Tour Israel: Escape into the outdoors

At first, escape rooms were thought to be geared toward geeks and brainiacs, but then they quickly crossed over into the mainstream and are now the hottest new thing there is.

By MEITAL SHARABI
May 29, 2019 18:51
Tour Israel: Escape into the outdoors

Eco Drive Quest. (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI / NADAR KFIR)

Now that escape rooms are springing up like mushrooms all over Israel, it’s only natural that this incredible popular phenomenon has finally ventured out of the deep dark rooms and into the bright wilderness.

At first, escape rooms were thought to be geared toward geeks and brainiacs, but then they quickly crossed over into the mainstream and are now the hottest new thing there is.

As with every trend, people are always looking to bring their experiences to the next level, and so it’s not surprising that a new outdoor experience called Eco Drive Quest has opened its doors in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park. Brought to the public by Trippy, Eco Drive Quest takes participants on an adventure to save the city from destruction.

Accompanied by two trusted friends, I decided to accept the challenge, and we set off for Hayarkon Park. At Eco Drive Quest, located next to the children’s amusement park and the Tel Aviv Balloon, representatives deftly explained to us the rules and infused us with the appropriate mind-set necessary to complete the task at hand.

Eco Drive Quest (Credit: MEITAL SHARABI / NADAR KFIR)

Apparently, some mad scientist had become extremely upset with the way we humans are treating our planet – and Tel Aviv in particular – and so he decided that the best way to repair the damage was to start over from scratch. According to Eco Drive Quest legend, the scientist planted a bomb in the park, and in order to save Tel Aviv, we the people have been called upon to locate the concealed bomb and neutralize it by solving riddles connected with nature, animals and general Hayarkon Park trivia.

After we’d agreed to participate in this imperative mission, we were happy to learn that we would have an electric golf cart at our disposal. This was welcome news, since the sun was shining strongly overhead, the park covers a huge territory, and we’d been supplied with a heavy toolbox filled with gadgets that would help us solve the riddles.

Since it was a Saturday, the park was full of people out walking and jogging, and as we drove along in our golf cart, we deliberated over whether this was what it’d be like to reach retirement age.

We decided to pull over to the side for a moment so we could explore what goodies we’d been given inside the toolbox to help us solve this enigma. We found a map of the park that listed all the locations where we’d discover notes with riddles and tasks written on them; we found a first-aid kit that offered hints to help us solve each of the riddles; and we found a magnifying glass, a battery and binoculars.

Eco Drive Quest (Credit: MEITAL SHARABI / NADAR KFIR)

Back on the road and full of excitement and adrenalin, we set out with our map and supplies to carry out our first task, which was hidden at the Seven Mills Station, which is located west of the lake, and holds remains of the seven flour mills that operated on the site beginning in Ottoman times. Currently, visitors can see artifacts from three flour mills dating back to the 19th century, a sandstone dam and a concrete bridge.

When we reached the mills, we were instructed to use our olfactory sense and listen for the chirping of birds, which led us to the discovery of our first riddle. Once we were able to figure out which device inside of our toolbox would help us decipher the birds’ singing, we quickly arrived at the answer. I won’t spoil the riddle for any of you who want to go to Eco Drive Quest and try to figure it out for yourselves, but know that it was a really good feeling knowing we’d succeeded in solving our first riddle. And then off we flew in our (not so) speedy golf cart in search of our next clue.

One of the best things about playing this challenging game was that the riddles got our minds working at full speed, and we were led to charming spots scattered all around the park that we would never have ventured into had we not been engaged in this entertaining quest. Even though my friends and I had grown up in the area, and spent hours and hours in Hayarkon Park over the years, we soon came upon a site I’d never visited in my life: El-Hadar Mill (aka Ten Mills). Located between the soccer stadium and the Ramat Gan Mall, El-Hadar Mill is the largest and most impressive of the mills in Hayarkon Park.

Eco Drive Quest (Credit: MEITAL SHARABI / NADAR KFIR)

In the early 1990s, excavations uncovered this mill, which harks back to the Romans and was closed down during World War I when the retreating Turks blew up the accompanying bridge and weir. Of the few parts that are still standing, the most impressive is the western wall of the mill, which included 12 grinding mechanisms. In an effort to mark the spot, trees were planted alongside the northern bank of the Yarkon River and signs were placed on-site describing the mill’s historical significance. We plucked out one of the riddles at the site, and through it we learned a tremendous amount.

Participating in Eco Drive Quest didn’t only bring me back the energy and excitement to play games I experienced as a child. It also reminded me how to look at our world from a kid’s perspective, showed me what it’s like to be part of a team and how to challenge myself, and that taking care of our planet is so important since it’s the only one we’ve got!

Price: NIS 115 per person, minimum 4 people

Length: 90 minutes (if you’re quick)

Details: 1-700-700-412

Translated by Hannah Hochner.


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