Last weekend I went on a road trip, 10 of us in two cars up to the north of the country towards the Golans and the Galilee with me doing some of the driving, I picked up the rental car, a Kia Magentis a fairly dull Korean car which did the job fine, it had plenty of space and was reasonably pleasant to drive. Seems that Israelis mostly favour automatics I am not sure why it maybe to do with the lot of Americans that are here, or possibly due to the roads are steep and hilly, and as the speed of your driving has to change very frequently, it becomes a lot of work to constantly switch between second and third gear often as I have found as I often use to drive around Hindhead and Surrey way back in the UK when I often drive through the twisty roads in a forest in mostly darkness to go and have a few beers and a curry with my good friend John P who is there.
Anyway the trip required a large cooler box for perishable food, a ton of nuts and dried fruit, lots of firewood as well as 5 tents and sleeping bags for everyone as well as the pots and pans.
The drive up there, although was challenging needing to be assertive enough to squeeze in competing traffic, not in a aggressive or selfish way, but part of the hectic patterns of driving which is common here. Cars here are often old and beat up and deaths in road accidents are twice what they are in UK and the US, not hard to imagine when I often see other drivers impatiently overtaking on some completely blind bends and hills. Although driving standards are bad here so is Italy, Greece, Turkey and Egypt, so it seems to be a Mediterranean thing. I found it not that hard to drive on the other side of the road but an auto box takes a little bit of getting used to. Unlike modern European cars which have a stereo integral into the dash which is not easily removable, this car has a generic type stereo fitted, this meant it had tiny buttons, no steering column controls, and produced lots of scrolling messages about how many channels and watts it has which I find quite irritating. There is a small numeric keyboard glued onto the dash (all cars in Israel have these, it’s a mandatory requirement by the insurance companies I believe) and requires a four digit code to enable the engine to start, but the Kia I had although new doesn’t like starting first time, and needed the ignition off after a first attempt to get going. This car is also a bit dated in styling as I think it’s a rehash of an older Hyundai model.
I think it took me two hours to get to Tiberias, this city named after a Roman leader is the main city in the Galilee region looks out towards the east side of lake and depends on tourism from foreign Christians for its economy. When I came here before this town looked a bit shabby with the concrete hotels looking a bit reminiscent of a communist era, today these still are a bit of an eye sore but the place looks much smarter now.
Oddly enough it started to rain (remember rain is a rarity here) whilst driving through Tiberias although there is a great need for water as the Galilee (and the Dead Seas as well) are desperately short, and where as the water is much welcomed I was surprised to see there were no drains or obvious gutter system so the water has no where to go, so the road had lots of surface water. Hmm, me thinks a good engineer is needed to design a system to channel this to where it’s needed I reckon.
Next camping overlooking the lake…