Jerusalem Nap

November 13, 2008

David Hyman

Mt. Zion, Jerusalem Photo: David Hyman

A poem – Jerusalem Nap

 

 

 

Jerusalem’s burden

over his aging shoulders.

Heat, sweat, endless noise

the heavy shadow of the cross.

Sweet dreams in a midday nap

the coolness of ancient  stones.

A gardener?   A pilgrim?

Or just another dreamer

who fell for Jerusalem

 

David Hyman     www.davidhymanisrael.com

David Hyman

Tsfat after heavy rains. Photo: David Hyman

One saying about Tsfat aways comes true for me: In Safed  – always expect the unexpected. Whenever I visit this town, with groups or alone, something extraordinary happens.

I was in Safed last week with a group of tour guides for a professional seminar. We were taken to the new excavations under the medieval citadel, where we were discussing the events of the Arab evacuation during the War of Independence.  We were hosted by the educational institute “Livnot U Lehibanot”.

But the event I remember most and will always stay with me was this strange scene in one of the narrow alleys. The heavy rains that fell that morning, blocked the drainage in one of the towns narrow and winding roads, and a huge puddle of rainwater was created outside a local elementary boys’ school. One of the teachers, an orthodox Jew, made great efforts to open the blocked drainage using very sophisticated tools – a school chair and a mop stick.

After a while, many of his students came out to cheer, and many stood around and commented with good advice,  but the puddle wouldn’t budge and the road remained blocked.

I am not sure how this ended, but thought you would enjoy the pictures.

So where is my advice on shul hopping, spirituality and shopping?  For this you will have to join one of my tours!!!!

See you in Israel,

David Hyman     www.davidhymanisrael.com 

David Hyman

Jerusalem ramparts , Photo: David Hyman

Very few visitors to Jerusalem know about the option to circle the Old City walls in a unique fashion, by walking on top of the ramparts. Here is a short update of all the options:

Three entrances to the ramparts are in use : two of them are on both sides of Jaffa Gate and the third is under Damascus gate. All three have a cashier who sells tickets, the price is 16 Shekels for the whole day, meaning that you can walk different parts of the ramparts with one ticket.  All three entrances are poorly signed and need some snooping around to find them, or just ask one of the locals. The three recommended tracks are as follows:

Jaffa Gate south, via the Armenian quarter, Zion gate and ends at Dung gate. The entrance is 150 meters south of Jaffa Gate , from the outer side of the walls!!!  Ascending the ramparts is by a series of steps and ladders, not recommended for those who are scared of heights. Once you reach the top you are rewarded with a great tour of the walls with views of Yemin Moshe and the Sultans pool from one side and rare vistas of back yards of the Armenian quarter. After passing the Mt, Zion Protestant Compound, you arrive at the top of Zion gate. You can either descend or continue to the next gate, Dung gate. This option is great for anyone who is planning to visit the Jewish Quarter, the Kotel and David’s City.

Second option is entering the Ramparts at the northern side of Jaffa Gate, and walking north and east towards Damascus Gate. The Cashier is located  just by the side of the tourist bureau, which is on your left hand side once you enter the Old City through Jaffa Gate. Once again, climbing the walls is a bit of a challenge, the ancient steps are in different heights and sizes, and you should watch your step. Once on top you will enjoy views of Jaffa road, and the new Jerusalem municipality on one side, and views of the Christian  Quarter churches on the other.

Damascus Gate is the third option to enter the ramparts. The cashier is at the lower tier of the gate , in the new visitors’ center that has been developed under the gate. From here you can either walk east or west, and check out views of the Muslim Quarter, and  the historic Rockefeller Museum.

Full day ramparts walk :

If you have a full day for the Old City and you are in the mood for Rampart walking, here is my suggestion: Start at Jaffa gate, walk south and descend at Dung gate, visit the Kotel, then traverse the Old City to Damascus gate. Use your same  ticket for the second entrance via Damascus gate, and walk the ramparts  back to Jaffa gate. This way you have covered seventy percent of the ramparts, visited the Old City and returned to the spot where you entered.

Be aware that last entrance is at 4 PM , but all exits are always open.

I guarantee an enjoyable walk

Yours, David Hyman          www.davidhymanisrael.com

David Hyman

Ein-Hod village center, Photo: David Hyman

I planned to spend an hour in Ein Hod today, but I stayed three hours and it still wasn’t enough. I am planning to return again this week, to fill in the blanks.

