Saturday, May 30, 2015

Full moon caving

Last Thursday Kate and I went on a bar crawl that had both Israelis and tourists. I made friends there, one of them being Ifat, an electric Israeli with an infectious smile. On Thursday, while browsing facebook, I saw that she was attending a full moon hike/cave adventure Friday night hosted by Wild Israel, a tour company based outside of Jerusalem. The hike mentioned they provided harnesses and such so I wasn't entirely sure what I was in for.  I asked Ifat if I could tag along, she immediately agreed and sent me all the info.

The tour met outside Jerusalem sometime after 10 pm and caravan-ed to a large canyon outside Jerusalem in the Judaean desert.  When we got there we did kiddush, had some snacks, and drank a little wine to calm out nerves.  There was a short hike down to the cave entrance, along the edge of a very pretty canyon.  It was a smaller version of what I imagine the grand canyon looks like in person.  When we entered the cave we stashed most of our backpacks and jackets and began our adventure.   The cave is HUGE and it took us hours to get through.  There was one descent which required harnesses and ropes, but luckily it was a very short one because I was definitely scared.  There were also quite a few tight spaces and tunnels requiring crawling that tested my anxiety.  I've never been in a cave before and honestly, had I been told all that were going to be doing in there, I doubt I would have gone.  I am so excited I had no idea what I signed up for and went.  We emerged from the cave around 4:30 am and rested on a large rock staring at the stars.  Eventually we moved down to a small pond like thing where our guide made us coffee and we all relaxed while the sun came up.  Overall it was one of the coolest things I have ever done, but I am much too tired to explain all the details.  Instead just look at all the pictures, and ask me about it later.

Ifat and I having our pre cave wine to calm our nerves

Our great guide, Gilad

Nap time in the cave


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Horses, Jesus, and Syria.

On Saturday, we decided to go horseback riding in Had-Ness, a town up on the hill that over looks the Sea of Galilee.  The view was gorgeous, but it was really hot.  The ride was only an hour but that was enough in the heat.

the horses walked out of my selfie...BUT I got them in it the second time :)

Katie and I

Danger Mines.

Our next stop was to the Church of Fish and Bread/The Church of Multiplication in Tabgha where Jesus did the Miracle of Multiplication.  According to the bible at this site Jesus fed 5,000 people with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes.  There have been a couple previous churches there and the current one displays remnants of the very first one. I'm not sure how to explain how I felt when I walked in other than that I definitely wanted to cry.  There's a heaviness to it. Regardless of if you believe the miracle happened or not, the history and the possibility is enough to feel something. There are two places where you can light candles as I was waiting to light some for my family a little boy accidentally put out the main candle. I promptly went to the other one because if that's a bad omen, I don't want that evil on me!

The stone where the miracle occurred.

Under that glass is stones from the original church.

After a large Lebanese lunch, an attempt at getting gas, and a couple attempts at finding an ATM we went to the Church of the Beatitudes.  This Church is on top of a hill over looking the sea of Galilee and is the location of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.  The Church has an amazing view of the Galilee.

On Sunday Kate, Chris (a guy from SF we met in Tel Aviv who met us on our trip Saturday night), and I woke up early and drove to the Golan Heights region in the North Eastern tip of Israel.  There is a mountain call Mt. Bental which is a MUST if you visit Israel.  The top of the mountain is an old bunker that you can go all the way through (Kate and I were scared so we sent Chis instead).  There are also always UN officers up there because the mountain is a lookout point into Syria.  It is so close, not only could we see Syria, multiple times while we were up there we actually heard the explosions coming from there!  There is also a coffee shop next to the bunker called Coffee Annan in reference to former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan.  My dad likes to wear shirts from local eateries that we go to so naturally I attempted to get him a shirt.  The store that sold them was closed and none of the coffee shop workers could be bribed to sell me one :(

Looking at Syria

"Oh look a tiny hole, lets see if I fit!"

I decided I wanted to rent a bicycle and ride around the Sea of Galilee, or at least as far as I could get.  Let me just point out: the Galilee is GIANT, there are lots of hills, and it is VERY hot here.  Obviously, this wasn't one of my best decisions. Both Kate and Chris decided to join my crazy plan.  There was allegedly a trial along the Galilee that would make the ride flat, we never found that trail.  Kate rode with us the first couple miles but smartly turned back and went home.  Chris and I on the other hand made a 24km (about 15 mile) round trip attempt to find the trail.  We did stop a couple times for food, ice cream, to see the Jesus boat, and some random ruins.