We headed back up north this weekend to explore the Central and Western Galilee. It included one of the biggest thrills of the trip so far!
First stop Saturday morning was the ancient city of Acre (Akko), an ancient port city with a rich history. It’s best known now for its ancient crusader fortress and bustling Arab market.
(Michael) There were cool flags where Jacob wanted to take a picture and I did too. I don’t know why those flags were there. For the anchor, it must have been a big boat because it looks like a big anchor.
We toured the inside of the fortress and the infamous prison.
The inside of an elaborate Turkish Bath:
Below are a few examples of time-period games on display.
(Michael) You can’t really see this game but I can tell you about it because you put a ball in a vase and you lift it without putting it in the small holes, only the big ones. For the other game, you can see there are hooks on it and you try to get the ring onto the hooks.
(Allison) We saw lots of really cool and fun games the kids played with back then.
(Jacob) There were a bunch of different, interesting games that the Crusader kids played. Some reminded me of games we play now, such as checkers and ring-toss. Others were strange that used ropes and pulleys.
(Michael) This is me and mommy sharing a pomegranate juice.
(Michael) When I was walking here I found something I like. It was a windmill. There were stores everywhere. There was so much stuff.
(Allison) On our way back to the car we stopped at lots of markets. They had a lot of stuff. I got a dog that can walk automatically.
(Jacob) We saw a bunch of cool shops that reminded us of the Arab Market in Jerusalem.
This underground tunnel was a secret passageway that led from the inside of the walled city to the harbor. It was only recently discovered.
After lunch in Acre, we drove to Ein Hardalit for a beautiful water hike through the Nahal Kziv stream.
(Allison) We went on this hike with water. It was difficult some of the time because it was hard to see the bottom and there were lots of big rocks.
(Jacob) We walked through many different pools of water. We could climb through trees and even put our head under water coming out of a pipe. I had a walking stick that I made into a swing.
We ended our day with a visit to Rosh Hanikra, a geological formation on the boarder between Israel and Lebanon located on the Mediterranean coast. It’s a white chalk cliff face which opens up into spectacular grottos.
(Michael) We took the gondola down and went through a water tunnel. The waves were so big that they splashed everybody.
(Allison) We went into a cable car and went down and stopped at caves. The caves were really cool. There were a lot of big waves that came in and splashed us. After that we got popcorn.
(Jacob) Because of a storm way out at sea, there were giant waves. It was extremely rare. Allie and I stood where the waves were really big so that we could get splashed.
The border with Lebanon. This is one of the main access gates used during the last conflict.
We stayed in a very “Israeli” hotel this weekend. We may have been the only non-Israelis staying there and there were very few staff members that spoke English. We experienced many subtle (and some non-subtle) differences. During breakfast each morning, the “Cheese Man” would come through with his cart offering up a broad selection of cheeses.
(Allison) At our hotel restaurant there was a cheese man that came to every table and I got gouda cheese.
The morning began with a visit to the fortress of Daher El Omar, ruler of the Galilee in the 18th century. In addition to being an interesting and historic structure to tour, a large portion of the fortress has been converted to an “Escape the Fort” game. It’s about an hour-long challenge for the kids to collect clues and solve riddles in effort to escape!
(Michael) We had to unlock chests. We went through lasers that were very cool.
(Allison) We went to an escape room and there were all these clues on how to open the boxes. We also went into this dark room and we had to go under lasers. When we got out we got popsicles.
(Jacob) We had a bunch of different challenges. For example, there was braille and a decoder. Once we decoded the braille, it was the combination to one of the locks. There were also codes hidden inside of various instruments that we found like a drum and tambourine.
After a successful “escape”, we explored the remainder of the fortress.
And then… one of the highlights to date! We all went repelling down Keshet Cave, also known as Rainbow Cave. It was an incredible thrill and even scarier than it looks in the photos! NOTE: It was 100% safe. Redundant systems throughout. But it was scary. And we were very impressed that each kid was determined to overcome his/her fear. They were all very proud of themselves!
Getting briefed and prepped:
Jacob goes first!
(Jacob) When I was at the top, I looked over and was like “whoa!”. I let out a little rope and started to repel down the side of the rock face. Once I got to the end of the rock and was dangling, I felt more comfortable and tried to go faster but the guy at the top slowed me down. Once everyone else in the family came down, we started the hike back up. It was super cool and a little dangerous. We were walking on the edge of the cliff hundreds of feet high.
Then it was Allison’s turn.
(Allison) It was so much fun! At first it was so scary. The scariest part was leaning back and walking down the wall. Then it wasn’t scary and was really fun. I’m so glad I did it!
(Michael) I was scared because I was scared of leaning back. But then I fed the monster (that’s how the instructor explained adding more rope) and went down. It was so fun!
Daddy went as well, but he had the camera with him so that he could photograph everyone else. We then had to hike back up. It was a very difficult and also quite scary trek back up the side of the mountain.
We wrapped up the day with a glass making/decorating workshop at Kibbutz Hanita. We had the opportunity to work directly with Dani Kalderon whose artwork is displayed around the world.
(Michael) When I painted the glass plates, I painted them so fast I got to make three.
(Allison) We got to paint glass plates and bowls. We used a spinning thing that let us paint spiral designs.
(Jacob) At first the guy showed us how glass is made and shaped. Then he showed us the tool that spins the glass. We put our brush on it and slowly moved it out so that the paints mixed in a spiral into a beautiful blend. It was really interesting how he makes all these cool designs.
A much appreciated and relatively relaxing dinner at a local “farm to table” restaurant. We invited our guide to join us. It was a nice way to end another very active and busy weekend: