Tag Archives: Israel

Our Worst Travel Moments — Owners Return Early During our House Sit

We’ve had so many fantastic moments traveling the world continuously for the past five years. In spite of all the “regular” living, there have been challenging moments when things have gone wrong. To be fair, things go wrong even if you live in one place for five years.

We’re just thankful that it hasn’t been one of us waking up and asking the other “Who are you?” And we won’t write about the tsunami alert in Indonesia that turned out to be a huge wave of … wait for it … 2½ inches.

This is the fourth of a series of accounts of our worst moments. In spite of these few misadventures, we are still loving the life of continuous travel!

Owners Return Early During our House Sit

Zichron Yaakov, Israel

How did it happen?

In countries where the cost of living is high, we usually look for a house sitting assignment to cut back on some of the cost of our travel. We had a sweet assignment in England with an adorable therapy dog and then another terrific house sit in Israel.

Us with our new friend, Diana, and her therapy dog, Enya.

Oddly, in both instances, the owners were forced to return early from their travels due to medical reasons. In England, the overlap was only a week and we enjoyed spending time together, cooking and walking the dog with our new friend.

In Israel, they returned with one of them in a leg cast. We stayed on to mow the lawn, walk the dog and do some cooking for them. After a while though, we began to feel unneeded and a little bit like an imposition, even though they insisted otherwise.

Resolution

Since Ivan had finished his work and they didn’t really need us to be there, we rented a car and set out to explore Israel. This was going to be different from our usual style of travel.

We normally settle in one area of a country for 3 months, digging into the local culture and traditions. We often have the use of the owner’s car so we are able to take the dog to nearby hikes. Israel became a road trip adventure!

Ramat Hanadiv

We traveled the width and length of this small country, visiting good friends we hadn’t seen in countless years; and seeing new friends we had just made. We visited an archaeological dig that I worked on in my teen years. (Yes, it changed!)

We bought an annual National Parks Pass which turned out to be a real bargain. We hiked, swam and climbed in about 20 parks throughout the country. We snorkeled in Eilat, and saw the Milky Way from the desert.

Lesson Learned

When the unplanned happens, make a new plan. Where we go is pretty random anyway so what difference does it make if we change the plan? We accept the wabi sabi of travel. As long as we are together, anywhere we travel, and anything we do, is the best plan.

Driving through Israel!

The other stories in “Our Worst Travel Moments” series are:

The Sea of Galilee

Tiberias as seen from the Switzerland Forest Road.
Tiberias as seen from the Switzerland Forest Road.

Today, the waterfront of Tiberias is a little tacky in spite of the new construction of expensive high rises. We ignored all those little stands selling “authentic” Chinese merchandise and the overpriced tourist restaurants.

Back in the days of the Roman Empire, Jesus did most of his teaching near the Sea of Galilee. In 135 CE, the Jews moved their cultural center to Tiberias because they were banished from Jerusalem as punishment for rebelling. The Sea of Galilee was a thriving and vibrant hub of civilization, activity and trade until the Byzantines lost control to an Arab Caliphate in the seventh century.

Looking north from the Arbel Cliffs National Park
Looking north from the Arbel Cliffs National Park

We stayed in a very nice one bedroom apartment called Lakeside Kinneret View Apartment that we found on booking.com. Kinneret is another name for the Sea of Galilee. We spent our time climbing the mountains, hiking the trails and fording the streams in the wonderful national parks all around the lake.

The shaded trail of the Betiha Nature Reserve.
The shaded trail of the Betiha Nature Reserve.

One of the secrets of using booking.com is to search for a place with your login, but not book it. After an hour or two, they email you with better deals.

We bought jumbo Medjool dates, fresh figs, whole wheat pita, goat cheese, olives and Tishbi merlot wine and found great spots to picnic.

Enjoying the salads and pita at Tanureen Restaurant in Migdal
Enjoying the salads and pita at Tanureen Restaurant in Migdal

There is an excellent Arab restaurant, Tanureen, by the village Migdal a few kilometers north of Tiberias. We spent a long evening there, speaking Hebrew, Italian and English to many of the restaurant guests who we met. We needed many hours to even make a dent in the number of salad dishes served. In Israel, a lot of petrol stations on major roads have restaurants on their property and this was just another fine dining experience behind the gas pumps.

Arbel National Park

View from the Arbel Cliffs National Park with the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee on the right.
View from the Arbel Cliffs National Park with the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee on the right.

The cliffs of Arbel offer the most incredible views of the Sea of Galilee. For a little extreme adventure, you can descend the cliffs by a path that coincides with both the Jesus Trail and the Israel National Trail (the trail that traverses the entire length of the country). The descent passes by 17th century cliff dwellings of the Druze. We decided to forego the extreme hike in the 100°F/38°C Israeli summer and save our aging knees for other parks.

Justin reading scriptures on the Jesus Trail.
We met Justin reading scriptures on the Jesus Trail.

The Majrase
Betiha (Bet Tsayda Valley) Nature Reserve

DSC08950Rather than climbing down cliffs in the hot sun, how about a nice walk in a cool stream in the shade? That’s what we did in the Bet Tseida Forest. This National nature reserve has a trail through the Daliyot stream of cool, refreshing water up to your calves, or maybe thighs in some places depending on how tall you are. It’s a delightful way to spend an afternoon.

Switzerland Forest Scenic Road

Relaxing in the Daliyot Stream.
Relaxing in the Daliyot Stream.

We drove clockwise around the lake and returned to Tiberias via the Switzerland Forest Scenic Road which, about half way, merges with the Israel National Trail. It has fantastic views of the southern part of the Sea of Galilee. The driver, however, has to keep his eye on the winding road. Same in life, right?

Gan HaShlosha (Sahne) National Park

About an hour drive south from Tiberias as we were on our way to Jerusalem, is another incredible place to spend a hot afternoon in the water. The Amal Stream is a warm water spring that keeps the swimming holes in this national park at a constant temperature. The developed park is a great place to spend the day if you bring your shade structure (or get there before anyone else to claim the shady spots!).

There’s a foot cleaning station on each set of stairs leading into the water. It’s provided free by countless little fish. There is also an old water mill on site, a preferred location for those bathers who arrive early; and The Museum of Regional and Mediterranean Archaeology.

Travel Tip: The Israel National Parks Pass is well worth the money if you like trails. We figure that we broke even with just four parks.