A Travellerspoint blog

Loop from Kibbutz Hagoshrim to Golan Heights

sunny 33 °C

Day 2 – Loop from Kibbutz Hagoshrim

After the difficulty of the previous day I was looking for something a little less challenging. There were two choices for the days right – either climb to the top of Mt. Hermon, the highest mountain in Israel and then over to the Golan Heights or climb directly to the Golan Heights. Both Rick and I were content to do the one climb up the Golan Heights. We rode with 3 other Canadians and some of the vets who rode on tandems. Although our climb was long with some challenging grades, it was doable. At the top we arrived at a Druz village called Masade and had the treat of eating at a Druz restaurant. The food was outstanding from hummus, falafel balls, a wonderful goat cheese called labash, olives and bakclava. It was truly a feast!

[Rick] On day 1 I hadn't had enough to drink, so I didn't feel I could handle Mt. Hermon (or even the Golan climb), but I did the Golan climb anyway. It was hard and long, but the views and the meal at the top made it worthwhile.

From there we began to make our way down the Golan Heights. At first it was a pleasant downhill but then it became very steep with many switchbacks. After a while I began loosing my nerve and decided to get off my bike for a while. Unfortunately I decided to this on a curve and ended up falling off my bike. I was pretty unscathed but did injure my baby finger on my left hand. As a result I was taken to the hospital in Sfat to make sure it wasn’t broken. The bicycle tour company was amazing. A member drove me to the hospital, made sure I was looked after and even paid for the visit and the exray. Even though I was not pleased about the accident I had the opportunity to see Sfat, a beautiful town way up in the mountains and I spent 3 hours talking to a phenomial man called Edon.

[Rick] I got down without incident, though at points I had to slow down from 60 km/hr to almost a stop for the sharper switchbacks. Once at the bottom, the group that made it down sat and rested for a while until the remainder of the group joined us. Arlene came in with her fingers bandaged up, and had to go to the hospital - and missed a massage she had lined up.

The doctor did not think the finger was broken but decided to put a splint on it and wrap it with my other finger. As a result it would be impossible to manipulate the brakes with my left hand. So I talked to the organizers about allowing me to ride on the back of one of the tandems the next day so I didn’t have to use the brakes.
I didn’t realize when I began this trip that I would be sharing a very similar experience with the vets. But in my case the injury is only temporary.

Posted by arick 10:50 Comments (0)

Nahariya to Kibbutz Hagoshrim

A challenge

sunny 35 °C

tour1_handbike1.jpgAlthough we did not arrive at Beit Halochem in Nahariya until close to midnight the plan was to begin riding at 7 a.m. the next morning. That meant breakfast at 6, packing, get our bikes ready and then riding. Unfortunately the police who were to be our security on the ride did not arrive until 8 a.m. We could have slept in later but who knew.

It was fascinating seeing all the riders particularly the veterans There were probably 20 veterans riding. those who could not use of their legs used bikes that they powered using their arms. They were a number of blind riders and riders missing arms who rode in the back of tandems. There were riders on single bikes who had prosthetic legs. It was inspirational to see the abilities of these riders rather than focus on their disabilities.

This had to be one of the bestt supported tours we've ever had. There is a police escort.

And archeology is everywhere

I was totally unaware how difficult this ride would be. It was very hot and there were massive climbs with grades up to 15%. We began by climbing the hills in the wertern Galilee. The climb became more difficult as we rode towards the twin town of Tarshiha, an Arab city and a Jewish town which came together.

We were climbing the second highest mountain in Israel called the Meron. Once we reached the top we had a very steep downhill with many switchbacks. I don't know whether the climb or the descent was more difficult. I know that I was certainly more frightened by the descent.

It was great when we finally arrived at the Kibbutz. What a beautiful place to stay and the good news was that we were going to be there for two day.

Posted by arick 10:59 Comments (0)

Tel Aviv

-17 °C

In looking at the map we received from the hotel, I became aware that there was a free tour of Jaffe and some of Tel Aviv. After the concierge phoned to book a tour for us, I was informed that we had 20 minutes before the tour van arrived. I really wanted to hook up with Joni, the organizer of our bicycle trip, before we left that morning. Yes, we are actually going on the bicycle trip! I quickly walked over to the nearby hotel where they were assembling the bikes, met Joni, and rushed back to get Rick to go on the tour. This was all done in 20 minutes.

The tour was excellent. We had an opportunity to walk through history. Jaffe dates back 4000 years.
As we walked through the streets we saw artist's studios in buidlings that were build thousands of years ago.

History is everywhere.
When the Turks owned the area, women always had to be covered. There were special windows made so when they were at home, they could see out, but no one could see them

Jaffa was originally a walled city.Now, inside the walls is an artists area. We saw the amazing work of Frank Meisler who creates scupture from silver and each piece has at least one moveable part. From there see talked about the history and the progress of invasions through the centuries.

Jaffa is known for "Jaffa oranges". Actually, oranges are not grown in the area, but they were all shipped from the port. This orange tree was originally planted as a seeding in the hanging pot. Now that it has grown, the roots are cracking the pot

And, yes. There are lots of cats here too. And by popular demand, here is an Israeli cat

Carmel market in Tel Aviv
Our afternoon was spent a the Carmel market that makes Kensington look so tiny. This open air market is called a "shook" ("oo" as in "moon", not "book")

It was fun to buy produce for our breakfast from the vendors as they hawked their wares.

Following this we walked through the extensive craft market. It was fascinating to see the variety of crafts. Much more creative than the crafts Susan and I tried to sell many years ago.
The crafts were actually on Allenby Street, a street closed off to cars, and open only for vendors. It's a block away from the Carmel market.
There are musical ensembles, religious crafts and ordinary ones.

