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Peace Through Yoga’s culinary yoga retreat to Israel is an off-the-beaten path exploration of the cultural and spiritual, contemporary and ancient, active and restorative aspects of this mystical land. You will discover some of Israel’s most dramatic landscapes and visit the center of Jewish mysticism. The tapestry of this colorful trip will be woven together by yoga in extraordinary settings, Middle Eastern cuisine, spirituality, the outdoors, and quality time for reflection. This will be a yoga and culinary retreat to dazzle the senses and fill the soul.
During this vacation you will spend the first three nights at a villa in the rolling hills of the Western Galileee. On your fourth day, you will arrive at a centrally located boutique hotel in Jerusalem and spend two nights there. On your sixth day in Tel Aviv, you will check into a boutique hotel close to the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea and Dizengoff street to spend one night.
Welcome! Your plane will land at Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV). For those arriving between noon and 17:30, you will be met by a representative from your Israeli tour operator: Puzzle Israel. Your retreat begins by traveling to the north in a private van along Israeli’s scenic coastline. You will drive through Tel Aviv, past the upscale community of Herziliyah, and north of the coastal destination of Natanya. As you approach to Haifa, you will turn inland (east) and work your way up the Carmel Mountain to reach Galilee, where people of all cultures, Christians, Jews, Muslims Druze, and Bedouin, coexist in this bucolic region. You will make a stop or two during this 2.5 hour drive to take a break and enjoy some of the local flavors. Special arrangements will be made for those arriving before or after the specified hours.
Once you arrive at the villa in the rolling hills of the Western Galilee, where you will spend the next three nights, there will be time to acclimate to your surroundings and refresh from your travels. Rest in the comfort of your room or in a quiet place on the property and settle into the tranquil pace of being on a yoga retreat, far from home, work, and responsibilities. There will be a late afternoon gentle yoga class offered for those ready to stretch and open their hearts to this ancient and sacred land. Spa services are available, as you wish, for additional fees.
Your epicurean adventure begins on you first night with a fresh, artfully prepared meal at Bistro Michael located in Moshav Liman. Moshav Liman is a small farming community supplying most of the produce for this Italian-style, farm-to-table restaurant known throughout Israel. You will gather in the evening to meet your fellow travelers. Representatives from Puzzle Israel, the Israeli tour operator, will join you for dinner so you can become acquainted with some of the professional tour guides who will accompany you on your journey. Please note that plans for this day are subject to change as they are dependent on arrival times for all of the guests.
Rise and greet the day with sun salutations and a yoga balanced practice of opening stretches and an invigorating flow. Weather permitting, many classes will be held, if not all classes, outdoors. Early risers will find hot coffee and tea, and a light bite to enjoy before class. After your yoga session, everyone will gather in the villa for a traditional Israeli breakfast. After breakfast, you will drive to the Upper Galilee. Lunch will be at a stop along the way where you can sample authentic, local food. There are a number of beautiful hiking trails in this scenic northern region, and the plan is to make a moderate hike for about 2.5 hours.
The mid-to-late afternoon is free time. Enjoy a siesta, discover a private place for meditation, or perhaps find a comfortable seat on the grounds for reading. Join in for sunset yoga, a Vinyasa class of flowing poses in the cool breezes of the Galilee. This night is dedicated to a cooking lesson and boldly flavored meal. You will prepare your own dinner, with Chef Nir Margalith of Margolis Catering, to learn how to make savory dishes characteristic of Middle Eastern cuisine. Your meal will be crowned by a memorable dessert and Turkish coffee.
Rise and greet the day with a morning flow yoga class. Once again, early risers will find hot coffee and tea prepared and a light bite to enjoy before class. After your yoga class, you will gather in the villa for a traditional Israeli breakfast. Before leaving your hotel, be sure to bring a shawl or shirt to cover shoulders. You will have a special day planned in Tzfat, the birthplace of Jewish mysticism known as Kabbalah. Once reserved for elite community elders, Kabbalah has since filtered into more mainstream society. But in Tzfat,
Kabbalah remains untouched and this ancient mystical city is regarded as the spiritual center of the Jewish people. Tzfat is also home to a thriving artist community. Renowned artists from all over the world have established beautiful galleries and studios featuring oil paintings, ceramics, jewelry, sculpture, textiles, and photography, many displaying Middle Eastern influences as interpreted by the artist. You will find that there is no limit to the sources of inspiration in Tzfat. You will have time to wander the alleys and visit the many galleries on your own. Everyone will taste some of the artisanal delights when you visit a local winery, brewery, and a cheese maker.
