August 20, 2013
Total mileage today: 20 (32 km)
Total mileage since start at Tel Dan: 227 (336 km)
Covered more miles today than I’ve covered on any other single day. Mileage listed about is about a mile longer than what shows on the Wikiloc maps because I also went into the Tel Aviv port a ways. The terrain is flat, going pretty easy (other than the heat) and long stretches are somewhat boring, so I’m wanting to cover a lot of mileage each day on the trail, to get back to the more “interesting” stuff which I assume will be when I make it to Latrun after another few days on the trail.
I got on the road around 7am and drove to the Kiryat Aryeh – Petach Tikvah train station, which was my goal for the day. I figured it was the likeliest distance I would reach. If I was too tired, I could connect from the trail to the railway at either Tel Aviv University or Bnei Brak. If I felt really ambitious I could have made it further to the next station, and either way easily gotten back to the car. As it turned out, my planning was good and I made it back to Kiryat Aryeh on the trail. I took the train to Herzliya, changing in Tel Aviv. Was about half an hour on the train. At the Herzliya train station I had a cafe hafuch (latte) and some “carb loading” with a chocolate croissant, and then took a cab (NIS 60) from the train station to Arsuf (Shefayim). Had a lively conversation (in Hebrew) with the cab driver about hiking the Israel Trail, politics, etc. He allowed as to how he should really get out and do more hiking, there’s a lot of the country he hasn’t seen.
I did feel a good sense of accomplishment today, making it to Tel Aviv. My feet have carried me from the border with Lebanon/Golan Heights to Tel Aviv. A pretty good chunk of the country. At first it was a 3 1/2 hour drive to get from home to where I was hiking — hence the need to stay overnight — and now it’s only an hour drive away, so much easier to do as day trips. My next big goal is Jerusalem — and specifically, my house. I’m going to alter my hiking route so that it will go right to my home.
Overall, not my favorite day on the trail — but there were a few things worth seeing along the way.
The first 2.5 miles were nothing special — dirt road somewhat inland from the coast. Sandy in places, which slowed things down some. After 2.5 miles the trail comes to the entrance to Apollonia National Park. Even though I was eager to cover a lot of ground today, I took the time out to explore Apollonia. It was well worthwhile — another one of those “discoveries” on the trail that I realize I should have discovered before, and that I will come back to with the family.
Apollonia was first settled by Phoenicians in the 5th or 6th century BCE, early Second Temple period. It was first called Reshef after a Canaanite fertility God. It continued to prosper through the various conquerors that came through Israel, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, etc. The most significant development for the site was in the 13th century when the Crusaders built the fort whose ruins are the centerpiece of the site today.
It’s a stunning site: perched on a cliff overlooking the azure Mediterranean, easy to see the various layers of defenses the Crusaders built including the fortress itself, outer walls, moat, etc. Standing in the ruins of the 800 year old Crusader fort you can look south along the beach and see the high-rise building of Herzliya, one of Israel’s premier high-tech centers. Standing there I really felt that view captures the essence of Israel — the combination of a very deep and very long history along with the energy and dynamism of the latest high-tech innovations.
Leaving Apollonia, the trail goes right by Sidna Ali Mosque, built in the 13th century by the Mamluks in honor of one of Saladin’s lieutenants, whose tomb is at the site. It’s still in use as a mosque and religious school.
From the mosque the trail works its way down to the beach just north of Herzliya. If you look at the pictures below you can see one that looks like a cage with water spraying in the middle of it. No idea what that’s about. I’m guessing it’s supposed to be some kind of art work. Not sure where the water spray comes from — whether there’s some sort of pump, or it’s powered by wave action, or what. Couldn’t find anything in a quick internet search.
One I go to the beach I took my shoes off, stuffed them in the backpack, and ran barefoot in the sand. It felt good. Also nothing like a few miles of running in wet sand to remove the dead skin from your feet.
Was feeling pretty hot by the time I got to the center of Herzliya, but I didn’t want to deal with getting all sandy and getting into the ocean, and I wanted to make Tel Aviv for lunch, so I just took the back pack off and stood under a shower. Felt great to get wet and cool off. Obviously didn’t matter that my clothes got wet since everything was drenched with sweat anyway. Feeling refreshed, I then had to put my shoes back on to jog around the Herzliya Marina, hotels, shopping centers etc. Less than a mile later I was back on the beach, and once again took off my shoes and stuffed them in the backpack so I could run barefoot on the beach.
