Hey ya’ll! I hope everyone had a fantastic New Years Eve and is now having a great New Years Day. Most people talk about resolutions and what not, but I don’t really believe in them. Just do it for you, and not because it is a New Year and you feel guilty about certain things. Yesterday was sort of a rough day for me. I really don’t want to get into it right now, so I’m going to talk about my wonderful trip to Israel in order to distract myself. Day 2 and 3 here we go.
The second day everyone woke up refreshed since we all passed out around 8 pm and got about 10 hours of sleep. One person passed out in the bar which I find quite hilarious. We are college students after all. Haha. What did they have up their sleeves for us to do today? Well, luckily it was a pretty amazing day. First off we were headed towards a site for a jeep ride. At first, I was like oh a jeep ride this will be a pretty casual way to start off the morning, but oh my god this was the most exhilarating moment EVER.
We drove through hills until we got to the part where we had to off rode. We drove through old minefields that still had active mines. Gideon told us hilarious stories about how the every once and a while a cow would step on a mine, blow up, and the town would have a huge feast, sort of like a BBQ. We died of laughter. He then told us of a Muslim joke about how one day a man was walking behind his wife through the minefield, his friend came up to him and asked why he was not following Muhammad’s law of always being in front of the wife, and he responded Muhammad made the law before there were minefields. Ha ha ha. But not really because that is so uncool that you would let your wife blow up before you. Anyways, we eventually reached an area where we got to get out of the car and walk around.
We stopped at an old battle site that over looked a part of northern Israel. There were old trenches that we all got in to take photos. Once we were there, we listened to a poem about the battles that occurred there and then the main tour guide gave a brief history lesson about the land. PHOTOS. Seriously, people were taking photos every five seconds of the trip. The tour guides gave us a couple of more photo opportunities and then made us pile back into the jeeps. I was happy getting back into the jeep because that meant more time with Gideon. Sweeeeet. On the next part of the drive, we got to learn some life lessons by Gideon. Winning. He asked us if we knew of the photoshop. Well yes Gideon, we do. He responded that he took a class on it and now he can take a photo of an ugly woman and make her into a star. OH MY GOD. Did he really just say that? Yes, he did. Then he serenaded us with a song called bumpy road. Definitely song of the year material. It went bumpy road, bumpy road, bumpy road.
This is our jeep group with good old Gideon. The best part of the entire ride was probably when he told the annoying girl (the one in white within the headlock) to SHUT UP. We all cheered and laughed. We were really sad to leave the jeeps, mainly because of Gideon, but also because it was just one of the best activities we had done so far. The entire group of 40 students and 2 chaperones piled back into the bus, and we were on our way to the next site. We were going to the Golan Heights. This is such an important place in Israel history because it is where we fought back the Syrians in the Six Day War.
The Golan Heights was a really interesting place not just because of the history. For one, there were these weird statues all up the pathway to the top of the mountain. I guess modern art has reached the more rural regions of Israel. I have some great photos with the artwork, but they are on my friends camera and she hasn’t uploaded them. Lame. Another thing on top of the mountain was a coffee shop called Coffee Anan. This is really funny because it is a play on words. Not only is it a name for a diplomat, but Anan also means cloud in Hebrew and the mountains are sort of in the clouds. I enjoyed it. We were given a brief history lesson over the Israeli’s triumph over the Syrians and relations today. To me, it was really crazy how you could see the actual border between Syria and Israel.
There was this really cool sign at the top of the mountain. It pointed to all different places and it even had Washington DC on one of the sides. After more photo ops and a bathroom break for everyone (did I mention that public bathrooms in foreign places are super sketch – this one was missing a toilet seat), we all got back on the bus. On to our last place of the day. We were running sort of late, so we had to rush, but we were going to an olive oil factory. I was so excited. I like olives, I like oil, so what a great way to end the day.