This tiny , picturesque , romantic , surprising , cultural village does  not reveal its secrets easily. It takes some investigating and scratching the surface to unfold her hidden gems.

I started at the village center , at the Yanko-Dada museum. I enjoyed the artwork, but especially liked the underground water cistern that also holds some of the art. You descend via a metal ladder to an underground space, carved into the bedrock, and can’t overcome the joy of hiding here for a short while.

Next door is the late Marcel Yanko’s home. Mr Yanko , the world famous Dada artist, founded this artists village in 1953, and made it the thriving cultural colony it is today. A tiny shop at the entrance to the Yanko home, offers many products, mainly authentic arts and crafts items. Jorge from Holland was patient enough to unfold the full explanation and a brief history of Yanko’s biography and life story.

I then walked the narrow roads and paths of the village, passed by the outdoor stone theater and sat for a while at Abu Yaakov’s little restaurant. I saw a pot of steaming soup on the stove and bought myself a bowl. It was the most tasty bean soup I have tasted. I miss the days when you could buy real homemade soup and not the industrial powdery stuff.

But the biggest surprise was yet to come -follow the signs that lead to the “Nisco Museum of Mechanical Music” and look for the founder Nisan Cohen. I am not sure what impressed me more- the museum or this mysterious man. Nisan is a former American who has been collecting mechanical musical instruments for over forty years. They are now presented in a small hall and can be enjoyed when you join one of the daily tours, or the weekly concert.

These mechanical musical instruments were the popular means of entertainment before the gramophone was invented, so you are actually exploring a musical journey by going back hundreds of years.

All through my visit to Ein-Hod today, I felt a dual vibe of mixed feelings from the locals. The artist and gallery owners love the peace and quiet, but are eager to host more visitors and travellers, as long as they behave and appreciate culture, art and music.

Most of the galleries are open daily from 10am- 4 pm,  to visit the Nisco Museum you should call in advance: 052-4755-313

Enjoy your visit, and please pass this secret on, but only to the most worthy…..

David Hyman    www.davidhymanisrael.com

Ori the Galilee Girl, Photo-David Hyman

Ori the Galilee Girl, Photo-David Hyman

Its been over a week since we returned from our day’s hike through one of Israel’s most beloved nature sites The Kziv River. I was waiting for an interesting theme to hit me so I could write a nice post, but nothing happened yet,  until this morning, when I realised that all my strongest memories from that day revolve around one of the participants, actually , the youngest member of the hikers. She is our  Seven Year old  neighbor – Ori.

Ori is the youngest daughter of our very close friends, Netta and Gilad . After three boys, they were blessed with their fourth child, Ori, who is called by everyone – Oriki. Our friends are enthusiastic hikers and travellers , and are accustomed to spontaneous whims , and so with hardly any preparations, we arranged our little outing to the kziv River.

We took the paved road down from the town of Maalot, and parked at the Ein Ziv entrance. Its a two Kilometer hike to the Tamir water source = Ein Tamir. Half way to the site, we were all joking about how much fun it is to hike only with our daughters. We too left our two boys at home, and only our thirteen year old girl, Shaked was with us. So there  we were, two couples with one daughter each.   How convenient for everyone.  On the way there, Ori was very busy taking pictures with her dad’s digital camera.

After half an hour of  hiking along beautiful autumn scenery, ancient ruins and fresh water streams , we arrived at the Ein Tamir site, and sat down for lunch. Ori is very picky with her food, she only eats certain cheese in her Pita, and her parents try very hard to please her. But when the herb tea, cooked fresh by her dad on a portable stove arrived, Oriki gulped down a few warm glasses and was ready for more.

It was time to explore the Ein Tamirwater source. This spring of natural fresh water, is at the far end of a long dark natural cave, and considered a challenge to hike through. I was looking for volunteers to explore the tunnel with me, and the two girls looked eager. So the three of us grabbed a flash light and some courage, and we entered underground through the narrow passage in the side of the mountain. The water at first reached  my  knees , but after a few meters it reached my thighs. I looked down at Ori, worried that she might be upset, and realised the the water reached her waist. Her face was glowing with excitement, and she didn’t seem to mind the dark, although I did notice  she was shivering from the cold water. We kept hiking the water tunnel until I felt that the  water was too deep, and then we started walking out again.

