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

 

 

Visiting Ein Hod and Acre

After a day of touring around Ramat Hanadiv and Caesarea, Noah and I went for a morning run around Zicharon Yaakov. Initially, we thought we would just run around through the pedestrian areas and maybe look for a park, but THEN we discovered something very exciting (in particular to Noah):

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Unbeknownst to us, Zicharon Yaakov has an artillery corps museum (called Beit Hatothan) surrounded by an outdoor area featuring a memorial monument and a couple dozen tanks and military vehicles. The museum was closed (and we were in the middle of a run…), but we looked around at the tanks and such:

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You could even go inside some of them!

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After the run and a quick breakfast at the Purple House, we drove to the nearby hilltop village of Ein Hod. Ein Hod is an artist’s village with winding streets, tons of galleries, and it is nestled within a forest of JNF trees:

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Walking through the village, many of the streets were dotted with sculptures and public artwork:

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We enjoyed wandering around and following signs to various galleries throughout the town:

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After a leisurely morning in Ein Hod (which ended with a run to the car during torrential downpour!), we drove to Acre (pronounced and sometimes spelled, Akko). Acre is located in the Israeli northern coastal plain, and it’s an area that has served an important historical purpose throughout time, providing a coastal link to the central Middle East. For a time, it was the headquarters of Crusader knights, and much of the area’s current attractions/focus is on that time period. Before exploring the fortress and knight’s hall in the area, we paused in the town’s busy market for a delicious lunch of kebab and salatim:

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After being revitalized by lunch, we toured the Crusader’s fortress – it’s still an incredible (and slightly terrifying!) compound after all these years:

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The exploration of the fortress was followed by a return to the busy market for a more thorough exploration:

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Our walk ended at the port that made this area such an important strategic location:

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After leaving Acre, we took one final drive of the day to the Shavit Guest House at the base of Mt. Arbel where we stayed for the next two nights. The Shavit Guest House is a small, family-run lodge/restaurant. The family was extremely nice and welcoming, and they were also eager to offer help and suggestions when planning activities. We arrived to the guest house just as the sun was setting, so Paul worked on taking some nice photographs with his fancy new camera…

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…and I found a friend:

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Other posts about visiting with Noah’s parents:

Zichron Yaakov – visiting Ramat Hanadiv gardens and Caesarea
Exploring in the north and Hamat Gader spa and hot springs