Saturday, March 26, 2016

Day Trip To Lower Galilee

On Tuesday the 22 of March, I joined a one day guided tour to the Lower Galilee area, in the north of the country.  It included , among other things, visits to a winery, a boutique olive oil press, a panoramic lookout , a cemetery, a former german Templers' settlement, a river and an adjacent park.

Morad  Winery in Yokneam little town

In both places, at the winery (Morad Winery) and at the olive oil press (Galili Olive Oil) we came  across happy founders (husband and wife) who had turned their hobby into a profession and got very successful. 
The Visitors Center in those production facilities offered  tastings of wine and liquers, olives and olive oil.  It also gave visitors the chance to buy products and gift packages at discount prices.

wide selection of wines and liquers

wine gift packages

 olive oil in tins and bottles,jars with olives, olive soap

The main attraction of the Zaid hill lookout is the bronze statue of the famous watchman Alexander Zaid on his horseback, gazing out over the valley that he used to patrol in the days of the pre-jewish state. It was fascinating to learn from the guide's lecture about Zaid's fearless personality, and the history of the place. 

bronze statue of Alexander Zaid 

At the 'Nahalal' cemetery we focused on four modest gravestones of two famous fathers and their sons : 1.Moshe Dayan, army general who at some point served as Defense Minister,  and son Assaf, a very versatile person ( movie actor and director, writer of books, scripts, and newspaper columns); 2. Ilan Ramon, astronaut who died in the american Columbia space shuttle crash, and his son Assaf, fighter pilot whose jet crashed during an army exercise. There was great sadness in the air.

Ilan and Assaf Ramon graves

Bethlehem  Haglilit, not far from the city of Nazareth, is a picturesque village with stone houses dating to its time as a templers' colony (first part of the 20th century). The place attracts many visitors, so it offers tourist services : bed and breakfast, visits to olive oil presses, spice gardens, cheese farms etc... A visit here usually brings up the question of which Bethlehem is the true birthplace of Jesus -  Bethlehem of Galilee near Nazareth, or the accepted Betlehem , south of Jerusalem, in the West Bank.

the water and bell tower of Bethlehem of Galilee

 I didn't quite enjoy the last part of the tour - the visit to the Harod stream- as it got very windy in the area and I wished I was back on the bus. Anyway , the Harod river runs through fish ponds, water reservoirs, agricultural fields, and is the main drainage artery of the Harod Valley. There's an adjacent recreational park, Beit She'an National Park, with spots for picnics and restored ruins of the ancient city of Beit She'an.

Harod Stream

sign indicating the stream, the park the bridges trail


  1. Ah, they have those olive oil tins, too, in Israil!? -I know them from Turkey.
    I guess it's better in warmer area's (like the middles east) so the oil stays in perfect condition!? :)

    About the Ramon men, it's really sad... even if one was an astronaut, they both died in the air. Like father, like son... so to say. D:

    Sounds like an awesome trip, I like that you gave us so many photographs to look at... :)

  2. PinkPanthress,

    I'm glad you liked to look at the photos.
    Israel and Turkey are in the same region, so they naturally share similar food and storage habits , such as in the case with olive oil.
    As for Assaf Ramon, he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps: pilot and then astronaut. Pity he died so young!.

  3. That is a lot to do in one day for sure! Did you purchase any of the olive oil? It would be so great to have a bottle of it as fresh as what they probably sell.

    The story about the father and sad! Thank you for sharing your day with us, very interesting and I loved looking at the photos.

  4. Alicia,

    Indeed, it was a bit too much for one day. And yes, it was interesting; it left me with thoughts and questions about the things I've seen and heard of.

    It may come as a surprise to you but I use grapeseeds oil in my kitchen, and not the highly recommended (mediterranean diet?) olive oil.

    Thanks for your comment.

  5. Ola ,deve ter sido um lindo dia de passeios e conhecimentos,pois são lugares interessantes e muito bonitos.Meu grande abraço querida amiga.

  6. Suzanne Weck,

    It was indeed a beautiful day trip with interesting places and things to remember.
    I came home tired,and yet full of energy to learn more about the region I've just visited.

  7. Duta,

    What an interesting post. You always teach me so much. It is a wondrous place. I use grapeseed oil as well. Too much of the olive oil today is not true olive oil. I have missed you. Hugs, Coni

  8. C Hummel Kornell,

    Hi Coni,
    Thank you for your kind words.
    I'm a great lover of grapes and of products made out of them, including oil and wine. I must admit, however, that I'm a bad wine drinker.I'll immediately fall asleep unless I pour some soda water in my glass to dilute the wine.

  9. I absolutely love olives and the oil and a good glass of wine. I also love the castle like bell tower in Bethlehem I never knew there were two places called Bethlehem. I think my mum visited Bethlehem but I am not sure which one. She went to Jerusalem as well so probably the one closest to that

  10. Marja,

    Until I visited Bethlehem of Galilee ( a gem of a place) I knew nothing about the controversy over which Bethlehem is the birthplace of Jesus. When I know more about it, maybe I'll write a post on this subject, as it is quite intriguing.

  11. Thanks for letting me share a trip I could never make. I didn't know about Ramon
    and the Columbia.. Really loved Moshe Dayan, he was a Hero and had that "IT" quality about him patch and all. I had a friend in the 6 day war. You can bet i would have bought that olive oil, love first press.
    I am painting PATTON and in research found the USA left our HERO Patton,
    in Germany. I am a little more than TICKED OFF.
    This country has gone to hell in a hand basket. Things are moving to fast to think things out. It's spur of the moment and I hate to say it but this generation is Stupid. OK off that soap box.. Thanks, yvonne

  12. La Petite Gallery,

    I see you know quite a lot about Moshe Dayan. Kudos to you. As for Ilan Ramon, he was the first israeli astronaut to work for NASA. He took part in the fatal Columbia shuttle mission.
    I do understand your disappointment regarding USA's treatment of general Patton, and things regarding the new generation.

  13. Thanks for sharing your visit. I will never go to the places you write about, but by reading your blog they now have a certain familiarity.

  14. Vera,

    "Never say never" - it's an old saying but always valid. One cannot know or be sure where life will take him.

  15. An amazing trip all packed into one day. It must have been a bit of information overload and at the same time, you got your money's worth.

    The photos are excellent. If the winery was at the end, you could have enjoyed a nice glass of wine to end the day. :)

  16. Angelina Pratt,

    I'm glad you liked the photos.
    Your suggestion about the winery at the end of the trip is a good one. I could have allowed myself to drink from all the varieies of wine offered, and have a good sleep on the bus back home. LOL.

  17. What a beautiful tour!
    You have such a rich geography. We visited our local wine area, in SE Ontario. It's pretty flat, though!

  18. Jennifer A.Jilks,

    Well, We do have some places worth visiting. History and archeology are even richer than our geography. Anyway, I believe Nature is beautiful everywhere on the planet.

  19. My son was an actor in wine country in southern Ontario. When we visited him we'd go for wine tastings. This brought back some good memories! Thank you!

  20. Jennifer A.Jilks,

    Good for you and Son to be able to enjoy wine. I like wine but if it's undiluted with soda water I immediately fall asleep after drinking some.