Just got back from a great and relaxing weekend in Katzrin, located in the Golan Heights. I was able to use two of my "days off" to extend my normal weekend and stayed with Eli, Elisheva and Ma'Or for 4 nights, so you better believe there was lots of relaxing...and lots and lots of eating! It's so beautiful up there, I'm definitely looking forward already to my next trip there.
Eli had suggested if it was nice out on Friday morning, we'd go out for a hike. It was raining off and on, but we went out for a short time anyway. There's a famous hike called Yehudia, known for its waterfalls and water streams, and so we set out to hike a branch of it called Zavitan. There were lots and lots of rocks on this branch of the hike, so needless to say it was very slippery, especially in my sneakers...I probably would have been fine in my hiking boots. Somehow I managed not to hurt myself or fall at all! We hiked a short ways in, about 20 mins until we got to the first water stream and then headed back...but hopefully I'll have a chance to go back with better sneakers and with dry rocks.
We got back to the house, and their friends Ben and Sarah had arrived, along with their almost-two-year-old son Judah. We all went out to eat at the Golan Brewery and restaurant, definitely someplace I'd go back to. They have a pretty wide-range of food and great burgers. They make four different styles of beer: a wheat-based beer, a Pilsner lager, a standard lager, and a dubbelbach (dark beer). They had a cool promotion - a tasting is 13 NIS, but if you wind up then ordering another beer, you get the tasting for free. We were in a bit of a rush to get back and get ready for Shabbat so I only had time for the tasting...but there's always next time!
Shabbat was very nice and very relaxing, and then Sunday I went to the Katsrin Archaelogical Park, where they have ruins from Talmudic villages dating back to the 3rd Century, CE, and then to a museum that has a topographical model of the Golan Heights, really showing why it's such a strategic advantage to have it because of how high above the Galil and the Kinneret it is.
In the afternoon, Elisheva took me to this town called Yonatan, where she and Eli are starting the process of building their house. It's a really cool, environmentally-friendly concept, and I'm sure I'm not going to get all the details right but I'll do my best. Each family has a certain space allotment and can create its own floorplan for the house, as long it works within the given allotment. The exteriors of the houses are assembled in a factory, including the plumbing and electrical wiring, and are shipped to the site where the house will be, and workers assemble the pieces on site. There are solar panels that go on part of the roof, and - this is the coolest part - the house is self-sufficient in terms of electricity. When the sun shines, the panels store the solar energy for use, and if there's leftover energy, they sell it to the electrical company. Currently, there's one house that's already assembled and being worked on-site (Eli's actually working on it, although it's not their house)
This coming week should be fun - we have two educational days that I think will be very interesting. On Thursday, we're going to Tel Aviv and are learning about various aspects of the Israeli Defense Forces. We'll be hearing from a professor who drafted the IDF's Rules of Conduct, a member of Knesset who has previously worked as an IDF spokesman, a journalist who covers the IDF, and a Vice Commander of the Armored Division. Then we'll get to tour an army base (not sure which one yet). Then on Sunday, we'll be in Jerusalem to learn about how the Knesset works (or doesn't), we're going to meet with the editor in chief of the Jerusalem Post, and a few other things too.
That's about it - I'm attaching a link to pics from the weekend...enjoy!