The departure from TLV on Thursday's morning to the Pastoral Kibbutz hotel at
Kfar Bum, was delayed by an hour an half. due to unexpected expediencies that "stormed" my dear friend Carmela, with whom this "British Kingdom" theme weekend, at this hotel, located in the northern tip of the country, was planned.
Amazing green hills, valleys. and agricultural landscape,yet still flower-less, welcomed us when driving North. through the enchanting Galilee's region.
In Rosh Pina
The lunch shared, on the way, at a quint restaurant in the historic town of Rosh Pina which neighbors Safed and the ancient city of Hazor, and from which the view of the valley below, was inspiring, on this winter cold but bright sunny afternoon, was definitely worth the stop. So was the wondering into the small artisan shops, tucked inside the old pioneers reconstructed stone buildings,scattered through the town's narrow steep alleys.
Pina B- Roash Restaurant
Carmela is studying the menu
Founded 80 years ago (1943) as a kibbutz in the Hula Valley part of the Upper Galilee ,the kibbutz was ironically named by the founding members of the kibbutz, who were primarily from the United Kingdom, South Africa, the United States , in honor of Léon Blum, the French Jewish socialist - former prime minister of France.
The quint village, like many others in Israel is privatized now a days, has largely expanded, and is papered by upscale spacious modern villas, that replaced many of the old pioneers modest shabby KIbbutz housing.
Almond and Orange groves and Wheat fields replaced the long gone cotton and pomegranates agricultural growth. light industry (metal working) have formed the primary economic basis for the kibbutz. supplemented in recent years with an increase by tourism.
Kfar Blum is located on the banks of the Jordan River at the foot of Mount Hermon and about 6 km southeast of the town of Kiryat Shmona. which made it a center for outdoor recreational activities including walking, hiking, kayaking, rafting and bird watching.
The views around
At Kfar Blum's Pastoral Hotel
Situated in the heart of the Hula Valley the 2 stories many uniformed separate building units, are scattered and surrounded in between peaceful green spaces, chirping of birds, and agricultural landscape
The hotel positioned itself as a get away meeting place for an audience who loves culture, nature, music and the written word experiences, and as a hub with close proximity to all the main attractions of the Upper Galilee region, including Lake Hula, Manara Cliff, Mt. Hermon, wineries, museums and motor sports.
As mentioned this special weekend was a tribute to the "British Kingdom" and was composed of related lectures and musical performance ensembles. in between loads of dining and a morning hike promised, all geared to the Golden age audience.
Agatha Christie Mystery
The lecture on Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan
(born miller) aka:
Agatha Christie the English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, presented by Nadav Halperin, (a TV presenter/translator) was much less interesting than mysterious, thus a short cat-nap, during this first event, which opened the weekend, was a better use of my time.
Following a humongous and tasty spread of dinner, on early Thursday eve the much later musical program was more stimulating and show-cased:
"Like Queen" - and like Freddy Mercury
An American accented singer, resembling but of a much larger body size, then the original Freddy, was accompanied by Israeli instruments band named , "Like a Queen", that electrified the advanced age audience, with best musical Rock and Roll hits. written by the British singer/song writer Freddy Mercury
The audience of about 250 people, got off its feet, and accompanied the music with excited hand clapping, rocking and dancing.
The morning Hike on the Golan that didn't happened
Friday's morning bus drive up to the Golan highs proceeded via the army marshal road
(Derech Maaz 877) which is lined up with tall Eucalyptus trees, planted deliberately to conceal from Syrian enemy eyes, any Israeli defensive/offensive armor mobilized up the road leading to the Golan Heights
Noami Margalit an old member of Kefar Blum was the tour guide on our bus, which drove the group, first to the remnants of the Old upper Custom House, by where the new luxury boutique Hotel PERE resort was opened in 2021 and then to the Commemoration Monument next to it.
Hotel PERE - The Wild Hotel
Pereh, which offers stunnig Chula Valley views below, was built on the ruins of the French Custom House, where in 1916 British diplomat Sir Mark Sykes and French diplomat Francois Georges Picot negotiated and signed a secret treaty between the United Kingdom and France.
known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement, defining the 2 countries’ “mutual agreed spheres” of influence and control in the eventual partition of the Ottoman Empire.
The hotel, is located in 4 buildings. The original Bauhaus buildings were previously used by the Syrian army as an outpost, but were neglected after 1967, until,in 2012, the area was purchased by visionary businessman Leo Glaser, who planned to open a hostel for tourists visiting the area. It took another 9 years and new partners to finally open the resort to the public, as well as institute a commemoration monument
Commemoration Monument (here)
5o years later, a new and overdue Heritage site for 11 Golani fighters of 13 battalion, who were tragically killed during the Six Days War, (June 15th 1967) by an explosion of an ammunition bunker, situated across from this Customs site, was finally erected.
The Monument was designed by Raanan Caspi, with 11 dedicated Oak trees planted with names of each soldier.
