We told Dani and Mike how much we enjoyed Magdala, so they decided to go. As we were planning to walk in the Arbel National Park, it was easy fir yes to drop them off. We had heard about the park on Trip Advisor and the views from the top over Galilee sounded superb. The park seemed well signposted from Magdala and so we turned up the 807 only to get snarled up in some roadworks. In the middle of these was our turning to the park. No problem, we got through and headed up a hillside. No sign if the park. Then we hit a speed bump at some speed (about 30 but it felt much more!). There was no warning and the bumps were cleverly blended into the road, so very hard to see. We crawled up the road and into a housing estate. We are getting used to thus! No sign of the park, so we turned around and came back down over the bumps. The area looked rather run down with a lot of litter and what appeared to be shanty housing on one side of the road. A small car park lay to our right and a green gate which looked like. Belonged to a National Park. We parked the car doing our best to avoid the broken beer bottles littering the area. Still no signs, entry gate, etc.
We walked through the gate, and along beside a small stream and eventually came on some large green notice boards which announced that this was indeed the Arbel N.P.. The path led up the side of the valley at a steep angle. A superb V shaped valley opened up below us and Christine did herself proud by instantly recognising some interlocking spurs! All these years of field trips (holidays) have not been wasted!
The path was well made with steps in places and we zigzagged up the side of the mountain towards the sheer cliffs above us. As we got closer it became clear that there were cave dwellings in the cliff side and a sign eventually pointed to a fortress. We continued around the side of the cliff towards the Sea of Galilee. We could see a party of children on the other path. Around a bend we met a couple and then a few more scrambling down a limestone escarpment. This was our route to the top! While I could probably have scrambled up, Christine decided that it was too much, understandably, not having my long legs, so we turned round and set off back down.
However the views were stunning. We could see Magdala an Capernaum below us. Beautiful cyclamen were growing in the risks all around us.
We met a couple who spoke good English and seemed to have a N.P. map and guide. On further investigation we discovered that the proper park entrance was off a different road at the top of the mountain, and not where we had come in! We had taken the back passage into Arbel. The good news was we had saved 56 shekels, but the bad news was we had probably missed out on some better views down the whole length of the lake.
Oh well, it had still been a great walk and so we happily descended to our car. We both felt in need of a coffee and as we had had a great cup at Magdala yesterday we called in again today. Dani and Mike were still there so we joined them. Unfortunately the Irish woman with verbal diarrhoea had latched on to them, so once we had finished our drinks we offered them an ‘out’ by suggesting a lift into Tiberias. However they were, by now, heavily into the pantheon of Catholic saints, so Dani declined and said they would make their own way home.
Tiberias is a bit like Blackpool with sunshine. However at thus time of year it is comparatively quiet, but still sunny if cool. We decided to visit the old part of the town, but were frankly disappointed as we negotiated rubbish tips and smelly passages that led nowhere. We eventually got onto the prom. which was pleasant enough. It being Friday there were a great deal of Hassidic Jewish families out and about. We had been slightly overrun by them in the morning as they crossed the main road into Tiberias in waves. One of them even stood in the road and said Kaddish in front of the cemetery, the traffic having to dodge around him.
Some had now descended to the beach and to our surprise and amusement were now skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee. Frankly many of them should not have been allowed out their clothes even in their own bedrooms, never mind on a public beach in the middle of a town dedicated to pleasure. Still, we were not the only ones taking pictures (out of disbelief, I should say, not for any salacious reason I can assure you!).
Christine had expressed a desire to go on the Sea of Galilee and as walking was not an option, we managed to find a place that hired out boats for 100 shekels for half an hour. The boat steered like an oil tanker and the motor sounded as though it was suffering from tuberculosis but somehow we managed to chug up and down the Tiberian coastline and enjoy a view of the shore – naked, overweight Jewish men not withstanding.
Safely back in dry land we headed for the town centre but stumbled on a vast marquee to which large numbers of Ultra-Orthodox Jews were hurrying. We have no idea why. Perhaps some charismatic rabbi was in town? Perhaps this happens every sabbath in Tiberias. I suspect we’ll never know.
Once we made it to the town centre we discovered all the shops were shut – the Sabbath, of course! We did find a snack bar open so I ordered falafel in a pitta bread. For a mere 15 shekels it was money well spent as it was delicious!
We got home quite early so Christine suggested the walk down to Yardinet that we had been given the map for when we arrived. It was….interesting, taking us through farmyards, past industrial estates and into a kibbutz. We reached Yardinet and were disappointed that no pilgrims were being baptised. However it is a beautiful part of the Jordan and we watched the catfish and relaxed on the bank. As the sun set, we headed back trying to compete the circuit. This led us along a main road and through a cemetery – presumably for the victims who had tried to walk along said road. We did get a couple of good views of the lake, bu we’re glad when we could head off across a field and into a housing estate on the way home.
I could write a book on Israeli housing estates…….and their lack of road signs.
Back to Tel Aviv tomorrow via Armeggedon. Should be interesting!