We arrived at our picnic site, and Ori was proudly telling her folks about her adventures. But alas, her sneakers were wet, and she insisted walking back to the car barefoot. Her parents disagreed, so a compromise was made, and she started the long hike back wearing her socks on her feet. It was very funny watching her, after ten minutes she started sufferings, but would not give up. Ten minutes later she seemed to have enough, but insisted in continuing and finally she agreed to march the last five hundred meters wearing her shoes.

On our way home  we stopped for a cup of coffee and a baklawa cake, at the village up the road. The small town of Tarshicha has a famous middle eastern bakery – Amir, with the most delicious baklawa and knaffe you can imagine. We had a sweet feast, and while we were all enjoying the black coffee , Ori was treated to a warm cup of Shoko (Chocolate milk)

The Kziv River and the Tamir water source are a wonderful destination for an autumn hike , but if your are lucky enough to be accompanied by a very skinny, blond and blue-eyed seven year-old, you will be able to see the sites and enjoy the experience through her eyes, the eyes of Ori The Galilee Girl.

David Hyman

www.davidhymanisrael.com

Jerusalem from Zion gate, Photo-David Hyman

Jerusalem from Zion gate, Photo-David Hyman

Can you imaging walking through a tunnel carved in stone 27 hundred years ago? and what if this project  was initiated by the orders of the Israelite king Hezekiah? And if I tell you that a passage in the bible describes this tremendous technological achievement, made to redirect the waters of the Gichon source and channel them into the city’s boundaries? And would you believe me if I tell you that an ancient inscription , written in proto-Hebrew letters ,describes the technology used to dig this tunnel?? (II Chronicles 32: 1-8)

This all sounds imaginary,  but all this and more is 100 percent true and can be visited by anyone who tours Jerusalem. All you need is a free afternoon or morning, a flash light, water sandals and a sense of adventure, and you can experience one of Jerusalem’s amazing hidden secrets.

For a decade or so, the site of Ir David (The City of David) was inaccessible, due to security restraints. The Arab neighborhood of Silwan covers the ancient site of the origins of Jerusalem. Every time a cycle of violence evolved , access to the site was too dangerous. Recently things have quietened down, and by creating a series of bypasses, visiting Ir David is safe again.

I recommend visiting in the afternoon, when the sun is rotating westward, and the golden rays are looming over the city walls. Start your tour at the cashier, and secure an entry time slot to the Tunnel. Then make your way to the lookout point on top of the screening room, and check out the outstanding views of Mount of Olives, the village of Silwan, the Kidron Vally and the excavations of the ancient city. Next stop is the 3D movie, which brings the ancient city alive.

Now its time for the underground adventure, but some preparations should be taken: The tunnel was carved as part of the ancient water system, and still carries the waters of the spring, so prepare yourself for wading in a dark, low ceiling, very narrow tunnel, while walking in knee deep cool fresh water. The tunnel is 533 Meters long, and takes about 35 minutes to walk through.

But before walking through the tunnel, you are going to run into another surprise. While descending underground, you will pass by  an even earlier water system, known as Warren’s Shaft. This system  dates back to king David, and is traditionally explained as the water pipe the King’s forces used to enter the Jebusite city, as described in the bible(2 Samuel 5:6-9). While passing by the entrance to the shaft, look down and  try and imagine General Yoav Ben Tzruya, with the king’s mighty men, making their  way up the shaft and into the city walls.

Descending 20 meters lower, you finally reach the water source, the Gichon. This spring flows all year long, and is the reason for the location of ancient Jerusalem. The first step in the water, sends a cold and surprising tremor up your spine…

When you enter the tunnel, the first twenty meters of water are a bit deep, 70 centimeters high, but once you pass this first stage, the water is knee high. You follow the meandering tunnel, and can see and feel the ancient chisel marks on the walls and ceiling. Some places are so low, you need to bend your head, and some of the places the tunnel is narrow, that your shoulders rub on the walls. Using your flash light and your sense of adventure, you will exit the tunnel after about half an hour.

But the adventure is not over, the water arrives at the Siloam (Shiloach) pool, a holy site for the Christians; Siloam is considered  by tradition to be the site of one of  Christ’s miracles, restoring eyesite to a blind man. (John 9: 1-7)

Returning to the Ir David visitors center , can be done either via a very steep hike back through the village or you can ride the shuttle for 5 shekels a person.

