Haifa (October 26, 2019)

Rise and shine in the form of a wake-up call was at 7:00. We were sound asleep and not ready to rouse. FOMO got us on our feet. Breakfast surprises: green beans, cupcakes, chocolate bread pudding. Still being the sabbath (Shabbat Shalom by the way) the special elevator was working.

Our day started with a drive to the northwest tip of Israel. We were at the Lebanese boarder to visit Rosh Hanikra. A cable car, reputed to be the steepest in the world, took us a very short distance down to a man made tunnel where we walked into the flint-studded chalk cliffs. The walking path lead us to small grottoes, or sea caves, where water comes and goes according to the wind, weather, and small tide fluctuations. The water was calm and clear today, but sometimes it is so violent that the grotto has to be closed. Volcanic and tectonic disturbances over the millennia created the small, beautiful area we enjoyed.

We made a brief stop at the Lebanese border to see the locked metal gates and no-man’s land between the two countries. The border wall at the top of the mountain was visible from the road also. Gabi took the opportunity to explain Israel’s turbulent history with its northern neighbor. In the not-so-distant past rockets were fired across the boarder into the Haifa area with such consistency that an underground hospital was built in the city. In the context of this and other tragic stories Gabi has shared, it is easy to see why Israel has compulsory military service and is ever vigilant about its boarders.

We enjoyed lunch by the sea. Pita bread and the usual bevy of starters appeared. New this meal were a terrific parsley and cashew salad as well as tabouli and cooked oysters. It was easily enough to call lunch, but we each ordered an entree as well and then the star of the show was placed on the table: kanafeh. We had seen it in the markets but had no idea what this sweet goat cheese dessert could possibly taste like. It was an unassuming, low profile treat that demanded seconds. 

The highlight of the day for me was visiting the old city of Acre, once the capital of the Crusaders who were sent here to save the Christian holy sites from the Muslims. Acre was their last stronghold in the Holy Land and is now the largest excavated crusader city in the world. We went inside the Ottoman-built walls of the Old City and were amazed with the size of Knights’ Hall, the soldiers’ dining area, the secret passage/getaway to the sea, and the citadel. The amount of work it took to excavate this city buried beneath the millions of tons of debris left by those who came and built after the crusaders is almost unimaginable.

We walked through a colorful, busy street market on our way back to the bus. Everything from food to hookahs to clothes were on display. On the way back to Haifa we passed acres and acres of banana plantations, eucalyptus trees from Australia, and small villages. The roads are in perfect shape.

We were on our own for the late afternoon and evening, so we, along with Sandy, Alan, Sheila, and Ramesh (fellow travelers), explored the upper terrace of the stunning Baha’i Garden and Shrine, the top attraction in Haifa proper, and then took a cab down to see the entire hillside garden from the bottom. It extends almost a kilometre up the side of Mount Carmel and covers 200,000 square meters, has 19 steep terraces, two parallel streams, and terrace bridges. The centerpiece of the garden is the gold-domed shrine which is the final resting place of the prophet-herald of the Baha’i faith. 

We had a light supper at the foot of the garden in the former German colony. Before bed we set our clocks back an hour because of daylight savings time.

  … Miscellaneous …

With no exception, all building we have seen so far
are cream colored, either stucco or stone. Flat roofs are the norm except in the old German neighborhoods where the roofs are red tile.

The flat roofs are ideal for the nationally mandated water tanks and
solar panels used to heat the water.

All water used in agriculture is recycled.

Tap water is desalinized.

FOMO = fear of missing out.




4 thoughts on “Haifa (October 26, 2019)

  1. Hi,
    Fascinating facts and pictures. Enjoying Dan’s commentary also. 😊
    The food looks amazing and so very different!


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