Banias / Caesarea Philippi, Israel

waters of the Banias Spring (one source of the Jordan River), with Pan's Cave, aka the Gates of Hades, in the background - For Greco-Roman pilgrims to the sanctuary, the large cave, with its seemingly bottomless pool and flowing stream, marked an entrance to the underworld or “gates of Hades.” The spring no longer flows out of the cave but rises from the ground below.

waters of the Banias Spring (one source of the Jordan River), with Pan’s Cave, aka the Gates of Hades, in the background – For Greco-Roman pilgrims to the sanctuary, the gaping cave, with its seemingly bottomless pool and flowing stream, marked an entrance to the underworld or “Gates of Hades.” The spring no longer flows out of the cave but rises from the ground below.

In or around the last decade before the Common Era, the city of Caesarea Philippi was commissioned by Philip the Tetrarch, a son of Herod the Great. The site already had a long history as a religious sanctuary. For over two centuries it had been known as Paneas, a major sanctuary for the Greek god Pan. The modern Arabic name Banias derives from the Greek Paneas. Before the Hellenistic period, the area was sacred to the Canaanite god Baal. Sheltered in the foothills of Mt. Hermon, the region’s highest mountain, with abundant  water and a lush, garden setting, it does feel like hallowed ground. Continue reading

Stocking-Stuffers for Your Travelers

My picks for stocking-sized travel gifts from TravelSmith.com:

All suitcases look alike, especially after emerging from a 12-hour flight into a strange airport with thousands of other disoriented people. These bright tags from TravelSmith stand out against all that circling black so you’ll spot your bag in time to lift it off the carousel on the first pass and be on your way to a hot shower and soft bed.

Bright luggage tags with your initial.

Bright bag tags with your initial.

Are you planning a trip to Egypt? Cuba? Morocco? Jordan? Dubai? …
Two words: personal fan. Yes, blowing your face with a tiny fan on a lanyard is less than dignified. Believe me, you won’t care. Dry heat or not, when it’s 120F in the shade, dignity is your last concern. Cool off and enjoy the sites. Even Hades is no match for the intrepid traveler armed with a tiny yet powerful fan on a lanyard.

personal fan

personal fan

Once I rode in a motor coach from Tiberias, Israel on the Sea of Galilee, below sea level, up about 5,000 feet into the Golan Heights on a very windy road. Throughout the ride, it took all my powers of concentration to hold my lunch down, but I did. Just behind me, a woman and her seatmate were not so lucky. The lunch of one ended up in the lap of the other. Pity none of us were wearing PSI bands.

PSI bands to combat motion sickness

PSI bands to combat motion sickness

Ever cry and stomp your feet like a frustrated toddler in the Musée D’Orsay? I have. Standing mere inches from Renoir, Cézanne, Manet, Van Gogh, there was no joy; jet lag sucked it away. I would have given anything to go back to my hotel and sleep but my mean travel companion wouldn’t let me (you know who you are). He insisted we stay up all day our first day in Paris, to acclimate to the time change. I purposely lost him at one point, found a vacant corner and just leaned into it. If I thought I could get away with it, I would have been horizontal on a bench. I hated the masterworks of French Impressionism for standing between me and sweet, sweet sleep. I hated the splendid, converted train station that is the museum. I hated the happy, time-adjusted people all around me.

This was many years ago, either before jet lag remedies existed or before I knew about them. Now, jet lag is just unnecessary. These No-Jet-Lag tablets work.

No Jet Lag pills

No Jet Lag pills

Smell pretty across the globe with these leak-free, TSA-approved, travel atomizers.

pocket atomizer

pocket atomizer

Merry Christmas!

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