The holidays here are almost over and the weather is making it extremely difficult to go back “to normal”, i.e., work. It’s sunny, warm and flowers are blooming everywhere. We try to spend as much time as possible outside but since every place is packed with people on vacation, we tend to stay close by to home and not venture far away.
Today we made an exception since my friend recommended a great place to enjoy the outdoors from, with a kid-friendly hike and historical significance and most importantly….water. The weather was perfect and we decided to go early so we can also leave early and not be there when the larger crowds of people start pouring in, usually around lunchtime. With a toddler I was hoping to get home by 1 pm anyway since he’s usually dead tired by then and traveling with an overtired toddler is, in an understatement, no fun (yep, I got the kid who just will not fall asleep in the car seat, no matter how tired he is).
The place we headed out to is called Tel Afeq, (Antipatris) and it’s a big national park located near Rosh Ha’ayin and Petach Tikvah. The Yarkon river stems out from there and there is a variety of rich wildlife and plant life located in its muddy beginnings and springs. A massive 16th century fortress towers above, used by the Ottoman soldiers to guard the Cairo-Damascus highway which was located beneath it. It’s now an archeological site that offers easy access to the public. The park itself is preserved by the Keren Kayemet L’Israel so it’s very clean and accessible in every way. In the beginning of the site there is a huge parking lot and picnic site, with a playground for kids right near the water.
Our first stop was the Yarkon springs. Everything was in full bloom, the water was cool and the shore was filled with muddy grass and moss. Many colorful butterflies and dragonflies pranced around us making the whole scenery around us look inviting and serene. The water itself was home to some beautiful fish, and also to the Clarius who actually jumped out of the water to catch some of the matzot (Passover bread) that some of the kids threw in the water for them. My little man soaked in the atmosphere and got in touch with nature to the fullest extent by having a great time dipping his feet in the water and paying in the mud.
After about an hour by the water, we made our way to the fortress and stopped to sit down against it’s cool stones and take in the scenery around us. There were times when you looked over at an arch with nobody nearby and, together with the water downhill and the flowers blooming in the background, it actually felt like I had gone back in time. For the kids it was an opportunity to goof around and pretend that they were Ottoman soldiers who were guarding the pathway to Cairo for the hajj.
All in all it was a perfect day and my little one actually did end up falling asleep in the car, the minute we pulled up in our driveway. I really hope to visit again soon.