Last week we had our first visitors from Finland: Annika's sister Heidi and her Aunt Pia. As there were public holidays in Israel, we decided to rent a car and visit the region around the Sea of Galilee. For most it's just a 1 1/2 hours drive from Tel Aviv, but for Annika it's about traveling back in time, as she lived there with her family around 30 years ago. So, this trip was about refreshing memories and enjoying the wonderful nature there.
Our first stop was at [Moshav Arbel](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbel), where Annika lived back then. It's a small village on Mt. Arbel. First thing we did, we went to the house where they lived to refresh some memories from back in the days.
But there's more to see. Even though the village is quite small it's still worth a visit. Especially because of two things:
Mt Arbel National Park and Nature Reserve
Back then the sight was only reachable by a foot path from the village and it wasn't a well maintained site at all. Now there's a national park up there, it can be easily reached by car and just the last few hundred meters have to be taken by foot. There are also some safety measures taken, so even a walk with kids is fun there. Not to mention the experience. Stunning views from the edge of a quite deep drop down towards the dry inland and on the other side onto the beautiful sea of Galilee make it a special adventure. A sight which wasn't busy at all when we went but definitely worth a visit. There are also hiking paths to caves in the mountain, which should be quite nice, but we didn't do it with our kids.
Another thing to do there - less spectacular, but not less interesting - is the visit of an archaeological site just a couple of minutes' drive away. From the parking lot there is a path towards the site. During the short walk Niklas discovered a chameleon, quite an unusual find. Maybe you can spot it in the pictures below :)
Jordan River, Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee
After Arbel we went to Yardenit on the Jordan river, a spiritual place to commemorate the baptism of Jesus. The two times I've been here it was packed. The site is well maintained, the green around the water is wonderful, especially in the summer, when the surroundings are very dry. Besides the nature it feels a bit strange. People get emotional, dress in white and walk into the river to get baptised - in masses. Pictures of people in euphoria, crying, shouting in the entrance hall complete the impressions. For the night we stayed in Tiberias, the biggest town at the lake. Refreshing memories eating at Big Ben, a local restaurant where Annika's family used to eat and which still exists 30 years later. The next day we completed our tour cooling down in the lake at Golan Beach, eating in the Kibbutz En Gev and visiting the Terranova winery in the Golan heights. This was the highlight of the second day, tasting fantastic wines and listening to the stories of the responsible of the vineyard.
Some final words
It was the second family reunion in Tiberias, the first being with Annikas dad and brother some years back and now with Annika's sister and aunt. It's funny to hear the stories and try to compare how it must have been. Now I can relate better to the days back then. Though it's hard to imagine without google translate, moovit and the like. :) But what strikes me is the perception of the people here, when I tell the story about history repeating itself by us moving here with our daughter in the same age Annika was when they moved here. The first reaction is usually: "Hey, cool! Then you know some people here. This helps you settling." But hey, that's 30 years ago, I always think. Here, it seems, you support each other and help in situations when help is needed. No matter if it's a week, a month or 30 years ago. It feels nice. Now some memories from back in the days.
A Moshav is a type of Israeli settlement with an emphasis on community labor, but with mostly individually owned property. Wikipedia
Like a Moshav, with the difference of community instead of individual ownership. Wikipedia