• Kobi Tour Guide of Israel

Tour Guide on Tour: Hiking, National Parks, Wine & Cheese

This past week your trusty Israel tour guide took a 3-day trip to the coast and north of Israel: Wineries, dairies, national parks an incredible heritage museum and the grave of maybe the most famous person who never lived. Check it out (photos at the bottom):


Day 1:


The Grave of Harry Potter - I actually wrote an entire separate blog post about this here, but Israel is the final resting place of Harry Potter - just not the one you are thinking of. This one was a British soldier who was killed in 1939 during the Arab Revolt against the British rule here. For more click here: https://www.tourguideofisrael.com/post/tour-guide-on-tour-the-grave-of-harry-potter


Appolonia/Arsuf National Park - This is a small national park on Israel's coast which for the most part consists of a small Crusader fortress in eyesight (on a clear day) of both Jaffa and Caesarea. While the ruins themselves aren't overly impressive compared to others here (though perhaps in other countries they would be a major attraction) it is their dramatic setting on a cliff over the Mediterranean Sea which is worth the visit. Mostly I really just want to play laser tag there with an invading army verses the castle defenders.


Jacobs' Dairy Farm - In the Hefer Valley there is a dairy farm that makes a huge number of different cheeses . We stopped in for a cheese plate, some local wine (which was quite nice) and a few other things. The stronger goat cheeses were definitely their forte - the regular ones were a bit bland, but honestly we couldn't come close to trying them all as tastings were cancelled due to corona. The best things were the cheesy baked goods that looked South American including what my daughters would call the "palito de queso" (cheese finger) as well as an empanada. There was also an ice cream place attached there which makes it a cute and easy stop.


Tulip Winery - This was the highlight of the day for me. Tulip is one of two wineries here (of which I am aware) that specifically works with the special needs population. On top of that the wine is fantastic; we were even treated to a taste of their flagship wine, the Black Tulip. We had personalized service and to top it off, the cheese plate comes from Barkanit, which is the best cheese maker in all of Israel. Basically, it's another great stop for my Israel culinary tour. You can learn about the perfect way to experience Israel - through food and wine - right here: https://www.tourguideofisrael.com/culinary-tours


Bet Shearim - This is a national park which consists of a giant necropolis. Sounds exciting right? It's actually a fascinating place; some 40 giant tombs cut into the rocky hillside. And buried inside of them? Some of the greatest rabbis in history including Yehuda HaNasi who was the first one to write down the oral law, the Mishna. We also stopped to see the synagogue as well.


Day 2:


Nachal Amud Hike - Nachal Amud is a riverbed with water year-round which sits in the Upper Galilee. It is part of the famous "sea to sea" hike from the Mediterranean Sea to Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee), however the national park includes the water pools and is a loop trail. We climbed down into the canyon, saw the ruins of ancient flour and textile mills and even some local wildlife, went for a swim in the very cold and refreshing water and then climbed back up. Fortunately they sell ice cream up top and I get a new melon flavored one.

It's a great addition to a day in the mystical city of Tzfat.


Tel Hazor - This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site - one of the ancient cities which were built one on top of the other (known as tels) - such as Megiddo and Gezer. During the Canaanite period it was the greatest of all their cities - three times larger than the next one. It has a great view of the Golan Heights and Galilee Mountains from the Hula Valley. While it has been fixed up in the past number of years to become incredibly accessible (including wheelchair accessible), the site itself pales in comparison to Megiddo and is really for Biblical history enthusiasts.


Rosh Pina - Rosh Pina is a very small and cute town that began 140 years ago as a First Aliyah community. The old town is only about 3 small blocks and is rich in stories. Mostly I went to check out a new app game for kids to learn a bit about the town and play a game which takes them around the town trying to find a stolen treasure. I thought it would be great for a family with kids from 7-14 but the adult version of the game was not really for adults. If I were guiding a family through Rosh Pina it would be a great way to entertain the kids while I talked to the adults about the site (and some of its ahem - juicier - stories).


Day 3:


It was brutally hot this week - over 40C/104F each day - so on our last day we decided that we just wanted to be inside and not walk much.


Bethlehem of Galilee Spice Farm - There is nothing like a giant room full of spices, teas, blends and more to spice up all of your cooking. I always hope to get here at least once a year and can't wait to try the mix I got to add to my alfredo sauce.


Vitkin Winery: We stopped for brunch at the VItkin Winery back in the Hefer Valley. Basically it was some focaccia with cheese from Jacobs' Farm and some young Mediterranean-style wines (i.e. light). That meant no Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, etc. Basically, if you like that kind of wine you'd be in heaven, but for me I like my wine and cheese strong :).


Yemenite Heritage Center: This was perhaps my favorite part of the trip and not just because it was the first thing in air conditioning in 3 days. A new museum opened up 3 years ago about the history and culture of the Yemenite Jews, it was very well done and had a great movie. The best part of it was learning that they could make an incredible experience out of it - dressing up in Yemenite clothes, learning Yemenite dance, eating traditional foods and even a tour of the old Yemenite neighborhood and synagogues. This would be perfect for one of my special Israel multicultural tours where we learn about the ethnic mosaic that makes up the Jewish state. For more on those click here: https://www.tourguideofisrael.com/ethnic-mosaic-tours


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