Leaving Jerusalem

Today is our last day in Jerusalem and we were ready to go at 8:20 after checking out of the Arthur Hotel. We met our guide for today, Ofir, a friend of Ron’s, at Shamai St. at the Harmony Hotel, one of the other Atlas Properties in Jerusalem. He had a big van with extra luggage containers and all our stuff fit, including the new menorah and some artwork. We began our drive out of Jerusalem, on the same road as we traveled yesterday, past the same Bedouin boy and camel, but this time we didn’t stop for a photo. The drive took quite a while and as we passed Bedouin camps with goats, and other items of interest, Ofir narrated a history and culture of the area. The most complicated thing for us to understand was the ABC zones, which described who lived where and what the rules were regarding where each could and could not go. Finally we got to Beit She’an and we walked all around looking at the ruins, seeing the Tel (the hill where things get buried) and learning all about these exquisite Roman ruins, including the beautiful bathhouse, theater, shopping area and toilets!

Afterward we ate lunch at what appeared to be a local strip mall where we had meat (shawarma was a specialty, Scott and I had ground meat kebabs of beef and lamb) with salads and freshly-made pita. Then we stopped for gelato, which rivaled any we’ve had even in Italy – dense, creamy, with unusual flavors. I had date/banana and passion fruit – yum! Next we drove past Yardenit and the Jordan River, Tiberias and then to Tsfat where we walked around the town, saw one of the charming synagogues from the 1500’s and browsed the few shops that were open at the time. We got to our hotel the Ruth Safed (or Ruth Rimonin) a 200-year-old palace turned into a way station and still a hotel. Charming lobby and rooms, and dinner was served in a large, beautiful space overlooking the town. Unfortunately, the buffet which cost $60 pp was ample but nothing was particularly good, unlike our excellent food at the hotel in Jerusalem. We’ll meet Ofir again in the morning for the next part of our tour.

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