The secret life of Hula Valley locals
Explore the Qiryat Shmona and Hula Valley area with a local - Idit Gershoni Tiroler
Words and photography by Veronica Yudkevich
Wouldn’t you love to have a friend anywhere in the world, one who will take you to the most special, cool, interesting places and introduce you to exciting people only ‘in the know’ locals know about, and without whom you’d have missed so much, maybe even the whole point? Yep, we’d like to have a friend like that as well; therefore, we’re truly excited to present a fresh, new series of articles called “True Local”, where our tuned in friends share their personal, local experiences. We believe this Northern part of our small country bears much to discover.
On a bright, Autumn day we joined Idit Gershoni Tiroler to experience the Qiryat Shmona and Hula Valley area through her point of view.
Idit, who has been living in Metula since 2012, writes a great food-nature-music blog Hug Ha-Kotev Ha-Zfoni (The Arctic Circle, in Hebrew). She is also an adventurer and knows how to recognize a good thing when she sees it.
What do you like most about the area you live in? What’s special about it?
The nature and the people. It’s always beautiful around here; the nature is so powerful. It’s a peaceful place and people don’t lead stressful lives.
We have an interesting mix of population - kibbutz and moshav dwellers and students that have made a cultural impact. Students truly have power. They choose to study here (Tel Hai College) to be close to nature, because going down to a stream in the afternoon can become a daily routine. Also many people that move to this area have a social agenda and want to get involved in the community.
Do you miss anything here?
The train, Tel Aviv… sometimes I would’ve liked to dress up and wear high heels. Here it’s all in Blundstone boots.
Together with Idit we kick start our day with an excellent coffee and breakfast in the one and only, Lehemke (Little Bakery) - our first stop. If we didn’t know that we’re just on the outskirts of Qiryat Shmona, on the 99 road, we could’ve thought that we’ve been transported to France or at least to Tel Aviv. There’s no other word to describe this place but ‘perfection’. The food, coffee, bread, service, atmosphere - everything is exactly, unpretentiously comme il faut. Lehemke puts Qiryat Shmona on the food map.
Second stop - Kol Ha-Galil Ha-Elion radio station 105.3FM
The radio station is located in Kibbutz Amir on the premises of Einot Yarden Democratic high school that looks like a holiday spot or a nature reserve (although its students might not share those feelings). The educational radio station was founded in 1999 by the Kol Israel public radio service; its operation is supported by the Upper Galilee Local Council, and it’s intended to serve as a community radio that teams up with high school and college students. The station truly represents the different voices of the people that live in the area; it allows an almost unrestricted free rein without any reference to rating. “Anything goes; it’s even encouraged”, says the station manager Hagit Hatzav. There are no commercials, only updates on the current, local news and culture scene. With programs ranging from a morning broadcast of the local farmers to women and gender, and to the student strip playing indie and alternative music well into the night, you get the picture.
Tune in while in the area or listen online - 1053fm.co
The huge shop is like a feast of secondhand and vintage items ranging from clothes and accessories to books and furniture. There is also a small “museum” that is Berty’s private collection. Although she’s not selling any of those items, she’s more than happy to share their history over a cup of coffee with homemade cookies.
Berty, a passionate and inspiring woman, radiates positive energy with the same generosity that she feeds her neighbours and clients, volunteers to help those in need, and donates part of her income to “Motek” coffee shop in Qiryat Shmona for people with mental disorders. She sees her shop, which initially opened as a way of coping with personal and family issues, as her life’s work where “every customer is a star that brightens [her] life”. Today, a positive and happy Berty is convinced that, eventually, a ray of sunshine is waiting for everyone, no matter how deep one has sunken. If in the past she used to hear people’s words, today she listens attentively believing that anyone’s words can be life changing.
Hadar is the coolest vegan chocolatier in the hood. Armed with an amazing smile (innumerous tattoos and countless cats and dogs that she adopts and cares for with her partner), she whips up addicting, vegan confections in a chilly room filled with intoxicating, chocolate aroma.
Although Hadar’s chocolates are available in many shops across the country, we don’t see how it is possible to visit the area without a sweet stop at Vegantino. Oh, and apart from the mouth-watering chocolate bars, the white chocolate coated almonds with a hint of cinnamon are a must.
Fifth stop - a charming spot next to the Hermon stream (Banias)
Nature at its best doesn’t need any introductions. Exit road 99 near Hurshat Tal and turn to 918; after about 1 km turn left at a brown sign towards Nebi Yehuda. Park on the side of the road after about 200m. There is a path snaking among the trees that leads to the stream.
TRUE LOCAL MAP - Exploring Qiryat Shmona and Hula Valley Area with Idit Gershoni Tyroler