After Jerusalem we had almost lost hope – but at the next stop we found peace in Israel
Our day in Haifa!
SATURDAY OCTOBER 3 – Haifa Israel This port was advertised as “Nazareth”. Many passengers took VERY long ALL day (8 hour bus tour) for this. We elected to see the FREE international headquarters of the Bahai faith a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Prophet-Herald of the Bahá’í Faith is burried in the golden-domed Shrine of the Báb and a HUGH terraced garden spralls from the base of the City to the top of Mount Carmel. Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith is buried in Akko, about 40 mins north. We had read that the upper gardens and temple were only open until 1, so after a relaxing breakfast we got a cab to take us to the Golden Domed Shrine, which is situated half-way up the hill, in the center of the gardens.
We were kind of annoyed that they charged us $25 for a less than 10 minute ride, just because they can. I am not in favor of tourism scalping. In Haifa the population is heterogeneous and they live in PEACE. Jews comprise some 82% of the population, some 4% are Muslims and almost 14% are Christians (both Arab and non-Arab). The Jewish population is older and the Arab population younger. What this meant on the Saturday that we were there was that Jewish Business areas were closed & there was a shortage of taxis – the Arabs being the only ones working….. I am sure they didn’t scalp us for the cab fare because they were Arab though…. which is the first thing that might come to some minds… I am sure they did it because of supply and demand…. They charged us $25 because they could – and we paid $25 because we could. It’s that simple.
Come to find out – due to the Jewish Holiday the festival of Sukkot. This was one of two special days where the upper and lower gardens were open ALL day – BUT the shrine was not. We could only look into it through the open doors. Because of the quantity of people we were not at all allowed in, not even for meditation. I remember that it was filled with flowers and the fragrance that drifted from within was beautiful. We didn’t take any photos though… some things we do just for the experience. In order to do this post I now learned that most of Bahá’u’lláh’s social teachings, such as the eradication of prejudice, the equality of men and women, the necessity of universal education, and the importance of social justice, which requires, among other things, the elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty, all flow logically from their fundamental assertion. Hmmm – sounds reasonable. Must be why it was a place full of peace. Read more about Bahai Faith here.
After visiting the temple by walking around it we climbed all the way to the top of the gardens, and Mount Carmel. It was really hot and the recommendation was that both men and women should wear clothing that covers their shoulders and reaches their knees. We dressed in compliance upon entering but I kind of gave up on my scarf after we were unable to enter the shrine… and eventually Rob took his long pants off too! No one else was all covered up… so the rules for walking the garden must be more relaxed.
After our trek all the way to the top and back down to the level of the shrine we sat down to munch on a Nutrilite Nut bar and were almost immediately scolded for eating in the gardens…. oops! Time to move on I guess. We both needed to use a restroom so we did that and then headed the rest of the way down the hill through a residential area specifically for pedestrians, outside the boundaries of the garden – – another stair! We love talking and walking….
A Neighborhood Stair in Haifa
Upon arriving on Ben Golan Blvd. we figured out that we had missed the lower section of the gardens so we went back in. We wanted to take in a cool water feature that we could see – so through security we went for another bag search, you have to do this almost everywhere you go… We took some pictures and then headed out again.
The area of town we were now in was supposed to be the highlight of the German Area, but we found most everything closed. What we had not understood was that German people built the area – so the Architecture was German. But at this time the shops are owned by Jewish people, so closed. The buildings did look distinctly different in this area.
We decided to head over to the Arab Market looking for some life. On the way we shared a Shwarma from a VERY nice, and clean, family restaurant. It appeared to be Dad supervising, and taking the money, with the son carving the meat, and the wife or daughter prepping vegetables and taking care of the rest. The “Schwarma” an Israli version of The Gyro, (Pita Bread filled with meat and various garnishes) was FANTASTIC, and would make a successful restaurant model in the US, and we could design one for someone because we understand what is needed.
After eating we continued on …. we were kind of feeling our way there – turning where it felt right. Eventually we were in an area that seemed to be store after store of Arab goods – ahhh, must be “Arab Market”. And there is truth in the numbers because we found the Arab market to be bustling with young life.
We walked for a couple blocks checking out unusual things….
The neighborhood wasn’t the cleanest but we did stop and have a pomegranate juice at a street stand… While waiting for our drinks to be made from fresh fruits we were invited to sit down at the table that you can see in the photo with a gentleman who I think had picked up that we spoke English.
We ordered ANOTHER Pomegranate Juice (we had these everywhere we went)
He just struck up a conversation telling us about a condo in Florida that he wanted to sell us. He said that he had moved back to Haifa to help his mother because his father had died. We learned that he loved cruising as we do – and left him with a card. We can sell cruises to anyone with an address in the United States, Canada or Mexico and until he sells his condo, he is eligible! Maybe we will hear from him….
We didn’t really need to shop for anything, we had just wanted to experience the Market area so we slowly made our way back to the ship thru the varied streets. We stumbled on a couple of churches so decided to go in and look.
All cultures spend big money on their churches, so the Architecture is always worth seeing! Everywhere we went on this trip the “non-tourism” churches that we stuck our noses into were set up for Weddings…. Must be Wedding Season in the Middle East!
When we reached the bottom of the hill headed toward the ship we spotted another cool building ….. in the distance!
The Sail Tower – the tallest building in Haifa – actually “District Government Center Building B” by Amar-Koriel, Architects – I like “The Sail Tower” better!
We were pooped after this day of walking but we did sit down in the port building for a few minutes of Wifi – we even called both of our Daughters in Rockford and Chicago. I remember noting that they had both answered their phones at 6:30 am, their time. By the way the Facebook phone calling feature works really well! We are amazed!
Thank you for your interest in our trip and we sincerely hope we inspire you to begin thinking about a destination of your dreams….. Give us a call any time! We would love to help you do something just as AZAMAZING!
Just as a side note – The private Guide that we used in Jerusalem was very good! He will give tours in many different areas including Haifa! He has a nice car, knows his way around & he knew the customs of all the different people! Not only did he drive us to new places he escorted us in and explained to us exactly what to expect! He even helped us select a hotel from home through email communication! We recommend him highly and hope to connect with him again some day!
Name – Sam Eli Salem
Email – email@example.com
Phone – +972-544-828207
He speaks perfect English and several other languages fluently!
Rob and Lynn Belles are seasoned travelers and Cruises Inc. Travel Agents
Gathering up the best experiences on Earth to share with you
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