A Travellerspoint blog

Israel

Jerusalem at Christmas and Chanukkah

We got to Jerusalem and parked at Mamilla mall, then headed to the old city. First, we were greeted by a small Chanukkah light show on the wall of the old city. Then, when we got to the New Imperial Hotel (just inside the walls), we were greeted with a Christmas tree and tons of Christmas decorations. The atmosphere was fabulously festive! We walked around a bit, and even found a place serving poutine! I love the feel of old city at night!

The hotel we are staying in is quite nice. It is well-decorated and with the heat, we were able to keep pretty warm, which was surprising considering the age of the building. The breakfast had a wide selection and was quite good. It's a little more expensive than where we usually stay, but it was also nicer and in a better location.

The next morning, we headed to the Kotel and then walked around Old City. The Jewish Quarter homes all had Chanukkah menorahs out in little boxes outside the homes. Armenian Quarter was all dressed up for Christmas. Muslims were coming to pray at Dome of the Rock for Friday prayers. The city was just swimming with joy. We made a stop at the Mehane Yehuda market, which was packed, as is typical for a Friday. We were there too early to get the great deals, but we did get some veggies cheaper than we can get at home.

For those looking for something more modern to do: The weekend before this one, we went to an escape room in Tel Aviv- Questomania. We played a game where we were bank robbers. We definitely needed some hints in order to complete the quest, but in the end, we succeeded. It was a lot of fun. I can't say whether it was better or worse than other escape rooms, but I can recommend it.

Light show on old city wall

Light show on old city wall


Kotel

Kotel


Church

Church

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Green Green hike

Today, we went out and hiked from a moshav called Ilanyia. The trail we started on is actually a biking trail, so it's suitable for bikes, people who have less-even footing, and strollers. There are a few hilly areas where it isn't completely flat, but overall, it's an easy walk.

It starts out by some ruins that appear to be an old mikveh,

and then heads out into farmland, before going through some forest.

The weather was gorgeous, the flowers and butterflies were out, and the hike was extremely green. Even though there are official lookout points, picnic sites with tables, and an entrance to the area that is closer to a main road than where we got on, we didn't see too many people. At the end, we hiked part of the "Gospel Trail" that was marked with an anchor, in addition to the normal striping that marks all trails here. Overall, the hike was very pleasant. We were out for about 3.5 hours to do the whole circle, but it felt like much less.

gospel trail marker

gospel trail marker


flowers

flowers


view

view


green like a crayon

green like a crayon


ruins

ruins


view

view

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Canada center

On Friday, we headed north. Our first stop was a roadside restaurant that advertised knaffe. I love knaffe. Their knaffe wasn't the best ever, but it wasn't the worst I've had either. And even bad knaffe is good, so I was happy. We continued in the rain to a little airbnb apartment in Misgav Am. The apartment was cute and cozy. It was a great place to cuddle in the warmth while listening to the storm outside. Due to the thunder and lightning, as well as our late lunch at the knaffe place, we didn't really get out for dinner until around 9. Pretty much nothing in Kiryat Shmona is open at that time on a Friday night, but by driving south, we found some restaurant at a gas stop. The food was actually pretty good.- good enough that I was happy to bring leftovers back for first breakfast. Second breakfast, although it was more like lunchtime, was from a restaurant in Metula. If you drive past the Canada Center, it just has a sign that says "cafe restaurant," and I'm not even sure if it has a name. It was pretty fancy on the insidde though. The walls were full of art, and stained glass lamps were scattered all about. Tbe food was pretty typical Israeli breakfast- cheeses, shakshuka, salad. It filled me up, but I wasn't overfull. That was a good state, since Canada Center is an activity center that does require movement. We saved on our all-inclusive passes by preordering online, but that didn't really save us time at the counter, just money. There was so much included, we didn't really know where to start. Bowling seemed as good a place as any, so we did that first. The lanes felt a bit shorter than usual, and the balls were pretty beat up, but otherwise, it was regular bowling, just like anywhere else. Next, we tried out the iceskating. Their skates are more like hockey skates than figure skates, but worked just fine for me. Despite the ice being pretty torn up and full of little snow piles, I had a great time skating. Next, we watched their "7D" movie. It's a 3D movie, but the chairs shake like amusement park rides, and they randomly spray air at you. It was nice to see, but if it's not part of your package, I wouldn't pay extra for it, unless you were bringing kids. After the movie, we played pool for a while. Again, the equipment wasn't top-notch, but we had fun. Finally, we went to the pool and jacuzzi. I was surprised that they let kids in the jacuzzis. When they were being calm, the jacuzzis were very pleasant and relaxing.

