See attached file at the end of the text including a map of the trail (in Italian)
January 1st, 2015
I left from Jerusalem in the early morning and travelled by bus from Central Bus Station to Zippori junction... I had to walk from a junction to another one, crossing two motor roads in the traffic and passing by some fields with my broken suitcase, so I lost the linking bus from that junction to Zippori's one, but with help and lifts from the locals, I anyway managed to arrive to Zippori moshav, where Mira and Arie Nathan live.
I left my suitcase and I went back to Nazareth by a lift with my backpack. It was New Year day in the afternoon, the Tourist Information center was closed and nobody knew about the Jesus Trail: fortunately I had at least the simple map of the Jesus Trail and the Gospel Trail passport, which I had found there on Christmas Eve, so I went to the Basilica of Annunciation where padre Lucio from Argentina put the first stamp in my Gospel Trail passport with January 1st 2015 date. He also showed me and explained interesting details about the basilica, Saint Mary's and Saint Joseph's houses and other religious sites of Nazareth, and then I left him and started walking.
It is never easy to identify the markers in a big town and I did not see any yellow/orange Jesus Trail markers in Nazareth, but followed the street signs from the city center to the outskirts, crossing roads and waiting at the traffic lights. To be far it was not pleasant at all to walk among cars, traffic and noise in that first part, but I went on up to Zippori for about 8 km with no serious problem. There I met Mira, had dinner with her and then passed the evening also with some colleagues and friends of her.
I had breakfast and then went with Mira to the ancient roman town of Sepphoris, where she wished me a good hiking and recommended to call her for any need or problem I could have in the incoming days: she would come to save me everywhere! :-)
Once visited the astonishing Sepphoris among wonderful mosaics and caves, I got my 2nd stamp with January 2nd date in the Gospel Trail passport from the park guard and left. The Jesus Trail crosses a nice pine grove with plenty of yellow arrows and markers, frequent and clear. I passed the town of Mash'had and arrived to Cana, where Jesus had transformed the water into wine during the famous wedding feast. I spoke to a Franciscan father but forgot to ask him for a stamp for my pilgrim passport; then I went on among hills with vineyards and trees, sometimes not far from motor roads, up to the area of the kibbutz Lavi.
The sunset was incoming, I had walked a lot but I didn't know where exactly I was, since there is never a milestone to show how many kilometers one has hiked or has still to hike up to the following stop, so I was definetely risking not to arrive in time to Arbel... Fortunately Amar, a man who works in the kibbutz Lavi and was touring by car to inspect the cows, found me, stopped and said I was crazy to hike the Jesus Trail almost in the darkness... he was probably right! :-) After finishing his tour, he brought me to the Shavit guesthouse in Arbel I had reserved by email, since there are no Servas members in Arbel area. So, thanks to Amar, I was accomodated by the Shavit family for 120 NIS in a luxury dormitory with 3 beds, TV and kitchen, even if I was completely alone! They also provided me with an inexpensive dinner, a warm soap and a rich salad, and finally put the stamp with date in my pilgrim passport.
I walked to the remaining ruins of an old synagogue and then to the Arbel National Park entrance, where I got my first stamp of the day but I was not allowed to enter, since it had rained and walking in the famous Arbel cliffs was dangerous. Anyway I enjoyed very much the alternative path in the canyon, where I followed the Gospel Trail markers and looked up to the astonishing cliffs, hoping to hike there next time.
I made a lot of photos with my camera and arrived to Wadi Hamam, where a young couple asked me if I was hiking the Jesus Trail... for the first time somebody knew about the Jesus Trail! :-) It rained and I put my poncho on, arrived to the Migdal Junction and I got another stamp at the Magdalena restaurant.
