Exploring in the north and Hamat Gader

As mentioned in my previous post, the Shavit Family Guest House is both a lodge and a restaurant, and we were fortunate to be able to enjoy some of their delicious food during our stay there. The first night, we ate dinner at the family restaurant, ordering the signature dish of lamb casserole – cooked all day and stewed with potatoes and various vegetables. We also had breakfast at the restaurant both days and it was delicious! Like any good Israeli breakfast, there was an abundance of dips, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and beverages.

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After breakfast, we made a stop at Capernaum (where Noah and I have now been three times!) and looked at the ruins of a synagogue from approximately the 4th century (don’t mind the fact that the men in the photo below are actually looking at another camera…):

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After Capernaum, we began to drive north further into the Golan region, stopping at a lookout point along the road for some incredible views of and around Lake Kinneret. The area is called Offir lookout, and it is off of Rt 789:

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The lookout was a great find – we weren’t planning to go there and only happened to notice it off the road. In fact, we had to drive along a long, muddy trail to get there, and we almost turned back, thinking the path didn’t lead to anything. I’m glad we forged ahead!

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Given the slightly cold and rainy weather during the trip thus far (as you may have noticed from the photos), the group decided that this would be a great day for a refreshing activity. So, we headed to Hamat Gader, a hot springs spa located right by the Jordanian border and only a few miles from the point where Jordan, Israel, and Syria meet. Despite its slightly suspect location (and the fact that this is an Israeli spa, read: you need VERY different expectations than what you would expect from an American spa), visiting Hamat Gader was a lot of fun. When we arrived, we ate a quick lunch of salatim at a casual family eatery within the park and then headed to the main attraction: the hot springs!

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The hot springs basically look like a big public pool, but it is filled with thermal hot springs. Also, the natural sulfur in the water is said to have a healing and renewing effect. I am not so much of a water person, so I was content to sit by the side and watch the fun:

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After the hot springs, the rest of the day included more driving, gazing at lookout points, and a dinner on Mt. Gilboa before heading back to the Shavit Guest House for one more night (and breakfast!). Naturally, there was more rain – this time with a bit of hail!

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And I thought there wasn’t supposed to be rain after Pesach?!?!

The following day was again busy with exploration, visiting the Yigal Alon Museum at Kibbutz Ginnosar, more ruins, and a very rainy trip to Tzfat (sound familiar?!).

The day ended with a drive back home to Jerusalem, where Noah’s parents would spend the rest of their visit. We went for dinner at one of Noah’s and my favorite neighborhood restaurants, Kalo. Noah and I shared a camembert cheese sandwich and salmon/cream pasta, both of which were delicious:

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Noah’s parents stayed only a few blocks from us at the Little House in Baka – a small and casual hotel that has been very popular with the visiting parents of students in my program this year. Be careful, though, not to confuse it with the building next door: NOT little house in Baka:

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I guess those people have had one too many tourists try to come into their living room…. 🙂

Although Noah’s parents spent another 5 or so days in Israel after coming with us to Jerusalem, I could only spend one more day with the group because classes at Pardes were resuming. During my last day with the family, we went to the Israel Museum. Although Noah and I had been to the Israel museum before, it is a HUGE place and there were a lot of exhibits we didn’t get a close look at the first time. In particular, I wanted to look at the archaeology exhibit and the sculpture garden. I really enjoyed walking through the sculpture garden and, in particular, seeing a piece called Space that Sees by James Turrell. The piece is a large box of sorts that you enter through a walkway…

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Inside, it is a large square where you can sit and look up at the sky through the open ceiling:

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Very neat! I imagine it could be quite beautiful to see in the nighttime:

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Other posts about visiting with Noah’s parents:

Zichron Yaakov – visiting Ramat Hanadiv gardens and Caesarea
Ein Hod Artist’s Village and Acre (Akko) – Crusader’s Fortress and market

 

 

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Jerusalem Wine Festival

This past week was the Jerusalem Wine Festival at the Israel Museum.  The Wine Festival is an annual event, taking place in the Israel Museum’s Art Garden and featuring tastings from wineries from all over Israel.

This was actually Noah’s and my second time to the Israel museum. On our first visit two weekends ago, we looked at a few of the indoor galleries and exhibits. The museum is quite large featuring a wide collection of art, Judaica, synagogue recreations, a model of the second temple, the Dead Sea Scrolls, archaological exhibits, the outdoor art garden, and a few temporary exhibits. When we went, we visited the contemporary Israeli art galleries and temporary exhibits called ‘Dress Codes: Revealing the Jewish Wardrobe,’ ‘Light Spaces,’ and ‘Big Bambu.’

photo from one of the rooms included in the 'Light Spaces' exhibit

photo from one of the rooms included in the ‘Light Spaces’ exhibit

Big Bambu was definitely the highlight of the visit! Essentially, Big Bambu is a huge sculpture made entirely out of bambu…and the best part is that people can climb it! The exhibit is outside in the art garden, and if you buy a ticket to climb you are assigned a certain entry time when you will be allowed to go up in the sculpture:

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Good thing they limit the number of people climbing, because at times it was a little scary climbing up so high on only bamboo floors!

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From the center of the sculpture, it looked like a big mess of bambu sticks to all sides:

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At the edges of the sculpture there were great views looking out over the city and the art garden:

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But back to the Wine Festival!!

The Wine Festival took place exclusively in the Art Garden, and attendees received a wine glass upon admission:

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The various wineries had booths set up around the garden.

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Most wineries seemed to offer about 2-4 wines for tasting, and the people working at the stand were quite friendly and happy to offer multiple tastes or more information about the wine.

Mixed in with the wine were a couple hard cider stands, including one called Buster’s that had an amazing hard lemonade!

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There were also stands giving out samples of passionfruit wine, chocolate liquor, and aperol spritz.

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Mixed in among the tasting stands were some nice places to sit and relax…

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…as well as a few eateries (wine tastings were included with admission but food was for purchase). There was an especially nice looking cheese stand!

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We were at the event for about two hours, and there seemed to be a steady stream of people coming in the whole time. It was definitely a popular outing!

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Afterwards, Noah and I walked home and stumbled upon some live music at the Tahana:

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All in all, a wonderful evening. 🙂