In the beginning of the day, we walked around on the ramparts surrounding the Armenian Quarter. It was a great sight to see around the city on the rolling hills, as well as seeing the cool gates from the different periods of Jerusalem’s different occupations. There was a bar mitzvah by the last tower we were on which was very cool.
We woke up today feeling far more refreshed and ready to spend the full day out and about, whereas we had been up for about 36 hours yesterday. Once we filled up on a delicious Israeli breakfast, we got on the bus and went for a walking tour around the Old City. We discussed the history of Jerusalem with a demonstration of stacked hats, much to the interest of the nearby tourists.
Our first day of our Israel trip, we stumbled off our plane and into a coach bus headed straight towards Neot Kedumim, a biblical landscape full of ancient ruins and herds of sheep and goats. We first were taken by a lively tour guide around the landscape to where farmers used to crush their grapes in preparation for wine. The tour guide told us stories about the once abundant vineyards and legends about the grape crushing escapades of the Devil and Noah, all while standing on an original pit used to stomp grapes dating back thousands of years.
Today was an incredible day because we finally arrived in Tel Aviv. We started our day by traveling back 130 years to the first colony of modern Israel named after the father of the main benefactor, Yakov Rothschild. This was where the ultra-orthodox families from Europe settled and began work in agriculture. We then walked around the colony for a little but then ran to get ice cream from Aldo. We played on the playground for a bit and then got back on the bus.
What a great day! After waking up bright and early and saying goodbye to kibbutz shomrat, we got on the bus and headed for the great city of Haifa. After a short bus ride, we arrived in the Bahai Gardens, an array of beautiful trees and flowers built in the Carmel mountains. The gardens are sacred to the Bahai religion, and are also a tourist destination for people who just want to see pretty things. After we had taken in those sights, we attempted to enter the Bahai temple, but it was closed and we were denied entry.
Today we took a trip to Rosh Hanikra along Israel's northern border with Lebanon. We discussed the geopolitics of the border and then took a cable car down to where the white cliffs met the Mediterranean Sea. We walked through the natural grottos that were carved out of the cliffs by the water.
This morning we departed from the Ohalo manor and ventured to the city of Tzfat. We first visited an artist who drew his inspiration from Kabbalah. He made many artistic pieces based on kabbalistic ideas of Judaism, for example the sounds of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah. We then saw two musicians who played very obscure instruments such as a 'bell drum'. After this interesting experience, we visited the synagogue of Rabbi Isaac Luria which is considered to be the oldest, still-functioning Jewish synagogue in the world and learned about its history. We then were given a few hours of free time in the city. During this time we were able to explore all of the cracks and crevices of the city and our cultural surroundings.
To start off our morning, we went on a hike through the cool waters near the Sea of Galilee. After enjoying a game of "water baseball," we all headed to Capernaum where we walked along the same pavement that Jesus had. Next, our bus driver, Sveka, drove us to a camp called "Scouts..." At the camp, children of all ages slept in structures built by the campers who were 13 years or older. One of our favorite structures was a giant dragon that's mouth would open and it's arms would reveal the Israeli flag. After viewing all the amazing structures, we split into groups to learn how to tie knots just like the scouts. Once we finished learning about their six-day experience, we went on a boat ride! We danced to "Rather Be," ate watermelon, and laughed all the way through.
Today we explored the northernmost part of Israel, the Golan Heights. We began our morning with a drive through the mountains to Bania. There we embarked on a long hike, where we walked alongside a small creek, dipping our feet in the water and taking in the beautiful landscape surrounding us. As the day became increasingly hot, we were glad to finally reach our destination, the Bania Waterfall. After a lot of walking, suddenly a roaring waterfall was before us. The Bania Waterfall feeds into a bright blue pool, which is teeming with fish. In the end, all of our hiking and sweating was absolutely worthwhile!