If you have read the other posts regarding shabbat, you will know that I have come to have a very positive and interesting relationship with it. Once my mom said it I knew it was true- it reminds me of Sundays at home, which were always my favorite.
You will thus understand why I had a big decision to make this week, where to spend shabbat? I knew that my time in Jerusalem had come to an end. I had seen all of the sites I had come to see, experienced the city, met some great fellow travellers and eaten my weight in falafel. I felt comfortable moving on. So do I go to my Israeli home for shabbat like every other Israeli does, and therefore back to the desert? It was tempting but I have been missing the mountains for a bit now, and something was telling me "Go North!" So I did. I had heard amazing things about a mountain town that overlooks the Sea of Galilee called Tsafat and it sounded like the perfect place to spend Shabbat: mountains, hiking, quiet and a little reading time. I wanted to do one more half day in Jerusalem to take a tour of the Israeli parliament so I decided that I would first need to stop in the city Tiberius for Thursday night and head up to Tsafat early Friday morning for two nights in mountain bliss.
I had heard about Tiberius and not great things. People were hating on it, everyone, and I could not understand why-with a totally legit name like Tiberius, how could it be bad? And then I got there. It was about a 2 hr bus ride from Jerusalem and it was beautiful coming in. The city is below sea level and, to get to the center, you curve down a gorgeous, green mountainside facing the sea and city lights the whole way. It was sunset and a beautiful day and, for just a moment, I thought maybe they had been to the wrong Tiberius. Then I got out at the central bus station and walked to my hostel. The place is a nightmare. How could ANYONE take such a beautiful landscape (see photo above) and turn it into a cheezy, resort town with s*** everywhere. It's entire existence is shopping malls, falafal cafes and giant resort hotels that monopolize any beach which might exist. Glad I was only spending the night there. So I thought "ok, no surprise, just wake up in the morning early and head to paradise." It was another beautiful day and, after spending a morning breakfast by the pier, I headed back to the bus station for the short 45 minute ride to Tsafat.
Only problem- somewhere between Tiberius and Tsafat, dark clouds started to form and the temperature dropped about 20 degrees. I get dropped off in Tsafat, in the center, and head to the map across the street. Its a wonderful map, full of detail and interesting sights to see. Only problem-no "you are here" sign and no real street signs. GREAT MAP ministry of tourism of Tsafat, good job. I desperately try to find the tourism information office in the labyrinth of the old city, not even able to enjoy the place because I am immediately frustrated by its ineptitude at providing for its sole industry-tourism. I needed to find this office because, knowing that shabbat was about to arrive, I needed to know if the hotel had a kitchen so I could bring my own food or if I would just eat at a restaurant there. Never could find that tourism office. As the clock ticked down toward 2 o clock, the magic time when everything shuts down, I made the call to just head toward the hotel and hope there is a shop nearby in the event I needed one.
The hotel I am staying at is on top of the mountain, about 2 miles out of town, and while there is a bus, I was so frustrated that I just took a cab. My cab drops me off and the hotel is EXACTLY what I am looking for- hammocks everywhere, outside area with tables. Only problem- owner lady is not. Immediately she is a b****. She asks me if I brought a rental car (which they suggest to bring on shabbat because there is no way to get around until Sunday) and I said no. I didnt bring one bc I didnt want to go anywhere, I wanted to chill out and relax. She told me "Leave now". I was shocked and upset. She said (in her New York, ex pat accent) "cant you see where you are, there is nothing to do here without a car, you obviously ignored my email". I said "has it occured to you that maybe people like this environment and would like to spend a day without going somewhere?" Anyway, there is more to the dialogue but I ended up staying, she apologized profusely, but I was sad. How could this be, where was my paradise? What if it rained the WHOLE time I was here, what a waste of money, I should have just gone home for shabbat where it was free, the people were nice and the weather was warm. I settled in to my room, tried to read my book and texted my mom. (what anyone would do right?)
Then something interesting happened, as I read the sun started to shine through the windows. I felt guilty for being inside, but I was mad. Mad at shabbat and wanted to punish it. After all, it was Shabbat's fault that I was stuck here with no place to go. But then I remembered that a good afternoon walk in the sun always makes me feel better. So I went. Once I started, I couldnt stop. The magic of shabbat arrived once again. The sun was out, the sea was shining and, all around, people were coming home or leaving for shabbat. Families were out cleaning up for visitors, visitors were arriving bringing cake or bread, kids in soldier's uniforms were coming home for a monthly leave. I was walking on top of a mountain overlooking a beautiful sea. It doesn't get any better than that.
Sometimes I think travel has a way of rewarding those who push forward and follow their gut. Plenty of times I haven't and this time I am so glad I did.