Packing List for the Tunnel hike:

– 3 hours minimum for the  visit

– Flash light, water shoes, shorts

– Ready to get your feet and thighs wet

– Stamina and energy for a long descent underground, and a long walk in a dark narrow tunnel

– Enough energy to hike up a steep hill back to the vsitors center, or five shekels for the shuttle

 

But please remember, these preperatrions will allow you a journy back in history, to the times of King David and King Hezekiah. So just imagine that this is a time machine anyone can use – and dive in!!!

David Hyman

www.davidhymanisrael.com

David Hyman

Ancient Synagogue, Golan. Photo: David Hyman

The bartender at the Golan brewery aligned the four flavours of fresh beer in small tasting glasses. All samples had an inviting foam on top of a clear colorful body. The four of us started tasting the samples. The bartender was going on and on explaining about the differences , but I wasn’t listening…  the taste and texture of the freshly brewed beers blew me over. I fell in love. I loved the brewery, the people of the Golan who made this a reality, the beers themselves put a huge smile on my face, life was smiling at me.

The Golan always has a surprise for you, even the most professional traveller  will always find something new here. The new Visitors Center just outside Kazrin is the new highlight of your next visit to the region. The video of the Golan lacks narration and could be improved, but the accurate new model of the region is excellent and is the  perfect educational tool for any guide trying to explain the structure and the relevance of the Golan Heights. From there you move to the brewery. I would advise a long and lazy lunch, slowly chewing on your sizzling steak while tasting and enjoying all four blends of the local beer. From there  you are welcome to stumble down the stairs and shop at a unique store. The Visitors Center directors have gathered many local home made products from the Golan and the Galilee: Jams, honey, wine, soap, cosmetics, herb tea, beer, and candy. I especially enjoyed the different flavours of honey, made by the generous bees of the Golan, grazing over different types of flowers and trees. Try the Eucalyptus honey, I adored it. I  guess a drunk consumer is an educated one, so go ahead and shop!!!  you will not find any of these products anywhere else.

Call the Kesem HaGolan Visitors Center  for opening hours, directions and admission: 04-6963625

I also decided to check out a site , that according to rumors is a new gem on the Golan hikers map. 2 KM West from Kibbutz Natur, on the cliff overlooking the Kinneret is a historical site with an Arab name: Umm El Kanatir (The Mother of the arches). I remember the place from the days I used to hike with youth orienteering groups. Recently, a coalition of local officials archaeologists  and the Ministry of Tourism have come together to restore and excavate  the site. Not long ago the place was known only to the few who were willing to hike and search for this remote , off the beaten track Jewel. Today You drive along a well maintained dirt road and arrive at the parking area. Leave your car and descend a few dozen basalt stone stairs and then arrive at the site. The  natural water source flows out of a couple of ancient arches built into the mountain side, trees and water shrub  surround the small pool, once  used to contain the water for irrigation .Stone pillars and capitals of ancient civilizations are scattered around,  creating a feeling of temporarity.

100 meters  to the north, fenced in,  is the site of the reconstructed ancient synagogue. One  of over 50 synagogues found in the Golan, this one adds evidence to the  long but not  forgotten Jewish presence in the Golan. My son and I tried to circle the synagogue and find a way in, but the fence was secure so we took pictures from a distance. Looks like we will have to return once the structure is secure. I really wanted to walk on the ancient  stones of the synagogue floor, and feel their smooth texture like my ancestors did over fifteen hundred years ago.

On the way home  we suddenly saw a huge flock of storks in the sky, circling in midair  in a perfect formation. Israel acts as a corridor for millions of migrating  birds making their  annual journey south for the winter. We stopped the car and enjoyed this magnificent natural phenomena.

My wife insisted on one last stop before arriving home, a small cafe on the road from Amiad to Kadarim. Makom Yaffe Le Cafe, can be translated to A Pretty Place for a Cup of Coffee. And indeed it is. This Cafe is located on the top of a small hill overlooking the entire sea of Galilee.  We enjoyed our  Cappuccinos while   gazing at the horizon . Our kids couldn’t care less, they were busy chasing the birds that were feeding on the leftover crumbs

Shana Tova , David Hyman

www.davidhymanisrael.com

Jaffa, Jonah and Yom Kippur

September 25, 2008

Ancient  Jaffa is one of my favorite guiding locations in Israel. It has a variety of all

David Hyman

Jaffa Clock Tower. Photo : David Hyman

the components needed to create a meaningful experience for my guests. Great stories, lovely scenery, mythology, a strong Jewish connection,  important Christian traditions, shopping opportunities and delicious food. Even the parking and restrooms have improved. In short – take your group to Jaffa and your success in guaranteed.

