Sunday we headed north and drove through the heartland of Israel. We passed many Muslim (have mosques with minarets) and Jewish towns on the way.
Israel is a very small country, about the size of New Jersey and one can drive from the furthest point north to the furthest point south in about 5 hours. Haifa is a working port city with a population of about a half million people in the metropolitan area. It sits on a bay of the Mediterranean with a mountain (Mount Carmel) dropping down to the sea so most of it is quite hilly. We had a little driving adventure in the evening when we went out of Haifa to the east to visit some relatives of Terri’s who live in Karmiel, supposedly a half hour from Haifa that turned into a two hour trek. We have a GPS with the car we rented and it did not recognize the spelling of the street they lived on so we made a lot of circuitous tours of Karmiel. The computer voice on the GPS also has the most hilarious pronunciation of Hebrew words so it’s some extra entertainment along the way.
On Monday morning we visited the Bahai Temple which sits in a beautiful garden in the center of Haifa. The Bahai faith is a monotheistic one with a belief in the unity of all humankind. The tenets of this faith are meditation, prayer, and service to others. One can see how a garden and temple such as this could foster that. In the afternoon we drove north to Acre, probably one of the most interesting, and under visited places in Israel or anywhere. It seems everyone from the Egyptians, Crusaders, Alexander the Great, Medieval Italians, Richard the Lion Heart, the Ottomans, and even Napoleon either ruled here or tried to. El-Jazzar, an Albanian soldier of fortune who had taken over the entire Galilee as an independent fiefdom until he was assassinated. Most significantly, with the aid of a British fleet he successfully defended the city of Acre from Napoleon’s troops in 1799. Napoleon was moving north from Egypt in order to open a route to India that would have changed history. In the afternoon we drove to Nazareth and again what should have been about a 40 minute drive ended up taking 2 hours but we arrived safe and sound. More on that next posting.