Friday, October 3, 2008

So if you were wondering... camping Israeli-style

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And for that matter even if you weren't wondering... Yes, we did camp right by that spring-fed pool and those palm trees. I can't believe I've lived here all these years without knowing this wonderful little corner of the country existed, but there you have it. I didn't. Now I do, though sadly it will close for the season in a few weeks. We'll definitely be making up for lost time next spring though. Just look at the smile on my daughter's face and you'll understand why.
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Did any of you locals recognize where we were? It's definitely possible that we were in fact the very last people to discover this place, although from the lack of crowds (on Rosh Hashana!) I'm inclined to believe that there are a few clueless others out there. This idyllic spot is Ganei Huga (no English website but you can see their photo gallery here). Now this might not look like the height of luxury for those of you used to lovely private wooded campsites in the US, but by Israeli standards this was palatial - when we arrived at 2pm we still had our choice (!!) of shaded areas, most with their own picnic tables. There are no assigned campsites in Israel - "camping" is just a large flat space with minimal facilities and usually you're lucky if you find 2 square feet to call your own, so you'll understand that to not have anyone for about 30 feet on either side of you feels almost decadent. There was no one at all in front of us so we had an unobstructed view straight down to the water about 30 yards away.
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(Taken early in the morning before splashing children ruined the reflections)
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There were large grassy lawns, clean bathrooms with hot showers, a small restaurant (which we didn't try, except to buy iced coffee and ice cream) and of course lots of water activities for the kids - a Tarzan swing out into the water, slides, boats and even waterfalls to hide behind. None of the pools were that deep, making this an ideal spot for families with younger children (sort of a shallow-water version of Sahne, for you locals - and Ganei Huga's Omega (Tarzan swing) is free).
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Look at all that empty green space all around!
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Everyone was sorry when it was time to pack up and go home, but we're all already looking forward to next time. (I am loving my kids' newfound passion for camping and the outdoors. So fun.)
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Now about the O'Malleys....
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The family group you see in the background (top right corner) of the photo below were the only ones camped anywhere near us. They weren't even that close, but they did make up for the distance by being very loud. They weren't trying to be obnoxious, they just spoke Too. Loudly. All. The. Time. Why the O'Malleys you ask? Because they spent the entire, and I mean the ENTIRE, two days talking about cars. Cars and tires. Tires and cars. Cars and tires. And then more cars. All. The. Time. The whole time Jay and I kept laughing that we'd discovered George O'Malley's long-lost Israeli relatives! (Note to self: do NOT look at Wikipedia's Grey's Anatomy site again - Jay and I are only on season two and I just spoiled three season's worth of plot twists for myself!)
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Edited to add a link to Carmi's Thematic Photographic, since I just discovered that this week's theme is "kids". I'd say this post fits the bill.
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26 comments:

Nancy said...

Your photos ... once again, beautiful!

This looks like a fantastic family campground. The kids faces speak volumes.

Maribeth said...

What a great spot! I never imagined a place like that existed in Israel.

Dawn on MDI said...

What a marvelous campground area! I have to admit that palm trees throw me. They just do. Camping to me has always meant woodsy areas with pines and firs and hardwoods mixed in. The idea of a big lawn with palm trees just feels odd. The first picture looked almost like a golf course water hazard. The pool with the slides was absolutely genius. Here in the states there would have to be dozens of cautionary signs warning people that unattended children are in grave peril and that nobody will be responsible (sue-able) if your kid gets hurt playing here...

Thanks for letting me see into life in Israel for real people.

Robin said...

LOL - Dawn, that play structure did have a sign saying children must be accompanied, but no one was too bent out of shape by rules there. You were supposed to be 12 to use the Tarzan thing. Itai's only 7.5 but he can swim, so as long as I lifted him up to reach it he was good to go.

And if the palm trees blow your mind you should have seen where we camped last spring - on an empty bluff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, basically just a giant dusty sand dune :). No trees at all there.

angie said...

Looks absolutely amazing!

Julia Smith said...

Really beautiful pictures, and it IS amazing to see palm trees in a camp ground - but it's Israel, so palm trees rule. It's funny when you've been living nearby something that you only just discover for yourselves. That still happens to us, and we've been here awhile.

Head Gaggler said...

Wow, that really does look like an amazing place! Those slides look like tons of fun. Great shots. Oh and Happy New Year to you too!

Janet said...

Love the 5th picture down, and did you know you have a nekkid man on your blog? ;-)

Scribbit said...

You know I'm living vicariously through your pictures? Every time you post them I'm in heaven.

Genny said...

Now THAT'S camping, Robin. I'd love to wake up next to that water and enjoy a cup of coffee. Looks like you had such a great time!

derfina said...

Another version (and vision) of paradise! Your pictures are beautiful and it sounds like you had a great time. I wish I could see those palms in person!

Terri said...

I love camping!!!! Looks like a gorgeous location!!!

Lis Garrett said...

What a setting!! I'm not much of a camper, but even I could get used to that!

Shannon said...

Simply fantastic. Welcome home!

Jientje said...

Looks like you had a wonderful time! Welcome back!

Karen said...

That is not camping! Where are the bugs and dirt???? That looks like paradise!

melissa6 said...

AAAAGGGHHHHHH!!!!! I can't believe you went to ganei huga!!!!!! WE GO THERE ALL THE TIME!!!!!!! In arabic it's called Eina Soda!!!! It's my ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE place to go with the kids...It's perfect...it has everything you could possibly want!!!! Another gorgeous place nearby is The Sakhne or Gan Hashelosha near kibbutz beit Hashita, it is also fantastic but you need to keep your eyes on the kids more......ganei Huga is safer for the kids........

melissa6 said...

oh right!!! I just read it properly!!!!!! you mention the sakhne(spelling!) yeah...it is much safer for young kids and you can see them at all times.....

Robin said...

We'll have to meet up there sometime Melissa :).

melissa6 said...

wouldn't it be hilarious if we bumped into eachother!!!!!!......

Carmi said...

Looks like the height of luxury to me, Robin. What an incredible place!

I'll echo everyone else's sentiments: you capture places and events with such a great eye. I feel like I was there. Indeed, I wish I could be!

Shana tovah to you and your family. May the coming year bring us all a little more peace and a little more health and happiness.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

That is a gorgeous campground! Too bad it is so far away!

bobbie said...

Your reflections are super.
Your version of camping is not what I enjoy, but to each his own.
Your daughter is a lovely child.

g said...

Wonderful pictures, Robin.The palm trees don't bother me!

I like the serenity of the water photos with the stillness of the reflection.

Sweetanlo said...

Those are great photos for reflective! I joined late, here's mine

Sweetanlo's Reflective Photos

PastorMac's Ann said...

Looks like a wonderful time! Love your reflective photos, esp. the slides into the water.

I played too albeit a bit too late, liked my photo and so decided to post it anyway.

And if you have a chance could you please stop by Sweetanlo's Reflective Post

She has an amazing reflective photo posted and is afraid that no one will see it since she posted so late.