This is the inside of the factory, isn’t it beautiful? We then got to listen to probably the best speaker I have ever heard. He sort of reminded me of my dad’s father. He probably taught us the best lesson in regards to the Israel-Palestine conflict. He told us that you can’t get arguing about the past because that will get you nowhere, it is only about the future and what we can do about it. We must start from no history in order to build a future of peace. I really like that because currently it is just a battle of who was in Israel first or who shot who first. The situation is way out of hand, and there needs to be peace. After his lecture, we got a tour of the factory, and then got to sample olive oil and beauty products. EVERYONE was so moved by this man that we all bought some sort of product. I ended up getting a magic cream made of three ingredients (all-natural) that would help my psoriasis. Success. The tour guide was rushing us because we had to eat lunch, buy snacks, and go back to the hotel for Shabbat services. One of the craziest things about Israel is that on Friday everything closes down in the cities for Shabbat. Literally everyone follows this, not just the Orthodox. We ended up rushing through everything to make it back in time for services. That night we had Shabbat dinner, went to services led by one of our group members, and had an oneg (which is a gathering where we sampled some local Israeli desserts). Since it was Shabbat, and we are typical college students, we partied on the terrace that night.
The next day was Shabbat still. Unfortunately because of the day the entire city was closed down, so we had no activities planned for Saturday. Pretty much we had free time to just chill in the hotel, so I took advantage of this and slept till about 1045. We had been getting up at 6 am, so this was a nice break. When I finally woke up, showered, I went to lunch with a bunch of my friends, and then we had a mandatory walk with just our group.
We ended up going to a nice spot in Tiberias that overlooked the Knesset. After taking a million and one photos, we had small group discussions on what it meant to be a Jew and how we felt a connection to other Jews. It was a really intimate moment, but of course some people ruined it when we had the general discussion by going on and on about the most irrelevant information ever. People in Israel are so nice though because the man who lived in the house whose property we were on offered to invite all 40 of us in his house, but our tour guide declined the invitation because lets face it we were a crazy group. We had to rush back to the hotel because it was time for Havdallah services. Once we got through another set of services, we all got to go on the bus because Shabbat was over and we were going out! Finally, our first time to eat on our own.
Before we ate dinner, we got to watch a really cool light show on the Knesset or Sea of Galilee. It was really beautiful, and I have a video of it, but it won’t let me upload it. How lame. After the show, a couple friends, my brother, and I walked along the boardwalk in Tiberias looking at restaurant menus. Finally we eventually decided on the first place we saw. Best choice ever. It was the cheapest place on the boardwalk, and after pulling reviews from everyone it was the best food too.
Lets talk about how mindblowing this dish was. Apparently it was scalloped potatoes or at least that is what it translated to in English, but it was far better than scalloped potatoes. It was large chunks of a potato, covered in cheese, mushrooms, and this delicious Alfredo-like sauce. So good. The cheese just melted in your mouth and made a great combination with the Alfredo sauce. Everyone agreed that my dish was superb. Everyone else that was with me got pizza, and one girl got a pasta dish. Gluten free dish for the win!
We then walked along the boardwalk looking at little shops until we decided that dessert was a must. Nothing much was open, but we remembered back where our restaurant was that there was a gelato shop. Ice cream it is. They had tons of flavors, so it was really hard to pick, but I ended up choosing pistachio. For some odd reason, I have been craving that flavor lately.
It is sort of hard to see, but it was really delicious. It had a nutty flavor with a sweet overtone. I would definitely have gotten it again. My brother got kinder bueno flavored, which is a chocolate candy. He actually ate his in about 5 seconds, so I was unable to document it. That tended to be a problem on the trip because we shared food a lot, so he would gobble it up and I would pull out my camera and be like whaaaaat. He would just smile and be like oops. After meeting by a shop, listening to a tale about how these three girls spent 40 shekels on ONE shot (that is about a 11 dollar shot), we all got back on the bus and headed to the hotel for the night. Once again we partied on the terrace and passed out for the evening. The next day we had an exciting day planned because we were getting our 8 Israeli soldiers that would travel with us for five days.
Hope everyone is having an amazing day and nice break from school and work!
Have you ever been to the border of a country or state?
What is your favorite flavor of gelato?