Israel's Good Name


In Haifa, Israel on January 10, 2012 at 10:31 PM

Today I had the obligation of being in Haifa, at the beckoning of the IDF. I left my house, travelled to Haifa via bus and train and attended my meeting. Afterwards, I decided to go on a little adventure… Here it is, a textual and pictorial account of my small journey down Mount Carmel. First, the bustling Haifa Port as seen from the Memorial Park next to the Iriya (City Hall) and the IDF Recruitment Centre:

The Port of Haifa

After snapping some shots of the park and the port down below I popped on over to the Iriya. There I was told to head West down the mountain if I wanted to see museums and such. I did so and on my way, walked by the old District Courthouse of Haifa established back in 1932:

The old District Courthouse of Haifa (1932)

From there I continued westward, slowing going down the the mountainside. After exploring a small “artists house” filled with modern-day small-time local artists’ work, most of them paintings, and then finding a historical house called the Gefen House, I found this unique act of nature:

A tree growing out of a wall at the Gefen House

Continuing on my way, I noticed a beautiful little garden with a bunch of small orange trees filled with bright oranges. I was wondering why there was a tiny little garden midst the large urban area and then, some twenty paces later, I saw the rest of the garden… the famous Baha’i Gardens. I figured I’d venture over and have a look so that’s exactly what I did. This marble fountain was quite peaceful and I knelt (oops) to take a picture of it:

Baha'i Gardens marble waterfall

As I went up to the next terrace I found a disappointingly tall metal fence with a locked gate. I waiting until one of the guards came up, with a tourist in tow, and unlocked the gate for her. I asked the guard if I too could explore the locked area and he said no, you are not a pilgrim. And no, I am not a pilgrim, so I left… but not without taking a picture of what the pilgrim what going to see:

Baha'i Gardens looking up from the lowest terrace

I then found the Tourist Information Centre and went inside, eager to learn more about the places available to a casual tourist like myself. There, a kind middle-aged woman helped me map out the next part of my journey and, after extensive talks, gifted me with an oldish map of the Coastal Region from Binyamina to Rosh HaNikra. The map was printed in 1990, the year I was born, and it reminds me of an old National Geographic in style and colour tone. After I had thanked the lady, having a definitive route penned out on another map, I headed down the long Allenby Street. After buying a water bottle, I passed by this interesting building, obviously quite a modern one:

Interesting building with Canadian and British flags waving outside

From that building onward there was not much to photograph, save the oddly placed red VW Karmen Ghia with the special licence plate and an “auto” sticker from Denver. Twenty to thirty minutes after I had left the Tourist Information Centre I reached my destination: Elijah’s Cave (the cave that Eliyahu HaNavi hid in and used during his “duel” with the worshippers of Ba’al). Unbeknownst to us at the time, we had been just minutes from the cave when we visited to wonderful National Maritime Museum sometime two years ago. Here is one of the welcome signs, this one situated on the road where a series of staircases takes one up to the cave:

Welcome to the Cave of Eliyahu Ha'Navi

When I had reached the complex of old stone buildings built in and around the cave I was greeted by a kind old man who blessed me. I then went into the cave where donors have turned the place into a special location for prayer:

A section of the cave

After exploring the cave I turned around to leave and this is what I saw, a wonderful view and even better in person:

Looking down from the cave to the Mediterranean Sea

And here is more of the complex, exactly what is in the buildings eludes me:

More of the Cave complex

Descending the mountain, the Clandestine Immigration and Navy Museum’s outdoor displays become more and more visible. Here is a small ship retired from the Israeli Navy (the ship is open for touring within the museum – admission free for olim in their first year):

An old Navy ship from the Clandestine Immigration and Navy Museum

I then headed for the water and walked along the Bat Galim Promenade enjoying the damp sea breeze and the hot Mediterranean sun. Of course, as have been evident in most of my recent blog posts, there was a feeling of need for some panoramic footage. Here are two panoramics, taken as I stood in one spot, looking from side to side of the visible Mediterranean Sea (click to enlarge):

Looking West

Looking East

On the rocks that form a mini-seawall stood fisherman with immense fishing rods. I had the pleasure of watching one of the fishermen catch a fish, the myriads of huge beach cats lounging around just waiting for a snack. Here is one of these fishermen, sadly he did not catch anything while I was there:

A man fishing with the huge cargo ships in the distance behind him

When I had left the Promenade I continued to hug the coastline, walking along the beautifully shaded streets, and came across the official land entrance to the Haifa Port. Here it is, in all of its humble importance as the main gateway to the Holy Land by sea, the Haifa Port entrance (where a guard carrying an automatic rifle whistled sharply at me to not take any further pictures):

Welcome to Haifa Port

When I had successfully snuck away, camera in hand, I tried to find the Bat Galim train station to get back home. I ended up going the wrong way, consulted a passing soldier as to the current route and was shown, with much enthusiasm, the right way to go. I made it to the train station where I sat and “bugged out”, waiting for the train. In my idleness, I decided to snap a picture of the train on the other side of the tracks, being boarded for a Southbound journey, and to claim this as my train that I took (creative licence being taken advantage of here):

Taking a train home

The ride was pleasant and before too long I was home. ‘Till next time!

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