Today isn’t really about riding; it’s about completing our journey to the starting point of our ride.

Yesterday morning we ate (early) breakfast in Boston. Then we went to the airport and got on a plane hurtling through the atmosphere at 30,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. While thus occupied we had what British Airways called brunch, but which I decided to consider lunch. Then we had dinner in London (actually at Heathrow Airport while between flights) , then this morning we should have had breakfast in Tel Aviv, but ended up skipping it. I know many people find air travel annoying (me too!) and blase, but I just can’t be blase about it. I think it is amazing that you can wake up on one continent and go to sleep on another.

To make a long story short — because I am dead tired — we arrived at Ben Gurion Airport at 4:30 this morning, just as scheduled. We went through passport control, we retrieved our luggage to find the huge, heavy-gauge plastic bags our bikes were wrapped in rather worse for wear, and some of the bits on the bikes twisted out of alignment, but nothing actually broken. Phew! From here we went through customs then found an ATM machine to get some shekels in our pockets. I don’t actually know what they call an ATM machine here since we don’t read Hebrew, but it’s pretty easy to recognize one when you see one.

It took a couple of minutes but we found where the Sixt car rental desk was and found an elevator large enough to carry us and our still wrapped bikes up to it. The guy behind the counter was super helpful. We had an issue in that their shuttle van running between the airport and the lot wasn’t big enough to fit our bikes in, so David walked us out and showed Jodi where she could wait with our bikes, thn he rode the shuttle back to their lot with me, got our car, helped me figure out how to put the rear seats down, then gave me directions how to get back to the airport to pick up Jodi and our luggage.

Of course I am dead tired while all this is going on, so I’m not sure how much of a dullard I appeared to David. We were up at 4am yesterday morning to get ready and get to the airport in time for our flight, and Jodi and I both only managed to sleep the last 45 minutes or so of our flight to Tel Aviv, so we were running on fumes.

Once we got everything loaded into the car I gave Jodi the map and we headed out to drive north-east to Kiryat Shmona (or Qiryat Shemona or any of several other spellings I’ve seen so far). We headed west on Hwy 1 towards Tel Aviv, then turned north on Hwy 4 for a while before heading northeast towards Tiberias and then due north to our destination. We did a pretty good job of navigating, making only one mistake. We turned left when we should have turned right and ended up going through Nazareth. We took a wrong turn and ended up in Nazareth. I think that’s pretty darned cool. How many places in the world can you make a simple wrong turn and end up in a Biblical city?

As we got closer to Kiryat Shmona we saw a UN vehicle heading the other way down the road. We are probably less than 30km from the UN-patrolled Demilitarized Zone to the east.

So, this is getting tedious, isn’t it? We finally got to Kiryat Shmona and our first order of business was to get some food and drink. We found a bakery and bought a couple of goodies and some kind of banana-strawberry flavored drink, then we walked around town a bit and found what I thought was the rental car return location. I recognized the Sixt logo and colors, though I couldn’t read any of the Hebrew signs. We stopped at a gas station and filled up the car, though I had to ask the clerk how to start the pump. Then we drove to the Sixt place, unloaded and assembled the bikes, then went in to turn in the car. Ha! This was not the rental car location after all. One of the guys there gave me directions to where we were actually supposed to return the car, we put Jodi’s bike back in the car, she got behind the wheel and drove the car over while I rode my bike.

So finally we got the car off our hands and had the freedom of our bikes back. We rode back up the hill into town and stopped at a little place that looked like a restaurant. Of course we couldn’t read the menu but the guy behind the counter spoke English and when I asked him what he had he replied “falafals.” So we had some nice falafals for lunch along with some chips (french fries) and three drinks between us. We sat outside at a table in the shade watching the world go by outside and eventually nearly fell asleep, so we paid our bill and got going. We are staying at an IYHA hostel that is just a few km north of downtown, so it took only a few minutes to ride up here. Thank goodness because being as tired as we are, and dehydrated from all the flying, well, let’s just say we weren’t powering up the hill out of town.

The hostel is gorgeous. We have a room to ourselves with en suite bath. We have our own little patio with views north of Mount Hermon and to the northeast the long ridge of the Golan Heights. With both doors open we have wonderful breezes blowing through. Just as a reminder of where we are — just a few km from the Syrian border — underneath the hostel building is a bomb shelter.

We probably will do an easy day tomorrow, heading east 25 or 30km to Neve Ativ (or Newe Atif) at the base of Mount Hermon, with a stop at Nimrod Fortress along the way. For right now, I am just trying to stay awake until some semblance of evening approaches, though Jodi gave in and is sleeping peacefully next to me.