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Dec 27, 2022

Touring Eretz Yisrael: North for Chanukah

Last week on Chanukah we went up north for a few days. Here is a synopsis of what we did while up north.

To introduce, we had decided in advance we would do basically two activities each day, one free and one paid. We broke the rule on the third day.

We rented an apartment in Tiberias via AirBNB. That worked out great. The apartment was fine for what we needed, it was clean, fairly new, and it had an amazing view overlooking the Kinneret, and it was very close to the Kinneret as well.

On the way up to Tiberias we stopped at one of our favorite spots in Israel - the Turtle Bridge of Nahal Alexander, where you can see the soft shell sea turtles population. This actually used to be a much better activity than it is today - it used to just be a river you could go right up to, even go into if you wanted, and throw food in and see the turtles. Several years ago they turned it into a national park, free entry, but they fenced off the river so you cant go down and it is illegal to feed the turtles (though some people do anyway). You now no longer see nearly as many turtles as you used to (though maybe that is seasonal as well), as the food used to draw them out of the water. It is a very calm and serene place and the turtles are great. There is a park and open grassy area, great place for a picnic lunch.

From there we went to a horse ranch outside of Hadera, called (I think) the Cactus Ranch, or something like that. We went horseback riding along the Mediterranean with the water lapping up at our horses hooves. This was a lot of fun, the guides were very active and interacting with us and everyone had fun.

After dinner we went up to Tiberias, found our apartment, settled in, lit the Chanukah candles.

In the morning I went for a run along the Kinneret, including a section on the marathon route. After everyone else got up and did what they needed to do and all that we drove up to the Golan for the morning activities before the rain would hit. We headed out to a site near Merom Golan called מפקדת הכוחות הסורים - the Syrian Forces Headquarters (if you plan to go, that's what you would put into Waze). On the way up, just a few minutes before rriving we saw a nice lookout point that also had some sort of military memorial site so we stopped to take a look. It was called "Koach Nati" - Nati's Forces -  and it was a memorial to a platoon that fought in that area in the Yom Kippur War and many died. It is a beautiful site with a great view. Each tree planted there has a name with a qr code so you can scan it and hear the story of that specific soldier. There is also a tank you can climb into (I didnt but kids did) and move the turret up and down.

Moving on from there we continued on our way and went to the Syrian forces headquarters. Waze was going a little crazy at that point between Koach Nati and the Syrian Forces Headquarters, I assume due to the volcanic rock in the area. Getting there a few minutes later you pull up to a massive shell of a building covered in graffiti. This is where the Syrian army headquarters for the area was before Israel recaptured the Golan Heights in 1967. Eli Cohen, the Israeli spy in Syria who reached high ranks in the Syrian government, had been in this building in 1965. The building is massive, though I said that already, with a fabulous spiral staircase in the middle. The spiral staircase is blown out at the 2nd floor. You can walk up it or via the stairs on each side of the wings of the building and go to each floor or to the roof. There are sort of escape room puzzles set up in some rooms. 

From there we went to Amuka - it has been many years since we were there and some of the kids have never been there. They did change it around a lot form what I remember including making it a full separation between men and women, and the women's side has a little marketplace to buy tchachkes and other stuff they scam you into buying for made up segulas. From there we went to Meron to visit Kever Rashbi, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. 

From Meron we went to Tzfat. We had arranged an activiity in the Puzzle Room there. We have been there before but they had a new puzzle customized for Chanukah so we went again and had a good time trying to solve that. We had some other plans for Tzfat but because of the rain and by then everyone was tired we decided to head back to Tiberias for shawarma, Chanukah lighting and the boardwalk.
Then back to Tiberias for shawarma, Chanukah candle-lighting and the boardwalk.  It was already too late for the Chabad candle-lighting event on the boardwalk, which we have been to before and enjoy, but we walked around a little. It was pretty dead by then so we didnt hang out there much.

Day three we got up and packed up. We went down to the Kinneret and had some ice cream sitting by the water for a while. We then went in to Tiberias to visit the Donna Gracia Museum. This is in the lobby of the Donna Gracia Hotel and is a fascinating piece of history. We have been there before but wanted to take the kids to hear the story. Unfortunately there was no guided tour that day, so we took the self-guided tour using the app or website but it was not the same and not as good of an experience.

From there we changed our plans and went to meet up with some friends who invited us at the last minute to join them for paintball. We drove out to Kalanit for that and had a lot of fun, and a little bit of pain, playing paintball. 

From there we headed back with a planned stop in Holon for the Israel Children's Museum to see the exhibit called "Dialogue in the Dark" where you experience what it would be like to be blind.  Traffic was absolutely horrible but they were very forthcoming in letting us come late - many others were also late for their appointments. Some of us have been there before and some had not. It was an interesting and enlightening experience for all, and the kids asked some good questions at the end during the dialogue portion.

and then we went home to crash and get ready for Shabbos.


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1 comment:

  1. Oy! All this in three days! Sounds like a lot of planning and fun.
    But I'm now so worn out just from reading it....gonna go take a nap! :)


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