Unfortunately, I only got a few hundred yards on my way and the beach was closed, with a barrier made of tarps suspended on a chain link fence. A security guard made me turn around — it was a sex-segregated beach, and today was the day for women. Feeling somewhat put out, I went over to a rock, took the shoes out of the back pack, got all the sand off my feet again, and once again had my shoes on and hiked up a cliff to take an inland route around the “women’s beach.” About half a mile later I was back on the beach on the other side, yet again taking my shoes off, feeling kind of tired of the “on with the shoes, off with the shoes” routine.
The next stretch of beach was fairly empty, and there was an occasional nude sunbather — including the first and only topless woman I saw on a beach, who was out there with her infant. I suppose it’s convenient for breast feeding. Once I reached Sde Dov Airport, I felt I had more or less reached Tel Aviv. Back in 1948 they had “commercial” flights from Sde Dov in two-seat Piper Cubs! Now it’s mostly used for general aviation and scheduled flights to Eilat. I rented a plane out of Sde Dov in 2000 and flew up to Haifa, was my first experience piloting a plane in Israel. I decided that instead of doing my last dip in the Med on the trail at one of the crowded Tel Aviv beaches, I would do it here near the airfield at a much quieter spot. There were only two other people at the quiet little stretch of beach, and I enjoyed going for a dip in the sea (technically in a place you’re not supposed to since there was no lifeguard station, but not like I’m going to let that stop me…). Then it was back on with the shoes for my last stretch before lunch.
A short distance later I was at the Tel Aviv Port, which has been really nicely fixed up with shops, restaurants, etc. The trail actually does not go into the port — it turns left just north of the port and follows the Yarkon River Park inland. I detoured and went through the port to the first public beach, where there were showers and restrooms, so I was able to take a shower, get the sand off, change from my bathing suit that I had been hiking in to my hiking shorts. Did another slight detour a block into the city, just so I could say my journey on the Israel Trail took me right into the city of Tel Aviv — somehow staying in the park didn’t feel the same. Stopped at Aroma and enjoyed an Iced Aroma and a Mozzarella Toast for lunch. It definitely makes a long hike easier when you can take a shower, sit in a/c comfort sipping a frozen coffee beverage right in the middle of the day. I do realize that when I get to the Negev the Israel Trail experience will be a little different. Enjoy it while you can, I always say..
Feeling refreshed and recharged and ready to face the 90F+ heat once again I got back out on the trail, jogging at a slow pace. It was here I made my second “discovery” of the day — Ganei Yehoshua / Yarkon River Park. It’s green, (I REALLY appreciated the shade), scenic, and right in Tel Aviv, cutting right across the city from west to east. You can rent boats (which looked dangerously dilapidated) to cruise up the river or on a lake in the park. They also have bike rentals, golf cart rentals, all sorts of recreational possibilities. I had no idea such a thing existed in Tel Aviv. It’s like going to New York and not knowing about Central Park and just stumbling into it. OK, it’s not quite as beautiful as Central Park, but it’s not bad.
The trail comes out by the Ramat Gan stadium, where I saw Paul Simon perform last year. From there the last few miles skirting the north side of Bnei Brak and Petach Tikvah wasn’t so exciting. Mostly through citrus orchards, crossing under busy freeways, etc. By the time I got close to train station — after nearly 20 miles of jogging/hiking — I was feeling really exhausted, and then discovered that I had one more challenge to deal with — getting across the railway tracks to the train station parking lot where my car was awaiting. What looked like an underpass by the train tracks on the satellite view on Google Maps wasn’t, so I had to go PAST the train station, scramble up and embankment, walk along the shoulder of a very busy road, scramble down another embankment and I finally made it back to the car about 5pm. Altogether another good day on the trail. My expectations for the next couple of days until I get to Latrun aren’t very high — it looks like the trail mostly meanders around agricultural areas paralleling busy freeways. But I should be back off the beaten path pretty soon.
“Arsuf to Tel Aviv: http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=5072820
Tel Aviv to Petach Tikvah: http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=5074553”
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