My ride started on Thursday afternoon. In the morning I was still in the office. It was the second Sukkot weekend, the end of the “Feast of Tabernacles”, which fell so favorably this year that it could be combined with the weekend before and thus had 4 days off.
Hannah had traveled to Vienna with her daughter on the Visit grandpa, and so I had the whole four days off for a nice tour through northern Israel
I had everything packed and ready to go. My first stop will be Achziv on the Mediterranean coast, north of Nahariya, about 10km from the Lebanese border.
It’s about 150km from Tel Aviv to there, so I should be there before dark and my tent before dark dusk can strike. I would then continue the next morning.
The drive is easy and direct, along the coast. In front of Haifa you have a wonderful view of the sea while driving. Then you pass Akko, the millennia-old port city with its preserved 12th-century citadel.
Then Achziv campsite.
I pitch my tent and enjoy the sunset with a few cups of tea…
With the view of the sea I let my soul dangle and enjoy the evening air in October. It’s still very warm, around 28 degrees, but there’s a pleasant light autumn wind blowing.
The next morning I pack up again and head to the next station: Rosh Hanikra right on the Lebanese border. Here there are the beautiful grottoes, which can be visited with a cable car. This time I only enjoy the view of the sea for a short time. The road is a dead end, there is no transition to Lebanon and I think how bad that actually is. It’s closer to Beirut from here than Tel Aviv.
Now we continue east, away from the Mediterranean Sea, the western border of Israel, along the border with Lebanon, to the northeastern part, the Golan Heights on the border with Syria.< br>The route leads towards Kiryat Shmona, past Shlomi and Goren, on road 899 to 90, the longest road in Israel, which runs from Metula, the northernmost city, down to Eilat on the Red Sea .
The trail is beautiful, the 899 is lovely to drive with lots of turns to tuck into. Everything here is very green, a lot of forest, lush vegetation and it is a bit reminiscent of European mountain roads. After a short stretch on the 90, turn right towards Goren. The path is lined with eucalyptus trees for miles.
The goggles pushed up on the helmet, no visor, it now smells strongly of the essential oils of the trees. The first rain since early May fell last week and the autumn warmth is making the smells rise.
The landscape is now increasingly changing. The earth becomes volcanic, very dark to black. But the barriers to the right and left of the road are now also noticeable. “Entrance prohibited – danger to life. Mines and duds”. It’s the sad remnants of past wars.
I’m climbing higher and higher now, I’m almost a thousand meters up and close to my next stop: Mount Bental.
Mount Bental is an extinct volcano and the (currently disputed) border between Israel and Syria runs right across it. On the mountain is an old military fort that can be visited, with a bunker and shooting range from the Yom Kippur War. You have a wide view of Syria and the surrounding area up to Mount Hermon.
There is also coffee and snacks in the “Kofi Annan” restaurant (which is somewhat reminiscent of a ski hut in the Alps, with the wide terrace) at an altitude of 1171 meters.
The name of the restaurant is a play on words. On the one hand it is the name of the former UN Secretary General, on the other hand it means something like coffee in the clouds (Anan is the Hebrew word for cloud).
Freshly strengthened, we continue south along the border on road 95.
After a while you will pass the wind turbines of Alonei Habashan.
The turbines were built in the early 1990s and serve around 20,000 people, but are in poor condition.
Maybe that’s why they fit in here in the area. Everything seems a bit surreal, morbid, which of course is not really surprising when you consider the history of this area.
The many bunker ruins are still noticeable on the trip. There are a few old broken tanks in the area. As a reminder, as a memorial, they seem a little as if they had been forgotten here, but that is exactly what they are supposed to prevent: forgetting.
After a few kilometers, a hill suddenly looms out, with a hill on its side huge Israeli flag is hoisted on a huge pole. The place: Tel Saki
On October 6, 1973, Yom Kippur, Syrian artillery attacked in full force. In a ratio of 1 to 100, a small Israeli unit defended the position to the end. 35 soldiers did not come back, all others were either wounded or captured. It was one of the first and fiercest battles of the Yom Kippur War and today is an example of Israeli bravery.
Such events are deeply embedded in the consciousness of the people here. Of course, trying to explain the whole thing would go beyond the scope here.
We continue down the 98 towards Lake Genezeret, a fantastic ride on a motorbike. At the end of the elevated road, it descends in serpentines to the lake, surrounded by the breathtaking landscape of the Golan Heights. At the southern tip of Lake Genzeret, where the Jordan River flows out of the lake, is the Yardenit, a riverside baptismal site that has been a holy site for Christians since earliest times.
At the baptismal site, which has been developed for tourism, many Christians are baptized in memory of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, although tradition locates the site of this event further down the river near Jericho, in Al-Maghtas, Jordan.
After another overnight stay at the Herod’s Well campsite, I drive home the next morning and I’m just in time to pick up Hannah and the little one from the airport.
One very impressive ride is behind me. The vastness of the landscape makes you forget how small Israel actually is.