Friday was a tough day. We checked out of our place in Eilat early in the morning to catch a bus to Haifa. It was a bit of a “bumpy” ride. The bus is comfortable enough, and the price is certainly right for a cross country trip ($25), but the ride felt like an eternity.
One adult with three toddlers was sitting behind us, and every five minutes a sticky little hand would reach around the seat and play with my hair or touch my arm. When that lost it’s appeal, the seat kicking started. And didn’t stop. For the entire six hour trip. A teenager in the seat in front of us moaned and sweated.. and then yakked into a trash bag for the first two hours. And to top it all off, the bus driver was playing an ABBA album so loud that I could barely hear my podcast. It was a serious assault on the senses.
David and I were glad to step off the bus in Haifa yesterday afternoon. We found our apartment, rested for awhile, then set out in search of dinner. Literally everywhere in walking distance had shut down for Shabbat, though, so we ended up at McDonald’s eating “Big America’s”.
Saturday morning, we woke up around nine and walked to the much-anticipated Haifa flea-market. Online, we read that it was “one of the best in Israel” and “not to be missed”, etc. Well. The Haifa flea market can really only be described as the dirtiest, most perplexing garage sale I’ve ever seen. At least one hundred vendors were spread out along a dusty dirt road, selling everything from old shoes, old baby carriages, piles of Russian VHS’s to rusty farm equipment, grandfather clocks, and old sewing machines. There were even multiple half-drunk bottles of Russian vodka for sale. Perplexing.
Dave and I had a breakfast of Israeli salad with sumac and hummus at Abu Maron’s in the flea market. According to our Airbnb host, it’s the best hummus in Haifa, but we both agreed it was average. It’s simply hard to compete with Abu Hassan’s in Tel Aviv.
We walked back to our apartment up a steep hill. Haifa is almost like San Francisco with its hilly streets, its moderate temperature, and it’s bay location. I would bet that Haifa is steeper, though. The part we are staying in is so steep that you can see the bay from almost every corner.
After taking a very brief rest, we headed back out for a free English tour of the Ba’hai Gardens to begin at 1:30. Even though it’s fairly close (we can actually see the golden dome from out apartment window!), we took the bus to the entrance to avoid the steep hill. The tour began at the very top of the gardens, which occupy a wide strip of land that slopes down the mountain on which Haifa sits.
The golden dome is the monument to one of Ba’Hai’s two prophets. The dome is actually in the center of the gardens, but the tour only took us through the upper half. We may return tomorrow to see the “inner gardens”.
The tour took us from the very top to the golden dome, down 700 steps!
Just to give some idea of how steep the gardens are!
Loved this photo of Dave and me looking up at the terraces. Just to state the obvious, the gardens were absolutely beautiful. They’re stunningly manicured and almost completely symmetrical. Tiny waterways run alongside the 700 stairs on the way down, simply because the sound of water is intended to be soothing to pilgrims visiting the holy site. I can’t wait to go back tomorrow!
We walked home through the neighborhood of Hadar, a hipster-y, young place with colorful graffiti all over the buildings. We stopped at an outdoor café for coffee, then went home. We went to the “German Colony” for dinner, which, it turns out, is really just a touristy street full of overpriced restaurants. The major silver-lining of the German Colony was the view looking up at the Ba’hai gardens, lit up for nighttime.
Today (Sunday) we went to Akko, but I’m going to save all that for a different post. This one is long enough!