By Louis the Scooterer
Continue touring in all directions around the Sea of Galilee”
At the end of that previous excellent day…we checked in to KareDeshe Youth Hostel.. north of Tiberias..nice and tired and our rooms were great and comfy and a good night sleep zzzzzzz…
Up early..lets get to water edge , at end of grass and playground. Just in time to watch the pink sun ray, then the first touch on top of the mountain and then on the water as a gold carpet. Do you get to see such a sunrise that often? not likely. Then to breakfast, and they already know to set a table for me at the window to see out, at the beautiful gardens and lawns and the peaceful Sea of Galilee. And to look at the food, and colorful paintings on the walls. A large variety of cheeses, creams, herrings, salads, eggs, yogurts, breads and more..and we are able to take-away some for later. All the staff in dining room make the usual fuss about “The man who scoots all around Israel”.
Often there are many groups of university students or school groups as well as tourists from all over the world, and I always make a new friend at breakfast table and in the gardens.
Eaten enough? Let US go..our first stop about 200 meters away is an archeological dig and looks fantastic in early morning sunlight..take a few pics and read the history while I tell you..where we will be going..
and NOW I have changed my mind (again) and we will drive past a few important places.. and will head straight into Tiberias and visit the home of the richest Jewish woman in history. I visited DONA GRACIA, and drank tea in the home of the richest Jewish woman in history. A quick lead up to how this came about:
On my first scooter-visit to Tiberias, some years ago, I knew nothing about the place and I needed some maps from the Info Center. I found the Youth hostel in the center of Tiberias, where I would stay for a couple of nights, and after dropping off my stuff, I began scooting around. I asked the first person I saw “where is the Info Center?” He told me “up the road, around the corner in a building called Dona Gracia Hotel”.That wasn’t the (tourist) Info. that I wanted, BUT it was INFO. Mainly for traveling to other countries, and it was on the top floor of the hotel. The entire floor is a new, very large area for many travel agents, where each agency had a desk and a couple of phones and a computer and a couple of chairs, and it had just opened that morning, and was a busy hive of activity! The very busy man in charge of this “move-in” made time to explain to me about this communal travel-agent set-up, and he gave me a cup of coffee and some brochures and answered a couple of my questions. Then, he needed to carry on organizing.
On my way out, in the lobby that was undergoing renovations, I asked at the reception and was told “this is a hotel”…I noticed some people sitting in a very plush area having refreshments while listening to a pianist. MY assumption at that moment was, “its expensive”…and I left. I found the tourist info and received maps and brochures to last a lifetime. As the years flew by, I visited Tiberias several times and often scooted past the hotel..without giving it a second glance.
On a recent visit to that area, and staying over at Kare Deshe Youth Hostel…the receptionist asked me “have you visited the museum inside the Dona Gracia Hotel”? I hadn’t, so immediately I scooted the few kilometers to the hotel, and was told at reception, that the “English tour is at 10-00 a.m. tomorrow morning”. After breakfast I returned and I was given a tour..never to be forgotten.
And NOW this story begins…
What a surprise when I returned, the manager remembered me from those years ago, and welcomed me. First a coffee and some time remembering our first meeting..and he listened to my travel stories. He organised an “English tour,” and I was taken on a personal guided tour with many explanations. Through some of the rooms and dining room with this incredible dining table and 26 chairs and furniture and ornaments from when Dona Gracia lived in the building.
Among the many features is the display of dolls, exquisitely dressed in clothing of the time and also many posters on the walls with stories in English. After the guided tour, I slowly strolled through the entire museum, and spent a few excellent hours reading the posters. I was invited to sit in the plush lounge, and drank tea and ate cookies while listening to the pianist and then I was taken into a showroom and “fitted out ” in an outfit of the time.
(yes this pic is of me..the musician.)
When larger groups visit, many visitors are dressed up in these exquisite costumes and a marvelous, merry time is had by all..while parading around the lounges and enjoying free tea and coffee and cookies. There is much to see and many questions to ask. And staff members will gladly give explanations and answers. A never-to-forget experience. (A side comment from me: I mentioned this wonderful experience to 2 crotchety men from Tel Aviv who I vaguely knew..and later they told me that they “saw everything” in a visit of less than one hour??… Oh Boy!
