Monday, August 30, 2010
9:30 pm, Tsfat
An interesting city in the north, very very jewish, with an artist colony. It's actually a bit of a high end religious town, with lots of english, though the restaurant we went to tonight they didn't speak english, just a basic place, needed to get some food in our tummies.
Anyhow Micah woke up at 1 pm today. He took a shower, I made us some brunch and then we decided to pack up and go. We didn't feel like hanging out in Haifa, the Golan just seems very inviting and the most like home so we thought we would head up here. We left around 2 pm, leaving a note for our hosts, started to drive up the road to the village and smack in the middle of the road was a dumptruck, with a trailer attached to it which had somehow rolled and their were two backhoes and lots of guys talking and trying to figure out how to get the trailer right side up (it's the tip of the iceberg 2). We waited for about 20 minutes, then gave up and went back to Dori's and walked the dog on the trail and then tried again. This time they had the trailer right side up, but they were still having problems. We waited and Drori walked through the bologon (hebrew slang for mess) with Maya in her pack and so we went back to the house again to visit with them. Micah played with Maya for awhile, and then we tried again and this time they appeared to have everything working and the dumptruck drove down the road so I could get by and we were off...
Out of Haifa and into a traffic jam heading north and then finally out of traffic and then back into traffic, very stressful driving, I had Micah read the guide book, we found a place to stay in Tsfat, when we got here I called her and she navigated us to the relatively inexpensive hostel. We settled in and then drove back to Tsfat and walked around, most of the shops were closed, but we found a couple that were still open, there were some hasidic jews walking around, some modern orthodox jews, it just seems that is the odd combination of religious jews and higher end artists... in a pretty white stone town, with narrow cobblestone streets. We could walk around here tomorrow, but I think not. Hopefully Micah will get a good night's rest and feel better tomorrow. He seems to have caught my cough and we were hoping to hike and maybe swim tomorrow on and off depending on where we go and what we do... lots of possiblities, just need to get up and go!
Micah's new friend, Hiro
traveling with a teenager... Micah is still asleep, he awoke for a little bit this morning, but now is back in bed, totally covered by the mosquito netting so the flies will not bother him. It is now the beginning of the heat of the day. Our couchsurfing hosts left the house early this morning, leaving us to ourselves so I figured it would be a good time for Micah to catch up on his sleep and to simply kick back, something we really haven't done much of on this trip. I just got back from the grocery store figuring I should replenish some of the things we have been using, eggs and toilet paper, then bought some extra supplies for our omlette and brunch if Micah ever gets up. He needs his rest, I've been running him ragged, plus somehow he's developed a small dry cough.
I'm happy sitting around and reading today, my mind and my body need a rest. I still have the remnants of a cold, a throat clearing cough, and a kink in my neck, but truly all my ailments appear to be on the mend probably because we are taking it easy so far today.
a big moan from the bed, a few minutes ago as I sat down to write, a voice rose from the bed, "Dad what time is it?" And now another big moan... not sure he is going to rise any time soon. When he says he's hungry, I will cook up brunch, in the meantime I will snack on the fresh figs I just bought...but I better be careful not to eat too many. I'm kind of sitting in the dark, lights create heat, in a minute I will go back to my book on the patio...
A rooster crows, a small breeze, it's pretty quiet outside, once in awhile the sound of some sort of electric saw, life on Mount Carmel in Itzophia (sp?), an arab village, not too far from Haifa University... at the very top and just outside of Haifa, a quiet morning at Dori and Droori's place...
Sunday, August 29, 2010
We arrived at Recanati winery finding the street it was on without a problem, but then driving by it 3 times until I called Noam and he met us outside, don't know how I missed the signs, but I did.
