Saturday, June 25, 2011

Israel, Day #4

Day 4.
Breakfast.  Still asleep.  There were these strange rodents outside our house/hut/cabana this morning.  They looked like rodents only bigger.  They lay in the sun like lizards.  Apparently they are related to elephants and can swing from trees like monkeys.  Weird.  They are called hyrex in case you were curious.
First stop of the day was supposed to be Capernaum, but we had knees and shoulders showing, so it will be the first stop tomorrow.  Second first stop was Gamla, the Masada of the North.  It was a Jewish city during Roman times on top of a mountain ridge.  The Romans attacked it and all the people died.  However, unlike Masada, they did not kill themselves on purpose.  They fought until the battle was lost and then tried to escape.  Unfortunately, the city was on top of a mountain ridge and when they tried to escape many...fell is not the right word, but met their demise on the way out.  So far they have excavated the lookout tower, surrounding wall, and most importantly the synagogue.  Danny says it was most likely used as community center where they also read the Torah on Shabbat.  We did not hike down because it was already hot and the hike back would have been straight uphill.  Also in the area they are trying to rebuild the vulture population.  And by chance a beautiful vulture flew over us while we were standing there.

Then we visited Chateau Golan, a winery.  We saw some of their grapes and learned how wine is made.  They told us about the coloration of wine and the difference between dry and sweet - it’s about the yeast.  We saw the tanks and the barrels.  Then we tasted the wine.  I was not a fan (but I don't like wine) but my parents liked it. 

Onwards towards Mount Bental and the view into Syria from the top.  On the way we saw some tanks resting for Shabbat and stopped and climbed on them, with the permission of the Israeli Army.  Matt climbed up and sat in every spot and asked a lot of questions and grinned from ear to ear.  He even wore a helmet and held the gun.  Good times.  Continuing down the road we stopped at a brewery but did not tour and had a fabulous lunch.  Then we made it to Mount Bental and learned about the wars in ‘67 and ‘73.  From the top we could see straight into Syria and where Lebanon is in the distance.  We climbed through a bunker.  Then I napped in the car.

We went to Banyas Nature Park and went down the loop to the waterfall. I was cranky because I just woke up and we were in the sun, but then we were in the shade and I was human again.  There might have been talk of ice cream also, that always helps.  It was beautiful.  The water was spectacular – we didn’t get in it, because that is not an option.  But the views were breathtaking. 

Last stop of the day - ATV rides.  I don't think we toured anywhere important on the ATVs.  Matt drove and went as fast as he could.  We rode through a farm and up and down the Jordan River.  We stopped at a fresh water brook and stretched.  I tried to walk in it and slipped badly.  No worries, nothing got hurt, but I was soaked.  It was a lot more fun than I expected.  I didn't know what to expect.  When we were done we were covered in dust and filthy. 
Back to the hotel to shower.  Then dinner.  We went out for more hummus, only this time it was Arab style.  Yum.  15 plates of deliciousness later, we are stuffed to the tops and ready for bed.

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