It’s red down south!

I had previously heard ( before this strange epidemic) about the wonderful blossoming of the red anemones in the south of the country known locally as Adom Darom ( Red in the South) . Since we have never gone to see it before, and have just come out of lockdown ( 8th February) we thought we would check it out. I came across several possible locations, all around what is locally known as the Gaza envelope, a part of the country which for obvious reasons I have never visited before. We picked a place called Shokeda Forest,which turned out to be wondrously beautiful and green after the rains, and the trip was quite an eye opener. We finished off the day with a gorgeous sunset on the beach at Palmachim, right next to the Kibbutz,followed by home made scones and rhubarb jam at our son’s house. A perfect day indeed.

Obligatory pose with anemones

And so to Shokeda , about 90 minutes drive from home in the Sharon. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and the road open, it being a Thursday after the rush hour. We were accompanied by our faithful sandwiches and apples. On arriving at the small road leading in to the forest we were greeted by the chimes of two ice cream vans, a fact I stored in my memory for later. The forest was full of people but not so crowded that you could not get away and find serenity. The further we walked the fewer people we saw, just an occasional group of walkers of all ages or a lone runner. There were trails marked out for runners taking part in the Adom Darom activities. The red flowers were scattered everywhere and the trail in the forest was pleasant. We even saw a flock of sheep grazing.

After some time we decided to turn back as we had no clue if it was a circular route or not. So we retraced our steps to the car, got stuck into our sandwiches and finished off with the ice cream from the truck. After relaxing on our folding chairs under a tree for a while we set off for the beach at Palmachim so as to arrive before sunset (it being winter this would be at 17.25) On the way we saw the concrete shelters next to bus stops built to protect people from rocket attacks from Gaza.

Palmachim belongs to the parks authority so we didn’t have to pay to enter, and the car park gave us a generous reduction because of our Pass, so we were happy. The beach, despite this being winter, was quite full of people, some even braving the water, and loads of pro photographers set up to catch the sunset.

So admittedly we did get stuck in a horrendous traffic jam on the way back but all in all it really was a fabulous day. We shall see how the weather holds out, as we still have lots of hiking destinations to check out. Stay tuned!

“To the lonely sea and sky”

My late father used to love that poem “I must go down to the sea again” so I shall dedicate this to him. This trip started out a little weirdly but soon sorted itself out and became wonderful fairly quickly. I shall explain. I had booked slots at the Habonim Dor National Park ,as we had been there before some months ago, but as we only arrived after 2pm that had left us only two hours before sunset and we decided to drive on and catch sunset over the sea and leave this park for another time. So this was the other time, where we would hike the length of the coast and see all kinds of wonders .However when I punched Dor National Park into our Waze, we were directed to Tel Dor National Park , which confusingly is a different park . First we drove around all kinds of bumpy muddy trails which looked all wrong and then came to an unmanned park entrance which had a national parks sign but nobody checking passes or tickets. Odd, we thought. Maybe this is a new entrance that has not been opened yet, we thought. There was a nice new building with a shop and toilets, all locked up. Okay we thought , this is not where we were meant to be, but hey, it’s on the beach, we can walk, who cares.

So we approached the beach and found a red trail marked as per instructions .We walked a little way northwards, and then back southwards, and found lots of really gorgeous views, deserted clean beaches and then came upon a lovely paved way for wheelchairs, that ran parallel with the beach allowing descent to the beach at different points along the way and glimpses of all manner of fantastic rock formations.

The path then led up a hill giving us a breathtaking view of the remains of Tel Dor historical site, the ancient royal city of Dora, apparently inhabited by Canaanites, Sea Peoples, Israelites, Phoenicians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans .The view was quite stunning.

After some time the path swerved down to the beach and led us through the back of a kibbutz and then back to the beach again. We came upon a very sheltered cove with a few surfers, opposite the Nachsholim hotel. This being December there was no lifeguard, but the beach was extremely inviting.

