Time for a cool summer vacation high in the northern mountains

Despite the hot sumer heat and the coronavirus pandemic, there's still lots of places in Israel to go.

The Metula Travel Hotel offers boutique accommodations in a 1938 building in the heart of the picturesque colony on Rishonim Street in Metula. (photo credit: TALY SHARON)
The Metula Travel Hotel offers boutique accommodations in a 1938 building in the heart of the picturesque colony on Rishonim Street in Metula.
(photo credit: TALY SHARON)
Despite the hot weather, summers in Israel can be cool and exciting, especially up in the mountains. For a cool summer vacation you can sleep at the Metula Travel Hotel, climb the Israeli Via Ferrata at Manara Ramim Cliff, or take the cable car to Mount Hermon and enjoy the summer toboggans and the new Sky Rider. As for eating, there are some informal dining options such as Ayuni at Metula and Café Market Agamon Nimrod near Hula Lake.
Metula Travel Hotel
The Metula Travel Hotel offers boutique accommodations in a 1938 building in the heart of the picturesque colony on Rishonim Street in Metula. As part of a network of travel hotels, couples and families can stay in a cozy and clean place for an affordable price. As someone who travels a lot and stayed in various hotels, I really liked the place. Although this is a basic and affordable hotel, it had everything we needed, and everything was high quality.
The old hotel building has been renovated while retaining its original features such as the vintage staircase. The hotel is small and intimate with 27 rooms. Four are holiday apartments (double rooms) and seven have a balcony. 
They have exactly what is needed for travelers at the end of a busy day: a cozy, clean and air-conditioned room, comfortable beds and a refreshing shower. Everything is modern. There is a fridge, teapot and a good breakfast that includes a selection of salads, dips, cheeses and an omelet, which is now served in person rather than at a buffet in order to maintain hygiene. 
There is also a nice courtyard where you can eat, relax and have a cup of coffee while the children run around and enjoy the fresh air.
The Travel Hotels chain has six hotels in the Western and Upper Galilee specially adapted for travelers.
Travel Hotels, travelhotels.co.il, 04-688-3040.
The Via Ferrata route for climbing and walking on the edge of Ramim Cliff in Menara is one of the relatively new attractions in the Kiryat Shmona area. (Credit Taly Sharon)The Via Ferrata route for climbing and walking on the edge of Ramim Cliff in Menara is one of the relatively new attractions in the Kiryat Shmona area. (Credit Taly Sharon)
Via Ferrata at Manara Ramim Cliff
The Via Ferrata route for climbing and walking on the edge of Ramim Cliff in Menara is one of the relatively new attractions in the Kiryat Shmona area. We spent about three hours of pure enjoyment viewing the Hula Valley and realized that Israel can compete with Europe in terms of extreme attractions. The Via Ferrata climbing route provides lots of adrenaline for the whole family in a pleasant mountain climate even on hot days.
The term “Via Ferrata” comes from Italy and means “iron road.” It is a climbing and walking route on the edge of a cliff, on which pegs and ladders are installed. Hikers on the trail are secured to a steel cable attached along the entire length of the trail, allowing safe walking and climbing.
This route, called King’s Road, is the first and only such route that exists in Israel today. It was established in 2017 at the initiative of Yoav Rotem and Alon Malachi, members of the Upper Galilee climbing community. The route was established on the Ramim Ridge overlooking Kiryat Shmona and the Hula Valley, and was built in memory of the late Nir Melech, a pioneer in the field of climbing in the North. Sadly, Melech was killed in May 2006 during preparations for some challenging activities as part of his work.
The route passes through forests and grove trees, rich vegetation and impressive rocks inlaid with minerals. It goes in front of the mesmerizing landscape of the Hula Valley, the Golan Heights and Mount Hermon that stretch along its entire length. The challenging route involves a steep ascent accompanied by ropes in dangerous places, and an adrenaline-filled climbing journey between challenging rock passages, pegs and climbing ladders, bridge crossings and of course, rest areas on the cliff edge, allowing you to stop for a moment, breathe and soak up the whole experience.
