We'll start with the highlight for the day - we are at the Hartsteins in Ra'anana! Mo and Elisa look great and are cooking up a storm for us. The kids are amazing and are growing up so wonderfully. You got to love Israeli landlords - they give you 4 walls and nothing else. No oven, stove, light fixtures or even toilet paper rolls. But, the Hartsteins have made their house into a real home. Sitting here and looking at the same artwork that was in St. Louis brings back so many memories.
Today was not our favorite day. The drive from HaGoshrim to Rosh Hanikra was beautiful, but the kids didn't really enjoy it. Noah wanted to watch a movie, but instead did his math homework (he took a test after we printed it at the Hartstein's). Naomi and Eitan played their handheld games and Ilana slept. Sima and I spoke to Sami and watched the changing landscapes. We even saw an eagle swoop overhead.
Rosh Hanikra is the furthest point on the Med.coast and has some beautiful grottos that were created by the pounding of the sea on the soft stone. To get to the grottos we had to wait in a long line with all Israelis for a cable car for the 45 second ride down. We didn't know where to buy tickets, everyone was cutting in line and it was hot. But, once we got down to the grottos, it was beautiful. The sound and smell of the sea. The breeze. The long line to get back up.
At the top, we walked to the border crossing (another photo op). This time we saw some Israeli soldiers. We also saw a lot of UN "troops" waiting to cross. They were wearing patches from Italy, Estonia, Russia, Australia and Noah says he saw one from Italy. One of the vans had a case of French wine in it. It took all of Mike's might to prevent him from going up to the Aussie and asking him to actually do something about preventing Hizbullah from rearming as opposed to getting drunk. We then got glida (and diet coke) of course. The kids now have favorites; the boys like Extreme im aguyot (some cone with ice cream and vanilla cookie crumbles) and the girls like Nibs (bite size vanilla ice cream coated in chocolate).
We then drove south and took a turn off towards Ma'alot because Mike saw something in a guide book about the ruins of a Crusader castle called Montfort. The Knights Templar build the fort in the 1180 somethings and Salah al-Adin destroyed it and it was rebuilt and redestroyed. To make a long story short, we never quite got there. But, we did have a hike (note the absence of adjectives) (and the presence of expletives says Sima) and were able to see the ruins from afar. The hike was hot and a bit arduous (especially for Mike who was carrying Ilana on his back all the way down - and then up - the rock path).
After that, we got back in the car, drove to the coast and then headed south. We passed Akko and drove through Haifa. Only Eitan was awake at that point so he got a few great views of the Ba'hai Temple and and Israeli destroyer in port. We saw the Intel and Microsoft buildings in Haifa and then continued south passed Caesaria, Hadera and towards Tel Aviv until we took the exit for Ra'anana. As we passed through town, we saw Mo on the side of the street. Sima stuck her hand out and almost gave Mo a hi-five.
We are here, now clean and very happy. Shabbat shalom all.