TRIP TO TVERIAH (TIBERIAS): THE CAPITAL OF GALILEE
Ever since I first traveled to Israel, Tveriah has been my favorite destination. I felt at home from the start. If you call it Tiberias, very few locals will understand you. In Hebrew the city is called Tveriah, in English Tiberias.
GO TO TVERA (TIBERIA)
Tveriah is full of beauty, surrounded by huge palm trees, with the scent of wild rosemary and thyme growing on the ground. The mountains and the lake will always have a special place in my heart.
Tveriah is located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, also known as Lake Kinneret. Kinneret comes from the Hebrew word kinor, which means violin. The lake is actually shaped like a violin. There are many beaches that you have free access to. Bathing in water is very relaxing, especially in the morning. If you are the spiritual type, you can also try meditation during immersion.
On my eight previous trips, I have used Tveria as a jumping-off point to explore other cities in northern Israel. But on my ninth trip in February 2020, I got seven months in the city of Galilee, which allowed me to fully explore the city even during the coronavirus pandemic.
MYSTICAL ENCOUNTER WITH LAKE KINNERET
I remember my first trip to Tver, when I asked people where the lake was. I arrived from Tel Aviv on bus 836 to Tveriah main bus station, hungry as it was almost 11:30.
After eating a delicious veggie sandwich, I went to the lake which is only 5 minutes away from the station. When I arrived at tayelet (Hebrew word for boardwalk), I looked at the lake for the first time.
Tears started rolling down my cheeks. I knew I was literally coming home. Since then I have always felt like I belong here and my love for the city of Galilee has only grown.
It’s worth waking up early to watch the sunrise over the beautiful lake. When the sun sets, the lake is wrapped in a mystical veil. The atmosphere is unique and very soothing for the soul.
On my last trip, I enjoyed bathing and meditating in the Kinneret. I just walked in fully clothed, with a dressing gown on, submerged myself in the water and let the water come up to my head. Even though I can’t swim, I like the touch of water and the smell of it.
After 15 minutes I got off and let the warm Tiver sun dry my clothes. Getting out of the water wet has the advantage of keeping the body cool during the heat. Kinneret is described as a lake, but it often acts like a sea and the waves are strong in winter.
I haven’t done it yet, but it is possible to rent a boat on the lake.
GUIDED TOUR TO TVERIA
Tveriah is a medium-sized city, and the city center is easy to explore. There are two main roads: Rehov HaGalil and Rehov HaBanim. From Rehov HaBanim you can access the tayelet (corridor).
The entire city is divided into four main areas. From Shikun Alef you can go to the mountains. I am lucky enough to see horses and ponies running free and even a peacock going from house to house. From Shikun Alef, you can reach Rachel’s tomb and the cemetery where many Tzaddikim (spiritual leaders) are buried.
I used to pray at the grave of Machluf Kub (he is revered as a great Tzaddik), the grandfather of old Mayor Ron Kub.
Three other areas, Shikun Beth, Gimel and Daleth, are higher. There are many climbs to get to different neighborhoods. While some people prefer buses, I prefer to walk even when the temperatures rise.
The heights of Tveria are called Tveriah Illit. From there you will be blessed with beautiful panoramic views.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK TVERIAH
Due to the resignation of Mayor Ron Kub, who has done a lot for tourism, in January 2020 and the ensuing coronavirus crisis, Tveriah suffered financial losses.
The former mayor kept most establishments open on the Sabbath, now it is more difficult for visitors to find a restaurant on Saturdays. The ones I mentioned here are the ones that are definitely open.
Tveriah is the best place in the world for falafel. There are many small snacks that make a delicious falafel. I love tasty green falafel sandwiches, and whenever I’m out of the country, my mouth waters just thinking about it.
Maybe it’s the strong combination of coriander and pepper that I like so much. A snack that I particularly recommend can be found at 32 Hagalil Street. There is also a nice snack bar called Taim Taim at the entrance of Rehov HaGalil No. 1. For a falafel pita, expect 16 to 20 shekels ($4.68 to $5.85).
In addition to falafel, there are small grocery stores with all kinds of delicious sandwiches and various dishes at very reasonable prices.
If you like restaurants, Hermitage on the Tayelet offers Arabic dishes and is also suitable for a drink. The atmosphere is also cheerful and musical, and the waiters are friendly.
If you like hummus, Beer Myriam is a good restaurant that also serves meat and fish from the lake. Meat lovers can try El Rancho. You will also find many restaurants in the center of Big Daniloff, 5 minutes from the main bus station (line 77). Café Greg offers delicious Israeli salads.
You should know that an Israeli breakfast is very filling and usually consists of salad, eggs, cheese and lots of vegetables. There are options for vegans and vegetarians.
Close to Hotel Donna Gracia there is a daily Shuk (market) full of fresh fruits, herbs, fresh fish and meat. Not only is shopping at the market much cheaper, it also helps the local economy, which is suffering from local politics and the coronavirus.
TVERIA, THE HOLY CITY
Tveria is one of the four holy cities of Israel, along with Jerusalem, Hebron and Tzfat (Safed).
Many sages of Judaism are buried there, including Rabbi Meir Baal ha Ness, the Rambam (Moshe Maimonides), Rabbi Akiva and his wife Rachel (Rabbi Akiva is buried in the Tverian Hills and his wife is buried on the road to Baal ha Ness) and Rabbi Hiyya.
I have visited all Jewish holy places except Rabbi Hiyya’s tomb. You must cover your hands when visiting religious sites. Also remember that women and men pray from different sides.
Rabbi Meir’s tomb is a mighty place of miracles. I know a French-speaking rabbi there who prayed for my mother when she was very ill and recovered quickly. It is also very common in Judaism to say prayers at the grave of a Tzaddik. In fact, you are not praying to the dead, but asking the Almighty to be heard through the merits of the deceased Tzaddik.
Tveria is also a holy place in Christianity. Here Yeshua (Jesus) walked on the water. There is a Greek Orthodox monastery (near the Hermitage restaurant in Tayelet). Also along Taylet are St Peter’s Church (Catholic) and St Andrew’s Church (Protestant). There are also some Messianic Jews (Jewish communities who believe in Yeshua) in the city.
You can also see the Islamic influence in Tveriah: an abandoned mosque used before the 1948 war of independence is highly visible near the tayelet, and the remains of another mosque can be seen in the tayelet itself.
In many parts of Tver you can see traces of Roman occupation dating back to the time of Tiberius, hence the name of the city. If you’re interested in archaeology, you’ve definitely come to the right place.
Near Piazza Leonardo is an amphitheater and you can see the remains of an old synagogue from the turn of the century.
Hamat Tveriah is also an interesting historical and archaeological site with hot spring water at 30C and 40C (86F and 104F). There is a small entrance fee.
BOOK A RENTAL FROM TVERIA
You can search for places to rent through Trip Advisor, Air Bnb, and Booking.com, or you can book a hotel directly on the web.
But you’ll probably find better prices if you search Israeli websites like homeless.co.il. There you have access to local landlords and pay local prices. Speaking Hebrew is of course always an advantage. It will greatly help your budget.
WHEN DO YOU COME TO TVERIA
Tveria has very hot temperatures. It has an average temperature of 37 C (98.6 F) and is warm and sunny for almost nine months of the year. Bring a hat to protect your head and keep water with you at all times. Drink a lot of water. The heat is bearable because of the lake and the wind.
It can rain at Christmas, January and February. When it rains, it rains. The rain is often heavy, like tropical rain. It’s usually nice to be out at night. It can be quite windy from 5 p.m.