I start my tour by the old Turkish clock tower, and I make sure to point it  out several times as it acts as a meeting point at the end of the tour. from the clock tower I lead my flock to the water front a few hundred meters away. There is a semi- circle stone bench overlooking the Mediterranean, the Tel Aviv beach and the Andromeda rocks. This is the perfect place to read two ancient stories with surprisingly many similarities. The reason you read them here is that they both happened thousands of years ago at the ancient port of Jaffa. Jonah the prophet boarded the boat here, and Andromeda was tied to the sea  rocks out side the port of Jaffa. Sometimes I compare the two stories: both telling us a story of a tragic hero, both discuss the struggle of man with  God and both involve maritime creatures rising from the depths of the ocean. The book of Jonah is read each year after Mincha prayer on Yom Kippur, so visiting Jaffa around this time of the year  adds to the experience.

From there you should walk south , along the coast to the small port. Although constructions are taking place , you can still find a nice site to enjoy the port experience: sounds, smells, fresh sea air, and a chance to observe the Jaffa fishermen dealing with their boats and nets. By the port I discuss Jaffa’s importance as the closest port to the road to Jerusalem. Many pilgrims , pioneers and travellers entered Eretz Yisrael via Jaffa port.

Look for a small gate in the City walls facing the port, and ascend a flight of stairs in to the old city, and try and make your way to Jaffa’s central plaza (Kikar Kedumim) , outside St. Peters church. This is a good place and the right time for a 15 minute restroom break.  Now is the time to discuss the Christian  importance of Jaffa. This is the site where  St.  Peter visited Simon the Tanner from Jaffa and had his vision which lead to the reason for Christianity giving up on the laws of Kashrut. I also tell about Napoleon Bonaparte and his tragic act ofpoisoning  his own soldiers who were wounded and ill and  were slowing him down.

From here we ascend to the summit park,for some photos and views of Tel Aviv, Jaffa and the sea. I lead my flock back down the hill to the Clock Tower and allow  them an hour to shop, eat and wander around the flea market. While my guests are assisting the Israeli economy by purchasing Hukkas, Frank Meisler’s art, Dead sea Ahava cosmetics  and Abulafia Pita products, I will take a break and rest at Dr. Shakshuka’s restaurant.

Dr. Shakshuka is a unique local Jaffa establishment. Hiding in a narrow  ally , 50 meters from the clock tower, some thirty  heavy wooden tables fill a  shaded  courtyard. Welcome to  Heaven. They serve a fresh pan of Shakshuka, which is a dish of eggs and tomatoes all spiced with the local ingredients. You dip  large chunks of fresh bread into your sizzling pan, add some olives, pickles and freshly cut tomatoes. Don’t forget to end this feast with a cup of fresh tea with Nana herbs.

Back at the Clock Tower , my guests are all gathered around, chewing their Pita and  holding their shopping bags. The bus will pick us up momentarily. My guests’ smiles and their sparkling eyes give it away, they too have fallen in love with Jaffa.

Visit my website: www.davidhymanisrael.com

David Hyman

David Hyman

Akkotel Hotel Photo: David Hyman

I returned to Akko today to check a new hotel and a new Museum. They both have a unique location – they are both integrated into the walls of ancient Acre.

The “Treasures in the Walls” Museum recreates a nineteenth century market place in the Galilee, and some private collections of authentic  art work and artifacts from Akko and the region. In recent years the Museum experience is drifting away from the traditional method of silent exhibits while the visitor walks and observes the artifacts and reads the commentary. A group of new museums in Israel have challenged this method and by creating an interactive experience they have managed to attract the crowds back to the museum scene. The Palmach museum, the Herzl museum,and  the new Yad Vashem museum,  all represent this new line and their success is proved by the excellent turnout.

So although the “Treasures in the wall” museum  is old school style museum , it managed to impress me. Two things did the job: the location and the personal touch. Inserting the museum into the heart of the ancient walls was an act of genius. As you enter a series of arched halls, the natural light glitters through the side windows, and you cant help imagining how life was 150 years ago as one of the Ottoman soldiers guarding the city. The person who dreamed and delivered is Mr Shimon Mandler. Shimon welcomed me with a big smile, a proud attitude and endless knowledge. All the exhibits are marvelous and interesting but  Shimon’s presence  makes the experience much more worthwhile.

