The last day

I guess I’d better finish up this travel business before I forget what we did. We had the morning of the last day free in Tel Aviv. I got breakfast, messed with the internets and then headed out to buy some shoes. There were a couple of styles of shoes I saw women wearing that I wanted to try and find. I didn’t find the exact ones, but even better I found a TOGO outlet. The shoes were almost all synthetic, I found two pair I liked, and they were only $29.99 shekels each. To give you an idea, it’s about 4 shekels to the dollar. I guess I found the Israeli Payless or something.

So, I got back to the hotel mid-morning, put on my bathing suit and headed out for one last walk on the beach for about an hour. We were on our own for lunch, so I figured I’d just go to Ben Yahuda St. and get a falafel. Instead I stumbled across a vegan cafe! I posted a little review on 43places. So I had a tasty shwarma and ice cream. Then I had to quickly shower and pack up my stuff so it was ready for the plane.

Our last day we spent first at the Joseph Bau museum. He was an artist that was a Holocaust survivor. So was his wife. And, his daughters have only learned in the last few years, he was a document forger for Mossad.  His art just about always found the humor in its subjects.

Next we went to old Jaffa and walked around a bit. We had a nice view of Tel Aviv. After that, we had an hour in the souk for shopping. Most of us were through with shopping so eventually we all seemed to gather in this one cafe until it was time to head out for dinner.

Dinner was Moroccan food at Maganda Restaurant. Many bowls of salads arrived and they were the best we’d had yet. While the others had meat on a stick, I had a stuffed bell pepper, green beans in tomatoes, mushrooms and a dolmas. It was okay, but didn’t quite live up to the vibrant salads. Except the dolmas. That was the best one I’d ever had. I need to try making them myself when I’m feeling like working really hard for my food. Dessert was watermelon and baklava. Since meat was served, I knew there would be no dairy in the baklava. So I tried a piece, even though it had honey in it. It was good, but having now made vegan baklava, I can say that the honey isn’t a necessary ingredient.

So that was it. Off to the airport where you learn what security is really all about. I’m surprised they even let planes land in Israel that come from the U.S. Our security is such a joke. Anyway, after what seemed like about 10 minutes, I managed to convince them to allow me to continue through to the other 3 or 4 layers of security to get on the plane. And after a 13 hour flight, I was back in Atlanta.

Tzfat, Haifa and back to Tel Aviv

We check out of the kibbutz early and got on the road to Tzfat, Israel’s highest city at 3000 ft. and the center for kaballah. The mystics think the messiah is supposed to come through Tzfat on the way to Jerusalem. Some think this guy is the messiah. You’ll see many doors painted blue. Evil spirits are supposed to be confused and think the door is the sky and keep moving on.

After getting thrown out of the Ha’Ari Synagogue for saying kaddish in mixed company, we had a look at the Sephardic synagogue, Abouhav. We also stopped at a candle shop that makes all their candles by hand. They had some big crazy gruesome ones on display and plus, what everyone needs, a super Jew!

On the way back to Tel Aviv, we stopped in Haifa for some lunch and a look at the Baha’i Gardens, from the bottom and from the top. At the top, we found some kitties enjoying the park in the shade.

Once in Tel Aviv, we had some spare time before we headed to Independence Hall. So I hoofed it to a bookstore that carried English language books and got a cookbook that has recipes for some of the salads I’ve been enjoying this trip. After our visit to Independence Hall, where Israel was declared a state May 14, 1948, we got dinner and headed to the beach to watch a couple in our group get married. After a celebratory drink at Mike’s Place and then wine at the hotel, Patrick and I walked the streets of Tel Aviv taking it all in. Unlike Ben Yehuda street in Jerusalem, everything but food shops was closed.

The Golan Heights

After breakfast and a view of the Kibbutz from the hills behind it, we went to the Golan Heights Winery for a tasting. The winery gets grapes from a handful of kibbutzim and is really quite modern and industrial. Their high end wines, Yarden,  were nice and I’ll look for it as an alternative to the standard icky sweet kosher wines we’re used to.

Katzrin was the next stop, a 3rd century Jewish village including the ruins of a synagogue. Olive oil was this village’s main industry. While we were there, an IDF tank unit pulled up, so we all went and got a closer look at the tank. Keep in mind this place is 15-20 miles from Kiryat Shmona where the ketushas landed a few days ago, so the military presence is fairly obvious.

Next we had a look at Syria from Mount Bental. This is the place where the Yom Kippur War started. This is where less than 2 dozen Israeli soldiers were when Syria invaded in 1973 on Yom Kippur. This hilltop is the perfect vantage point and you can see when you’re up there why it is necessary to keep it. Along the path are a few pieces of art made of debris from the war.

On the way to lunch, we view the Hula Valley while driving along. One of the things we passed was a large crusader fortress. One thing that’s hard to understand until you see it that just about every piece of ground contains important archeological sites. As you drive along, you see ruins after ruins just sitting in the fields. Israel doesn’t have the funds to work on all of them, so they sit and wait.

In addition to many crops, in the North there are many fisheries. Lunch was at a restaurant connected with a fishery. Fresh fish is not so appealing to me, but they did take care of me well with a fried cauliflower dish with a sweet dipping sauce. And of course, many salads. The place itself was beautiful with outdoor seating and a little cement stream they had running through it.

After lunch, we went kayaking down the Jordan river. Okay, they called they kayaks, but they were really fancy, blow up boats. I can’t remember ever having been boating before, but I did much better than expected. Certainly Gwen and I did much better than the Orthodox boys who were busy confirming stereotypes. Although Gwen did fall out of the boat at one point. It was a trip though. There were some mild rapids and the river was only 15-30 feet wide. More like a creek really. Apparently I was the only one lucky enough to see some guy jerking off by a tree as we went down the river. He seemed to be having some difficulty with that. I’m guessing he was hoping to shock some poor innocent Orthodox girls and all he got was a bunch of jaded Americans and Orthodox men.

After boating, we stopped in Kiryat Shmona to pick up some groceries for a light dinner back at the hotel. Yes, Kiryat Shmona is where the ketushas fell. It was no problem. Everyone was going about their business. Oh, and you can get big bottles of Gold Star beer for about $1.50. We pool our snacks and enjoyed them on the patio of the kibbutz while Mitch played guitar and some people sang.

Oh, I forgot our visit to the Na’ot sandal factory outlet. Probably because  almost all of them were made of leather so no use to me. Too bad, they had some cute styles.

(I’m back now, but it’ll probably take me a day or so to catch up on posts from the trip. I’ll also be sliding back into some of the posts to add links to photos. Once everything is uploaded, the whole gallery will be here.)