It was a great visit at the winery, Noam (the ceo - general manager) introduced us to the wine makers, the assistant gave us a quick explanation of what was going on today. The grapes were going through a steamer that separated out all the stems and stuff. It was their special select grapes they were working with today. They had already picked about 60% of their graopes because of the heat. The HEAT. Noam then took us around the facility, showing us the steel drums, the barrel room, the bottling machine, the labeling machine, the warehouse with pallets of cases of wine.
Then we were invite into the special tasting room for some very nice bread and cheese and we tasted wine with Gil, the head wine maker and Noam. We talked about the history of Recanati wines, their desire to move their facility to a prettier location. It is now in a warehouse district, but they would like to move it to the countryside, but because they are a bigger winery - a million bottles per year the laws are against them. Countryside wineries are in Israeli law only allowed for small wineries.
The wines were excellent, the conversation intriguing. Noam and Gil were both very generous with their time, as it was high season for both of them. With the grapes being picked early Gil had a lot of work to do and with Rosh Hashanah coming up in less than 2 weeks, Noam had a lot of special sales going on. I was trying to convince both of them to make a ski trip to Montana to sell their wines.
After the tasting, we took some photos, Noam gave us a bottle of their most unique wine to take with us, a Petite Syrah Zinfandel blend and then it was off to the beach!
We spent the rest of the day at the beach, probably getting a little too much sun, went to 2 different beaches, a kids oriented beach with an inflatable climbing wall and a floating trampoline in the sea and then the second beach was better for body surfing, both at Bet Yannay, not too far from the winery at all.
We headed back towards home around 5:30 stopping in Caesaria for groceries for dinner. Hummus and Turkish Salsa with pita for an appetizer and lots of veggies for a stir fry. On arriving home, we put out some food, I took a shower, and then we had very relaxing mellow evening making dinner for our hosts, opening up the bottle of wine and enjoying a great meal together...
At the beach...
The Tip of the Iceberg
How Many Israelis does it take to flip an iceberg right side up
The Iceberg is a floating inflatable climbing wall
shaped like an iceberg
It takes about 6 guys to flip it upside down
Micah was about to climb it one more time
when a bunch of big guys up on top
and climbing up one of the sides
shifted all the weight to one side
and totally flipped the iceberg over
all the guys either jumping or falling off
into the sea
and then Micah and I went to the floating trampoline
where Micah did backflips into the sea
and we watched about 15 guys
try to figure out how to flip it right side up
for at least 20 minutes...
and then somehow
when I decided to go get our camera
in flipping it right side up...
Dinner with Dori and Droori...
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Today's landscape was the most like home we have seen so far, farms, a giant lake, The Kinnerit, (The Sea of Galilee), trees, hills. Again it was really hot. We started late, after 11am and looked for some snacks at some grocery stores, Micah tried eating an avocado without utensils, but it wasn't ripe enough, we arrived in Nazareth around 1 pm and walked around for about an hour and then ate a very big lunch at another restaurant recommended by our new found uncle and food connosieur David, at a place called Diana's that was pretty much a lamb restaurant, where we ate hummus and lamb meatball skewers. They were delicious. In Nazareth we couldn't visit any of the churches because I was wearing a cut off t-shirt, some guard shooed me away when we tried to wander into one of the churches so we just walked around the arab market and then walked our way to the restaurant...
We then traveled to the Kinnerit, found ourselves at the gate of Tel Katzir, the kibbutz I volunteered at for a month in 1978... but the gate was locked and I felt funny about trying to sneak in, we called, but no one answered, so that was my visit to Tel Katzir and then it was off to the Kinnerit beaches which were a bit weird, not really crowded, just dirty. The water was clean, but way too warm, like bath water. We did rest at one of the beaches for about half an hour, just sitting in chairs enjoying the view and then we drove around the perimeter of the Kinnerit while the sun was setting and then drove back to Haifa where after struggling to find a parking place went and had pizza and frozen yogurt in Caramel Center, which in the end unfortunately did not agree with Micah.
