August 13, 2013
Wikiloc map: Netanya to Arsuf
Today’s mileage: 11 (17km)
Total mileage since start at Tel Dan: 208 (336 km)
For the first time, I had company on the trail – my daughters Katherine and Devorah, and Katherine’s friend Liam.
We left the house around 7 and drove to Netanya, parking the car near where I left off last week, at the Blue Bay Hotel on the north side of town. Didn’t really know how far we’d get, but wasn’t too worried about it – today was more about sharing a segment of the trail with the kids than about covering a lot of miles. Was around 9 when we got started on the day’s hike. And today was all hiking, no running.
Netanya is a city of about 200,000 people, including a lot of immigrants from the FSU, France, Ethiopia, and English speaking countries. Netanya got its name from an unsuccessful fundraising attempt. The founders of the city decided to name it in honor of Nathan (Natan) Straus, co-owner of Macy’s Department Store, who had also served as NY Parks Commissioner and president of the NYC Board of Health. Straus had given lots of money – 2/3 of his personal fortune – to projects benefiting Jews and Arabs in Palestine. They were hoping it would inspire him to make big donation. He told them, “Sorry, I don’t have any more money to give.” They decided to keep the name anyway. Note to friends in the fundraising business: don’t put up the plaque naming the building in someone’s honor until the check clears…
We started out along the beach, and then went up the steps to the promenade, where we enjoyed some great views of the Mediterranean. We took a slight detour from the trail to get on a street where we could find a convenience store and stock up on snacks – junk food – for the trail.
As we walked in that area near the convenience store, Katherine said “I can see why real estate in Jerusalem is so much more expensive than other places in Israel – it’s much prettier!” Of course, that doesn’t explain Tel Aviv’s expensive real estate prices…
Over half of the day’s hike was just getting across Netanya – felt like the town went on forever, and did take about 6 miles before we finally got to Poleg Beach and left Netanya behind. Katherine complained that the trail did not go by Ikea … and suggested a detour, but I figured it was better to stick to the beach.
As we approached Poleg, I took a picture of the former home of Ulpan Akiva, which was arguably the best ulpan (place for learning Hebrew immersion style) in Israel for many years, which sadly closed a few years ago. When we came to Israel for the year in 2000 – 2001 we spent a month there to get everyone’s Hebrew a boost. It was a lot of fun – right on the beach, interesting excursions, interesting special programs, etc.
We stopped for a break at Poleg. Devorah went for a swim, I just got wet under a shower as I didn’t want to deal with getting all sandy and cleaning up. We had ice cream, snacks. My “lunch” was a chocolate milkshake.
Leaving Poleg we had about 3 miles on the beach. I was once again struck by how much empty beach Israel has. It doesn’t take much hiking to have a private stretch of beach, clean, away from noise, garbage, etc. I will definitely make it more of a point to get away from the crowds in the future when we go to the beach.
About two miles past Poleg, there’s a place where the trail makes a detour inland. We missed the turn, which brought us to an “interesting” stretch of beach. Here’s a definition of an “awkward moment:” when you are hiking with 3 teenage girls and realize the guy on the beach in front of you doesn’t have any clothes on. Oops. And he wasn’t the only one. And it was all guys, several in couples. Apparently we had inadvertently discovered Israel’s gay nude beach. The “gay Tel Aviv guide” includes directions on how to find it. We walked about a mile of beach with everyone studiously looking down at the sand.
When we got to the beach at Ga’ash we took another break in the welcome shade. It was around 2, and we wanted to be back in Jerusalem by 5, so we were planning to knock off for the day pretty soon. Decided to go just a little over a mile further to Shefatayim and Arsuf, which was the terminus of the “official” section of the trail. From Ga’ash the trail veered inland with a climb of about 100 feet to the cliffs overlooking the sea.
A 100 shekel taxi ride brought us back to the car. We covered 17km, 10.8 miles – not bad considering the kids aren’t used to doing long distances, and it was in 90+F heat. My next outing on the trail will hopefully get me to and through Tel Aviv.
“Netanya to Arsuf, 17km
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