One reason I don’t get out much anymore is the awful car that we’ve been stuck with. My husband has a car from his employer which is truly a blessing in many ways. It is virtually free to us, as we only pay the taxes on the presumed income that the car represents. We don’t pay for insurance, or gas, the company takes care of scheduled maintenance, and one wonders what’s to complain about? Except if you’ve sat in the front passenger seat literally unable to move your legs for several hours on end, with no proper back support, a seat belt sawing into your neck and no place to comfortably rest your arms. I cannot begin to describe the discomfort that after several hours advances to agony. Literally agony with my back screaming and me practically crying from the misery of it all. Then there is the getting in and out of the car, always a treat for any person taller than about five feet (150cm). Rather than getting too graphic it is probably enough to say that I hit my head approximately every third time I enter or exit the vehicle. Due to the nature of the area my legs are confined in I generally cannot get them in and out of the car by myself, and it is so low to the ground that even if I could swing my legs around by myself, and get out of the car without a concussion, I still cannot stand from the squat position in which I would find myself.
This being a charming introduction to a lovely little tiyul that The Husband and I took over the past couple of days in honour of our 33rd wedding anniversary.
We’d called and made arrangements at a little place which you can find online by searching ‘Switzerland in Amirim.’ It’s a delightful getaway with individual apartments and a shared hot tub, well up a mountain about fifteen minutes northeast from the city of Karmi’el. The trip up was reasonable given the distance, and we would have arrived in good time had TH been willing to phone for directions once we arrived at the entrance to the yishuv. He wasn’t, and we arrived at least half-an-hour later than we otherwise might have. That half-an-hour was unfortunately the difference between me arriving in good shape, and me miserable, whiny with pain and cranky from exhaustion. I promise not to complain about TH’s unwillingness to find out where we are going more than once more.
Even with the less than stellar beginning, the place was really just too nice. It was quiet, peaceful, and we had the hot tub all to ourselves, where we eased away a lot of the pains and miseries not only of too long a drive, but also of too long being just too overwhelmingly busy. I should note that the apartment was wheelchair accessible, if rather hard being a quite steep, unevenly paved stone path to the door. The wheelchair could not fit through the bathroom door, but for me that wasn’t too much of a problem as we’d brought my walking frame. The hot tub however was another matter. It involved going down five sneakily steep steps, approximately one wheelchair length apart. Then there was a short flight of stairs which I will leave to your imagination. No fun. The last bit was smooth and easy, comparatively. Unfortunately the hot tub itself was not designed with the non-able-bodied in mind. I managed to get in well enough, but getting out was a kind of exciting I don’t recommend, unless you are a danger junky. However, I liked it well enough to struggle back the next day for a second nice long healing soak – again having it all to ourselves. I’d have to recommend visiting in March, it was just utterly peaceful.
Minor disability-related problems included not having any table that could be brought for use near or on the bed, and no way to wash my hair in the bathtub. We ended up bringing in a plastic chair from outside, placing it in front of the shower stall, and washing my hair that way. It worked, but would have been so much more reasonable with some option for spraying water in the tub.
On another note, if one hasn’t my challenges, the apartment was lovely, the shower stall really nice, the kitchen a more than ordinarily pleasant one for such rental units. I really would recommend it, except for one minor (but decisive) drawback. I found the bed the most uncomfortable I can remember sleeping on since coming to Israel. Not only was the bed uncomfortable for me, but TH couldn’t sleep comfortably on his side. Which meant he slept on his back. TH snores.
Oh, that doesn’t begin to cover it. You’ve probably seen some cartoon or such in which the roof of a house in which a snoring character is sleeping is lifted off in rhythm to the snores? That sort of begins to give you an idea of what TH’s snoring is like. Add to that – it is not regular, but stops and starts, and reminds me a bit (more than a bit) of the description given to Granny Weatherwax’s snores in Witches Abroad. If the bed had allowed me to sleep, the snores wouldn’t. So rather than enjoy a peaceful and stress-free day, including some more time in the hot tub and possibly some sight-seeing in the Galil (Galilee) that I’ve wanted to do for a while, we headed out in search of someplace nice to visit and spend another night away from the work and cares of the home.