Then back at our couchsurfing hotel with Dori and Drori, Jackie skyped us as I was looking up directions for our wine visit tomorrow and she talked to Dori and Drori, and even met Hiro. Then it was to the roof to meet all the people in the yoga retreat - all young - all speak english very well and we sat around and had drinks for awhile and now it's time for bed as we need to get up tomorrow morning and start our day by 9 am...
on and off sleeping on the mattress on the floor next to a bed next to a mattress, 7 couch surfers, asleep on the floor, I kept getting up and cooling down on the porch, with my new friend, Hiro, the dog following me around, eventually she slept on the porch and I fell asleep on the bed, even though Micah stole my pillow for the night. His sweatshirt which will never be worn became my pillow...
Woke around 7 am, took Hiro for a short walk on the trail behind the house, then sat on the porch and Skyped with Jackie, tried to show her around the house a little, but everyone was still asleep, slowly everyone woke up, Micah woke up and talked with his mom for awhile. Then we cooked up some breakfast, cleaned up, hung out. The girls from the Faroe islands left with their backpacks, off for Tel-Aviv. The German girls had some breakfast and went off to the beach for the day. I wrote e-mails and waited for David to arrive.
David arrived a little before noon, I showed him around the place, but he was allergic to the dog and all the greenery, such a city boy. And so we left in his car for Akko, an old Roman port town, the main port town in the north from 300 B.C. until the 1700's with the walls of the old city right up against the sea.
David's reason for going to Akko was an amazing fish restaurant, Uri Buri's. Uri a big man with a Santa Claus beard. The food was out of this world, we had a shrimp and mango dish that was in this amazing cream sauce with we think coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a mystery ingredient or two possibly english all spice. Plus a sea bass dish that was in a coconut milk marinade. The food was worth writing about.
We then wandered the old city of Akko and found ourselves in a water tunnel and then at the port where people were renting kayaks, and there were lots of boats. It was David's first time finding the port of Akko, really the only reason to go there for him was Uri Buri's, but he too enjoyed discovering the pathways of Akko.
Then we drove to Rosh Hanikra, where the rock meets the sea at the border with Lebanon only 120 km from Beirut. It's a very short cable car ride down to the Grotto caves where the sea crashes the rocks and their are pathways through the grotto and around the sea and then at the end a movie about the area with a history lesson. In 1948 the Haganah blew up the train tracks during the time of the British Mandate so supplies would be cut off from the enemy during the war of independence.
And then we drove around, checked out a beach because we saw a sign in english that said Tornado Power Boats, we wanted to see what that might be, but all we found was a crowded beach club where we got some ice creams and then back to the car.
Ended up at coffee shop in Haifa where we just sat and talked and nibbled for an hour or so. Then David took us home, it was a great time with David who says he's enjoying his own rediscovery of Israel as he never tours the country like this, he's a Tel Aviv man.
Micah and walked into Dori and Droori's, they had just finished up dinner, but Drori immediately took out the left overs and gave us plates and we ate some spaghetti with eggplant. I brought a bottle of wine which I opened up immediately. The german ladies were getting ready to go out for the evening with some boys that they met and we all just talked the night away until bedtime... personal histories, traveling experiences, politics, and google earth.
This morning I'm sitting at the counter writing in my journal....
Drori takes a bowl and a grater and a pear (or a prayer)
she moves my coffee and lays Maya on the counter
starts grating the pear to feed her with
I get up and hold Maya so she won't fall
so Drori doesn't have to do everything with one hand
and somehow that makes me think of this....
Our Last Prayer at the Wailing (Western) Wall
"It's going to be our last time here for who knows how long
we should say a goodbye prayer."
"that's true, who knows if we will ever be back here"
Micah walks up to the Western Wall
he puts his hands on the wall, he looks up,
he stands there for awhile
I stand back and watch him
An Idol Seller's house in Akko?
I joke with Micah and David, and Abraham came and destroyed all these statues and put his father out of business...Another dark tunnel...