The track is designed for everyone with good health and basic fitness, including families with children over the age of seven (who meet the standards of safety equipment, e.g. max. 120 kg.). There are two ways to hike the route. The first, which I recommend, is a guided tour. Those with some climbing experience can rent climbing equipment.
Via Ferrata, vfisrael.co.il, Yoav Rotem, 054-674-6440, viaferrataisrael@gmail.com
Ayuni Metula
The Ayuni Restaurant is a Greek tavern (Hamara) and Galili club in Metula. It is a place to eat and hang out that features a local ambiance. The house that Ayuni is situated in was a welcome house for soldiers during the Lebanon wars. Esther Lveitt operated it, and when she died it was abandoned. Nir and Naama Harel fell in love with the house and dreamed of opening a place there for the locals to gather. The name came from the local creek Ayuni.
The decor at Ayuni is a vintage wood with wide windows and a fireplace for cool evenings. The music is pleasant. It is the place to drink beer and eat light meals. 
There is a selection of sandwiches made with fresh bread that was locally baked. There are hamburgers, salads, vegetables, starters and pizzas that are made of Italian flour. I had a unique pizza with spinach cream and lots of arugula on top, something you won’t find in many places.
Ayuni, 21 Harishonim, Metula, open all week. Take-outs available, ayunirest.com, not kosher.
The Café Market Nimrod at the Agamon Market was part of the Nimrod Segev restaurant chain. (Credit Taly Sharon)The Café Market Nimrod at the Agamon Market was part of the Nimrod Segev restaurant chain. (Credit Taly Sharon)
Café Market Nimrod Agamon
The Café Market Nimrod at the Agamon Market was part of the Nimrod Segev restaurant chain. The chain was recently on the news as most of the cafes were closed due to the pandemic. However, some of the cafes were operated by franchisees and are still open, like Café Market Nimrod at the Agamon. The café is situated near the southern entrance of the Agamon Market Mall facing the Galilee Mountains. Both seating and takeaway are available in the café and also at their bakery.
The café serves pastries, entrees, pastas, fish and a variety of desserts that are all delicious. The dishes are large and the prices are reasonable. The restaurant a favorite of the locals, and I could see why. Everything we had there no less than excellent. I highly recommend the fish dishes.
Café Market Nimrod, Agamon Market, Hula Junction, near Hotel Galilion, 04-871-6407. Open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m.. Not kosher, but all the ingredients are Mehadrin and the food is strictly dairy. 
 Mount Hermon is the coolest place in Israel, which is a good reason to take the new cable car bubble and climb up to the peak. (Credit Taly Sharon) Mount Hermon is the coolest place in Israel, which is a good reason to take the new cable car bubble and climb up to the peak. (Credit Taly Sharon)
Mount Hermon is the coolest place in Israel, which is a good reason to take the new cable car bubble and climb up to the peak. (Credit Taly Sharon)Mount Hermon is the coolest place in Israel, which is a good reason to take the new cable car bubble and climb up to the peak. (Credit Taly Sharon)

 
Mount Hermon summer attractions
Mount Hermon is the coolest place in Israel, which is a good reason to take the new cable car bubble and climb up to the peak. The breeze there is amazing and we almost needed a sweater. The new cable car has 42 bubbles. Each allows boarding for a single party with social distancing. 
Each Friday, two free guided tours start at an elevation of 2,040 meters. Participants see unique fauna and flora while hearing the history of this site and enjoying the magnificent views of Syria, the Golan, Galilee, the Hula Valley and the Lebanon Mountains.
The lower level of the site offers a number of attractions, including the new Sky Rider and Summer Toboggan. The Sky rider is a circular, suspension-style roller coaster. It reaches the height of 12 meters and is especially suited for the smaller ones in the group. 
The Summer Toboggan is for the brave ones, a one-kilometer long roller coaster-like ride reaching speeds as fast as 45 km/h. It is quite a ride. Mount Hermon is a great attraction for all the family.
The site is open daily from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (last entrance at 3 p.m.). Entrance is free but there is a fee for the cable car and the rides. skihermon.co.il, 1-599-550-560 

The author was a guest of the sites mentioned in the article.