At the beginning of June Matteo and I decided to take a small journey to the North of Israel. We had a really intense 3-days trip, we visited many places and we tried to observe, comprehend and learn a lot of things. So here comes the first post (of two) in which we’ll try to summarize as much as possible. But be prepared to see a lot of pictures!
We rented a car in Jerusalem (it was actually the same car we then used with my dad, so we took it few days before his arrival) and headed north on the Highway 6. Although the road is not toll-free, it is the fastest way to get from Jerusalem to Nazareth, and we covered the 150 km in approximately 2 hours. The first part of the highway passes through the West Bank and in some parts you drive along the Israeli Separation Wall. In the second and longest part you drive in Israel and you get a really nice view of the landscape: you see mountains, hills, valleys and plains, each with a peculiar vegetation and colors.
We arrived in Nazareth in late afternoon, which was a bit of a pity since it is worth getting there before 3 pm, when most of the shops and almost all the city shut down.
The main site that one should visit is the Basilica of the Annunciation
(8 am-6 pm), which is a very modern church, but has some interesting archeological remains of its earlier versions. The souk is also very nice: it’s a covered and tidy market with fantastic buildings.
That night we stayed at the Vitrage Guest House
, a small hotel located in the old city. The owners were very kind and in the price of the room (220 NIS, with a discount of 15 NIS) breakfast was included: zatar, salads and pita with various types of jams.
The next morning we woke up early and visit a couple of things that the day before were closed and soon left Nazareth. We drove for approximately an hour, towards the Galilee Mountains and soon arrived to Safed, one of the Holy Sites of Judaism and the center of Kabbalah.
The city, very small and located at the top of a mountain, is a bit tricky when getting there with a car, so we parked in a free parking next to the Saraya Building. From there we just followed the people and easily enter the old city.
The main attraction of the city are the Artist colony, a very commercial area full of souvenirs shops; the Beit Eshtam, a concrete building that still bares the 1948 war; and the view of the surrounding mountains.
After a quick visit to Safed, we headed back to the car and drove a bit further north, to Rosh Pina, the oldest Zionist settlement in Israel.
The town is of course very small, but the houses have been restored and it is worth a refreshing walk through the new restaurants and the stoned houses.
From a panoramic point at the top of the town you can see the area, as far as Jordan.
From there we headed back south, towards the Sea of Galilee. Along the road we stopped in a couple of places to catch the view of the lake. You can also visit a couple of things: Korazim, an archeological site nominated in the Bible (22 NIS adults/10 NIS kids, 8 am-6 pm) and Capernaum (3 NIS), a fishing village of the period of the Hasmoneans, with the remains of the 2nd-century town, with a 4th-century synagogue and a 5th-century church.
From there… well for the rest you’ll have to wait a couple of days, so stay tuned!