The tragic story which its details were concealed for years, from the families of the killed, are outlined in a book called:
"The Mountain that became a Monster" Book by Shaul Veber (here) The tragedy of the Upper Costume House
The bus ride continued from the commemoration monument, passing by the town of Kazrin, Ramat Magshimim, and Chispin, as well as by few water reservoirs, that capture, collect and store the Golans' precious rain water, which otherwise would freely flow via the few water streams, down to the Sea of Galilee.
However this collected water is much needed for the vast agriculture cultivation on the height itself. Thus the emptying Sea of Galilee - Kinneret has been getting recently, its replacement water fill, from the Mediterranean desalinated sea water project, pumped and flows inland, by the Israeli National Water carrier, (about this project)
The hotel's Activity Program promised a 4 km morning hike that Friday, thorough Israel Trail/ Golan Heights, for which we excitedly preregistered, However for some unknown reason, and though the weather was much friendlier then the day's foretasted rain, that hike option. to our deep sorrow, was canceled,
Instead, we were taken for a short stroll, at the south of the Golan, through a dry water Nob Swamp nature reserve / Nob Meadow, to pay a visit to the daffodil, narcissus flowers, which were in a limited bloom addition, this winter, due to insufficient rain fall.
So instead of a souer sweat smell derived off a perspiring strained body after a promised hike which hadn't happened, we inhaled leisurely, the sweet scent of Nob meadow's Narcissus flowers
Carmela and I made up for the canceled hike, by taking our own walk at the charming promenade near by Kfar Blum's hotel, along the Jordan River
The sky hold up dry until we were finished with our walk , and than an irritating rain drizzle spread over the rest of the day and through Saturday's departure.
Oren Naharin- TV presenter/commentator, pleased us with agreat presentation on Friday's afternoon on the "English Crown Family" Most informative and entertaining.
Later after an inflated Friday's dinner, a musical band named "The 60th" entertained the crowd who went Ga-Ga over, Cliff Richard, Rolling stones, the Kings, and mainly hits of the Beatles, all from that period.
At the end of the concert ,another duo run a disco dancing party, at the hotel's lobby, and the brave who stayed awake, way passed their bad-time, were rocking to tunes of Cha=cha ,Tango, Pasadoble, Twist and Shake music.
Carmela, who was reintroduced to the old dancing steps, after a 50 years hiatus, and I joined the dancing Golden Group (GG), and joyously dance rock ourselves to fatigue
I was so infused with adrenaline, and with too much food, that couldn't fall asleep that night for hours.. The last musical piece on Saturday morning's program included Sting Music preformed by some band, but was beyond our absorption capacity, so we ditched the concert earlier, and dedicated our time to an archeological exploration of the near by ruins of ancient Tel Hazor (off HWY 90)
Tel Hazor National Park - 04-6937290
Upon arrival, at the site, in mid-day, luck stroked twice.
*Miraculously the weather brighten up,. halting the rain. during the entire visit.
*And a most charming Guide from the Nature and Parks Authority, was as if waiting just for us, at the entrance (as no one else showed up) to take on this special guided tour
Shani Ben Canar - Tour Guide 0523242864 A Russian born who was raised in Norway, Shani made Alia in the 1990, and now resides in Rosh Pina. Having his guidance made the visit at the site come a live.
A model of the ancient Hazor
Tel Hatsor is identified with the biblical Hatsor – perhaps the greatest of the cities of the land of Israel in the Late Canaanite period. At its hay days over 15,000 lived in the city.
In 2005, the remains of Hazor were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as part of the Biblical Tels - Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba.
Located in the Hula Valley, at the foot of the Galilee mountains.it is stratigically situated along the ancient road linking the land of Israel to the Northern and Southern empires
In the Middle Bronze Age (around 1750 BC) and the Israelite period (9th BC), Hazor was the largest fortified city in the country and one of the most important in the Fertile Crescent
. It maintained commercial ties with Babylon and Syria, and imported large quantities of tin for the bronze industry. The Hazor expedition was initially headed by Yigal Yadin in the mid-1950s
Driving Back to TLV
From Cold Rain to Heated Protests
Driving back from the North during heavy rain showers, which Carmela managed with utmost skilled admiration, was less of a challenge, then me- navigating by foot, through the heated unti-Gov political demonstrations of over 10,000 angry protesters, many young and families, from various oppositional factions, who gathered that early eve, at Habima Square's central assemble point, but who also spilled over and clogged all around the side streets
"Thousands of Israelis took to the streets Saturday evening to protest plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government that opponents say threaten democracy and freedoms.
The crowd blocked streets in central Tel Aviv as participants chanted in protest of leading far-right members of the government and demand equal rights for Jewish and Arabs
Protestors were chanting "Ben-Gvir, Smotritch are a disaster, Israel wants equality" and "Netanyahu is dangerous, corrupt and racist!" Bar Peleg."
Photos taken by me at the Protest
Photo sent by Iris Stern
The opposition is bent to carry these protests against the sharp erosion of democratic processes induced by this Mafia like Gov coalition,, every weekend.
I only pray that the slippery slope of such contention will not skid into a bloody civil war..
Lili's Travel Diaries