When you live in a country that is probably not much bigger than Rhode Island, it is very easy to participate in weekend travel excursions. Not only is Israel small but it is filled to the brim with amazing things to do, fantastic places to see, and every now and then it is just so lovely to escape from the insanity that is life in Tel Aviv. For a long time I have wanted to take Stephane to meet my so-called “extended” family in the North of Israel, and we finally coordinated a weekend that worked for both of our fairly busy schedules. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t so wonderful but nonetheless we headed up North for a Shabbat in Karmiel!
We left Tel Aviv around 11am Friday morning, which put us in the north just after 1:30, and Shabbat dinner wasn’t scheduled until 7pm so we had some time to rest and get acclimated before everyone came over. When we arrived in Karmiel one of my self proclaimed adopted Israeli grandmothers, Michaela, came to pick Stephane and me up and take us to her gorgeous home. I was really excited that we were staying there because it is the same house that my grandparents lived in when they were in Israel some 30+ years ago. When we arrived at Michaela’s house her husband, Menachem, was there to greet us, we settled in, and then had a lovely, very typical Israeli lunch filled with different dips, breads, and delicious spreads. When lunch was finished, and we had all caught up on one another’s lives, Menachem took us on a fantastic driving tour of Karmiel so that Stephane could really see everything! I forgot how beautiful the city is and I was so happy to have the chance to explore the area more (despite the horrendous weather). It didn’t hurt that our tour guide practically built the city (or so my grandmother tells me :-p). We were taken to where olive oil used to be pressed thousands of years ago, an engineering college located in the center of the city, and to places where we could look out and see everything between Karmiel and the port of Haifa.
As the tour continued the weather became increasingly worse so we decided to wrap up and head back home. When we arrived back to the comfort of the warm house Stephane and I had about an hour to rest and get ready for our big Shabbat dinner! At 7 sharp everyone arrived to Menachem and Michaela’s home. Family friends Leah and Yaakov, their daughter, and her new husband all joined us for a fantastic meal filled with potatoes, rice, chicken, brisket, chullent, and more. I have never been in such a food coma, and Stephane was able to further acclimate to Ashkenazic food :-). When dinner was finished we headed into the living room for coffee, tea, desserts, and conversation, and the best part was it was mostly in Hebrew! I love that I’m able to participate without much English anymore, and whenever I travel anywhere with Stephane his language of choice when meeting new people is obviously Hebrew, so it forces me to speak and practice beyond what I normally would do if I were alone.
At around 10:30 or so the food coma was taking it’s toll on the both of us so we were graciously excused to go to sleep. We readied for bed, turned on the heater in the room, and passed out! The next morning, after a wonderful night sleep, we were able to sleep in until about 11 (which was wonderful and a bit rare for both of us), which was when we ventured out for breakfast. We had a leisurely meal, took our time to pack up and ready ourselves for the day, and then were taken on a driving tour of what felt like the entire northern region of Israel! We travelled through Tsfat, near Hafia, saw the Kineret, went near Tiberius, and finally ended up an a fantastic Arab restaurant on the way back to Karmiel. It was a wonderful tour that exposed us to many areas in Israel that we haven’t seen in some time. After our meal we headed back home to rest a bit before being taken to the train station in Akko for our return trip to Tel Aviv.
It was such an amazing trip and we both had a wonderful time. It was fantastic to get out of the city and we really had the best time seeing everyone up North. I don’t have immediate family here in Israel so I’m so happy to have Stephane meet anyone and everyone I consider extended family since, for the moment, my biological family is a bit far away! And I think I can say that he was quite a hit with everyone this weekend 🙂
Stay tuned for my post on Christmas in Nazareth!