the air. Behind it is a hoard of people with cameras, sunburns and fanny packs. And yesterday, I became what I hate. One of those people mindlessly following the umbrella. And it wasn't just any umbrella. Check it out.
My irrational disdain of such tourism was thrown back in my face. With a Wal-mart umbrella. Talk about irony. BUT...I have to say that this tour was for the best. While in principle it was not my ideal, I saw far more in a day than I would have on my own and I learned some interesting facts. Here are a few that I enjoyed.
Tel Aviv has a population of only 260,000 but on any given day there are a million people in the city. Apparently everyone commutes in to work. Needless to say, there are some serious traffic issues.
60% of the world's diamonds are exported from Israel.
Apparently Nazareth in the time of the Savior had a population of only about 150. If this is true (I inherently doubt everything tour guides tell me), Mary's situation as an unwed, expectant mother, seems even more amazing. Only a real woman could put up with such small town gossip.
I'll save the other interesting facts for a later blog, but here are a few pictures from the day.
Hanging out at the Jordan River where baptism has become a strong tourist attraction. For a small exorbitant fee you can pay to be dipped in these waters.
The Mount of Transfiguration.
An olive press in the ruins of Capernaum.
Along with these sites, we made stops in Nazareth, Tiberias, and the Sea of Galilee. More pictures will be added in the future in case you're desperate to see them. I will say that while it's interesting putting places with names you've heard you're whole life, if you didn't already believe in the events that occurred there, seeing them commercialized will do nothing for you. This being said, I'm grateful I got to see them and look forward to my Dead Sea trip tomorrow!!!