When my parents (my other set of parents) visited a few weeks ago, we traveled up North. From the center of Israel, there are approximately 400 places you could mean when you go “up North.”
- Far northwest corner (Rosh Hanikra)
- South of the far northwest corner (Naharyia)
- Five towns (Zichron Yaakov, Binyamina, Karkur, Pardes Hanna, Caesaria)
- Gilboa mountains
- Golan Heights
- Bet Shean
- Tiberias (Tiveria) & the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee)
- et cetera (scores of kibbutzim)
I sold my parents on the chance to see the rare Gilboa iris, and we took off for the mountains.
(Fruit in the car along route 6.) We did not hike, per se, but we traveled along the scenic drive (route 667), along which anenomes and poppies and cyclamens were everywhere. Seriously, huge bursts of red.* The views from the top of Barkan Mountain were spectacular–and so green. My parents live in a desert too, so they were hip to my ranting about the GREEN. But, wow. Green. Green, green, green. Even more in-your-face and special knowing that in six months it will be parched and shrunken and beige.
We took a brief walk (not even a 1/2 kilometer) along the Iris trail (shared granola bar on the way), which has helpful signage to point out the most popular plants. Unfortunately, the rare Gilboa iris was not in attendance. We saw the buds of another kind of iris; I mistakenly thought it was the Gilboa iris until I saw the same one two weeks later in Modiin. So clearly not. But it was cute and purple and extremely spring-like. Which was the point. Lots of other lovely flowers, too, some of which I had never seen before and have yet to identify. (Popcorn after the walk.)
For lunch (pita sandwiches and cut vegetables; we went native) and a swim, we went to Gan Hashlosha–aka Sachne. The underground spring keeps the water at 27 degrees (C, of course) all year round.
The air temperature was pleasant–not quite hot enough to get wet, but the kids and I did anyway. Hello, afternoon activity!
We also witnessed a bunch of American pilgrims getting baptized. I mean, my parents and I did; the kids were oblivious. I am curious as to why here (Gan HaShlosha), as opposed to…I don’t know, the Sea of Galilee?
Warmer water? (At this time of year, probably yes.) More convenient to wherever they were staying? (no idea) (Where do the Christian pilgrims stay? Nazareth?)
We then took a short drive to the kibbutz accommodations where we stayed overnight. The place was adorable without being precious, which is a fine line. Kids liked the big bathtub and were obsessed by the hammocks in back.
I was obsessed by hot-water-on-demand in the shower. Because I am Israeli now. (There must have been more snack food around now; I just don’t remember what it was.)
I had done my homework about kosher places to eat dinner before we drove up–wherein “homework” equals texting/emailing/Skyping my sister-in-law. Tiveria (Tiberias) has a bunch of options, but it wasn’t that close to where we stayed–with adults only we probably would have traveled the 40 or so kilometers, but with the wild card children, I preferred to remain within screaming range of bed. As it turned out, they were truly fine.
We ate at Maklot Vanille, in Afula’s industrial area. Highly recommended; a typical dairy bakery-cafe menu, but the bakery items were delicious. My parents got interesting “toasts” (word to the wise: 1/2 portion was 3 half sandwiches; full portion was FIVE half sandwiches), Miss M had plain spaghetti, and I had a Caesar salad. AM had goat cheese ravioli that was lovely, then ordered himself a coffee. No, totally not kidding. (He shared mine, in the end.) The cookie plate was amazing. Bathrooms were nice. Miss M couldn’t get over the fact that they smelled like…vanilla. (Get it?) Afula is not a touristy kind of place, so don’t bother asking for English menus. I will write it up for eLuna if I ever get out from under my work assignments.
We returned to the cabin; everyone passed out by 9:30. End of Day 1.
Up next: more snacks, more bathroom stops, and a Crusader castle!
(photo credits: me, my mom, and AM)
* There was peeing al fresco at a certain point. We’re not going to talk about it, but let’s just say boys are…easier to deal with. And less apt to pee on themselves.