The museum is open daily , call 04-9911004 for directions , hours and admission

Akkotel Hotel

I walked 300 meters along the ancient walls and arrived at the beautiful new boutique hotel- Akkotel. Once again, the location is what makes the difference. This preserved medieval structure is part of the city walls, and for decades was the old Akko court house. The Marouni brothers purchased the rights and after years of renovations they produced a true gem. The hotel has 16 rooms, all modernly furnished but without loosing the old  Ottoman  atmosphere. The personal touch worked its charm once again. Mr Ilya Marouni showed me around, opened the rooms, introduced the views from the roof, and shared all the details I needed. The hotels has a lovely dining hall that hosts the guests for breakfast and then during lunch time it becomes a restaurant and over the weekend serves a buffet style brunch.

 Akko is the rising star of Israeli tourism, and I was glad to see that the local entrepreneurs are adding their personal touch. I am a big supportor of local, private, unique tourist attractions and accommodation. By visiting this hotel and museum , your support will be added value to your enjoyment.

Call Akkotel for directions, prices and reservations: 04-9877100

Visit my website: www.davidhymanisrael.com

Yours, David Hyman

Photo by David Hyman

Photo by David Hyman

   

 

 

I decided to check out Haifa’s highlights. Half a day is not much to tour a city but a traveler in Israel will rarely spend more time here. I started with a cup of cappuccino in café Toot on Moriah Street. The coffee was good, the butter croissant was excellent and I realized that the old rumor that Haifa produces the most beautiful Israeli women was still true.I should know, as I am also married to a Haifa girl 

 

From there I strolled along Moria Boulevard, and arrived at Merkaz HaCarmel, the center of the Carmel, I sat at one of the Falafel stands for a quick lunch. It was early afternoon and many teenagers after school were hanging out. School dress code in Israel has evolved over the years, and today it’s pretty simple: T-shirts in all colors with the schools’ logo printed on the left upper corner. Small groups of teens were standing and sitting around and I was surprised to see groups of kids from different schools huddling together. A small group was sitting very close and I was eavesdropping. One of the boys, wearing an Ort school T shirt was very loud, using foul language and smoking cigarettes, and a crowd of kids from the more elitist  Re’ally school and Eronie- Hey school  were amused and entertained by him. My attention was attracted by a very large Star of David hanging from a very long necklace around his neck.

 

I made my way along the Louis Promenade. This is the best place for great vistas of the Haifa bay and the North of Israel. The promenade was deserted, as it should be on a Sunday afternoon in Israel. A bunch of workers were replacing the stone tiles of the promenade. I was surprised to see that the foreman was a Druze man, and that the two young men working, were both Israeli Jews.

 

Finally I could see a few buses and some tourists .I was approaching the upper terraces of the Bahai Gardens which is the main attraction in Haifa. A group of American tourists were feeding the stray cats in the shade .Before entering the gardens, I checked out the little site with the old Turkish cannon and the memorial for Franz Josef’s historical visit to Haifa in 1898. The site was clean but someone painted graffiti on the memorial. This is the site I like telling my tourists about Herzel’s first and only visit to Eretz Yisrael in 1898.

 

Entering the upper two terraces of the Bahai gardens does not need early reservation and is free. The guard will ask you not to smoke or chew gum, and you are in. The view of the gardens from the upper terrace in breathtaking. The Colors, harmony, symmetry and the esthetic details are immaculate. 100 gardeners maintain the gardens daily. 70 of them are professional local gardeners and 30 are volunteers from the Bahai faith from all over the world. I have to thank my anonymous colleague for this small anecdote, as I learned this while listening to a fellow guide with excellent English and a very heavy Israeli accent, preaching to his flock of tourists a few yards away from me.

 

I had an hour to kill so I drove to the Stella Maris area. Along the road in front of the Carmelite Monastery, 6 tour buses were lined up!! Pilgrims from around the world were there to visit Elijah’s chapel. I entered the church and pretended to be one of the German tourists. I sat in the church and listened to the group singing. I must say, it was beautiful. One of the ladies got very emotional and was creating some excitement. Outside of the monastery the guide was explaining in German about Napoleons campaign of 1799. Bonaparte used the Carmelite monastery as a hospital for his troops, and they erected a pyramid shaped monument in commemoration of this event. While the guide was talking, two Carmelite monks with their heavy brown robes crossed the courtyard and distracted the groups’ attention.