Today’s itinerary also includes a spiritual workshop with a Kabalistic scholar. Kabalah, an ancient Jewish system of how to achieve lasting fulfillment, teaches principles and values that are universal among all faiths and spiritual practices. For more than 5,000 years, Jewish mysticism has illuminated a path to love and unity. You will learn more about this mystical tradition that is believed to reveal all of the secrets of the Universe. Once back to the van, you will visit Dir El Assad, a small Muslim village and home to the popular Arab gourmand, Chef Camla. You will join the chef for a workshop on the preparation of foods characteristic of the Galilean region.
Today will be your last breakfast at the villa, and then it will be time to pack up and head out for your tour of several historically and religiously significant sites. You will want to dress comfortably because your morning meditation and yoga session will be held at your first stop for the day, a holy site with a breathtaking view of the Sea of Galilee. The itinerary includes a visit to Magdala, a once bustling town in the first century of the current era, known to be the birth place of Mary Magdalene and a place where Jews gathered to hear the teachings of Jesus. A highlight of your tour is Duc In Altum, a place of worship considered to be the most beautiful contemporary house of prayer in Israel. You are invited to spend time here for reflection, if you would like to.
Mitzpe Alummot, a living food and health retreat, which is the first of its kind in Israel, will be your lunch stop for a meal prepared from fresh, whole foods. The philosophy of Mitzpe Alummot follows the teachings of Hippocrates: “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.” There is a workshop arranged with Chef Julie Auerbach, known nationally as Chef “Raw-Raw.” Originally from Denver, where her family has a long history in the meat distribution business, Julie demystifies the raw food diet. Her knowledge, personal experience with food as medicine (she has alopecia, rendering her bald), gracious sense of humor and deep faith regularly inspire audiences to improve their relationship with their body.
Your next stop is the old city of Nazareth in the lower Galilee, the childhood home of Jesus. According to the tradition, Nazareth is where the angel Gabriel told Mary she would conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit. Today, Nazareth is considered to be the cradle of Christianity and is a destination for Christian pilgrimages. Your tour will include a visit to the Church of the Annunciation, one of Christianity’s holiest sites, built above the cave that is recognized as Joseph and Mary’s home. You will also visit the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation; constructed over the underground spring where Mary drew water and that still flows today.
When you leave the Galilee, you will travel in a private van along the Great Rift Valley. This natural geological trench runs 3,700 miles from Lebanon to South Eastern Africa. The Jordan River begins here and flows south into the Dead Sea on the Israeli-Jordanian border, the lowest point on Earth. The scenic drive to the “city of gold”, Jerusalem, includes a stop at a famous overlook with a mesmerizing view of this spectacular city. Spread out before your eyes will be Jerusalem, modern and ancient, sparkling in all of its historical glory.
You arrival at the centrally located boutique hotel is timed, so you can relax or wander on your own to discover Jerusalem’s lively streets and public plazas. You will regroup to dine at Notre Dame Wine and Cheese Bar, an international restaurant in the Notre Dame Pontifical Institute of Jerusalem Center featuring imported cheeses, private-label and imported wines, and a breathtaking view of the Holy City. After dinner, you can explore the city and, perhaps, sit in one of Jerusalem’s many cafés to enjoy an after-dinner drink or dessert.
Sunrise brings Jerusalem to life as the sun warms the buildings’ golden limestone, vendors slide up their metal shop doors and Israel’s ubiquitous egged buses begin to clamber on the streets. Your day will begin with a healthy Israeli breakfast at the hotel. You will need to pack a shirt or shawl and a skirt because the historic old city of Jerusalem located within the ancient stonewalls is your first destination. The teeming old city market alleys stand in stark contrast to the open plaza in front of the Kotel, the famous western wall of the second temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 of the current era. It is customary for people of all faiths to bring a prayer written on a small piece of paper to tuck into the seams between the wall’s massive hewn stones.
