Exploring Northern Israel with Avi

Exploring Northern Israel with Avi

Exploring Northern Israel with Avi
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Exploring Northern Israel with Avi

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Its not every day you get to explore a country with not only someone who has lived there their entire life, but is also one of the most qualified tour guides in the whole country. Lucky for us, we hit the jackpot while staying in Israel recently, and enjoyed a fascinating day exploring Northern Israel with Avi, and his wonderful wife.

We had spoken to Avi when we arrived in Tel Aviv who firstly told us that no matter where in Israel we wanted to explore with him we would never run out of things to do, places to visit and locations to learn about. We were excited to visit the Dead Sea and Jerusalem later during our trip and decided to explore the northern area of Israel with Avi, namely the Galilee and surrounding border areas with Lebanon and Syria.

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“Avi treated us like family, made is instantly comfortable, filled our imagination with the historical events of our surroundings and did it all without making us feel overwhelmed or uneducated…”

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Avi picked us up in Tel Aviv bright and early and we headed straight north from Tel Aviv, a beautiful drive over the rolling hills, which looked much like the California landscape we are ohh so familiar with driving from Los Angeles north to San Francisco – except this was different. Avi had so much information about our surroundings that it felt we were on an amusement park ride of some sort. Biblical sites were everywhere, and the accompanying stories about so much history surrounding us, it was simply fascinating.

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Exploring Northern Israel with Avi

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Exploring Northern Israel with Avi

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As we drove further north we approached the border with Jordan, and literally drive directly next to the small creek which separates the two countries. Winding up the road in elevation we passed significant sites left and right and ended up so high we could get a real sense of the topography from the view inside an old war torn bunker built into the hillside.

Continuing our journey, we reached the summit above Galilee and pulled into Mitzpe Shalom, also known as the Peace Vista which boasts the best viewpoint over the entire Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). Located next to Kibbutz Kfar Haruv, the view sets the scene for a vast history lesson from biblical times up until the the six day war in 1967. From the vista you can also get a great view of Mount Meron, the tallest peak in Israel. Spend time exploring the grounds and if you have some extra time, walk about 10 minutes down the path from the viewpoint, through the fields of wildflowers, and down to the natural springs. The view is simply breathtaking and the surroundings, covered in beautiful flowers, made for a wonderful stop along our journey, but we had more to get to.

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Exploring Northern Israel with Avi

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We continued driving through the Golan Heights and towards the Syrian border, stopping at Mount Bental, a massive out of service Israeli bunker with clear views straight to the Syrian border. During the past conflicts, the border has been defined many times, but now stands so close we could hear and feel bombs exploding in Syria while standing in Israel. Being that close to current events as they happen is surreal and humbling. The conflict in Syria had always seemed a world away to us, but standing there, hearing explosives, feeling the ground shake, we were forced to confront what is really going on just a few miles away.

Making our way down Mount Bental, we stopped for a delicious lunch of hummus, falafel, meats, grape leaves and tea, one of the best of our trip, and Avi knew exactly where to go, a small hole in the wall we never would have found in a million years. Over lunch we discussed the mornings adventures and all the places we had visited. One of the best qualities a tour guide can have is allowing you, as a visitor, to ask any question you might have without feeling stupid for asking it. This entire region had always been made up of biblical tales in my head and being able to ask Avi all the questions I had to piece it all together without judgement was fascinating.

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Exploring Northern Israel with Avi

 

 

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Exploring Northern Israel with Avi

 

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After lunch we hopped back in the car and headed towards the very northern most tip of Israel, right on the border with Lebanon. We drove as close as we could to the border and were able to really get a glimpse of what life looked like in the small villages just across the border. While not stepping a foot outside of Israel, our day with Avi not only showed us areas of Israeli we never would have seen but parts of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon as well, which was vastly educational.

Israel is as close to a living textbook as we have ever experienced. As the sun set and we made our way back to Tel Aviv we sat in silence, much from the exhaustion from the day, but as much from the amazing journey we had just been on as we tried to piece together all the parts of the day and their historical importance not only in the region but for the entire world.

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Exploring Northern Israel with Avi

 

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Exploring Northern Israel with Avi

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We arrived back to Tel Aviv well past dark and said our goodbyes to Avi and his wife, an amazing day of memories now stored in our minds forever, one of the most educational and fascinating days of our five month journey. Avi treated us like family, made is instantly comfortable, filled our imagination with the historical events of our surroundings and did it all without making us feel overwhelmed or uneducated – the perfect combination for a tour guide. While in Tel Aviv, we heard that it can take over five years to become a fully accredited tour guide in Israel and we don’t doubt it one bit, and we would happily spend that same amount of time exploring Israel, a country Avi loves so much, until we had seen every last mile of this fascinating country.

Avi is available for a wide combination of tours anywhere in Israel. He makes custom tours to fit your desire and schedule and can even accommodate large families in his van. Whether you are in Israel for a couple days or a few weeks, make sure to save a day for Avi, because with that much history, you cannot afford to miss out on all the passion and knowledge he has to share with you.

You can check out the Israel with Avi Website, follow him on Facebook or email Avi anytime at  avi@israelwithavi.com

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Avi Goren- your guide in Israel from Avi Goren on Vimeo.

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

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