At the exit of the tunnel...
Akko Port at the Sea
last photo of the day as the battery went dead...
Dori and Drori's place...
Thursday, August 26, 2010
arrived at the home of Dori, Drori, Maya and Hiro (the dog) around noon. The drive out of Jerusalem (goodbye Jerusalem) and past Tel-Aviv, up the coastal highway was easy enough. I have been teaching Micah to map read and help navigate and he's doing a good job even though the maps we have aren't really that good. With Dori's directions we drove up the back mountain road up and found their home easily enough.
We arrived to a houseful of guests - 2 young women from Berlin and 3 young women from the Faroh (sp?) Islands between Denmark and Iceland. Most of them were on the floor with Dori who was teaching a spontaneous yoga class. Basically their extra room is their living/kitchen area which they have loaded up with beds. So tonight there will be beds and sleepers everywhere.
I'm sitting outside on their great balcony with a full moon, a lone star and Hiro. Dori, Droori, & Maya went to Tel-Aviv for an overnight for a celebration of some friends who have one month old twins, plus Dori has fisheries work every friday morning at 3 am at the Jaffa Port.
So we hung out and got acquainted for a couple of hours. Dori and Maya took Micah and I and Judith (one of the german gals) for a hike around to a spectacular view, then back to the house and the balcony where we just hung out and chatted.
When we arrived Dori was giving a spontaneous yoga class and when we got back from the hike Drori was giving a spontaneous welding/art lesson in her jewelry workshop room. Maya came up to me and let me play with her for a little bit, she's 9 months old, and loves to be held and (slightly) tossed in the air, she has a beautiful smile and is a very happy baby. As I expected it was like instant family.
Around 2 pm Micah and I and Judith and Anna ventured out together in search of the Baha'i Gardens, a beautiful gigantic terraced garden with staircases from the top to the bottom where there temple sits. The garden was immaculate and totally symmetrical, plus beautiful buildings, the temple was being renovated and was completely covered with a giant covering, usually it is golden. I guess this is one of the holiest places for the Baha'a people, a religion which began in the mid 19th century in Persia, but they have been persecuted by the Iranian governments. There are 6 million total, 2 million in India, and the remaining 4 million dispersed all over the world. They make pilgrimages to Haifa and volunteer at the temple and caretake the gardens.
We took a hebrew tour of the gardens, which constituted walking from the top to the bottom. An Australian couple noticing I was struggling with the Hebrew began to translate the highlights for me.
We ended up hanging out with Judith and Anna for most of the afternoon, going to the gardens, having a falafel, meeting up with their friends for a coffee and hiking down the staircases of Haifa to a neighborhood called Masada where Micah thought he found his first skateboard shop, but it turned out to be a graffiti shop where they sold spray cans!
Micah has been loving the graffiti, especially the graffiti of the security walls he commented again today.
At one point today young man Micah found himself sitting around a table with 5 young female internationals...
After checking out the Masada neighborhood with Anna and Judith we split up - they were going to meet up with some of their friends and we took the Carmelite, the Haifa uphill subway back up to central Carmel where we found our car easily & miraculously, no ticket! & then miraculously we found our way home! and then found a small arab grocery where we bought food to make our own dinner, rice, veggies, and chocolate
we were looking for avocados
but they didn't have any
so we settled on veggie stir fry
bought tomatoes, garlic, onion, peppers, carrots, onion
and what we thought was a zucchini
the zucchini was hollow, Micah shook it and you could hear something
rattling inside, he sliced it lenghtwise and it was an avocado
an unripe avocado with a loose pit
so we put it in our stirfry
which was delicious!
so now it's evening, we've had our dinner, it sounds like the Faroh ladies are eating up our leftovers which makes me happy, I hear them thanking Micah who is on the computer inside.
Another great day, Micah experiencing the world of travelers, the new world of couch surfing.
Micah, the international traveler with his new friends...