At this point we sat down to eat a sandwich and I got a message that friends who live nearby at Zichron Yaakov were coming to meet us, so we headed back the same way we had come, to the car park which apparently is the car park of Nachsholim cemetery. The beach walk continues on both northwards (the blue cave) and southwards ( Dor beach and Maagan Michael) , and we will definitely be back to explore further in future. But before we headed home, our friends took us to the fishponds nearby where they said they had previously seen flamingos, so we went to see if there were any. There were, but it was hard to get close to photograph them. This is the best I could do.

This really is a stunning part of the country and we are really fortunate that it is an hour’s drive from our home. Today is V (Covid vaccine day) so I am hoping that in the near future we can travel perhaps back to Tel Aviv and museum outings and dare I say it, even farther afield. Wish me luck!

Slip slidin’ away in the Jerusalem Hills

In this hike I nearly killed my husband. Not intentionally you understand. But we did get a bit more of an adventure than we had bargained for. We set out for Nahal Katlav, a hike near Bet Shemesh near the Jerusalem Hills, a circular hike of moderate difficulty, supposedly around 7km in length.No problem, we walked over 21km a day sometimes in Japan, easy peasy we thought. The trail starts next to the Bar Bakfar restaurant just near Bet Shemesh. As we parked we were worried that there were so many people in the car park it would be crowded. But it turns out this is the starting point for a number of trails, including some really easy ones for kids around American Independence Park . As soon as we got on our black marked trail we saw few people. All went well at first, a reasonably easy descent towards the wadi, slightly muddy and slippery in places, but we took it slowly. A red marked trail branched off to our left, but my instructions said to continue following the black path along the side of the valley. The views were spectacular, even though occasionally the path was rather narrow and the drop too close to me for comfort. All around were lots of wooded slopes, pine, oak and olive, and yes also the smooth red arbutus (Katlav) that gives the valley its name.

After about an hour or so we met up with the blue trail, as instructed. Here things got a little complicated. The trail got narrower and narrower, and in some places we had to scramble up and down rocks, which we did with the aid of our bottoms. WE got muddy. No matter. But then… at one point we scrambled up an almost vertical rock face, and … the trail markers disappeared. WE could not see where we were meant to continue! Straight on there seemed to be no path at all. On our right a sheer drop into the wadi. On our left a rock face. WE climbed gingerly up it but could see no path whatsoever. There was nothing for it but to go back. Having gone back a couple of metres, we did find a blue path leading down still further. But at this point we had a feeling that this was all taking longer than it should (our pace not being that of spring chickens) so we decided to go back the way we had come. We had been walking for more than two hours, meaning going back was probably going to take another two hours, and this being winter, it gets dark before 5pm.

So we retraced our steps, by which time my knee was aching. But the view was stunning, we were out in the fresh air, and no people in sight. We made it back to the car totally exhausted and very muddy. An exhilarating experience. We shall go back and do the other end of the trail another time.

Down to the desert

On the way to En Avdat

Threatened again with yet another lockdown before Hanuka and it being our wedding anniversary and both of our birthdays round about now,we decided to spend a couple of days down in the area of Mitzpe Ramon, Israel’s modest answer to the Grand Canyon. Having persuaded my better half that it could not be done in a day and we would have to spend a night, I discovered that all the decent accommodation required TWO nights. By “decent” I mean not in a tent with no proper electricity or proper bathroom facilities, something I am not prepared to do at my age.

Our first destination was Ein Avdat, a canyon just south of Sde Boker, in the Negev. The canyon sits just under the ruins of the ancient Nabatean city of Avdat, and the wadi is apparently the largest dry riverbed in the Negev. As you walk along the canyon you come to a series of waterfalls and pools which make a striking contrast to the surrounding desert rocks. There are basically two possible trails here, one very short and easy and one a long and demanding hike. Guess what, we did the short easy one. But it was indeed very beautiful and photogenic.

From Ein Avdat we continued on down Road 90 into Mitzpe Ramon but passed the turning into the town to cross down into the floor of the huge crater, 14 km wide, and 40 km long. The views from the car on the winding road were stunning but there were few places to stop and take photos, and when we saw such a place it was usually after we had just passed by. Once you have driven through the hairpin bends of Maale Haatzmaut you come to a number of interesting sites where you can stop and admire the view of the canyon. The first we saw was called the Coloured Sand park (pretty self explanatory) , a short walk around it and you see the most wonderful views of the canyon, hard to photograph except with Panoramic mode. The site is actually a restored mining site now preserved. From here you can either hike or drive to the next spot, called Minsara (signposted “Carpentry” in English) where you can climb up a wooden walkway and see an interesting rock formation, which has produced some strange geometric shapes, hexagonal stones which are so regular as to appear man made.

As it was getting colder, and sunset is ridiculously early now (16.45!) we decided to drive back into Mitzpe Ramon and find a good place to watch the sunset before hitting our accommodation. There was a sort of balcony just on the edge of town near the visitors’ centre that looked good but apparently doesn’t face the right direction for sunset. We popped into the centre and asked the nice lady there where would be the best place to catch a good desert sunset. She suggested a place called Har Gamal ( Camel Hill) , gave us a map and told us how to get there. So we drove exactly 7 minutes (Mitzpe is a very small place) and found said hill and got ourselves a lovely sunset. We got out our thermos of tea and our beach chairs and enjoyed the show.

Be advised that when the sun sets in the desert the temperature suddenly plummets dramatically. So during the day it can be 22C and suddenly it will be around 9C and you quickly put on your sweater and coat. Since all the coffee bars and restaurants are currently closed, we headed for our accommodation, which proved to be quite nice. It had a nice balcony which we decided would do just as well as Camel Hill for the following day’s sunset.

Our Accommodation (with kitchen and balcony)

The next day I had a surprise for D, as I had reserved a two hour jeep tour on a sort of buggy called a “razor”. The tour was self drive (meaning HE would drive ) around the top of the canyon , and hopefully we would get some good views of the area. The office where we picked up the jeep was very close to our b and b, and on the way we passed through a part of the town known as the Spice Road Quarter, which in normal times would be full of shops, galleries and restaurants but which of course now is all shutttered. I did find some good street art there though.

At the office of Ramon RZR we met the genial Daniel, our guide, (who explained what to do) and another couple, Americans from Neve Daniel. WE were to drive one after the other, no overtaking and no bravado. The buggies had all been thoroughly sterilized, and we got bandanas and goggles to protect us from the desert dust. We had a lovely tour where Daniel pointed out by walkie talkie, a few things en route that we couldn’t hear over the noise of the buggy (one was the Mitzpe Ramon Observatory) and we didn’t take photos as it was too bumpy. But at the end Daniel stopped to take our pictures and to make us lovely strong Turkish coffee . All in all , it was a lot of fun.

Next we drove to a place called Ein Saharonim, where there is a hike to another desert spring. It’s only about 10 minutes from Mitzpe and the hike is supposed to be around 7km circular route from the campsite at Khan Saharonim to Parsat Nekarot and back . However it took us longer than we thought, and we got a bit worried we would get stuck in the canyon at nightfall, so we upped our pace somewhat, the last part of the hike being a steep climb up.

The route was interesting and had we not been pressured for time we would have enjoyed it at a more leisurely pace. The route passes through narrow canyons of polished white limestone pitted with little holes.

Parsat Nekarot

When we staggered back to the car it was about 30 minutes before sunset, so we quickly picked up a pizza and ate it on our balcony with a beer as we watched another desert sunset. On the way back to our place we glimpsed some desert ibex nonchalantly wandering around in the road. They had eluded us in the desert, but apparently they hang out in town where the food is.

Our last morning would be different as we left the Negev desert and headed back up north by way of Habesor National Park and Ashdod beach promenade. I found the park a little disappointing. It seemed rather neglected, and I was happy that our National Parks Pass had allowed us to have a free visit, as it didn’t seem anything to write home about. There is a small stream running through it, picnic tables, and an old railway bridge left over by the bridge. The mosaics from the Byzantine church that were supposed to be there apparently now residing in Australia. ( something to do with the ANZAC forces who fought here. )

Ashdod has a lovely new promenade, the beach was clean and pretty deserted (no lifeguard) and made for a relaxing end to our trip. We found a restaurant selling takeaway Georgian food, which we ate while contemplating the lovely Mediterranean. I wondered at the marvel of sitting on the beach on 2nd December in brilliant sunshine. And so ended another lovely trip around our beautiful country. Stay tuned for the next one…

Ashdod Kshatot beach

Going all Crusader

This trip was supposed to be a long hike from Montfort castle down to Nahal Kziv and back again and then on to Yehiam Fortress. But I underestimated the difficulty of the hike down into the wadi and also it turned out to be an 8 or 9 km round trip. So we ended up doing only the hike down from Mitzpe Hila Car Park to Montfort and back up again. This, although only about 3 km took us an inordinately long time, but we still had time to press on to Yehiam for lunch and then catch the (early winter) sunset on the new promenade at Nahariya before we headed home. In any case there was no water in the stream so we will leave it for next time.

Montfort is really quite impressive as you suddenly glimpse it from the descending trail, as it is surrounded by lovely wooded hills and the Mediterranean sea can just be glimpsed on the horizon. They really knew where to put their castles in those days. The trail down to the castle is a bit steep and strewn with rocks, tricky for those of us with knee concerns but fine for the younguns. The path is gorgeous and with every twist and turn we see the ruins from another angle. If you do continue down toNahal Kziv you can apparently climb back up on a circular route by following the black trail. But all along the way we met fellow hikers who wanted to know how far it was and how steep the path was. So we were not the only people who hesitated whether to press on or go back up. In any case the views were just stunning and the air perfumed with pine and fig.

After a bit of clambering around on the ruins, and ascending to the top part,where you get a stunning view all around, we headed back up to the parking lot and thence to our next stop Yehiam castle, next to Kibbutz Yehiam. This is a national park so requires preregistration and payment if you don’t have a membership. It has a lovely picnic area with lots of tables where you can consume your sandwiches. The lady at the ticket booth told us there is a short video at a quarter to of each hour.

Actually Yehiam is chock full of history, because as well as being a Crusader, Ottoman castle it is also the site where battles were fought by the first pioneers who inhabited the fledgling kibbutz at the establishment of the state in 1948, 42 of whom were killed while defending the place during the War of Independence. The short video was nothing to write home about but maybe good for kids..

We then drove the 20 minutes to the city of Nahariya which boasts a splendid Tayelet or Promenade along the sea front complete with fishermen and ice cream shops, the restaurants and bars being unfortunately closed due to covid. The ice cream was great as was the sunset.

Ancient Caves and Olive trees- Bet Guvrin

Olive groves around the site

This week we visited another National Park and UNESCO Heritage site, the Caves in Bet Guvrin the ancient town of Tel Maresha, just south of Jerusalem. The last time I had been to this place was to attend a concert in the largest cave, the Bell Cave ( in the days when we still had live music concerts) when we still lived in Jerusalem, and I didn’t actually visit any of the other caves here . All I remembered was that the site was quite extensive, and the acoustics inside the cave were fantastic.

Map of the site

So we set off to visit the caves, unfortunately not getting off to our usual early start. After hitting a huge traffic jam on the way we arrived at the park (reserved online ahead of time) at after 11.00. The map we got from the ticket booth showed us the different caves spread out at the site started with Parking Lot Alef through to Heh, in other words, 5 parking lots. Since we only remembered the Bell Cave at the last parking lot we decided to start with the first lot and work through, thinking that we could always come back on another day if we didn’t see them all (since we are currently tourists in our own land.) In the end we saw pretty much the whole site except for the Amphitheatre at Parking lot Heh. WE drove from one lot to the next, although if you wanted to you could hike the whole thing, At the end of the first lot there is a path leading you to the next one, and so on. But you would need more time and stamina than we had available. Note that the whole site closes at 4pm in winter.Walking between the caves is very pleasant as you have lovely views over the whole area.

