Tag Archives: Golan

Every teardrop is a waterfall

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Our recent Sukkot holiday found us in one of the most beautiful areas of Israel. In the foothills of the Golan a series of rivers snake through the cliffs and canyons providing welcome relief to the searing heat in the summer and dramatic deluges in the winter and spring. The Hermon is Israel’s highest mountain, bordering Syria and at the edge of Lebanon. It’s hard to believe that this beauty and majesty is the backdrop to wars and terror. The fields in this area are fenced and signs warn of unexploded mines from past conflicts. Disused buildings are peppered with bullet holes and the army presence is hard to ignore. But on a beautiful day, when the sky is blue the colours are alive and fish and crabs that live in the clear waters swim peacefully it is good to take a breath, drink in the scenery and try to forget man’s cruelty and the sadness it brings and let nature do the talking.

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Ging gang gooley

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When Israelis go away for the weekend they stay in zimmers (or they camp but that’s a pretty dusty/sandy experience).   Zimmer comes from the German word and has been adopted by Israel, pronounced tsimmer in Israeli-speak and is a little self contained cottage usually set in a small garden in a rural community. Zimmers in Israel range from the most basic – bed, bathroom, small kitchen to the most decadent 5 star luxury with separate bedroom and living room, fully equipped kitchen, jacuzzi, state of the art sound system.  One thing they all have in common is that they are a fantastic escape and are fiendishly expensive, think London hotel prices.  Yet, like many luxuries in Israel people pay the price because there is no alternative.

In our family we refer to zimmers as wooden houses (bite me etz) as these little cottages would not look out of place on the set of Heidi.  In fact once we went to a zimmer with the kids and they were highly disappointed to discover it was stone built.

In the days before the childers the zimmer experience was a romantic getaway, candlelight, jacuzzis and complementary wine.  In a country with a shortage of water like Israel’s, a bath, let alone a jacuzzi has always struck me as a decadence that the country (and it’s residents) can ill afford but it is a luxury that most Israeli’s wouldn’t dream of having at home so a little treat on your hols seems acceptable.  Nowadays our holiday jacuzzi holds as many small children as we can fit to have one giant bath experience.  Woe betide the person who turns the jacuzzi on though as tears and shrieks of terror are sure to follow.

I have mentioned in previous posts about our twice yearly trips en masse with a few families, many childers and a large cheese and wine selection to a group of zimmers.  We book a place to fit all the families and no more, and have an experience not unlike the scout camps from youth; cooking together, eating together, sitting around the camp-fire, toasting marshmallows, singing tunelessly to hubby’s guitar.  During the day we take short trips, sightseeing, mini-trekking and return to our ‘camp’ with tired kids to dip in the pool, drink turkish coffee (botz) and generally put the world to rights.  Once the childers are safely bedded down, exhausted from fresh air and new experiences, more wine comes out, the guitar is open to requests and the hidden stash of choc is miraculously found.

We are incredibly lucky to have a great group of like-minded friends who we go with.  If the time ever comes that we were to leave Israel it is these trips with this bunch that I will miss the most.

view towards the Golan

view towards the Golan

This Succhot’s trip was to one of Israel’s most stunning areas, The foothills of the Golan, overlooking the Sea of Galilee.  The small village we stayed in had a spectacular view across the water towards Tiberias.  We were moments away from the Gamla valley where Griffon Vultures make their home.  Armed with binoculars this is a trip a birdwatcher would salivate over.  In fact on my parent’s very first trip to Israel 9 years ago we took them to Gamla and my Dad still talks about it.  Convinced as he was that Israel was all sand and camels, the green of the Galilee  and Golan in April with the added bonus of these gigantic scavengers (their wing span is 280cm) has firmly remained in his mind as one of the most beautiful experiences.

image courtesy of wikipedia.com

image courtesy of wikipedia.com

Now I won’t tell you once again how beautiful the country is, you can read about it here, what I will say is that when life seems a little like groundhog day, when the grind of work, child rearing, housekeeping, decision making gets you down, a few days away can certainly remind you that a change is indeed as good as a rest.  You should try it, at home or perhaps in Israel.