Israel â€“ Part 5 (Finale)
Jonathan Daniel Luther
The two most well known seas, the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee, are a part of Israel. The former is in the south and the latter in the north. You donâ€™t need a geography lesson to know why the Dead Sea is so. Palms and immense stretches of saltpans are the prominent topography, that and tourists. The mineral base of the sea is extensively and extravagantly exploited in pursuit of manâ€™s vanity and health. An interesting fact about the present situation of the Dead Sea is the threat it is under ever since Israel and Jordan decided to dam the River Jordan. The damming has caused the Sea level to drastically reduce as the intense sun causes evaporation on a large scale. As a result the sandy beaches have been left far uphill, while what serves for a shore is a treacherous slippery pebbly beach.
Even so there are several tourists and locals floating around in the sea. In fact, it doesnâ€™t matter how far out to sea you get, itâ€™s always going to be the same. Quite juvenilely, I even swiped under my self a few times to really ensure that it wasnâ€™t some kind of gimmick and sent up a thousand thanks that it supports no Aquatic life, since I wouldnâ€™t fancy a Fish nibbling on my buoyant butt. Rest assured you canâ€™t stand on the water. That however is the other Seaâ€™s popularity quotient. The Sea of Galilee, which according to Modern experts is actually a lake, is the site where Jesus walked on water.
The waters there are tranquil and calm with no turbulent waves. At the point where it touches the City of Tiberius, there are the sea decks and boardwalk with numerous cafÃ©â€™s and restaurants dotting the piers. Ideal for a Romantic dinner or a party, Fish and chips is a must at these seaside diners. Speaking of Fish, the Saint Peterâ€™s Fish which is served Whole is a must try. Not so great when the fish is looking back at you. But like a little 5 year old commented to his mommy, if you eat the eyes first it wonâ€™t look back at you!
Galilee is also the site of many water sports and cruises, and people in Tiberius own their own speedboats. The city is built on a derelict Roman Fortress and has many now decaying bastions and towers in most nooks and crannies. However, when it comes to Roman constructions it is Capernaum that takes the cake. It was a Roman Township Till about 750 AD, the town has been preserved exactly as it was, barring the roof tops which were usually straw and clay. An ancient Synagogue too exists in ruins. Yet it has two layers one that historians have discerned is the remains of the Pre Roman Synagogue and the other built atop it is the more recent Byzantine construction.
A modern marvel is the hanging gardens of Haifa, a major Port on the Mediterranean. The Hanging garden is home to a massive Bahaâ€™i Shrine. The Garden is steep and terraced, lush green with architectural perfection. The panorama is astounding from the gardenâ€™s summit, lush greenery with perfectly executed geometric flower patterns splattering color all over the green mountainside and palms as thick as Elephant legs standing in austere solemnity. Immediately below lies the city with its orange tiled roofs in order along the straight boulevards till the beaches.
The North of Israel stands in stark contrast to the South. The presence of the Dead Sea gives the South a desert-like appearance while the North is overflowing with greenery. Traces of the Romans and the Byzantines dot the entire landscape, in the form of old aqueducts framing the Mediterranean coastline, or forts and fortresses from Desert to Pasture to Mountains. The historical significance and religious stature of Israel is of great magnitude. Its heritage can trace its lineage back into the Pre Roman Era, however, its predominant culture is highly â€˜Westernâ€™ considering the fact that it is located in what was once and still is the Orient.