Shalom from Israel! It’s currently 5:30pm in Israel, and 10:30am in Ithaca. We are writing to you from our Taglit-Birthright Israel Cornell Hillel trip Bus en route to Tiberias after a busy first day.
We arrived in Tel Aviv at 7am, watching the sunrise over Israel as we landed. As we deboarded, the excitement grew as we realized what an amazing and special place we were now entering. Despite the fact that we were at the airport four hours prior to departure, we found lots to keep us busy, including getting to know our University of Wisconsin students who share the trip with us.
Our flight was very smooth, and full of distractions that kept us from sleeping! They offered a wide selection of movies on demand for free (one of us watched four movies back to back)and video games like tetris. Upon arriving, we were greeted by Hillel’s Birthright staff, picked up our luggage, and met our tour guide Marty and bus driver Ovad. We sat outside Ben Gurion’s Tel Aviv airport, enjoying some sugar with chocolate croissants and caffeine with Coca-Cola for breakfast.
Then, we hopped in the bus to stroll through Neot Kedumim, a biblical nature reserve. We saw olive trees, learned about the first Israeli start-up – the water well, and planted our own trees. We stopped for lunch in Zichron Yaakov, enjoying falafel and schwarma, and toured the village which was founded by a group of Romanian immigrants who called themselves the lovers of Zion.
Next, we attempted to hike off our jet lag with a two and a half hour rock climbing hike on the southern end of Mount Carmel, Ramat Hanadiv. We learned that when the packing list says bring hiking boots, they meant it. We saw a mountain goat and peeked into a bat cave where archaeologists discovered nine layers of civilization the lowest and oldest layer included 60,000Neandrathal man. .
Currently, we are heading to Tiberias for dinner and touring which will begin tomorrow morning. Most of the bus is catching a few more minutes beyond what Professor Maas recommends in Power Sleep. We are excited to be here, check out some of our photos here.