It was a beautiful Shabbat, and we had just hiked in Gal Ad Reservoir, one of the most beautiful spring hikes you can take in Israel. Everything is blooming. On a weekday, it would be empty, but on Shabbat, hundreds of families were hiking, picnicking, and playing in the water. Truth is, I didn't even know this place existed!
This winter has been unusually cold. For those of you in Europe and most of America, you would think we are babies. It never actually got below freezing in Tel Aviv, but because our homes are made of stone and concrete, it insulates the cold. It takes about a week of warm weather for your home to warm up. Even today, April 23, my floor is freezing, and it was 90 degrees this week.
This weekend was the first hot weekend we have had since fall. Israelis streamed out of their home (despite the newest wave of terror). Israelis love the outdoors. Spring is amazing here because it does not rain from about now until next fall. By June, everything will be brown. :-(
But for the next two months, we will enjoy the most beautiful time of the year. Elana and I stumbled upon Gal Ad Reservoir by accident. We were looking for another hiking area when the "The Sound of Music" jumped out at us. We parked and explored. We are always looking for new places to take our tour groups.
I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
Another great place we found was Gamla. I had heard of Gamla, known as the first Masada or Masada of the north, but had no idea how amazing it was or that it had the highest waterfall in Israel. We were blown away. Check out the pics and video, and then read the story below about Gamla.
In 66 CE, led by the zealots, the people of Israel rebelled against the Romans. They had little hope of winning, going against the greatest empire the world would know. Most people know of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by General Titus. Over 1,000,000 Jews were killed.
Few people know of #GAMLA. Gamla is often referred to as the Masada of the north because many of its soldiers and residents chose suicide over slavery. In all, 9,000 were killed by the Romans at Gamla. At first, the Jews, under the leadership of Yosef ben Matityahu, stuck a victorious blow to the Romans. But the Romans regrouped and sacked the city.
General Vespasian (Titus's father who would become emperor) granted Yosef ben Matityahu his freedom and even gave him his family name after Josephus's prophecy about Vespasian becoming Caesar came to pass. He changed his name to Flavius Josephus—becoming a traitor but also the primary source of history from that time along with the New Testament. Today it is a beautiful hike leading to Israel's tallest waterfall.
I was not aware, but Gamla is home to nearly 100 vultures!
"The main attraction of Gamla is the huge vultures it is home to. From the main entrance, a 600-yard Vulture Trail leads to a bird-watching post which sits right on the cliff-face…on average [they are] ten feet in length! Even far in the distance, the size of these birds makes them highly visible. As they soar through the air, don't be surprised if, as they fly overhead, they cast a huge shadow over your heads, and as they look down, you might even catch sight of the whites of their eyes.
Living in Tel Aviv, the New City of Israel, we can forget the rest of the country—how beautiful it is. Elana always makes sure to do several hiking trips every spring. Our kids were not big fans as they were growing up when we forced them on these tiyulim (Hebrew for hikes), but now in their 30s, they invite us to come.
Young people (and some older folks) like to high the Shvil Yisrael, the Israel National Trail. The 1,000-kilometer trail that was inaugurated in 1995 extends from Northern Israel near the border of Lebanon all the way to our southern coastal city, Eilat. As you can see, it goes by the beach in Tel Aviv, then over to Jerusalem, and then through the desert.
Parents will often come and meet their kids on the trail, bringing them food and love. The hike typically lasts 45-60 days.
If we could get enough people, one of these days, Elana and I would love to host a tour that focused on hiking through Israel. Any interest?