After our travels to the Dead Sea and Masada, my parents stayed in Jerusalem a bit, mostly because both Adam and I had to work. I took the week off from babysitting, but still had to teach. While I taught my morning class on Wednesday, they went to the Kotel Tunnel Tour. When I came home we went to Ben Yehuda street and walked around. Ben Yehuda has a lot of shops and stores which are fun to browse. It is a bit touristy but things are affordable there. It is a nice place to get souvenirs and gifts for family. We had pizza on Ben Yehuda and then made our way home. My parents took a nap while I went back to work for my evening classes, and then when I got home we went to the mall nearby. I showed them what was there and then we went to the grocery store together. It seems mundane, but it was very important for us to show them our daily lives as well as Israel. Plus, there are some interesting things you can get here that you can’t get at home (like chocolate with pop rocks in it!).
Thursday was another travel day. Adam had to work, so it was just my parents and myself. It was weird to travel without Adam, but it was important that he get some work done. Before coming, my parents debated about either going south or north. By the time they arrived, they had decided to go north, and the destination of choice was the Kinneret which is the large freshwater lake in Israel often referred to as the Sea of Galilee. We headed out early and drove up toward the lake. We had to take a route that went through the West Bank, much like we did to get to Masada and the Dead Sea. The route is controlled by Israel but it is in the West Bank itself. Amazingly, I was a lot more stressed about taking this route than going to Masada and the Dead Sea. The main difference is the number of tourists I think. The road to the Dead Sea is filled with tour buses and other rental cars so even though you are technically in the West Bank, you don’t feel as if there is any potential threat. When we went north on the same route, we were pretty much the only car for a while. We passed through Palestinian towns a few times as we went north near the Jordanian border. I know that it was safe, but didn’t like making any stops. We pulled over a few times to take pictures (especially when the herd of goats crossed the street), but mostly we stayed in the car and observed the scenery.
Forgetting the political tensions, the landscape is beautiful and really allows you to experience the micro-climates of Israel. When we turned to go North, we were in classic desert. As we moved northward, the desert transformed into grassland, and then eventually as we reached the Kinneret area, there were trees and flowers everywhere. It was a beautiful ride, despite the security fence that ran along side the road.
When we almost reached the end of our journey, we had to re-enter Israel from the West Bank. We stopped at a security check point and showed them the copies of our passports that we were carrying with us. Silly me didn’t think that going from the West Bank back into Israel would be the same as traveling from one country to another, so I didn’t think to bring our real passports. The woman at the security check point was nice about it (She could tell we were tourists because we sound American and there was a big Hertz logo on the car), but because we didn’t have the real thing, we had to go through a detailed security check. Everything was fine of course, so not too long after we were back on the road, only now officially in Israel. I felt awful that I didn’t think to bring our real passports; we could have avoided the detailed check, but my parents said they didn’t mind. For them it was part of the experience of being in Israel!
Being back in Israel, I could feel my tensions ease. We continued toward Tiberias which is a large city on the shores of the Kinneret. We arrived and found a place to park. We walked around the downtown area a bit; there were lots of stores and restaurants. There was one small strip along the side walk that had lots of fruit stands and people selling felafel. They were calling out to people as they walked by, but it was still kind of early for lunch so we kept walking.
Tiberias was a nice town, but my initial reaction to it was one of disappointment. For some reason the picture in my head was something more like Sausalito in California. A small coastal town with cute little shops and a nice boardwalk along the ocean. Instead, Tiberias felt more like a city; very busy and cramped. We walked down toward the water, and things became a little more like I expected. Along the route to the sea there was art and small restaurants. When we reached the water there was a path running along the edge that had restaurants and small shops. Unfortunately, these were all closed. We walked down a bit and then made our way back toward the car. On our way we saw small stalls that belonged to a market which would have been fun to visit but these too were closed.
We left Tiberias and headed further north. My father mapped out a route that would take us completely around the Kinneret. We planned to stop on the other side of the lake at Ein Gev. Here we would have lunch and then head back to Jerusalem. On our way around the lake, we saw people biking along the same road we were taking. I had heard from friends that you can rent bikes and ride around the Kinneret. The route is about 60 km (about 37 miles). Adam and I had talked about doing it at one point and had discussed the possibility of riding it with my parents since my dad is really into cycling. 37 miles is a little beyond my reach and not something my mom would actually enjoy, so we decided against it, although it is a possibility for the future. In addition to the bikers, on our way around the lake, we saw a tank being transported somewhere. It was pretty cool (and large)!
When we arrived in Ein Gev, my original expectations were met. Ein Gev is a small harbor town. There are a few restaurants and shops, but the main attraction is walking along the water’s edge. It isn’t ritzy or very large, but it was calm and beautiful and exactly what I had been hoping for. One of the restaurants near the water serves fish right from the Kinneret. There are boats that will take you across the lake to Tiberias. We ended up eating at a small restaurant (not the fish one) that was very quaint and quiet. The food was delicious and afterward we walked around a bit, looking out on the lake. It was so peaceful.
After we left Ein Gev, we retraced our steps back to Jerusalem. The evening was spent having a nice dinner and just watching some TV together. It was a really nice day, and I really enjoyed spending so much time with my parents.
Until next time…