Rosh HaNikra Grottoes and Nahariya
This trip takes you to the northern most Mediterranean coast of Israel to the Grottoes (a fancy word for ‘cave’) at Rosh HaNikra (meaning ‘head of the grotto’).
Rosh HaNikra borders Lebanon which is memorialized with part of a tunnel which was supposed to connect a train line from Africa to Asia and Europe. So says the sign, it was destroyed in the ’48 war to avoid aid from foreign troops.
Nehariya is the northern most coastal city and a convenient place to stay in this part of Israel. It’s looks kind of like … a more “pastoral” Tel Aviv without traffic. It’s the furthest one can go while still feeling as if they’re “in the center” of Israel. Perhaps this is why it’s the setting of one of my favorite episodes of Shtisel where the father reunites with the daughter he cast away because she became Lubovitch. His Torah is posul [no longer usable] and has to be buried, but he returns home on a train back to Jerusalem with a baby in his lap – one of his grandsons he hadn’t yet met. It’s a one off and highly underrated episode.
They are beautiful. The parking lot is situated well above the surrounding landscape allowing you to follow the coastline for miles. The rocks are white and the sea is a bright blue. It can better be expressed with photos.
You can walk down a hill to the Grottoes or take the cable car – it’s like a smaller but steeper version of the Masada cable car. Once to the bottom you’re ready to walk through the caves. There’s an easy walking path cut through and cemented for your convenience. The path winds in and out of different caves and rock formations often opening into pools of sea water which have made their way into the caves. It’s about a half hour to one hour event depending on how slowly or quickly you want to walk through or stop to enjoy each scene.
There’s a small kibbutz in the area, otherwise the closest city is Nahariya.
Nahariya, mentioned in various places in Tanach and Talmud, is today a city of almost 60,000 people with plans to build much more. It felt like Tel Aviv with Bauhaus apartment buildings except eerily devoid of traffic. There’s some in the main commercial areas though the apartment rental we stayed in was on a very quiet street despite being among high rise buildings stretching for blocks in each direction … except the direction of the beach.
The eruv is visible along the entire stretch of beach, which, as an American, still needs novel to me. Even in what is a mostly secular city in Israel once can find an eruv, kosher l’mehardrin food, and synagogues no more than a short walk away.
The beach itself has a walking path which, in late evening was well traveled by strolling couples and dog walkers. One could easily find a stretch of one’s own place in the water, at least while I was there, in the residential section of town. A separate beach is to be found near the center of town.
A commercial / center region of the city, Sderot HaGa’aton has a walkway between each direction of traffic and an excellent restaurant – Bordo, with a mehadrin hechsur (which one, I do not recall). Get the pitcher (kad) of whatever sort of vegatable drink they have. It was great as well as the food. (Then again, most food in Israel is great and an Israel would probably tell you something like, “yeah, it was good but we have even better.”)