I did promise not to complain too much about TH’s failure to plan ahead or ask for directions? Oh, well. We searched in Karmi’el, not finding anything for our dining or sleeping needs. We drove to Rosh Pina, where we found after some wand’ring about and occasionally asking for help a really delicious restaurant, kosher, meat, which served steak and lamb chops like we haven’t seen in years – not only in Israel, but in New England as well. I had a delicious sweet potato soup (there is a soup of the day), and for afters there was a chocolate mousse. Oh, can I describe the chocolate mousse? Words fail me. So I’ll say it was good, the non-dairy ice cream was unbelievable, and I’d happily go back despite the price tag. Don’t go there if you are on a budget. The name of the place is ‘מיטבלים’ which I can neither pronounce nor transliterate. Sorry.
There were simply no hotel rooms or guest houses in Rosh Pina we were told. We found one hotel with several flights of stairs and we decided we’d try to find something near the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). Here’s where the serious complaints about lack of planning and directions gets inserted. We drove past signs for hotels because TH wanted to find a cabin on the water. We drove around in the dark; steep hairpin turns and dark yishuvim with no street signs. Finally we headed back towards Tiveria (Tiberias) and after circling hopelessly for far too long we ended up by default at what has to be my least-favourite hotel anywhere. Ever. It’s the Caesar, and whether it is in Eilat, or Tiveria, or some other pathetic touristy place, I recommend staying as far away as you can from this particular chain.
I don’t need to detail every complaint I have about the hotel, and maybe other people have had perfectly acceptable visits which didn’t include being kept away from eating the complimentary breakfast, or being hit upside the head with the bag of some woman who couldn’t be bothered to step out of the way or even acknowledge my existence. She hit me on the face and on the boob. I need some Ben-Hur style spikes on my wheels. But anyway… The room was overpriced for what we got; and the bed designed so that the mattresses slid apart leaving a trench between them regardless of what we did. TH slept on his mattress, and I mostly found myself in the gap. At least I was permitted to eat breakfast.
Leaving the hotel was also a challenge. We were on the fourth floor, and whether an elevator was going up or going down, it was always already stuffed quite full by the time the doors opened in front of me. TH ran down the stairs to ask if there was any other way I could get downstairs and was informed that I had to have patience. ‘Savlanut.’ Since the able-bodied people who showed up to wait for the elevators all ended up giving up and going down the stairs, clearly it is only the crippled who are required to have patience, and all others are allowed to leave the hotel when they choose. TH has his redeeming qualities, thank goodness, and located the freight elevator. He brought me to it and other than some dirty looks from hotel employees who clearly thought that *they* weren’t required to have patience, I managed to get safely and successfully to the lobby where the woman with the attack bag was waiting. It was not the worst hotel experience I’ve had in my life, but given the choice I would choose to stay in the Hotel Irwin (where TH and I spent a memorable night in Omaha, Nebraska before we were married – shared toilets and showers down the hall) rather than ever to darken the doors of a Caesar again.
I was also unable to swim in the Kinneret, or even in a hotel pool, so it was a rather unhappy and unsatisfied turn for home. We were able to make a stop at the Rosh HaAyin shuk on the way home, however. Someplace we lived close enough to visit every Friday for a while, it is simply a happy place for me. Too loud, too crowded, but delicious fried chicken can be had there, and good produce and people we are happy to see. It put a bit of good feeling into the endless hours in that most horrible passenger seat.
I would like to write something more happy and upbeat, but it was truly not the anniversary outing of anybody’s dreams. Giving it some thought, I can put it into some perspective. The time away from home was heavenly, desperately needed, healing. I can see that if the trip had been wonderful, or even less awful, I might have had a hard time turning back home. My home hasn’t been someplace I want to be for far too long. I believe that our tiyul was just bad enough to make me glad to come home, despite everything. We did have a really good time in the hot tub, an amazing meal, and saw some beautiful country. We got treats at the shuk, and had a very good picnic in the car (friend chicken and eggrolls 🙂 ). And instead of dreading the return, coming home was a relief, so good to be out of that car, to be able to sleep in a comfortable bed, and to have familiar and comfortable things.
I’m still hoping that someday I will finally have the wheelchair van that I have been promised. That whatever else happens, traveling will have one misery removed. A friend of mine warned me of a friend of hers who got a wheelchair van the same way I did, and can’t drive it because the vibration is so terrible she can’t bear to be in it. So – hoping. You never know what the future will bring.
One thing the future will bring is a different house. Sometime soon. In theory we take possession of the house April 1st. Because of all that is going on, including Pesach (Passover), and still huge amounts of work needing to be done on the new place, we are aiming to be moved in, or at least mostly moved in, by May 1st. Hashem willing. One thought we are kicking around is putting a yurt in the yard for additional space. All kinds of fun in the future. I’m looking forward to sharing some of that here as well.
Be well, all, and Gd bless