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Tour Israel: Zipping around Zichron Ya’acov

CM 11/08/2021

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The rising numbers of people catching COVID-19 here, as well as abroad, means that the number of people searching for vacation venues closer to home has also risen. Recently, I enjoyed an engaging visit to pastoral Zichron Ya’acov, which was established in 1882, and is a wonderful place to escape to when you become weary of your regular routine. 
In one 24-hour period, you can visit a whole slew of attractions in Zichron Ya’acov, including historical buildings, art galleries, boutique wineries, restaurants and cafés. You’ll also enjoy breathtaking views of the Carmel Mountains and of beaches along the Mediterranean.
1. The ‘midrachov’
The midrachov (promenade), which is located on Hameyasdim (founders) Street, is the most popular area of Zichron Ya’acov, and as you meander down the street, you can stop and enter any of the numerous charming stores, cafés and galleries. At the end of the street, you’ll find Zamarin Hotel, which was built inside an old Templar building. Due to its convenient location, this hotel serves as the meeting point for many tours of the town. 

2. Zamarin Hotel
Zamarin Hotel has only 11 guest rooms and suites. As soon as you enter the hotel, straight away you feel how special and intimate the hotel is. In addition to the gorgeous guest rooms, visitors are welcome to relax and unwind in the hotel’s garden, at the end of which you will find an old and very large mulberry tree, which provides ample shade over the garden. This is a wonderful spot to enjoy a morning coffee or to chill with a glass of wine at the end of the day. 
In the 1880s, Baron Edmond James de Rothschild helped establish the city, which was named in memory of his father, as well as the first winery in Israel, the Carmel-Mizrahi winery. In an effort to honor the town’s unique link to wine making, each guest room of the Zamarin is named after a different variety of wine grapes. Recently, the hotel expanded, and now guests can enjoy its new spa and wine bar. The latter offers a wide selection of wines produced in local boutique wineries, including Somek, Smadar, Tishbi and Amphorae wineries. Soft drinks, as well as hot drinks, are also available. 
 Zamarin Hotel and Spa, Zichron Ya'acov (credit: Aviv Kroot) Zamarin Hotel and Spa, Zichron Ya’acov (credit: Aviv Kroot)
In my opinion, these two new additions make Zamarin Hotel the most perfect venue for a romantic getaway for two – especially if you’re searching for a small boutique hotel, and you appreciate massages and good wine. And to really make this experience perfect, a delicious breakfast is served at Tishbi Café, located a short distance from the hotel. 
Location: 16 Hameyasdim St., Zichron Ya’acov.
Details: www.zamarin.co.il  077-6141620
3. La Strada Festival
As you’ve probably deduced by now, the midrachov plays a significant role in Zichron Ya’acov, as that’s where most of the activity is centered. Every Thursday for the rest of August, La Strada Festival will be taking place on the pedestrian mall, and the public is invited to join the festivities as the midrachov comes to life with live musical and theatrical performances, street art, children’s theater, workshops and tours. 
 La Strada Festival, Zichron Ya'acov (credit: Gila Gilad) La Strada Festival, Zichron Ya’acov (credit: Gila Gilad)
Each week offers a unique program, so you could go every Thursday and still not be bored. Artists performing at the festival include Shlomo Gronich, Mika Sade, Shai Ben Tzur, Maureen Nehadar, Dori Ben Ze’ev, Hayadit Theater, Gil Ron Shema, Café Jalal, Gaya Band, Rotem Ugiya and the Quartarasta, the Sunshine Trio, the Niro Biro Circus, Guy Kaplan’s Juggling Show, the Shosh Yaari Puppet Theater, the Israel Blues Society, and the Dance Track: Food Truck, from which you can order food, as well as a street dance and a humorous street performance called “Toy Policemen.”
In addition, every Thursday there will be a free guided tour open to the public in cooperation with the Gideonim Tourist Association, during which participants will hear fascinating historical anecdotes about the early days in Zichron Ya’acov. There will also be artists selling their wares along the entire length of the midrachov. 