Then I went on among vineyards, banana and palm trees, always making photos with my camera, until I saw Capernaum and the Sea of Galilee from the top of a hill... I put my camera on a pipe to make a photo of me with the self-timer, but the camera moved and… dropped inside the pipe! :-( It was old and already damaged, but I tried desperately to recover it for my beloved photos' sake, by shaking the pipe and excavating around it to make it drop, but it was an iron pipe and very still, so finally I had to renounce to the photos of the two last days and go on walking… what a pity! :-(
Again the sunset was coming and I was too late, Tabgha and Capernaum sites had already closed and I decided to reach my Servas hosts and come back the day after. It was almost dark, I was not able to understand the timetable in Hebrew at the bus stop and it was Shabbat, no idea whether a bus would pass or not, so I decided to ask for a lift to reach Rosh Pina, 20km from Capernaum, where I supposed to be received and hosted by Arie and Warda Avidor. Fortunately I found Zhenya, a young man who gave me a lift and helped me a lot, since... the hitches and glitches of that day had not yet ended! :-)
When we arrived to Rosh Pina and I asked Zhenya the favour to call Arie Avidor, I realized that there had been a misunderstanding: Arie and Warda were not there in Rosh Pine but... in Tel Aviv! :-( I was not particularly worried, a misunderstanding can always happen and I told Arie I would look for a hotel in that area with no problem, but he and his wife insisted for me to sleep in their Rosh Pina house even if they were not prepared: they were so kind to explain Zhenya in Hebrew how to reach their house, enter and so on: really generous and helping Servas members, I will always be grateful for that! I invited Zhenya to have dinner with me in a restaurant not far from there and later he brought me back to my host house and I went to sleep.
I went back to Capernaum junction by a lift, arrived to Tabgha church when they were closing it after the mass but I managed to get the stamp with date in my pilgrim passport by a sister. I took some photos at the site of Jesus' multiplication of loaves and fishes and then I walked to the church of the Primacy of Saint Peter in Capernaum, where I wanted to get another stamp for my passport.
I found no priest near the church and somebody told me to address to the house of the Franciscan fathers in a nearby private area. Since there was no bell and nobody replied to my calls, I entered the gate despite the plaque "Be careful with the dog". The dog rushed and started barking furiously at me, but a barking dog does not bite, so I was extremely calm while a father came out suddenly from the house. He reproached me for entering the private area with risk to be bitten and I apologized several times for that, telling him I had been probably wrong but someone had told me to address there, but he insisted too much with reproaching me in spite of my apologies, so at the end I told him: - I am not afraid, as Jesus said "Don't be afraid".- Then he finally stopped complaining, went inside and came back with my pilgrim passport filled in with stamp and date: all’s well that ends well! :-)
I visited the church of the Primacy of Saint Peter, the rock outside and the Mensa Christi inside, taking photographs, looking at the Sea of Galilee and to the little shells of the beach while meditating on the Gospel events which had happened there. Then I went to Capharnaum, the town of Jesus where he stayed by Saint Peter's house, got another stamp for my pilgrim passport and then continued walking.
I finally arrived to the Capernaum National Park, where I looked for the office to get my final stamp with date and certificate. I asked Doron, a young man who works there, and it appears he knew nothing about the Jesus or the Gospel Trail and I was the first pilgrim he happened to receive there. They put the last stamp and date on my pilgrim passport and let me fill in the final certificate of the Gospel Trail: what an excitement, I was certified to have completed the Gospel Trail!!! Doron invited me to drink a tea and I celebrated in this way my final successful enterprise!
Then I left the Capernaum National Park, where my old camera still sleeps inside the pipe on the hill in front of the Sea of Galilee with its beautiful pictures, and went on walking some time along the beach up to a deserted camping. Then I took a collective taxi to Tiberias and from there a bus to Zippori junction, where I was hosted again for a second night by Mira and Arie Nathan. I had dinner with them and then put again my backpack inside the suitcase to pack everything, ready to leave the day after to Nazareth bus stop and then to Tel Aviv...
My great adventure on the Jesus Trail had ended, but I was still very excited and could not sleep, grateful for all the beautiful sites I had seen during my hiking and the kind and supporting people I had met in my fabulous trip in the Holy Land in Israel, on the footprints of Jesus Christ from Nazareth to Capharnaum in the Galilee.And I definitely hope to come back again! :-)