Monday morning we checked out of our hotel in Jerusalem and took a taxi down to the Tel Aviv airport to pick up a rental car. (We spent some time weighing the pros and cons of renting a car vs. just using taxis, and decided the car would be better.) From Tel Aviv we headed up Hwy 4 past Hi-tech business parks and banana groves to Caesarea National Park, on the Mediterranean coast.
Caesarea was built by Herod the Great around 25 B.C. The city included a large sheltered harbor which necessitated the construction of a breakwater out on the Mediterranean. To build the breakwater, large wooden crates were filled with sand, gravel, and volcanic ash and then sunk to the ocean floor. This mixture hardened into what we know today as concrete.
The Romans built an aqueduct to supply the city with fresh water. The aqueduct drops 20 cm per km, a slope of about 0.2%. It is hard to imagine how these ancient engineers achieved such a high level of precision with relatively primitive technology.
Ancient Caesarea was a thoroughly Roman city, replete with theater performances, gladiatorial games, and chariot racing. Usually when you place bets on racing, you bet on who is going to win and who is going to lose. When you bet on chariot racing, you bet on who is going to win and who is going to die. Rome was a cruel, pagan regime, and life was cheap.
Earthquakes destroyed the breakwater in 90 A.D., and the short-lived glory of the city began to fade. In the centuries following Caesarea's golden age, the city was conquered and re-conquered several times, each conquerer tearing down the previous temple or mosque or church and erecting their own favorite religious edifice in its place.
After the stifling streets of Jerusalem, it was refreshing to be out on the seacoast breathing the clean salt air. Unfortunately, it was a bit too windy for frisbee.
From Caesarea we headed inland to the Mt. Carmel area. Mt Carmel is not really a mountain but more of a lump, in the Missouri style. The drive up into the foothills was very pleasant and scenic.
It's difficult to get a picture of Timothy without a camera in front of his face, but I'll keep trying.
Though we had originally planned to go straight to Tiberias, we decided to spend one night in Nazareth instead because it was on the way and there were a couple things we wanted to see there. After checking into a hotel we hit the street to find some dinner, which turned out to be an Israeli sandwich chain called Chickers that was quite good. Best of all, there were fries.
Next up: Nazareth.