The first two caves were called the Polish and the Columbarium caves. In both you could see the niches built to house the pigeons used by the inhabitants for various purposes, from ceremonial to sources of foods. It was tricky going down some of the stairs, but everything was well lit. Columbarium is obviously because of the pigeons or doves but why Polish cave?

“During World War II, Polish soldiers from General Wladyslaw Anders’ army – which was loyal to the Polish government in exile in London – visited this cave. They carved the figure 1943 (the year of their visit) into the pillar, along with an inscription: “Warsaw, Poland” and an eagle, the symbol of the Polish army.” ( From https://www.israel-in-photos.com/bet-guvrin-national-park.html)

From here we continued on to the next parking lot and the Olive Press Cave, where we saw how the olives were pressed to extract the precious oil.

The next caves were the villa and the Maze caves. The villa is not that impressive but the Maze is crazy, like being inside an Escher drawing. The steps go up and down and twist around, and at one point there is a pool you could theoretically walk through but the water didn’t look very tempting to us. The cave is far bigger inside than I realized as we went down.

Maze cave

The last caves which were really impressive were the Sidonian and the aforementioned Bell Cave. But first we were going to stop and eat our sandwiches. However, when we reached the two Sidonian caves there was a large cavalcade of cars of a group travelling together and no place to sit. So we continued on to the Bell Cave, first having our sandwich break. The Bell Cave is massive and seems to be inhabited by a large number of birds and bats (which I could hear but not see) This cave is the largest, has limestone walls, and is the only one which is easily accessible. The hole in the roof was how the quarried rocks were removed.

We then doubled back to see the Sidonian burial Caves, one of which was unfortunately closed, but the one that was open was really impressive with wonderful paintings (restored in 1993) These were used to bury the Greek, Sidonian and Edomite inhabitants.

It was now 3.45pm and the park was closing in 15 minutes, but we had made it, and seen the whole site except for the Amphitheatre, which we shall leave for another trip.

Hope you enjoyed it, see you on our next trip……

Winter walking at Banias

I must have previously visited the waterfall at Banias, otherwise known as Panias and Hermon stream , possibly on my first visit to Israel as a kid, but I really couldn’t remember much about it. So after the first rains we decided to head up north and check it out. It really is a wonderful place and we enjoyed our day there very much. We had planned to see both sites,the waterfall and the spring, Saar Waterfall and also the Monument to the Helicopter disaster victims, and end up at the Kinneret. This, it turned out, was too ambitious, but we had a great day nonetheless.

There are two entrances to the national park ( both of which require an advance booking during this Covid 19 period) one at the Waterfall parking lot and one at the Banias Spring parking lot. The two sites are connected and you can hike from one to the other.

The Waterfall one has the circular red suspended path trail which takes about 45 minutes, and the blue trail which takes you to the Banias spring entrance and is about 60 minutes from the Waterfall so the whole thing would take you over an hour and a half each way.

As we got out of the car we discovered there was an incredibly high wind, which nearly blew us over. At the ticket booth the guy said to be very careful. It was kind of exhilarating as we made our way down to the falls. The air was fresh and everything was green around us, and best of all, there were no people. We breathed in the fresh scent of pine and figs, and enjoyed the stunning view over the Golan. The most wonderful thing about Israeli winter is that the sun is shining, the sky is blue but you are not so hot that you can’t walk, as in the summer. All in all, it’s a fantastic time of year to go hiking.

The path down to the falls was fantastic, and the suspended path was just a wonderful viewing point for the gushing water. I didn’t remember this bridge from previous visits, so I think it must be newish. In any case the view is really stunning. From the here you continue on till you reach the Falls themselves which are just breathtakingly beautiful.

From the Falls you can continue on foot on the blue trail to the Banias Springs, or you can return to the parking lot and drive there. WE thought we were driving to the Saar Falls so we went to the car. After reaching the Saar Falls and discovering them to be still dry, (albeit with a wonderful view) we went back to the entrance of the Springs which were very close by.

