A couple of weeks ago I decided to explore some hikes closer to home along the beach… There is nothing like a stroll on the beach: the beautiful sand, the gentle whisper of the lapping waves, the faint touch of the wind, and peering out into the open ocean dreaming about tomorrow… Oh yes and the nude men… why are there never any nude women!!!???
Anyways… the first hike I went to was south of Tel Aviv and danced along the Sorek Stream, which is part of the Sorek Estuary National Park. As I hiked along the river, I felt like I was back in California… there were huge eucalyptus trees, sand dunes, beautiful drift wood, wildflowers, and the ocean of course.
The Sorek River is like the LA river of Israel… The stream originates in the Jerusalem Mountains and flows along 70 km [43 miles], through the Judean Plains until its water spills into the Mediterranean Sea south of Tel Aviv. In the past the stream was notorious for carrying the wastewater of Jerusalem and other major cities but facilities for purifying the wastewater were built upstream – yeah for progress! Now only flood water and purified wastewater are poured into the river… That being said I still would not swim in it.
Once you get to the beach proper, there are a few sand dunes that rise up and offer a spectacular view, see the pictures above. According to our friends at Wikipedia, the sand on the costal plain results from the erosion of igneous rocks in Ethiopia. Grains of sand “hitchhike” down the Nile flowing into the Mediterranean Sea, which then due to the prevailing ocean currents carries the sand particles northeast to the land of milk and honey (i.e. Israel). BUT many dams have been erected on the Nile and almost no new layers of sand are formed, so the area is slowly eroding away. As a result this area is considered endangered and was declared a national park to preserve the natural monuments and the unique landscape. Go Israel!
The second hike I went on was on was north of Tel Aviv: Hof HaSharon. This area had a very different character but similar to the estuary it is also a national park in an effort to preserve the striking area from falling into the hands of real estate developers. The hike starts innocently in a dirt parking lot but within 100 meters you are greeted by this fantastic view of the ocean.
It’s spring so there were lots of wildflowers and these were my favorite!
After finding a little sand dune ramp, I made it to the beach where I was greeted by many nude men but I will spare you the pictures. The beach stretched for miles in either direction and I am definitely going to come back because it would be a fantastic place to run.
I was fortunate enough to be invited into Smadar’s (a co-worker) family to celebrate Passover last week. For those who don’t know commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. The highlight of Passover is the Seder, which is like the opening ceremony… during the Seder you recite the entire story of the exodus (The Haggadah) from ancient Egypt, wandering for 40 years in the desert, eating matzah and bitter herbs (to commemorate the bitter slavery endured by the Israelites), drinking four cups of wine (to celebrate their newfound freedom), and then eating a lot of food! All of this was in Hebrew of course but Smadar had a English version so I could follow along.
During the week of Passover, most of our customer’s offices were closed, which was nice! Plus there was no traffic! The downside was that there were no wheat products (unless it was made of matzah flour) at the grocery store, so I stocked up on bread and pasta the week before. The following Thursday I was with Smadar’s family again for another Seder to commemorate the splitting of the Red Sea and the Israelites arrival in Israel. There were some ritualistic elements but in general it was a little more laid back that the first one. Most importantly we got to eat Matzah ball soup!
It was quite filling and I felt like it was constantly expanding in my stomach. I had a lovely time getting to know Smadar’s beautiful family and learning a bit more about the Jewish heritage.