From the old to the new, and in contrast to the bustling, walled city, you will head to Gan Sacher, the “Central Park” of Jerusalem. Here, you will hold your outdoor yoga session, just as many Israelis do each day. This urban park was created in 1963 and is adjacent to the Israel’s government complex. Be sure to save room for lunch because this day features a gastronomic feast for the eyes and stomach. Together with your tour group, you will venture to Mahane Yehudah, one of Israel’s most vibrant outdoor markets.
Once you step into the bustling market aisles lined with stalls and sellers hawking produce, seafood, meat, spices, bakery goods, cheeses, nuts, and olives, you will be transported back in time, to an era that is still alive in the shuk (market) today. With restaurants of every kind, from tables set up in a stall, to falafel stands, to boutique wine-and-cheese bars, the most difficult part of our day will be deciding where to savor the local fare that makes the region so unique. Because there are so many choices and the fun of being in the shuk is tasting and purchasing food from vendors; everyone will be on their own for lunch.
In the afternoon, there will be time for you for reflection in any number of the city’s temples and churches. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, as well as Al Aqsa Mosque on the Mount, both in the old city, The Great Synagogue in the city center and the Tower of David (the Jerusalem Citadel) are all accessible and of great importance. For those who would prefer to shop for souvenirs and unwind, boutiques featuring locally crafted jewelry, ceramics, scarves, and religious items abound. Tired feet are a good reason to enjoy a coffee at an outdoor café where the people watching is always fascinating. You will spend your evening at one of Jerusalem’s premiere dining establishments to enjoy the local flavors as the sunsets.
On this day, you will leave the Holy City and board the van for your next destination. Tel Aviv, known as the white city with its apartment-lined streets, towering office buildings, international boutiques, and open boulevards, is Israel’s cosmopolitan center where east meets west. Before heading to this contemporary city that never sleeps, you will visit Neot Kedumim, a lush nature reserve that recreates the biology and environment of the biblical era. This setting is ideal for your yoga class and a short hike on any of the many trails winding through the park.
Tel Aviv awaits! You will check into a boutique hotel close to the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea and Dizengoff street, the city’s fashionable shopping district. You can easily fill a day by exploring Tel Aviv’s markets featuring locally-crafted jewelry and gifts, stalls selling everything you can imagine, bustling shopping malls, and funky districts featuring vintage shops! Put on your walking shoes and dive in, or alternatively, quietly stroll the length of Tel Aviv’s sandy beaches.
Dinner this night will be a celebration of Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, when the city settles down to a whisper as families come together for a traditional meal. Many cities in Israel almost completely shut down late Friday afternoon until sundown Saturday evening in honor of Shabbat, but Tel Aviv features open restaurants and entertainment. You will enjoy a traditional multi-course Shabbat dinner that you will prepare at Jaffa Beach.
Just as many Israelis do, you will head to the beach in the morning to practice yoga beside the warm waters of The Mediterranean Sea. After enjoying breakfast at your hotel, you will pack your belongings and store your luggage with the concierge so you will be unencumbered on this, your last day in Israel. You have many choices of places to visit for your afternoon until you meet again for the farewell dinner. The Tel Aviv Museum of Art is world-renowned for its extensive contemporary art collections. For those interested in regional archaeology, the Eretz Israel Museum should be at top of the list. Bicycles are available for rent if you would like to pedal along the Yarkon River and on Tel Aviv’s many cycling trails. Tel Aviv’s old train station, Mitcham Hatachana, was recently converted into a hip leisure center with restaurants and designer boutiques. Of course, like all cities in Israel, Tel Aviv also has a busy shuk. The centrally located Carmel Market features familiar Middle Eastern fare and is also home to sophisticated fusion cuisine.