Saar Falls were dry

The Springs site is pretty interesting and has the Roman remains of the shrine dedicated to Pan (hence the name Banias) and the city Caesarea Philippi. This is currently being restored but there are some archeological remains to see, and also a cave. Also it’s an excellent place to eat a sandwich and have an ice cream.

We didn’t make it to the Helicopter Memorial because we wanted to buy some wonderful fresh trout at the Kibbutz Dan fish shop before catching the sunset at the Kinneret. The only disadvantage of travelling in the winter is that it gets dark so early. So we popped in to the shop and got 5 huge pink trout which the lady put in a refrigerated box, and told us it would be good for 6-8 hours. We then drove down to the Kinneret and caught a great sunset at Nof Ginnosar (too early, not even 5 pm) . We then drove home and put said fish in the freezer for tomorrow.

A jaunt to the North – Little Switzerland

I had heard about this destination before but somehow never made it up there. The name I think is somewhat of a misnomer, if you are anticipating snow capped peaks and little chalets, and cows with bells. The Carmel Park, however is a fine destination for a day trip and pleasant hike.

At the advice of a friend we parked in a car park called Hanyon HaPitul, but there is another one at the end of the hike called Little Switzerland car park. The whole red trail that we walked was only about 3km each way ( not a circular route) so it made for a very pleasant morning hike, and we got back to the car before it got too hot. Even better, we passed only three other walkers on the way so we really got that lovely feeling of being alone in nature. We saw a rock hyrax and a small snake, both of which disappeared before I could photograph them. The mountain air was just glorious as was the view.

You walk along the edge of the Galim and Kelach streams and you can see the dry riverbed down below you. Most of the path was in the shade (early morning ). In the cliffs across the valley there are numerous caves which apparently you can see on other trails, but not the one we took. There are several different trails to choose but the signposts don’t specify the length or difficulty of them.

After returning to the car park we stopped near Kibbutz Beit Oren to see the monument to the firefighters killed in the Carmel blaze that raged in 2010. From the road it didn’t look very inspiring but close up I found it moving.

We then continued on to the coast at Atlit, where my map told me there was a Crusader castle. What the map didn’t say was that the structure is inside the army base so you can’t get right up to it. What you can do is walk along the pier into the sea and look at the view from there. The pier was somewhat wobbly and not very well maintained so I only ventured onto the end of it. Nearby there are flamingos at the Atlit salt flats but we couldn’t find how to access them so we left that for a subsequent visit.

Atlit

WE then decided to have our lunch at the beach of Hof Dor Nature reserve which was only a short drive from Atlit and indeed a splendid place to relax and eat one’s sandwiches. The beach is inside the reserve which has to be booked in advance, but this was an easy 2 minute process done online in the car, and as we have a pass for the entry to all Parks Authority’s reserves it was free entry for us. There were a few people swimming despite the fact that there is no lifeguard and officially not allowed. It looked tempting but we didn’t go in. We then walked along the coast a little way, where there are lots of beautiful coves, some sandy and some rocky. It was easy to find secluded spots and really very beautiful. We considered continuing south to the part of the reserve which has caves but the park was closing at 4pm and we wanted to catch a nice sunset somewhere so we decided to drive to Tel Dor. Again, it is always nice to leave something for a future visit. The Nature reserve part at Tel Dor is apparently still closed to the public, according to the nice girl at the entry booth of Habonim, but you can access the beach.

Unfortunately at this point Waze misled me and instead of directing us to Tel Dor, it sent us to Tel Dor Street in Hadera and once we realized the mistake we decided that if we wanted to catch the sunset (since we are now on Winter time clock) we should head for the nearest beach . This was a beach called Golden Beach Hadera which was actually very nice and full of kite surfers. By this time it was actually quite chilly (something we are not used to after the long Israeli summer) but we got our sunset and then headed for home.
Stay tuned for the next trip… will it be north or south? I don’t know yet but it will be after the RAINS! yippee.

Fresh air after second lockdown

We had the first lockdown before Passover and now second one over the Big Festivals of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succot as was obviously going to happen (to prevent everyone doing big family gatherings and congregating in synagogues) So now eventually at the end of a very long month or so, we are partially released. Although shops and restaurants are still closed we can at least get out in the fresh air more than a kilometre from home and see some nature.

