Kibbutzes and Hikes and Syria, Oh My!

Kibbutzes and Hikes and Syria, Oh My! | mysticsister.net

A couple weeks ago I went up north to the Golan with my group. I apologize for the serious delay in my trip and this blog post, but I had a lot of photos, and I wanted to edit them and make them pretty for you all. Also (mainly) Israel basically goes on holiday for a month so everyone can celebrate Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah. So I was on vacation and was being a little lazy. Again, sorry.

That being said, if you've never been to the Golan, you should definitely visit it sometime. Israel is such an incredibly diverse place for such a small country, and the Golan gorgeous change from the stone streets of Jerusalem.

We spent two days exploring the north of Israel. We went to Lake Kinneret and swam in its calm waters and visited a chocolate factory where we made our own chocolate (which I devoured, by the way). We visited an old cemetery and learned about some of the first settlers and farmers in the north of Israel. We spent the night sleeping in a tent in a small farming community, and the next morning we set out on a thigh-murdering hike. We ate wild berries and pomegranates and swam in natural pools under waterfalls, and I made friends with some bees who wanted my lunch. We went to an olive oil press and a winery, both of which had delicious samples for us. We went up to Mount Bental, which overlooks the Syrian border. We met some UN observers, and I spoke with one of them about his experiences. He's from the Danish army, and he was based on the Syrian side of the border until the kidnapping of UN peacekeepers took place. Needless to say, he was happy to be moved to the Israeli side of the border.

Israel is a complicated place. No one is disputing that. But it is also a place rich in culture and experiences, and I wish that people would give it more of a chance. Yes, it's a little crazy that I stood on Israel's border with Syria and spoke to UN observers about the Syrian civil war and the insanity that is ISIS, but I also washed my face with a soap made from pressed olives and tried tea and homemade honey from a Druze (a religious and ethnic group in the Middle East) man. How often do you get the chance to do all (or any) of these things?

I am getting so much out of my trip here, but I hope you all will get something out of it too. I hope to show you all that Israel is a wonderful place. It has its problems, but it also has so many incredible things to offer, and I hope you all get the opportunity to come here one day.

We had to stop the bus because this bedouin was herding his goats across the road. Totally casual.

We had to stop the bus because this bedouin was herding his goats across the road. Totally casual.

Kibbutzes and Hikes and Syria, Oh My! | mysticsister.net
Lake Kinneret is pretty freaking beautiful.

Lake Kinneret is pretty freaking beautiful.

Kibbutzes and Hikes and Syria, Oh My! | mysticsister.net
Kibbutzes and Hikes and Syria, Oh My! | mysticsister.net
Kibbutzes and Hikes and Syria, Oh My! | mysticsister.net
"The site is closed to visitors!" We went in anyway to get a closer look at the oldest synagogue ever discovered. And also to take this mischievous picture.

"The site is closed to visitors!" We went in anyway to get a closer look at the oldest synagogue ever discovered. And also to take this mischievous picture.

Kibbutzes and Hikes and Syria, Oh My! | mysticsister.net
Kibbutzes and Hikes and Syria, Oh My! | mysticsister.net
Kibbutzes and Hikes and Syria, Oh My! | mysticsister.net
Kibbutzes and Hikes and Syria, Oh My! | mysticsister.net
Kibbutzes and Hikes and Syria, Oh My! | mysticsister.net
We kept running into this couple on the trail. We affectionately named them Our Favorite Couple.

We kept running into this couple on the trail. We affectionately named them Our Favorite Couple.

This is Anaelle. She is a joy to be around, in case you didn't realize from this adorable photo of her.

This is Anaelle. She is a joy to be around, in case you didn't realize from this adorable photo of her.

Kibbutzes and Hikes and Syria, Oh My! | mysticsister.net
This is Dorit. I think she looks like a mermaid in this picture.

This is Dorit. I think she looks like a mermaid in this picture.

Look out J.J. Abrams, here I come. #epiclensflare

Look out J.J. Abrams, here I come. #epiclensflare

This is Mario. He was very encouraging during the uphill portion of our hike when I though my lungs and legs were going to give out.

This is Mario. He was very encouraging during the uphill portion of our hike when I though my lungs and legs were going to give out.

Kibbutzes and Hikes and Syria, Oh My! | mysticsister.net
Kibbutzes and Hikes and Syria, Oh My! | mysticsister.net
Kibbutzes and Hikes and Syria, Oh My! | mysticsister.net
Kibbutzes and Hikes and Syria, Oh My! | mysticsister.net
Kibbutzes and Hikes and Syria, Oh My! | mysticsister.net
Bahat Winery

Bahat Winery

Kibbutzes and Hikes and Syria, Oh My! | mysticsister.net
UN soldiers at their post

UN soldiers at their post

Syria, from the Israeli side

Syria, from the Israeli side

Kibbutzes and Hikes and Syria, Oh My! | mysticsister.net