Monday, April 29, 2019

Day 18- 19 Caesarea, Rosh Hankira, Acre, Haifa

The ruins of Caesarea and Herod's Summer Palace

In the underground sea grottos of Rosh Hankira

The views from B'hai Gardens, top of Haifa

It's been an amazing time in Jerusalem and Israel.  I will be leaving shortly, but my last few days were very interesting.


First, I explored Caesarea and the ruins from the Roman period/time of Christ.  Herod's summer palace at the shore with his incredible views of the Mediterranean, so aqua and sublime.  Roman and ancient ruins have always been my passion so this was a delight for me.

The amphitheater at Caesarea is still used by musical groups today, and I found that both magical and poignant at the same time: people sitting there thousands of years ago, watching their theater acts, had no idea that over 2000 years in the future, people would still be sitting there watching entertainment.  It's pretty mindblowing.

We also explored the different ruins that are preserved there, including the Templar/Crusader ruins, where they held off the Muslims, badly outnumbered until they could finally escape and flee to another port.  Very interesting history all around.

Rosh Hankira

From Caesarea, we went on to the upper point of Israel, to the sea grottoes of Rosh Hankira, right on the Lebanese/Israeli border.  These grottoes were a beautiful natural occurrence, and we used a cable car to descend to sea level to reach them, as the coastline here reminds me of Greece -- cliffs to the very edge of the sea.  

From there, we ascended back up to the top of the cliffs, and walked the border a little bit, discussing the politics and history of the region.


From Rosh Hankira, we went on to Acre/Akko, where there is still a strong Templar history, with a large Templar hospice that has been restored and is now a museum.  

First, we ate a traditional Muslim lunch of salads, hummus, fresh warm pitas, and shawarma meats (beef, turkey, and chicken), washed down with lemon water.  We had a leisurely lunch, continuing our talks of history and politics, and other places we've traveled to or would like to see.  

After lunch, we walked through the Templar hospice museum and grounds and the catacombs (pretty scary and claustrophobic) and after enjoying that bit of history, we went out into the markets of Akko, now Muslim controlled, and just did a bit of shopping and exploring.  There were foods and wares of all sorts, and the Arabs love to haggle.  I was offered 10 new children and 2000 camels to marry the sweets vendor.  When I politely declined, he changed his offer.  "How about just one new child and 5000 camels?"  Sorry buddy, the answer is still No.  


After Acre, we went on to do some exploring in the ancient port city of Haifa, which is now a thriving metropolis.  Daniel, our guide, showed us around with extreme pride, as this was the city he was born in.  He brought us up to the very top of the city, to the B'hai Gardens, and we spent some time up there, enjoying the views and having some coffee and "baguettes".  

We headed back to Jerusalem then, as it was a two-hour drive back, and to be honest, by the time I got back to my apartment, I was pretty exhausted.   I had only slept a few hours the night before, and it really seemed to catch up with me -- especially after so many hours in the blinding sun.  Thankfully, I didn't get burned (I slathered myself with sunscreen early on) but some of the others in our little group did.  This guy Vincenzo from Rome turned beet red on his arms, neck, and face by lunchtime.  OUCH.

Now, off to Tel Aviv today for a day at the beach, and then early tomorrow morning, the long flight(s) back to the USA and home! 

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