Friend-filled week

This has been one of the most fun and busiest weeks we have had in Israel, filled with visits from friends.

It started last Saturday (John’s birthday) when Mary, Jimmy and Will came over to have brunch at Benedict’s with John, Jimmi and me.

Later that night, we hosted a great birthday dinner at John’s favorite new restaurant, A Place for Meat (delicious steaks). Here’s our group:

Jimmi, Howard, Petit, Jess, John, Jen, Ramona, Ben











Sunday, John, Jimmi and I hopped in the truck and headed north for our favorite Golan-Galil tour. We added Mt. Tabor Winery to our stop. It’s at the foot of Mt. Tabor where some people believe the transfiguration of Jesus took place (I was surprised to see a mountain in Israel named after a mountain in Arkansas where my mom was born! Just kidding.)

We had a good lunch at Kibbutz Ein Gev on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. They have delicious fish (I had smoked trout), and it was lovely to sit next to the water in a pretty setting.

Smoked trout at Ein Gev











Afterwards, we checked into our cabin at Vered Hagalil and watched the sun set over the lake.

Monday morning, Jimmi and I took a quick trip down the hill to the Mount of the Beatitudes, which was even more crowded than last time.

Parking lot at Mount of the Beatitudes










We drove over to Rosh Pina, a charming town built on a steep hillside, where we wandered around art galleries and jewelry shops, and admired their assortment of artistic and comical cats.

In an artist's garden

Cute cross-eyed cat, Rosh Pina




















We pulled off the road to explore a tranquil Jewish cemetery, where I was fascinated by this grave decorated with gnomes.

Gnomes in the cemetery











We made our usual stops at Galil Mountain and Dalton wineries to re-stock our supply, stopped in Jish for a good Arab lunch, wound around the Sea of Galilee at sunset, then headed home.

Jimmi went to Jerusalem on Tuesday to visit our friends there and do some siteseeing, and John and I went back to work. We went to a fun Marine party on Thursday night.

Friday was a holiday, so John and I walked up to the arts and crafts market and moseyed around, then had brunch at a cute cafe. When Jimmi got back to town from Jerusalem in the early afternoon, she and I repeated the outing, and also walked through the regular market next door, where Jimmi had a yummy wrap made by Druze women – they were baking thin bread over a rounded convex pan, then stuffed it with hummus, cheese, and spices and wrapped it up burrito style.

While we were out shopping, John went to the airport to pick up our friend Justin from Barcelona. Friday night, we all went to Whitehall for dinner, then sat on the beach and had a glass of wine.

Sadly, Jimmi headed back to Calgary Saturday morning. John, Justin and I headed out for a whirlwind tour of Israel, since Justin headed back to Spain before the sun came up this morning. Click for more photos from Jimmi’s trip.

Justin is a huge war and history buff, so he was elated to stop at the Israeli Tank Museum. I mean, he really loved it. He can tell you all kind of details about tanks. Lots. Believe me.

John and Justin










I have to admit, I had fun, too!

Jeeps, too!











Then we spent several hours in the Old City in Jerusalem, walking through the crowded market. We went to the Wailing Wall, and got a pretty close look at the Dome of the Rock. And we saw most of the stations of the cross.

Dome of the Rock










From there, we headed east toward the Jordan border, and stopped along the way so Justin could have his picture made on a camel. He said it was terrifying.

Justin and the camel, outside of Jerusalem










We took Highway 90 north through the West Bank. While we are not allowed to be in the West Bank, we can drive on this highway through it. It was a very interesting experience – landscape is stark and brown, not many towns to be seen, goat herders living in tents along the side of the road, etc. Before returning to green line Israel, we had to pass through Israeli security where we went to secondary for brief, but additional, screening.

Then, within minutes we were back in the fertile valley south of the Sea of Galilee as the sun started to set. We found an old battle site off the beaten path and we poked around the remains of the trenches and bunkers that faced the Golan Heights and beyond to Jordan.

Old military site in the Golan Heights










We drove for a bit through the high Golan, which was a completely different experience in the dark, being able to see the lights outlining the lake and all of the towns and villages in Israel, Jordan and Syria.

Click for more photos from Justin’s visit.

Then home, pooped! Justin was gone by the time we woke up this morning, and we got word that Jimmi had arrived back in Calgary. We’re so lucky to have good friends here in Israel, and also around the world to come visit!

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