Spending a romantic Valentine’s Day outdoors

The Tzipori River (photo credit: EYAL KEREN)
The Tzipori River
(photo credit: EYAL KEREN)
Valentine’s Day can be a lot more memorable if you just think outside the box (of chocolates).
Forget about giving your sweetheart a dozen roses this year; instead, try a passionate weekend in the great outdoors.
It’s much more exciting to walk in a field of fragrant flowers than to stay at home with a kitschy bouquet – and there are beautiful, mysterious spots all over the country where you can relax and have a picnic, or spend some quality time with a loved one and enjoy a break from routine.
Here are a few options for how to spend Valentine’s Day (tomorrow, February 14).
Blossoms around the caves
Nestled between the Sidonian and Bell caves in the Beit Guvrin-Maresha National Park lies a walking path covered by trellises of blossoms that is perfect for adventurous couples interested in a nature hike. On Valentine’s Day, visitors will be welcomed by a group of drummers playing magical African music in the heart of the Garden cave. Adjacent to the Bell caves, the Asphalt Theater will perform a show called Composta, which tells the story of a woman musician who shows up to perform in a music festival, but is the only one to do so due to a technical glitch.
Location: Beit Guvrin-Maresha National Park
Length of trail: 2 km., linear trail; free shuttle from ending point back to parking lot
Time: February 14, 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Details: www.parks.org.il
In search of amour
Many great love stories are tucked away in the narrow streets of Jerusalem’s Old City. If the walls of its alleyways could talk, we would be regaled with countless stories of innocent paramours. If you have an appetite for Jerusalem’s most famous tales of love, the Valentine’s Day tours are a perfect fit. The tours will commence at the 7Kook Boutique Hotel and pass the Anna Ticho House, where participants will hear about the ardor that bloomed between Anna and Avraham Ticho. The next stop is Hadassah College, to learn about Jerusalem’s version of Romeo and Juliet; then it’s off to the Russian Compound to look out over the Old City, where the guide will talk about King David’s forbidden love for Bathsheba. The tour will end at Safra Square.
Length of tour: 4 hours
Price per couple: 7Kook Boutique Hotel + tour, NIS 1,340
Details: (02) 580-8068
Light breeze from the blue sea
Even if you travel along the coastal highway on your daily commute, it’s possible you’ve never noticed one of the most romantic spots in central Israel: Hof Hasharon National Park near Kibbutz Shefayim, which sits above a high cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Couples looking for a dreamy place to spend time usually begin the path at dusk, since the view is breathtaking.
Directions: Exit the highway at the Shefayim- Ga’ash exit, and follow signs for the Hof Hasharon National Park.
Love and wine
Rimon Winery, located on Moshav Kerem Ben-Zimra in the Upper Galilee, invites couples looking to go on a getaway and indulge in the winery’s two specialties: wine and chocolate.
The decadent holiday package includes a tour of the vineyard and a demonstration of the wine production process; couples are invited to taste a variety of Rimon wines and gourmet chocolates produced on-site.
The winery is kosher and closed on Shabbat.
Price: NIS 120 through the end of February
Details: (04) 682-2325, www.rimonwinery.com
Alongside the river
The frosty winter weather may not have put you in the mood to wade in cool water, but you’d be surprised how pleasant it is to hike next to a gushing river with your honey. So if you’re interested in walking alongside flowing water and pungent flowers, but not in venturing too far away from the Center, a hike along the Tzipori River – which originates in the mountains above Nazareth and passes through the Carmel Mountains – is the perfect outing for you.
The Tzipori is a tributary of the Kishon River, and is one of the largest in the region. The trail along the Tzipori (follow the blue markers) starts at the old flour mill built by the Ottomans and continues along the length of the river. There are two separate paths you can take – either walk and return on the same path, or come with two cars and leave one at Kfar Ka’abiya.
Directions: Drive north on Route 6. Continue north on Route 70/75 and at Yagur Intersection turn east towards Zevulun Intersection; before you reach it, you’ll see a sign on your right for Hulad. Turn right there and after a few minutes, turn left and drive down the dirt road that leads to the trail.
Enchanting outing
Couples who don’t want to stray too far from home are invited to a romantic picnic and tour of Ariel Sharon Park (formerly Hiriya). The park has undergone a serious transformation and now offers lovely, green open areas and ponds. From the balcony in the park’s center, enjoy the 360-degree view of Gush Dan; you will also find a number of secluded corners throughout the grounds where you can lay out your picnic and relax.
Guided tours of the site are available, and there are also a few bike paths.
Directions: Entrance from Geha Highway
Price: Free
Let’s go visit the market!
Tired of pretentious restaurants offering food that looks but doesn’t necessarily taste good? You’re invited to join a charming tasting tour of the colorful Nazareth fruit and vegetable market. Yalla Basta, which organizes “food walks” in markets throughout the country, is offering couples a special tasting card that you carry with you to a number of establishments in and around the narrow alleys of the shuk. You’ll get to taste different nibbles at each of the six stops, with a guide telling amusing anecdotes along the way. What could be more fanciful than sharing falafel or Mediterranean honey cake with your sweetheart?
Location: Nazareth market
Price: NIS 79 Details: www.yallabasta.co.il
Translated by Hannah Hochner.