I could provide many more personal descriptions, but I suggest you visit the website: http://www.donagracia.com/DonaGracia/DonaHouse/english/malon_sipur.htm# And when you are in Tiberias…this is “a must-visit” and remember to wear comfortable walking shoes and don’t forget your camera.
So we have relaxed away the whole morning and now lets go to our next serious visit.. so while we drive there I’ll fill you in
Okay..I know we all had too many cookies at Dona Gracia, and what an experience ? NOW we’re gonna shoot past a few places of interest without even a glance and we get to Kibbuts Ginossar.
When I first began my scootering, I often asked the people that I occasionally “had a coffee with”, about some info on places and things ?..and I received from a “Mr Know-it-All / MR KNOW-NOTHING”… that “GINNOSAR”…is an expensive hotel with an expensive restaurant and everything expensive..so thats how the information entered my head..and stayed there.
One day while scootering in the Tiberias area I saw a tiny sign “Ginnosar —>” and I rode into the complex. After a couple of hundred meters I saw the hotel building on the right side, with beautiful lawns and pool and gardens..and a large car park with many buses and all sorts of vehicles, and many people sitting on the lawns around the pool. Directly in front of me, another big modern building that “at a glance” I thought would be a “new” hotel.
So I remembered, “its expensive, why waste time?”.. and began the ride out. I thought again, “what the hell ?, I’m here..let me have a look”..and I made the BEST U-TURN ever. The big new building is the Yigal Alon Museum (Man in the Galilee), and at reception I was welcomed and given brochures.
The most pleasant lady invited me to sit in the cafeteria and drink a coffee while explaining to me how best to wander through the museum, and watch the videos and see exhibits and photos and art exhibitions..and never-ending things of interest, with many written explanations on posters, as well as beautiful views through large picture-windows. I spent several valuable hours wandering around in a sequence, and my eyes opened wider at every turn, with the marvelous exhibits always in air-conditioned areas and with places to sit. The bonus at the end of my long walk around, was being shown the “Jesus boat ” exhibit in this specially built and temperature-controlled hall with many pictures and videos about the discovery http://www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/galilee-jesus-boat.htm
While having another coffee and snack, I noticed a large group of soldiers who had come to visit this important museum. I visited the large well-stocked gift shop, and I knew that every future trip I would pop in for a visit. The gardens and walkways outside have many sculptures and beautiful views of the Lake Kinerret
On the way out I stopped at the hotel and had a lovely chat with the receptionist, who also sat with me in the delightful coffee shop and told me some “things”; that the hotel is usually fully booked every Friday for Israelis who leave home for a one-night weekend. Also tourists from all around the world spend some days in the beautiful surroundings..(so much for the wrong comment from “Mr. Know-nothing”).
The kibbutz is situated on the Kinerret (Sea of Galilee) and the water laps right up to the lawns. I have been lucky to see the high water after good rains, and also the low water period when the water would end a few hundred meters out. I scooted through the kibbutz and as usual there were always some people to answer my questions as they go about their lives. I “found” the reservations office; a small kibbutz-style house made into a few offices and staffed by kibbutz members, casually dressed and without pomp-and-ceremony, invited me to drink tea while they prepared a variety of brochures for me.
There is also a popular restaurant close to the filling station at the main entrance..and some industries in the “industrial area” of the Ginnosar kibbutz. As always, have comfortable walking shoes and camera at the ready. I have, to date, visited several times and am always welcomed as “the man with the scooter is here”! And there are new art exhibitions …and for me…never a moment of boredom.
Okay we’re here, at the museum, and have had our intro at reception.. so take your time wandering around at your own speed and we have several hours, so no hurry to “be on the bus in 20 minutes”. And after that few excellent and tiring hours we return to Kare Deshe and have something to eat in the cafeteria and soon to sleep zzzzzzzzzz (be prepared for the next day from early morn to another few places…)
Please feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Louis the Scooterer is 69 years old and it sounds like hes just getting started.