Weekly programming available on the La Strada Festival website.
Date: Every Thursday in August, 6-11 p.m.
4. Hanadiv Farm
Near Ramat Hanadiv, just a short drive from Zichron Ya’acov, you will find Hanadiv Farm, a farm that also encourages tourism. Visitors can meander through the farm freely and observe the goats, horses, sheep and ducks as they go about their business, and there’s a greenhouse where strawberries, peppers, cucumbers and herbs are grown. Guests can join walking, bicycle or off-road vehicle tours. Visits are geared towards families and couples, who are welcome to help feed and take care of the animals. Visitors can also go inside the greenhouse, taste the produce grown there, and even help out with some of the agricultural work. And parents will be happy to know there are many shady areas where you can sit and rest while you watch your offspring run around joyously. 
 Hanadiv Farm, Zichron Ya'acov (credit: Courtesy) Hanadiv Farm, Zichron Ya’acov (credit: Courtesy)
You can rent off-road vehicles on site, and the staff at Hanadiv Farm are extremely knowledgeable about the surroundings, and would be more than happy to direct you to five trails, all of which are great places to go for a ride, with the most popular being the trail that leads to the hidden springs of Nahal Taninim. 
Entry Price: NIS 30-40.
90-minute tour: Starting from NIS 150.
Details: 054-6750950, 052-3680676. 
Where to eat?
5. Adama 
Adama is one of Zichron Ya’acov’s most veteran and well-regarded restaurants. It was founded in 2009 by Dganit and Rafi Azulay in a spacious building built out of stone and wood with high ceilings and a charming, and I’d even say romantic, courtyard. The impressive building is at the same time very modern, while retaining all the elements of its eclectic history. 
Adama’s menu focuses on classic dishes from the Mediterranean Basin, such as tomatoes served on black tahini, roasted eggplant with bulgur and pumpkin, and liver pâté with cherry tomato jam. Some of the entrées include grilled steak, veal stew with grilled vegetables and smoked wheat, and Adama gnocchi with mushrooms. And if you’re interested in tasting something absolutely phenomenal, I recommend trying the kale and Mascarpone ravioli with Jerusalem artichoke. 
Location: 8 Ma’aleh Harishonim, Zichron Ya’acov. 
Details: 04-6293183.
6. Bat Harim
If you’re starting your visit off in the morning, or even in the afternoon and you’d like to begin your day with a light nosh of great cheese and cool wine, I recommend heading toward Bat Harim restaurant, which is located in historic Zichron Ya’acov. Bat Harim was founded by chef Orel Ohayon, who adheres to the farm-to-table principle. Ohayon uses only locally sourced products, and he integrates many of the boutique goat and sheep cheeses made in farms around Israel into his dishes. 
At the Bat Harim shop, you can purchase a wide variety of organic Israeli handmade cheeses, including both hard and soft cheeses. The hard cheeses are aged on oak wood shelves for up to four or five years, and because you’ll be purchasing them from the producer, the cost of the middleman has been removed and so prices are kept at reasonable rates. 
I recommend sitting in the shade at their outdoor bar, which overlooks the street. There, you can enjoy a variety of hot bruschettas straight out of the oven, stuffed grape leaves with a slightly sweet twist, fresh green salad, and a perfectly roasted salmon fillet prepared by the chef himself. 
And if you are a wine lover, you’ll be happy to know that the Bat Harim Winery offers wines produced by the Avivim family winery, which harvests its grapes from vineyards in Dishon, Ramat Naftali and Safsufa, which all have ideal climates for growing wine grapes. 
Location: 23 Hanadiv, Zichron Ya’acov.
Restaurant is kosher.
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 8:30 – 21:30. Friday 7:30 – 14:30. 
Details: 079-610-0100
Translated by Hannah Hochner. 

Source: Jerusalem Post

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