By Louis the Scooterer
Well we had another good night sleep at Kare Deshe… okay so after watching sunrise and eat breakfast,
we make a quick getaway..quick stop to take pics at ruins close by and head directly for the snow
Another quick stop at Arik Bridge over the River Jordan (old wooden bridge).. and a fairly long drive for a quick stop at Saar Falls to take pics. We won’t have coffee here but I just wanna pop in to say hi to Benny..he is the young fellow who served me a coffee way back on the day the restaurant opened, and he suggested I look into TKR. Benny thanks for that advice. I have had a (total knee replacement) for some time now, and sure walk better than on the day we met..when I could hardly walk the few meters from the car to the door.
From here .. only one major stop on the way. At Newe Ativ.. a tiny village (moshav) that could be in Switzerland..many chalet style buildings and everything geared towards skiing . ( Neve Ativ actually controls the ski site as well). Then while there, we’ll find somewhere to drink coffee and ask about the place..(and I can tell you quickly about my previous visits).
Almost every home is geared for bed n breakfast accomodation, and a few (family) hotels are also operating, ( and looks and feels as if we are in Switzerland or Austria !..) We take the coffee in the dining lounge at a small hotel while the manager, a young Druze fellow gave many explanations about Druze people and customs..elaborating on his sister’s upcoming wedding.
Freezing cold and bright sunshine…Lets move ..and we join a long line of traffic including many buses to the ski site..winding scenic road with much snow all around. We get in at the main entrance and leave our car in the giant parking lot,
and board a shuttle bus to the ski site..excitement mounts as we get closer…then a walk of a few hundred meters to the main area where coffeeshops, eateries and ski and equipment hire, and all sorts of action that happens at a ski site.
As Louis the scooterer, I wrote a story, telling about my first visit to Mt Hermon ski site..and later visits too, and what a contrast of visits they have been.
My first visit to the ski site was on a HOT summer day, and I didn’t know what to expect.
I scootered through the village Majdal e Shams way up north (close to border with Syria), then to the ski site, up the scenic road, and far below in the valley I saw cattle drinking from a dry-looking, round, muddy “water” place, and the whole area was dry and similar to the desert.
I rode through the deserted entrance and passed the empty very large car-park, and after a short scenic ride, arrived at the ski-site. I was the only person there, besides some maintenance workers who are there every day, doing a whole lot of different work. I was very happy when the ski chairs started and I was allowed to go up to the highest point.(Note..I never had a camera at that visit) I was the only person on the system that has 175 chairs all 2 seaters, and I saw only stones and BIG rocks and shrubs and uneven mountainside beneath me (all dry).
At the top, a few engineers were doing some electrical installations and invited me to eat lunch with them. They explained a whole lot of interesting facts to me. I walked around, and as all the facilities were shut, after a while, I took the chairlift down. A few people were going up, so we shouted “helloooo.. and where are you from?” “Germany… and have a nice day.” Then they were gone, and I was at the bottom. A quick coffee and thank you to some office staff and I was on my way, knowing that Id be back.
So my next visit was when there was plenty of snow on Mt Hermon and in a rented car. I saw the full water hole, far down in the valley, now many meters wide and full of water, and the nearby hills had some snow (certainly no “desert look” this time). Hundreds of vehicles and buses were arriving, and after paying at the entrance, I was guided to park the car in the giant car-park nearby, then to go in shuttle-buses to the ski-site; a quick and very neat operation, I must admit.
This time there were thousands of people hustling and bustling and slipping and sliding everywhere and queuing in long lines for the many things to do at a ski place. It was marvelous to watch many people enjoying themselves, and I was lucky to find a short queue at one cafeteria to get coffee (and I wasnt so clever by leaving my camera in the car).
I had a few casual chats and a few laughs with total strangers, and I was told this snow was the best in a long time, but the queue at chairlift was too long. Long lines were everywhere, so I left, having decided to return again the following week.
One week later… while on my way to the ski site on a lovely rainy day, I was told at the petrol-station near Tiberias, that the roads to the ski-site were closed, and at this time the heavy rain had also set in. So, another visit, another time.
So now comes the most recent, highly successful visit in perfect weather, nice and early, blue and white sky, and not many cars in the giant car park. This time (with camera in hand), I walked to all the favorite spots where many visitors with many cameras take many pictures. I also spoke to many “professional-looking” skiers, who unashamedly told me that they were there for the first time in borrowed ski-outfits, and that were waiting for their first ski-lesson.
All the amenities were rapidly getting long lines waiting to hire boots and skis and ski clothes and all very exciting. I had done some skiing years earlier, but a problem knee this day prevented me from that. I took a lovely fresh ride up on the two-seater chair lift, and after a few minutes was at the highest point, mainly for the more experienced skiers.
There are breathtaking views. Still, the coffee shop and restaurant were inviting and I had great satisfaction watching people of all sizes and shapes, even many men with full beards also giving skiing a go, then I took the chair lift down.
The queues were getting longer and the place buzzed with excitement. An assortment of big vehicles that move the snow were around, as well as many tough looking fellows who wear skiing outfits and know what they are doing.
After some more visits to several coffee places and a lovely snack served by a pretty girl, then sitting relaxing in the sun on the sundeck and taking a few more pictures, I guess that successful visit was worthwhile.
When you decide to visit, dont forget to ask for some excellent colorful brochures, and in the large cafeteria ask for a “paper place-mat” that has cartoon drawings of the full scene.
When I left, and the snow got thinner on the hills and the air warmed up as I traveled away, I again had the feeling that I would return.
OKAY all of you , go and do your thing and we will meet at the snowman in 4 hours.. Oh, so you all have sore bums..from skiing ! oh well, next time it will be easier. Get comfortable while we take the shuttle to the parking and find our car.
A short drive back into Majdal e shams and a quick coffee at coffeeshop next to the filling station, where the owner told us about the difference between a village and town status..sure was interesting.
We will take the back road out for a longish drive..and I think this short-cut will get us to the main road..Hey whats that sign ? did anybody see it ..Naah !..lemme reverse.. the sign says ” Witch and milkmaid” pointing up..lets take a look.. we follow the few signs and drive into a small fenced area and see what looks like a restaurant..lets go look..when we found the back parking lot we see it is a restaurant…lets go see..okay..WOW what a surprise,
A lovely warm place, and looking thru picture windows at the fantastic views down in front of us…I suggested we have a hot home-made vegetable soup with brown bread..and that warms us quickly.
We learn there are 18 homes on this small moshav http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nimrod_(Israel) and many of the wooden houses are for rent for holiday..take a look at www.witch.co.il (although only Hebrew) still play around on all the words to see some pictures and the incredible views.
Then we need to move to get to Kuneitra before sunset to be able to see something of that mysterious place..an entire village stands empty and no movement within. A large United Nations complex below us does not permit casual visitors.
The chap inside the small food kiosk spoke no English so I suggest google to Kuneitra and choose a story to read also see a quick explanation at http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/kuneitra.html
The sun sets quickly and early, and on the drive to Kare Deshe we can discuss the next trip..perhaps find a number of bridges that the Jordan River flows under, and at least one that the river runs over the bridge..and to find the “Aunties Bridge”.. where a few older ladies who did charitable volunteering were drowned in a flood,(they were known as “the aunties”) and the bridge was washed away and never rebuilt.
Soon the roads will be very busy, many vehicles heading home or for entertainment places..and we arrive back at our hostel..NO running around this night..all our backsides need a rest.
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