Day 3 of my trip to the North of Israel was the day I was most looking forward to. No matter who I talk to, everyone who has been up north says that the city of Rosh Ha'Nikrah is one of the most beautiful places in Israel, and all of the world, and is a site not to be missed. Now, after years of wanted to visit this place, I was finally able to see it. When I walked off of the bus I was immediately struck by the beautiful contrast of the lush green landscape, the white color of the rocks, and the royal blue of the Mediterranean. It was a beauty like I have never seen before and I now understood why most people who visit here boast that it is one of their favorite spots in Israel. After a few minutes of sightseeing we were all able to take a cable car down the hill where we were to watch a movie on the history of Rosh Ha'Nikrah, look over the border into Lebanon (which was so close I could actually check in to the country on my iPhone), and then head off towards Zichron Yaakov.
|Cable car ride down the hill|
|Outside of the Rosh Ha'Nikrah caves|
|The Sea border with Lebanon! Ahlan Lubnan!|
Like I said, when we reached the bottom of the hill we were off to see a film on the history of Rosh Ha'Nikrah, which included some various legends about a bride who did not want to marry and so threw herself off of the cliffs, the science behind the formation of the caves embedded in the white stones of the area, wildlife that are native to the Rosh Ha'Nikrah shores, and so on. Actually the movie was quite impressive. Before this experience I never thought you could make a semi-educational film on nature seem like soft core porn, but as the video countlessly explained, the caves were formed because of a love affair between the ocean and the rocks, a love affair that is sometimes soft and sweet, and at other times violent and raging, and at that point I found out that I was wrong... Way to go whoever made that film, what an accomplishment! I don't think the people in front of us quite appreciated our laughter when these moments would arise, but it really was hard to control sniggering a bit. When the film was over we were allowed to enter the caves and see first hand the astounding beauty of the underground marvels. It was a sight to be seen.
|One of the caves|
|Morgan and me inside the caves|
|In one of the passage ways|
|Last view of Rosh Ha'Nikrah|
|The MAMES gang at Rosh Ha'Nikrah|
After we had our fill of the caves it was back up onto the cable cars and off to the town of Zichron Yaakov. I have to say that since moving to Tel Aviv there hasn't been many places in Israel I could seriously see myself living in. I love Jerusalem, but at the end of the day there is nothing like coming home to the bustle of Tel Aviv. However, when I was in the quaint town of Zichron Yaakov I couldn't help but feel that one day, when I have a family and desire something a little more aesthetic and quite, this could be a place I would have no problem living. It reminded me a great deal of California and it has turned out to be one of my favorite places in Israel thus far. When we first arrived we were given a little background on the town, at which point many of us took the opportunity to rest a little, and then we were given about an hour of free time to walk around the town, eat some lunch, and then head back to the bus.
|Rest time when we first arrived at Zichron Yaakov|
|Mural at the entrance to the city|
|Walking around gorgeous Zichron Yaakov|
|I could absolutely live here!|
As we walked around looking into various shops and restaurants a group of us finally settled on a cute little home-style cafe, had a leisurely lunch, and enjoyed the splendor of the town. It was a beautiful day so we decided to sit outside and it was a perfect afternoon. I really have not taken to a town like this since I have moved to Tel Aviv, and though at the present it seems a bit too subdued and quite, and because I am young and in love with the crazy life of the big city, one day this might just be the perfect place to live... One day when life could stand to be a bit more quite :-). During lunch I made a little feline friend who wouldn't leave my side (no doubt because I kept giving him some bread... I am a sucker for all animals and I don't even really like cats), had a great time with my classmates, and was thoroughly sad to be leaving the quaint town so quickly.
|Our beautiful lunch cafe|
|My lunch date!|
The last stop on the trip had now approached and we made our way to the famous Tishbi winery for a tour and some wine tasting! I couldn't think of a more perfect end to an already amazing trip. When we arrived at the winery (which was very, very close to Zichron Yaakov) we met with our guide and began our tour of the facility. At first he explained about the history of the land and how it was given to two settlers who arrived in Israel during the first Aliyah by the Baron Rothchild himself. They cultivated grapes for years and years to sell to other wineries, and finally, in 1984, their great grandchild established their own winery. After we heard about the history of the winery the guide showed us the various machines used to make wine, including the cellar that held the wooden barrels where the higher end wines are aged to tasty perfection. When we entered the barrel room I was overcome by the smell of wine and brandy, and was fascinated by this whole process. Wine making really is a science and I had no idea until hearing the guide's explanations.
|The wine barrels|
After the barrel room it was off to the wine tasting room that also housed the fancy machine that makes their signature brandy. We were told about the process to make brandy, explained to that Tishbi brandy was aged something like 18 years and voted best brandy in the world some 3 or 4 times, and sells for 1,600 shekels a bottle (roughly 400 dollars). After hearing about the brandy it was off to taste the wine. We were able to taste 2 whites, 2 reds, and a dessert wine which was mixed with their famous brandy, and then we had the option of buying more tastings or sampling some of their gourmet chocolate. Not being the biggest fan of alcohol I immediately went for the chocolate and ended up buying a tasty treat as a souvenir of my trip. Most people bought wine but I felt my money would be much better spent on chocolate!
|Part of my purchases! The other half was already eaten :-)|
After a wonderful afternoon it was finally time to head back to Tel Aviv. I was so sad to see the trip end but was very happy to get back to town. It was a fantastic trip but I was ready to be home. When I finally got home I had just enough time to unpack and take a quick shower and then I was off to see Frenchy. As soon as I got to his place I suddenly didn't miss the North as much anymore, my beautiful Muslim from the north didn't seem as gorgeous, and I was able to unwind and get a good night sleep
:-D. Thankfully we were both exhausted so by 9:30 it was time for bed. I felt a bit like a grandmother but after the events of the weekend it wasn't so bad sleeping early!
Today I woke up bright and early for Ulpan, had a great class, and now, much to my misery, have to turn my attention to a take home final that I have absolutely no interest in whatsoever, and the thought of spending any of my precious time on such a thing makes me a bit glum. But alas, I must do what I must do, so plug away at it I shall, and I will be very thankful on Thursday when I can be finished with it and on to much more stimulating things... Like pretty much anything else...
And so the accounts of my Northern adventures have concluded and I can't wait to plan my next visit up to some of the amazing places I was able to experience on this trip. I had a wonderful time and am so thankful I had the opportunity to go.
Until we meet again, ya chaverim!