From the Canada Center, we headed further north to the Dodo lookout point. We sat in the calm cold and watched the snow-capped mountains in the distance. It was a pleasant end to a nice little break.

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Nazareth

Today, I had to bring a few guests from work out for a short tour, so we headed to Nazareth. We had just enough time to see the Basilica of the Annunciation, stop for souvenirs, and then grab schwarma, hummus, and falafel. We got dropped at the circle near the basilica and walked up to the entrance. It's free to get in, and quite beautiful. The walls are covered in gorgeous mosaics and art from all over the world. The ceilings and architecture are incredibly impressive. And it lets out into a courtyard from which you can see some ancient ruins. If we had more time and were there not between noon and 2, we could have seen the grotto as well, but we weren't. So, we walked back down to the circle, and got distracted on the way by one of the souvenir shops. The guys wanted to get some stuff to bring back to the states, and also one of the I (heart) Jesus shot glasses. They almost didn't try to negotiate, but I fixed that and so they got a slightly better deal than they would have otherwise. On the way out, we stopped for some of the best falafel I've had in a long time. It was soft on the inside and crispy on the outside, and came with all of the usual salads and pickles. Yum!

church of

church of


CHURCH

CHURCH

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Montfort Castle

A little outside of Maalot, you can park and hike to a crusader castle called Montfort. From the parking lot, take the white-red-white trail. It's definitely not for biking or for people who are less stable on their feet, as the trail gets pretty rocky. We headed down the trail until we got to the first lookout point. It was off the path, but the stairs made it clear that we were supposed to climb and explore. From here, we had a great view of the surrounding mountains, as well as our first glimpse of Montfort itself. When we continued on and finally arrived at the castle, we found it to be much bigger than it looked like from the viewpoint. It's several stories high, with several different rooms and areas. I'm not an archaologist, but it was fun to try to figure out what some of the features were used for and where the rest of the building would have been and what it would have looked like in its heyday. Exploring the castle was very interesting, but what was also neat was just sitting at the top and enjoying nature. For a while, we had the castle to ourselves. The green, mountainous vista was amazing, and all we could hear was the wind in the trees and the call of birds. Soooooo peaceful and relaxing. After exploring every nook and cranny of the castle, we continued down the trail to the river. Problem was, when we arrived, we found that the river was bone dry. It was basically just a path made of rounded stones in the middle of the forest. There was a single 4'x2' patch of water hidden away in a corner, but as it was full of some sort of an imal eggs, we weren't going to disturb it. At this point, we were about halfway through with our 4+ liters water, so we headed back. However, it was now close to midday and much hotter than on our way in. Also, the way back was mostly uphill. We took lots of breaks, and were still probably dehydrated a bit. On our way out, we ran into some people who were just starting their hike. Starting at noon on a day in the 90s was not smart, and I am so glad we started early in the morning when the weather wasn't scorching. Fortunately, within a minute of exiting the parking lot, we saw a sign for a restaurant. They had air conditioning, cold drinks, food, and most importantly, air conditioning. We cooled off in the air conditioning and got a bit to eat. The hike was beautiful, fun, and totally worth the heat, but on a hot day, the air conditioning was welcomed.

castle

castle


hiking path

hiking path


"river"

"river"


view

view


montfort

montfort

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Israel Comments (0)

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