I spent three days in Haifa in April, 2013. If you’d like to learn more about what there is to do in this lovely city, check out my piece about that. If you want to know how to pack for three days, click here. Otherwise, please sit back and enjoy the (slide)show created by me for you. :)
In April 2013 I decided to give myself a three day adventure in Haifa. I wanted to see interesting things while making sure to keep within a tight budget.
The trip ended up costing me around 400NIS in total (including travelling to/from Jerusalem) and I had a wonderful time. I found Haifa to be a beautiful mix of urbanity and au naturale. It’s a place where you get to see interesting and pretty things while feeling the calmness of the mountain, the forest and the sea. It was lovely.
This post includes tons of information regarding places worth seeing, including dry details like contact information and entrance fees. It’s based on the extensive research I did for myself before embarking on my adventure. I didn’t find any other resources as comprehensive as this and so, while it is not a complete list (only almost), I hope you’ll find it useful.
The attractions are mainly bunched by area. The bold writing represents details like directions, contact information and price.
In case you thought otherwise, I’m not responsible for any decisions you make, ever, whether regarding your relationship with your boyfriend or your decision to take my advice. :) In other words, double check, don’t blindly follow and I’m sure you’ll be fine.
Also please stay tuned for a photo album from my trip coming shortly.
Public transportation on Google Maps and Wikipedia as my guide
I can’t tell you enough how amazing it was using Google Maps on my smartphone throughout my trip. It now offers public transportation information in Israel and I used that option many times every day. I also used a regular (paper) map that I got at the hostel and the two together were perfect.
One bus/subway ride in the city costs 6.60NIS. The ticket is a transfer for 90 minutes.
When I realized that I hate packing but do enjoy the occasional get-away, I created this packing list to try to make it less stressful. It is for travelling within the country, in Israel, but for this post I’ve added some items necessary for international travel.
In the comments, please write all items that you see are missing, for domestic and international travel.
Some obvious things, like a wallet, are not included in this list.
I have successfully used this list twice already – once for a Shabbat in Tzfat and once for a three day vacation in Haifa. Both have been happy trips, partially as a result of my good packing job. :)
- Thermos filled with hot tea (This is my thing and it’s a pleasure having this when on the road.)
- Tea bags
- Suitcase Continue reading
You are an iconic meeting point in Jerusalem. Of histories, peoples, religions, locals, tourists, pilgrims, empires, old and new.
You are one of the eight gates of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. You were built in the years 1535-1538.
When people walk into the Old City through you, they can turn left to the Christian Quarter, go straight to the Muslim Quarter or turn right to the Armenian Quarter. If they follow past the Armenian Quarter, they will reach the Jewish Quarter.
You are very well known. You are one of the main entrances people use on their pilgrimages to the Old City. As part of the Old City walls, you’re familiar with Sultan Suleiman, the man who thought you up. Legend says he had your planners killed because they didn’t include the City of David (the actual biblical city of Jerusalem) in the walls. They are buried right beside you. Charming fellow, he was.
You saw when a huge chunk of wall was broken down right next to you so that the German emperor could enter on horseback in 1898. Silliness indeed.
You’ve seen wars. Most recently, Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 which saw all Jews kicked out of the Old City and the Six-Day War of 1967 which saw the place inside your walls made into a space where all religions can practice.
For hundreds of years you’ve watched locals sell snacks, tours and souvenirs to these people.
You’ve seen oh so much construction. You went up in the 1500s. The Ottomans built a clock tower right on top of you in 1907. That came down. In 1912 the Bezalel art school built a pavilion next to you to sell art. That was brought down a few years later too. People put up little shops along the walls. Those were removed in order to preserve the walls’ original look. Most recently, the square on your outside has become large and beautiful and the walls have been fixed up.
And the traffic has been redirected under a tunnel instead of right next to you as it used to be.
Jaffa Gate, from the mid-1800s, Jerusalem began overflowing outside of the Old City walls and today it spans many times bigger than it ever was. From where you stand you’ve watched it happen and where you stand, you will always remain one of the main thoroughfares from the New City into the beloved old one.
Yes, you are indeed an iconic meeting point. You are beautiful and you’ve seen it all. If only gates to talk…
This post is in reply to wp.com’s weekly writing challenge.
This piece was first published on Times of Israel.
Jerusalem, you are a tough place to live. It’s one thing to deal with your crowds, the multitude of cultures, the personal safety issues, and the religious turbulence as a tourist. It’s a whole other thing to live inside you, and to be engulfed with these things single day.
And so, I have always felt a commitment to you but I never really loved you.
Now, three years since my return to you, I’d like to tell you that it wasn’t you. It was me.
You’re wild. No one can deny this. You are an in-your-face, livin’-on-the-edge, eastern city. For some, wild is a natural choice. But not for me; it’s just not who I was.
My choice to leave you for Vancouver in 2006 is proof of this.
After being a Jerusalemite for 16, I realized that I was totally sick of you. I found you rude, loud and unattractive. I also found that my relationship with you made me extremely claustrophobic. When I noticed how I really felt about you, I knew it was time for me to leave you.
That’s when Vancouver came into the picture. I needed to choose a new place to live. Although I have a lot of family in New York, the big and rowdy city never felt like an option. It may be in the west – already an improvement over you – but it was still too energetic for my taste.
