a VERY long day - trippin'
For my colleagues, it was worse. At least I got picked up by the bus at the North Raanana junction, giving me a precious extra half-hour (plus travel time to the office). There were about 90 of us, divided into 2 buses. And while I was dropped back there at 1:30 am the following morning, many of them didn't get home until an hour after that. Yes, it was a great day, but TOO LONG. Many of these people have kids they had to get up for in the morning, after all. Thank god I didn't. When I woke up at 9:30 am, Mr. S. had taken young ms. out for breakfast. Oh yes, people, the joys of one kid who's finally growing up.
I just haven't got time to go into lots of details but here's the RD version: First stop was about 10am, at a lovely country site called "Ein Kamonim" -- somewhere up northward -- where we sat at long, heavily-laden, linen-covered tables under shady vines, and were treated to a feast of goat cheeses, freshly-baked whole wheat rolls, olive oil, zaatar, lots of salad veggies, jam, and more cheese. And then they served the coffee with long-life milk. BLAH! Undrinkable. Small detail, though; the rest was wonderful.
Next, we went on a mild hike for about an hour through a stoney stream (we were told to come prepared with shoes for water), ending up at a swimming hole that looked right out of the pages of Huck Finn. It was a gorgeous walk on a hot day through the forest, relieved by the cold water of the stream and the pools. Many people jumped in with all their clothes. But I knew we were heading to a real swimming pool, so I bided my time.
Our next stop was Kibbutz Goshrim, where we spent a couple of wonderful relaxing hours at their huge pool. The weather was perfect and I could have easily been there till midnite. But we were scheduled for a tour of Sfat, so we headed off in the buses at about 4:30 and arrived there before long. Several interesting stops awaited us there, and it was more than a walking tour. First: another dairy, a famous one, the Meiri dairy which bills itself as "Israel's first dairy." It's been in the family for generations, and they make the best goat cheese I've ever tasted. So of course I had to buy some Brinza to bring home. We also stopped somewhere to make some kind of special pita bread, whose name I've forgotten, but that was just a fun stop while several in our group got their hands dirty with flour and "mud cakes" -- more eating. And then we visited a religious guy who makes his own wine by treading on the grapes in the old-fashioned way -- and nothing else. He adds nothing. He says that the grapes pick up the characteristics of the winemaker, and no two people will be able to make the same-tasting wine, even though he tells them exactly how to do it (implying: not as good as his). He gave us lots to drink, saying that this wine is absolutely pure, no toxins, and would not make us "drunk" but "only high." I thought he was charming, but many thought he was just arrogant. Still, we were tired and glad to sit and drink with him.
We continued our walk in the fabulous Sfat air, feeling the special atmosphere of that historical place, until about 8 pm, when we finally drove off to dinner. More food, this time a serious steak-fest at "Bat Ya'ar". There was also lots of other meat -- like grilled wings, my favorite -- and the beer flowed freely till we were laughing at everything ... like the arm-wrestling matches arranged between some of our co-workers. It was all pretty silly, but we were relaxed and went with it.
Unfortunate that it dragged on a bit long -- we had a 3-hour drive ahead of us and should have been out of there earlier -- but I didn't mind that as much as others did. The trip back was very tough, with everyone exhausted but unable to sleep. Except for our driver. The tour guide noticed he was nodding out over the wheel and made him stop for half an hour to get coffee and a rest. Seems he's usually in bed by 8pm.
But we got home safely and it was a very satisfying day out. I don't whether it was lack of sleep or too much beer, but the next two days were spent recovering. And so the week closes, and another begins.
On the agenda tomorrow: another technical seminar outside of the office.
I took a lot of pics but most were kind of boring, people pics that I wouldn't want to publish, but the views in Sfat really are breathtaking. And we were there during the magic hour, so this is Sfat with that golden glow before sunset.