We only covered 40km today, and yet it totally devastated me. I hate to contemplate it, but I suspect it might be due to my getting old, fat, and out of shape.

Jodi was looking at the guide book last night and decided she wanted to go to Metula today. Metula is only a few km north of Tel Hai, where we stayed last night, and sits directly on the border with Lebanon. So, after we had breakfast this morning — a somewhat chaotic breakfast since we were sharing the cafeteria with 3 bus-loads of school kids that stayed at the hostel last night — we set out north, and uphill, for Metula. While Metula is only a few km from Tel Hai, it is about 1,000′ higher, so quite a stiff climb. I even walked some of the steeper bits, though Jodi powered up them, as Jodi usually does.

Metula is a small resort town, though it is out of season currently, since the season ends with Rosh Hoshanna. We stopped at a beautiful restaurant that was open, and ordered breakfast. Yes, I know we already ate breakfast. I’ve said it before: if breakfast is the most important meal of the day, why not eat it twice? We had a great meal made with all local, fresh ingredients. Fresh baked bread, a couple of kinds of olives (Jodi likes olives; I don’t), fresh butter, cream cheese, fig preserves, some kind of jam, a green omelette (an omelette with chopped greens in it, not an omelette of green eggs!), and fresh apple juice. The apple juice was something else, it was heavy and dark and cloudy, and had a head on it. It tasted just like biting into a tart, crispy apple.

We ended up chatting with the owner and his son, and they pored over our map with us and gave us lots of advice on outed to take and places to stay. They also clued us in to which towns are Arab or Druze and thus should have businesses open during the upcoming Yom Kippur holiday. He also gave us his phone number and insisted that we call him if we had any problems he could help with. Meetings like this are the very best part of traveling.

After saying goodbye we cycled the last bit of the street until we reached the border fence and could gaze past it into Lebanon.

Finally we left Metula, and headed back down the 1,000′ we had climbed. Cycling sure is awesome when coasting downhill! The downhill run ended all to soon,and we turned east and started climbing again. First gently, then more and more steeply. We were heading to Mount Hermon, the highest point in Israel. We climbed and climbed on a road with no shoulders, bordered with barbed wire with signs on every other fence post warning of land mines. I also noticed a sign with an arrow pointing down and the single word “SHELTER” where the road passed over a culvert. If you’re driving on the road and rockets start landing, you take shelter in the culvert.

Our first goal was Nimrod Fortress, a hill-top fortress built and rebuilt from the 13th to the 17th centuries, which controlled the road to Damascus. I ended up walking about 2 1/2 of the last 4 km to Nimrod, but it was definitely worth the effort. We had a wonderful time exploring it, but finally had to leave to push on, still climbing, the last 4km to Neve Ativ, where we have a way over-priced room in a motel and ate a fairly priced but poorly prepared dinner at a hotel/restaurant next door.

Tomorrow we are planning to head south towards Yam Kinneret (The Sea of Galilee). We have a couple of possible routes and will decide which to take when we get to the diverging point. Hopefully it will mostly be downhill and we can make it in a reasonable time. We climbed about 3,000′ to get to Neve Ativ, so combined with the 1,000′ this morning to get to Metula, it was a 4,000′ day. I don’t have another one of those in me for a while!

Oh, I also heard from someone from the WarmShowers.com list that I had previously contacted, and Jodi and I have a place to stay about halfway between Haifa and Tel Aviv, when we get to that area. We are really looking forward to meeting Tal and his wife and children, and sharing their home for a night.


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