The ancient port city of Jaffa has been chosen as the location for your farewell dinner. The restaurants dotting the coast are famous for their fresh seafood. These lively restaurants feature al fresco dining with a stunning view of the Tel Aviv skyline. Frequently diners can watch fishermen hauling their day’s catch while the waves lap at the coastline. This relaxed dinner is one of camaraderie and fellowship after your journey through modern and ancient Israel, and from your collective experiences and private reflections.
This food and yoga holiday will take place in and around Galilee, Tzaft, Magdala, Nazareth, Tel Aviv, and Jaffa, in Israel.
During you culinary and yoga holidays, you will enjoy six delicious breakfasts, four mouth-watering lunches, and five fantastic dinners. Two lunches and two dinners will be the result of your four cooking workshops. Fresh vegetables, farm-fresh eggs, and a variety of yogurts and cheeses (including labane, a popular yogurt-like cheese spread thought to be one of the earliest cheeses made) are featured on our daily breakfast buffet.
Your first dinner will be at Bistro Michael, an Italian-style, and farm-to-table restaurant.
Before the morning yoga class, hot coffee and tea, and a light bite will be available for early risers. Afterwards, enjoy a traditional Israeli breakfast, which is always a favorite among visitors. Lunch will be at a stop along the way to upper Galilee where you can sample authentic, local food. This night’s dinner is dedicated to a cooking lesson and boldly flavored meal. You will prepare your own dinner and learn how to make savory dishes, characteristic of Middle Eastern cuisine. Your meal will be crowned by a memorable dessert and Turkish coffee, known as botz and translated to “mud” due to the settlement of coffee grounds and cardamom at the bottom of the cup.
Once again, before the morning yoga class, hot coffee and tea, and a light bite will be available for early risers. Breakfast will be a traditional Israeli buffet at the villa. In Tzfat, you will taste some artisanal delights when you visit a local winery, brewery, and cheese maker. Afterwards, will join have special a workshop to prepare foods characteristic of the Galilean region. You can look forward to a lively, robust dinner with all the flavors of the region.
You will have your last Israeli breakfast buffet at the villa. For lunch, you will stop for a meal prepared from fresh whole foods, and enjoy a workshop with Chef Julie Auerbach. Dinner will be at Notre Dame Wine and Cheese Bar, an international restaurant featuring imported cheeses, private-label and imported wines.
You will enjoy a healthy Israeli breakfast at your hotel.
You will have an Israeli breakfast buffet at your hotel. This night’s dinner will be a celebration of Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath. Enjoy a traditional multi-course Shabbat dinner that you will prepare at Jaffa Beach. Your meal begins with a variety of Israeli salads and appetizers followed by several meat and vegetarian main courses and fresh fruit. The flavors of your dinner represent the influence of the many cultures in modern-day Israel. Tea or strong Middle Eastern coffee and a tasty sweet wrap up this relaxing meal.
For breakfast, enjoy a traditional Israeli buffet at your hotel. Jaffa has been chosen as the location for the farewell dinner. The restaurants dotting the coast are famous for their fresh seafood. The menu includes a bounty of Middle Eastern salads, a wide selection of fresh-caught seafood and side dishes to complement your main course.
Discover Jerusalem’s lively streets and public plazas, sit in one café to enjoy an after-dinner drink or dessert
Enjoy the local flavors of in one Jerusalem’s premiere dining establishments
Go shopping in Tel Aviv’s markets, bustling shopping malls, and funky districts
On your free time in Galilee, enjoy a siesta, discover a private place for meditation, or find a comfortable seat on the grounds for reading or journaling
Rent a bicycle and pedal along the Yarkon River and on Tel Aviv’s cycling trails
Spend time for reflection in Duc In Altum
Stroll the length of Tel Aviv’s sandy beaches
Taste many of the gastronomic offers at the Mahane Yehudah Market.
Visit Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Eretz Israel Museum, Mitcham Hatachana hip center, and the Carmel Market
Visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Al Aqsa Mosque, the Great Synagogue, and the Tower of David in Jerusalem
Spa services are available for additional fees, at the villa in the rolling hills of the Western Galileee. Please send an inquiry to Peace Through Yoga to make the proper arrangements.
Please arrive to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV).Peace Through Yoda will pick you up from the airport. The pick-up is included in the price.