I am one of those people who can’t sit still on holiday. Beach time is hardly relaxing for me; I would say it’s far more akin to watching paint dry with the added fear of dehydration and heat stroke. Everyone else is splayed out on the sand trying to make as little physical effort as possible, slowly lifting their beers to their lips, looking longingly out at the sea, too lazy to go for a swim - while I fidget beside them, desperate to do “something”. Luckily, even in a beach drenched town such as Tel Aviv there is a whirr of activity for people like me, day and night. A great focal point for the urban excitement is in Yarkon Park, (Park Hayarkon) a public space where everyone is welcome and most Tel Avivians frequent, from the fedora-wearing hipsters to the extended family “barbequers.” The Park spans from North Tel Aviv all the way down to Ramat Gan and although there are plenty of interesting monuments and planned gardens there is this organic high-spirited buzz breathing life into the park , 24/7. With the Yarkon River running the length of the park as you stroll, jog, sprint or cycle on the Rokach or Bavli side of the river you are spoilt for choice with the overload of activities going on around you . Parklife: What’s going on in Hayarkon Park? Paths The river is lined by two paths where distances are marked out in kilometers for cyclists, runners, roller-bladers and skateboarders. There are two paths so if you are walking make sure you stay on the walking path as cyclists get a little aggressive if you keep on meandering into their lane. These paths are also used by Segway tours and by locals simply going for a walk by the river. There are lavatories every kilometer or so and extensive free water fountains en route, but I would bring my own water as I have seen dogs drinking from the water fountains. Along these paths you inevitably spot more unusual sports such as groups of Pramercize mothers (exercising with their stroller and baby) snake-boarders and wave skateboards. Rentals There are two Bicycle and Golf Car Rental Stations with two-seaters and four-seater golf buggies available to hire by the hour. I have had many a hilarious afternoon on the Paddle Boats available from the Paddle Boat Rental Station which also hires out rowing boats. On some days especially in the summer months there are pony rides in the park and horse carts.
Classes The banks of the river host a variety of fitness classes that are readily available. The range of is quite phenomenal from small workout groups such as “outdoor Fitness Israel” providing low cost TRX and Boxing to the acrobatics society run by Amos and Rob teaching Acro - Yoga. I have also seen numerous Krav Maga (Israeli self-defense) and free yoga classes (just bring your own mat.) The best time to catch these classes in winter is from around 11am to 2pm and in the summer in the early evening or morning from around 7am. There are also sport pitches which double up for baseball and English football, the baseball teams come down on a Saturday afternoon and are always looking for people to join in for a game.
Fixed Structures For the less structured but enthusiastic sporty types, there are street gyms, rock climbing; basketball courts; tennis courts; soccer pitches and French boules courts so if you haven’t left this park without shaving at least 100 calories something went horribly wrong. There is so much you can get involved in you will have to strategize your time here accordingly. Also 10 AM Friday morning at Sea Executive Suites www.sea-hotel.co.il join in on roof top yoga and get your morning stretching before you head off to Yarkon Park. Enter the park from Bnei Dan Street, Ussishkin St or Harav Kosovsky St. and indulge in the most vibrant daytime scene in Tel Aviv!
Photo: Dana Friedlander, Israeli Ministry of Tourism