 

I crossed the road to the Stella Maris lookout point. It was renovated recently by the San Francisco Jewish community and is bearing their name. The view and the breeze of the Mediterranean were so refreshing and I could clearly see the war ships entering and leaving the Haifa Navy base.

 

It was time to leave; I drove my car down the road and parked a few meters away from the German Colony neighborhood. During the day this site is not very hospitable, but at night the Ben-Gurion boulevards are bustling with restaurants and cafés, and the lit up Bahai gardens are a rewarding vision to summarize a half day visit to Haifa.

 

Haifa’s five musts:

 

– Coffee or lunch in one of the Moriah Boulevard cafés

– Louis Promenade, views of the Haifa bay and the Galilee

– The Bahai Gardens

– The Carmelite Monastery and lookout point in Stella Maris

– The German Colony at night

 

 

Visit my Website:

http://www.davidhymanisrael.com

Dalyat El Carmel

Dalyat El Carmel

We drove to Dalyat El Carmel today. The plan was to shop and eat lunch in one of the local Druze restaurants. The 45 minute ride from our home in the Galilee to the village was beautiful today. After the long hazy summer, we were finally rewarded with a crystal clear day. As we were climbing the winding road leading to the village on the summit of Mount Carmel, the Haifa bay appeared in great detail. I could see the coast as far as Rosh HaNikra and the Central Galilee mountains were crisp and  clear in the autumn light.

We bought products for the big holiday feast we are planning next week  and we joined the long and winding caravan of Israeli cars all heading to the short strip of shops in down-town Dalyah. By the time we parked everyone was starving so we sat down for the meal. My tourists always wish they could visit sites in Israel that the Israelis visit, and Dalyah is one of them. Hardly any tourists, but hundreds and thousands of Israelis. The restaurant was full of Israelis all enjoying the Druze delicacies: Humus with Lamb meat, kebab with Majadrah, Chicken shishliks and warm stuffed vine leaves. All fresh and tasty with this middle-eastern flavor that can never be reproduced out side of the region.

After lunch we took a stroll along the strip which is only 200 meters long, on both sides of the main road that traverses the village. A few dozen shops create this surreal bazaar. souvenirs, jewelery, clothes, antiques, food, framed art, traditional druze tapestry and plastic toys from China. Shoppers parading up and down the street, avoiding the cars that are passing by using their horns for attention. I was looking at my fellow Israelis on their day of rest, dressed nicely in their shorts and tank tops, shopping for bargains and looking for the long gone authenticity. A middle aged  Druze lady was making Druze Pita bred on a traditional baking tin, the Saj. She was the only authentic relic of the Druze heritage  on the  main street of Dalyah. But business was good today, as she looked very tired from hours and hours of siting on a very low stool by an open fire, and baking one pita after an other for the Israeli visitors to enjoy.

A young family , probably from one of the towns near Tel Aviv bought their little boy a Darbuka – a small drum. The mother was negotiating with the shopkeeper over a very large SheshBesh game carved out of Olive wood and decorated with what appears to be fake  Damascus stones.

On the way back to Haifa , the view of the Mediterranean struck me once more. The blue infinite ocean cradled the port and bay of Haifa. I tried very hard not to get distracted from the road. I was driving and my whole family were in my car with me. I stole an occasional glimpse of the view , and was thinking: this is so beautiful – how on earth can I describe this to my readers……?

Have a great week and visit my website www.davidhymanisrael.com

I spent ten days guiding a Christian group from New Zealand. The leaders of the group are Phill Did-Dell and his lovely wife Rielene. This was the second year I have guided them but Phils 14th visit to Israel. I still have not got over the impact they have left on me. All week I am thinking why was this such a powerfull week for me? This morning It struck me – the Kiwi’s ( Thats what the New Zealand folk call themselves) live 16,000 KM  away , on an isolated and beautifull Island, with very little worries and trouble. What brings them here to Israel? why do they travel 10,000 miles? The answer is very simple – they love God and they love Israel. Their faith is so strong  and they are searching for their Jewish roots. While touring Israel, and by visiting the sites that Jesus walked, prayed, preached, taught, and performed miracles. they realise that even a remote nation as far as New Zealand has this unbreakable bond to Israel.

I am overwelmed by their  devotion, I am inspired by their Love. I pray that many others will follow my Kiwi friends and come visit us in Israel. Check my site http://www.davidhymanisrael.com and book your tour today