Widely considered to have been a bad move, Boxing day fell on a friday last year (2014). I awoke with sleepy eyes and yawned away all that post-Christmas grogginess you get from too much bread, lettuce and stinky cheese. Then stumbled out into the morning light with the others to a surprising breakfast of bread, lettuce and cheese.
Being accustomed to Jordanian Islamic fridays we assumed our best time to leave would be after midday prayers. It took a great leap of common sense to remember we were actually in a Jewish state with the looming deadline that is Shabaat.
With this new realisation that everything would shut down, buses, shops and whatnot by 4pm we hastily got our proverbial together, hugged and thanked our delightful hosts then legged it by taxi and bus to Jerusalem.
After some intermediary panicking due to taxi drivers who insisted that we had missed the last bus and so would have to pay them million dollar instead, we successfully boarded the second to last bus to Tiberias.
Arriving late in the evening, I realised I hadn’t noted down the name of the hostel. Another bold, Boxing day move of common sense. I felt a bit of a square.
Fortunately an Israeli policeman who had been on the bus with us came to the rescue with his smartphone and bag of sweets.
The following day we awoke to a mesmerising view over the Sea of Galilee and set about exploring.
With this handy tip in mind off we went promenading along the Galilee waterfront, ice creams in hand and eager for water-level based conversation.
We gave up very quickly and took instead to staring pensively at the water in a kind of ‘he fed that many with just five loaves and fish, really?’ way.
I noticed an old lady had snuck up beside me and was now leaning nonchalantly against the wall overlooking the lake. I assumed she was thinking along the same lines of us, “Jesus really walked on this ?”
But then she suddenly said:
“The water level’s not what it once was, it’s going down, such a shame,” my heart skipped a beat and my lungs did the hop-scotch.
“Tell me more,” I replied and then instantly regretted any original interest in topical water level discussions.
A short 20 minutes later after prying ourselves from her grasp we had a group huddle and agreed to collectively move on from this slip of judgement by going to climb a nearby mountain.
Up we trudged over barbed wire fences and through rocky grass, up, up to the Tomb of Rachel and the ancient ruins that overlook the lake. Then proceeded to spend the afternoon pointing out to each other how breathtaking the view is.
Another thing that makes it on to the list of top 12 cool things to do here is a trip to the local hot springs, right on the shores of the Galilee. Wary of our past adherence to this list but tempted by the good value and promise of a boiling hot bath, we gave in.
It didn’t disappoint, the water level was as constant as the steaming temperature of the indoor and outdoor pools. I felt I was getting into the swing of it so I went and sweated in the sauna, but then I got cocky and stepped into the steam room. One breath was enough to tell me I could get the same effect by being water-boarded under a stream of boiling water.
Around three hours later, sufficiently prune-skinned and subdued we hopped on the bus to Nazareth.
As the bus wound it’s way up over the hills that surround the Galilee I began to drift off into a sleepy haze. I was just conscious enough to witness the driver of the car in front poke his head out the window and projectile vomit whilst simultaneously steering round a sharp bend. I remember thinking ‘respect’, before succumbing to my eyelids.