Days 28 & 29: The Journey Up North

I once again apologize for my lack of post regarding Yom Kippur. But hey, if every second of my life were totally, 100% interesting, I’d probably collapse from exhaustion. Speaking of collapsing from exhaustion, I present to you my blog post about my trip to the Golan Heights and Northern Israel… (be prepared for many photos!)

Day 28: Sunday, 10/5/2014

We arrived at the location for the bus to pick us up at 7am. Now, in Israel, everyone is late. The concept of time here is very strange. My boss even told me to “Come between 9 and 10, I really don’t care.” But never could I have expected our bus driver to be an HOUR AND A HALF LATE. That’s 1.5 hours of sleep I could have had. Apparently something happened to Israeli phones that night and they all thought it daylight savings time was over when it wasn’t. I don’t know. Either way, it was utterly ridiculous and frustrating. By the time all of us got on the bus, we were pretty cranky.

We finally arrived at our first stop: a hike through the Golan Heights. We were told that it would be a fairly easy hour-long hike. Once again, Israelis prove to me that they are terrible at estimating time….and difficulty of hikes! It was 3 hours filled with extremely steep inclines and rocky paths. I got a little dehydrated at one point and had to sit down and chug the majority of what was left of my water bottle.

After nearly passing out/throwing up on the hike, we arrived back at the bus at around 3pm, just in time for lunch…? I swear, the scheduling of

Group photo! I'm in the front on the left :)
Group photo! I’m in the front on the left 🙂

this program is messed up. We stopped at a mall and I ate something I haven’t eaten for about 12 years: McDonald’s. It was kosher, so I guess it’s not exactly the same as in the U.S., but it was pretty good! Now it was time for rafting down the Jordan River!

Not sure which of you has been on the Jordan River before, but there is no current. Seriously, it is completely smooth, meaning paddling is actually necessary as opposed to on more rapid currents. I ended up being with 4 other girls from my group: Deborah, Lindsey, Lea, and Ingrid. I was the only one who had ever rafted before, so I ended up having to take the reins (meaning I was paddling really heavily in the back). It was a wonderful arm workout after my leg workout from earlier in the day.

Natalie and me at the bonfire
Natalie and me at the bonfire

We stayed at a kibbutz that night. I roomed with Deborah and another girl named Yasmin. We had quite the fun time together. Later that night, we had a bonfire. Another one of Masa’s groups was with us and we got to know them a little bit. They were an interesting bunch of people. But we stayed until midnight just talking and eating some snacks. (Most people were drinking. I wasn’t). It was a fun night.

Day 29: Monday, 10/6/2014

Today was going to be a way less strenuous day than the one before, thankfully. I was extremely sore. We started out our day in Tzfat, one of the holiest cities in Israel. I had to dress slightly “frum” (or more religious), meaning maxi skirt paired with my adorable walking shoes. So cute. Have a look for yourself:

Tzfat is such a cool city with many different places to explore. There were artisan shops and religious centers that we all got to explore. I honestly feel like photos with captions will do best to explain my trip, rather than just talk about it. Thankfully, I took plenty of photos on this trip!

Panorama from an overlook in Tzfat. GORGEOUS
Panorama from an overlook in Tzfat. GORGEOUS
Erin, Natalie and me at the Tzfat overlook
Erin, Natalie and me at the Tzfat overlook

Hope that wasn’t too much of a picture overload! But I felt the need to document a lot about the day because of how much we did. But wait, there’s actually more. After Tzfat, we headed to Dalton Winery, a pretty famous winery in the North. It was, well, not great. I’ve been to plenty of wine tastings before, but this one was definitely at the bottom of the barrel.

Our tour guide was beyond boring. It was easy for me to tell that she’d done way too many tours for a group who clearly just wanted to go into the tasting part, rather than actually tour. Although I heard a hilarious question from our group, which I really need to share with you all:

“If you let a white grape tree grow for long enough does it become a red grape tree?” I could hardly hold in the laughter. I needed to walk away and let it out.

When we finally got to the tasting, I was very underwhelmed. We tried 4 different wines: Chardonnay, Rose, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Merlot/Cab blend. They were all subpar.

After the wine tasting, however, I got to sample a few of their liquors. My friend Deborah and I particularly liked the chocolate liquor, and she bought a bottle. Looking forward to having some at a later date.

Now for the last stop of the day: the Circassian Village. I’m sure many of you don’t know who the Circassians. They are a minority group within Israel, with very interesting traditions. To be honest, I was extremely exhausted by the time we got to the village, so I don’t remember everything I heard. But we got to see some really cool dancing!

We finally got home at around 8pm, and I went out with my friend Sarah. For some reason, I was craving pizza, and about 2 minutes after I said this out loud to Sarah, we found a pizza place. We ate pizza, and then continued on to her mission: “Cookeez.” It’s basically the Israeli version of Diddy Reese (aka cookie ice cream sandwiches). It was delicious and we definitely felt like we deserved it after our 2 days of exercise.

It was a very fun trip, but very exhausting. Many people actually got physically sick from exhaustion. The program coordinators need to realize that while we enjoy the trips, this is an internship program. Keep in mind, I still had to go to work the next day! That’ll be in the next post, so stay tuned.

-Girl in Israel 🙂

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