In the evening we went for a dinner for Beit Halocheim. It was great to meet the cyclists and some of the people going on the mission. There are 17 people from North America doing the ride and another 18 veterans from Beit Halocheim. Of the group only 3 of us are female - it will be interesting to see what the dynamics will be.

The next day we realized that the bus would not be leaving until 8:30 p.m. for the start of our ride at Nahariym. This meant we had one additional day in Tel Aviv that we hadn't counted on. This is not a bad thing considering we will be riding for 100 km a day for the next 5 days without much riding for the last two weeks.

In the morning we decided to walk to Jaffe to enjoy the walk along the see and to see this beautiful old city again. We were able to go to a small museum to learn some of the history and see some of the excavations they had done in Jaffe. From there we went to a restaurant where we sat on couches and ate our lunch watching the sea. It doesn't get much better than this!

Then a few hours on the beach and our drive to the beginning of our ride.

Posted by arick 05:09 Comments (1)

From the Dolphin Beach to Tel Aviv

We woke up early to our breakfast in our little yard. I could get used to be served breakfast in a lovely private space like this. We were anxious to get going since we had a plane to catch at 1:15.

We took a taxi to the Dolphin Beach and spent hours watching the dolphins swim and play. The possibility was there to swim with the dolphins but unfortunately the timing didn't work. But that being said it was fascinating watching the dolpins and they swam, jumped and played. But we had to go. We had a plane to catch.

Fortunately and unfortunately the plane went to Ben Gurion Airport. This meant it was a bigger plane but we had to get from Ben Gurion to Tel Aviv. After spending 2 hours on local buses we wondered why we had not renting a car for the day. Oh well, we will chalk it up to experience.

Yes! They're everywhere/\. But fortunately they are greatly outnumbered by fallafel places. The hebrew letters say "Mcdonalds", so you can figure out how each of the letters are pronounced.

In the evening ,on the recommendation of Gail and David, we saw a dance company performance of Tetrus. This is unlike anything we have ever seen before. As you walk in your height is measured to determine if can see when you put you head through a whole in an overhanding structure. Everyone is given a stool at the correct height. The audience then pops there heads through the holes on the stage. I know this sounds bizarre but this was the staging of the show. The dancers danced on the stage surrounding by the heads of the audience. The dancers sometimes danced over you, between the heads and sometimes focused on your eyes. The focus was boundaries and relationships. A very interesting, unique and creative piece.

After a walk along Diesengoff Street, a stop for some Gellato and then a glass a wine at a restaurant along the beach we called it a day.

Posted by arick 22:05 Comments (0)

A day in Eilat

Desert and Water

23 °C

After breakfast in our outdoor area we met up with the jeep driver for our tour of the desert. Luckily I had the opportunity to sit in the front right beside the driver/guide. This allowed me to ask questions and it minimized the impact of the bumps.

Seeing the mountains in the desert was a whole new experience. Somehow I don't think we were aware of all the colours and the variety of rocks and rock formations in the desert. Each turn we took brought us to whole new vistas. Who would have thought that the desert could provide so much variety!

Most of the trees we saw were acacia trees. They can stay green for a long time with a minimum amount of water. However, there is a parasitic "tree" that attaches to it, and kills both the tree and itself. This may be a paradigm for the peoples of the area.

Although there was very little vegetation in the desert since there had been no rain for 10 years, we did see a plant that appeared to be flowering. It turned out to be a caper plant. And I thought that capers were just found in jars pickled! It was fascinating to learn that the caper plants had multiple uses and protections to grow in the desert.
It would be great to come back to the desert after the next rain because apparently there are countless plants that remain dormant until it rains. Think about it. If we don't water our plants for a day or so at home, they die. These plants survive in a dormant state for long periods of time and flower at the first opportunity even if that is more than 10 years.

The last stop on our trip to the desert was to climb (in the jeep) to one of the highest points in the mountain range. From this vantage point, we were able to see Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and northern Israel. This really underlines how close Israel is to its neigbouring (often not so friendly) Arab states.

One of the wonderous things we saw as we rode in the jeep was a single rider on a road bike on the road surrounding the desert. Our guide informed us that this man did the 80 km circular route 2-3 times a week. This involved 40 km. of climbing grades up to 10% in temperatures around 35-40 degrees C. And the man was 78 years old!!

Riiding higher up into the desert, we stopped to see a small spring down below. It was able to provide a little water for some vegetation, although now it was pretty well dried up

From the spring there is a channel where any water would have flowed. It is dried up now and is a "wadi" or dried up river bed

Our next stop was the Coral Beach. When we arrived at the beach we were struck by the beauty of the water. We had never seen such bright colours of water before. We were particularly awed by the fact that the water seemed to be of three distinct colours.

While snokling I was able to see a beautiful display of fish as I swam over the coral reef. I tried to retain the colours of the fish but there were such a great variety - blues, reds, green, yellow, orange, purple, black, white and striped fish. The combinations of colours and sizes of fish was awesome.

It was unfortunate that Rick could not join me but he was having trouble with using the snorkle.

After a brief break we had an outstanding dinner at a lovely restaurant called Eddie's Hideaway. One of the learnings we have, is that many of the meals are large enough for both of us to share. We had a piece of fish for dinner that covered a whole plate. I am not sure how one person could eat this. But of course after cycling we know that this would appear to be a small meal and sharing would not be a consideration.

As in Jerusalem, there are many, many cats wandering around the streets of Eilat!

Posted by arick 07:43 Comments (0)

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