Tales of the Upper Galilee

Next time you’re vacationing in a bed-and-breakfast, take a minute to listen to the owner’s story.

The cheese display case at Ariel Mazan’s ‘Alto,’ a boutique dairy. (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
The cheese display case at Ariel Mazan’s ‘Alto,’ a boutique dairy.
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
As I’ve traipsed around the country over the years in search of places to write about, I’ve encountered many fascinating people along the way.
There was the family that decided to move to the middle of the desert and start a farm, and the woman who left a successful hi-tech career to open a café catering to people traveling down South. All of these adventurous folks were driven by a need to leave the crowded city and make a life for themselves in the open country.
So the next time you’re vacationing in a bed-and-breakfast, take a minute to listen to the owner’s story. You just might find that your host has had the most interesting life and can make your getaway that much better.
During my most recent visit to the Upper Galilee, I happened to hear a number of enchanting tales.
SUP surf
One such tale was told by Heday Kinarti, a young techie who’d been in love with the sea since he was a child. He’s opted to split his time between his Tel Aviv office and the WIPI surfing club he formed in Shavei Zion near Nahariya.
Kinarti happened upon this pristine beach when he was looking for a good place to surf, and after falling under the spell of its tranquility, founded the surfing club on the spot. The club now functions as a meeting place for amateur water sport enthusiasts, as well as tourists looking for an exciting surfing experience.
Take advantage of the hot sport of the moment, stand-up paddleboarding (a.k.a. SUP surfing), rent a two-person kayak or take a windsurfing or diving lesson; there are also sailboat trips to the Achziv Islands, a cute coffee shop and lots of shaded areas with chairs.
Price: SUP lesson, NIS 150 per person; stand-up paddleboard rental, NIS 90 per hour Details: 052-705-2022
Goat’s milk boutique
Another day, I found myself listening to the intriguing story of the Mazan family.
The father, Ariel, a cheese-maker from Kibbutz Shomrat, decided he wanted to explore new opportunities. When the kibbutz privatized, he gathered his family members and together they formed Alto, a family-run rural boutique dairy farm that uses only goat’s milk.
Two years ago, the Mazans inaugurated their visitors’ center, which includes a café and deli. Enjoy the intimate café’s delicacies and watch the cheeses being produced; Alto produces over 30 types of hard and soft goat cheeses, all of which can be purchased on-site.
If you love breakfast food and sandwiches, the kosher café at Alto will soon become your new favorite place to eat.
Open all week except for Shabbat.
Historic hotel
A third memorable adventure was at the boutique Shtarkman Erna Hotel in Nahariya. Built in 1959, and known to old-timers simply as Erna, the hotel was refurbished this past April. For years Erna and her twin sister, Charlotta, ran the hotel; today, it is run by third-generation family members.
Just a few minutes’ walk from the beach, the 30-room hotel is decorated in a modern style with a touch of vintage and draws many return local and international guests. Visitors will notice authentic items from the early days, when Nahariya was being built in the 1950s.
There’s also a comprehensive library, and plenty of quiet corners where guests can sit and read or just enjoy the sea breeze.
Address: 29 Jabotinsky Street, Nahariya Price: NIS 650 per couple during the week; NIS 850 per couple on weekends
Extreme Acre
This past April, the largest extreme park in the Middle East opened in Acre.
There are attractions and rides for every age and style, including ziplines, a 2,000-square-meter climbing wall with over 8,000 colorful hand and foot grips, hanging bridges and a 30-meter bungee jump.
Open all week. Price: Entry, NIS 10; certain attractions require additional fee
Ben-Ami bikes
And if you love challenging athletic activities, you’ll be happy to know the Upper Galilee offers a variety of options, biking being one of the most popular. One of the trendiest rental shops is Ofan Teva in Moshav Ben-Ami, run by David Taub, a captivating character who knows every nook and cranny in the area.
At Ofan Teva, you’ll find dozens of bicycles to choose from, and Taub will equip you with a map and a few suggestions among the 10 different paths on a variety of levels. Some trails circumnavigate the kibbutz and then pass Ein Shefa, part of the Kabri springs.
Price: NIS 60 for bike rental Reservations: 054-444-1587
Dine Galilee-style
Of course, after spending the day being physically active, one must spend the evening replenishing the calories burned off. A number of successful restaurants recently opened in the Upper Galilee, and I would like to tell you about one new and one veteran restaurant I am particularly fond of.
The first is Adelina, a delightful spot on Kibbutz Kabri that’s been around for 13 years, housed in a stone building with an amazing view of the Galilee. The dishes mostly follow Mediterranean cuisine, with a touch of Spanish flavoring.
The restaurant makes an effort to use primarily local produce and raw ingredients, and specializes in tapas, as well as meat and fish dishes. A “menu for two” changes every day according to the whims of the chef.
Details: (04) 952-3707 Another restaurant that opened earlier this year and should absolutely not be missed is Yanivichi, located in Moshav Bustan Hagalil. Built on the ruins of an old dairy, it is named after the man who used to run it.
Using only fresh, locally grown ingredients, Yanivichi specializes in handmade pasta and meat and fish dishes.
Open every day from 12 noon Details: (04) 822-2122
Translated by Hannah Hochner.