Our trips have been mostly to our local beaches but today we ventured a little further to a clifftop park Hof Hasharon (Sharon Beach) which is part of the Israel National trail. It being a Saturday we decided to get there early to avoid the crowds, and managed to make it by 8 am, after first ending up at the wrong end of the trail, in an area where there was no parking as it was already full. So we drove another 10km to the correct spot and parked for free on a dirt patch.

The trail has several options, the most popular one being the red trail, which takes you along the cliff edge, with gorgeous views down to the beach at Gaash, a bit further north from the Appollonia park, which we had already walked before (see previous post on this) . The other trail, the black one, is less popular because the views are less impressive. After about half an hour the trail was starting to fill up with cyclists, dog walkers and others. At the beginning of the trail are picnic tables and a mobile cafe serving various yummy things.

Along the way there is a memorial for some young people who were killed hiking the notorious Bolivian “Death Road”. There are several lookout points where you can sit on a boardwalk and gaze out to sea. And there is plenty of interesting plant and animal life along the way.

Memorial to she young hikers killed in Bolivia

Suddenly we stopped to look at the view and a hang glider drifted overhead.

The views all along the coastline are really stunning, the water clear blue and you can see people hiking along the beach way below. If you want you can go down to the beach and swim after your hike.

WE will continue to look for interesting places to be tourists in our own country until such time as we are able to fly abroad again. In the meantime we discover some amazing places, even quite close to home.

A quick jaunt to the North before lockdown #2

As we are now going into a second lockdown starting on the eve of Rosh Hashana, and lasting at least 3 weeks, I managed to persuade D to do a quick trip up to the Galil and Golan to see some beauty spots up there and chill in nature, before we are no longer able to. Fortunately he acquiesced, so I booked a nice little zimmer in a place called Livnim, 10 minutes drive from the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) The place is called Sharvit Hakesem (Magic wand) and had three little chalets, and a shared swimming pool, but we actually did not see anyone else there. We actually booked direct which was cheaper than using Booking.com and the owner said we could cancel any time with no penalty due to the weird situation of Covid.

Sharvit Hakesem

On the way up north we stopped at a place called Ein Hardalit, which is part of Nachal Kziv. Here you can walk along the stream in the water. It was quite crowded but we took the opposite direction from everyone else and were rewarded with a beautiful unspoilt nature spot, serene and green. The water was only up to our calves at the far end and we walked maybe half an hour but it was most pleasant and relaxing.

Ein Hardalit

From there we continued along the Northern road, which runs right near the border with Lebanon, until we reached Livnim. WE checked into our room and had a quick swim in the pool which was fabulous. Then we drove down to the nearest beach on the Kinneret which was Hukok. We stayed there until sundown, very chilled and enjoyed the peace and serenity of the place. It was wonderful to see the high level of the water after so many years that the place has been dry. We even saw a mongoose as we were driving home but the picture came out too blurry.

Next day we got up and headed to Tel Dan Nature reserve which we had booked in advance, in accordance to the current Covid regulations. There were not many people when we arrived so it was pretty easy to keep away from people, and the walk through the park was just fabulous. You can only walk through the water at the end of the route where there is a wading pool that is pretty deep, but the water is ice cold. The whole trail takes around 90 minutes but we did it really slowly so it took us around 2 hours. We then headed back to the Kinneret and had a great fish and chips at the Ein Gev kibbutz restaurant on the lake.

View from the restaurant at Ein Gev

After lunch we continued around the lake to Lavnun beach. Here there are several beaches in a row and we went right to the end where you can sit under the shady trees right near the water. The water in the lake was heavenly. So we chilled out there for a couple of hours before heading home. This trip really made me appreciate the beauty of our country and made me feel sad we can’t do any more trips until things are safer. At least when this is lifted we will be able to hike a bit and the weather will be a bit cooler. That is something to look forward to, right?

Tel Dan