Sue and I are traveling through Israel using only public transportation. We’ve succeeded in seeing a lot of the south (Previous post here) by bus and now we’re up for seeing the North. It takes a bit of planning and the completely Hebrew schedules make it difficult but we did it. You can too! We’ve found Israeli people on average very kind and helpful.
Wednesday, February 6, 2019
I love train travel. You sit in comfort and watch the world go by. As we headed north the landscape changed from desert to greenery. What a HUGE difference! Fruit orchards, fields of crops and even trees dotted the landscape.
In Tel Aviv we had to change trains. Again, everything is in Hebrew so asking people is the only option. I recognized the time for the train so asked a lady who said “yes, this train goes to Haifa on the way to ….(somewhere I didn’t understand)” lol So we got on and hoped for the best.
A nice young man sitting next to me told me where we should get off as “Central Station” in Haifa cuts it down to 3 stops. We got off and quickly realized we should have stayed on for 2 more stops. So we just waited for the next train and got on again.
Again my wonderful maps.me app got us to the Port Inn where we were greeted by a lovely young lady named Eleanor. Her love for her home city was evident in her description of the things we should see, how to get there and places to eat. Incredibly helpful!
Our room was tiny but comfortable and the shared bathrooms clean and close by.
After quickly settling in we headed off to Fattoush on Ben Gurion Road in the rain. On the way we stopped at the mall to buy an umbrella. The weather was miserable but the food was good and comforting. A nice thing about going out to eat is the 1.5 km walk back that aids in digestion. 😉
The rest of the evening was spent planning what to do with the next few days and again, how to work around Shabbat.
Eleanor promised a really good breakfast and she wasn’t kidding. Good thing we walk a lot as we’re certainly not going hungry!
Back at the train station we purchased return tickets to Akko and again just asked a nice person which train it was. Even those who find English difficult are helpful. Most folks are quite fluent and very kind.
It’s almost 2 km from the station to the old city of Akko (Acre) Once there we purchased a combined ticket that covered the highlights of the city. We got lost many times and I’m sure we went down every street at least 3 times but managed to see most of it. The Templar’s tunnels, Hospitaller Fortress, Treasures of the wall, and Turkish bath were pretty good but the Okashi Museum was pretty lame. The curator was adamant I not take photos. No problem. I wasn’t tempted.
We walked the top of the walk and the Napoleon promenade as well. All in all I was kind of underwhelmed. I found the whole thing REALLY touristy with too many “bells and whistles” in the sites. None of it looked authentic anymore with all the heaters, lights, built up paths, etc It’s too bad as the site is really amazing and definitely worth a visit but you need to see past the glitz.
Back in Haifa we stopped in the room to get a warmer coat as it gets chilly when the sun goes down, and decide on dinner. Trip Advisor it is. When in a port city you need to eat seafood so we headed for the Gold Fish. Another almost 2 km walk. Like we don’t walk enough? Oh well. We get to eat more that way. The menu was only in Hebrew so the fellow asked if we want fish and calamari. We agreed and he brought us pitas, assorted salads, hummus and tahini. Then came a big plate of fish. We both said “That’s a LOT of fish!” He just said “you’re welcome” and walked off. Next he returned with a dish of calamari and shrimp. We tried hard but could not finish it all. He finished the meal with a delicious cup of Turkish coffee. Nice!
Today’s adventure was the subway. After instructions from the girl at the desk we found the station and rode the train UP to the top of Mount Carmel. There we joined the free walking tour of the Baha’i gardens. The guide explained the Baha’i faith, it’s founders and the idea of the gardens. Next we watched the video presentation, then headed for the shrine to the two founding fathers.
It was very interesting but I found it kind of like propaganda. It’s a relatively “new” religion which doesn’t make it better. There’s an underlying message that they’ve improved on every other religion. However, most other religions have progressed in time too. Personally I find it’s more like a cult. The only citizens not allowed to join the faith are Israelis. Apparently it’s because they don’t want to add to the religious friction going on in the country with all they have to deal with now. But…isn’t having your main headquarters here a little hypocritical? Just my humble opinion 😉
We made our way back to the Port Inn and had a snack then headed out to find bus #1 to take us to the beach. Once on the bus we realized we were supposed to buy a ticket before boarding. Oops. I talked to the driver who, after we figured out where we were going said “it’s okay” and we sat down. He kindly gave us a free ride and told us where to get off.
There we rode the cable card up to Stella Maris and saw Elijah’s cave. Back down on the beach we walked the promenade for several kilometres then tried to find the bus back. A kind young fellow helped us buy tickets as it’s all in Hebrew.
Trip Advisor recommended a sea food place called Gold Fish so we walked there. The man asked if we wanted fish and some calamari so we said “sure, why not?” He brought us a plate FULL of fish and a dish of calamari and shrimp along with some salads. VERY GOOD!
Shabbat limits our options for transportation so a trip to Rosh HaNikra or Caesarea was out. We decided on the science museum Mada Tech since we could walk there and it looked like fun. It was full of families with kids but hey, we’re big kids too. It was a lot of fun!
Dinner tonight was street food. A fish shawarma. That was new. Tasted good too!
Next we head to Nazareth to start our hike on the Jesus trail.