In the end I chose the peaceful and off-the-map city of Vancouver. It’s a beautiful place where nothing much happens.
And I loved it.
I’m so sorry, Jerusalem; Vancouver was the first city I ever loved. Because falling in love with Vancouver was easy. I arrived, saw the ocean, the mountains, the cute homes… I had a few people smile at me on the street, and very quickly I was starry-eyed in love.
It was just a perfect fit for me at the time. The chilled ambiance was exactly what I needed. Not to mention the laid-back Jewish community.
It was a perfect relationship, what can I say.
But no, O Jerusalem, I never forgot thee.
Not because I particularly loved you. But I always hoped I’d end up back here since this is where my family is and something in me felt like I was missing out as long as I wasn’t here.
And so, after two and a half years in Vancouver, I started the six month process of convincing myself to give you another chance. It was actually more terrifying coming back to you than it was leaving you because it felt like a crazy decision, going back to a relationship that didn’t work out well the first time.
I kept thinking about how unhappy I was in my former life in Jerusalem. Who said this time it would be any different? But I just needed to try. I needed to see what it would be like living in you after all the growing up I’d done since I left (and maybe you changed a little too?).
And so it was. After dealing with a ton of fear, I ordered my one-way ticket to Israel.
I gave Vancouver many kisses goodbye. I made sure to see some last places I had missed (like Victoria and Gastown). I told it I still loved it but I had to go away. I cried. My love for the place and the people was palpable.
And then I left… Knowing I may never see it again.
On the last day of the month of Elul 2009, I boarded a plane back to Israel. My El Al flight was packed full with Israelis who had made yerida and were coming to Israel for the holidays. I sat next to one such man who was excited for me, and slightly jealous, that I was making the leap and giving you another chance.
I arrived in Jerusalem on erev Rosh Hashana. What a perfect day on which to begin a renewed relationship with you. Jerusalem, you were buzzing with holiday preparations. My parents’ home was vibrant and I was surrounded by lots of family members. Despite my jet lag, I helped my mom prepare for the chag, so excited to finally spend it with my family again.
A new year was beginning and I was beginning it with you.
It was such an emotional moment for me. Actually, as I write this to you, I am still extremely emotional about it. I felt like a new life full of opportunity lay before me.
Jerusalem, I did not fall in love with you overnight the way I did with Vancouver. You are a place that someone like me – whose natural choice is not heat, noise and prickles – needs to grow to love.
And now, exactly three years since my return, I see that I am growing to love you. I now struggle through your hot summer days but am absolutely and totally in love with your cool evenings. I am anywhere from uncomfortable to fearful of your Arab inhabitants but I love the feeling of living in a multi-cultural Wild East and I am happy that I am not living in a bubble. I work hard to pay for a small apartment but can’t get over my fortune of living in a cute home in such a pretty and funky neighbourhood. I am proud of my sweet life that is split between work with the most amazing people and after-work with, well, the most amazing people.
I love where east meets west deep inside of you. I stand on Derech Hevron on the Cinematheque bridge and look out to the Old City, the new city and the hills of the Judean Desert… Or I ride the Light Rail on Kvish Echad (actually named 60 Road or Cheyl HaHandasa St.) with all kinds of passengers, and I know that when one chooses a relationship with you, one truly lives on the edge.
It is because of who you are that you are the place where things happen. This is the city with such a long history that one archeologist said that anything found in a dig that is less than 2,000 years old is chucked aside. You are such a wild place that although you are the political centre of Israel, the world just can’t come to terms with who you are, even though it is under Jewish rule that you will always remain a pluralistic, open city for people of all religions.
O Jerusalem, I will always think of Vancouver as a beautiful little corner of the world but you are the real deal for a Jewess like me and you accepted me back with open arms. You are wild, prickly, stony and beautiful. You are welcoming in a way that not everyone can see. But I see it now and I love you for it. I truly do.
Three days ago Gilad Shalit came home. I think we’re all still collectively rubbing our eyes to make sure it isn’t a dream. Who wasn’t totally shocked to see him walking and in one piece after five years and four months in conditions we all rightfully assumed were very bad? And who can believe that Gilad really is now at his family’s home after celebrating Simchat Torah with them after so many years?
Of course the other thing we can scarcely believe is that this week we decided to equate one lone Jewish life with 1,027 Arab terrorist lives.
When I watch videos of Gilad on Israeli soil, I know we did the right thing, getting him home where he belongs.
But now we’ve gone and become all self-righteous and this, I believe, is not right. Do we really think that the exchange for Gilad proved that we’re a light unto the nations? Did it prove that we truly believe in the sanctity of life? And can we really feel comfortable quoting the Mishna that says that if you save one life, it’s as if you saved an entire world?
Anyone who is merciful to the cruel will end up being cruel to the merciful
Yes, when I see the images of Gilad, finally in real time, I am deeply moved. When I see him reunite with his family and salute the prime minister, I’m so touched. But let’s consider some other typical Israeli scenes. Like those of people being blown to pieces in a pizza shop. A sick man hanging out a window, cheering and being cheered on by the crowds as he shows off his blood-stained hands after lynching a Jew in Ramallah.
We sanctify life? Where is the proof if we allow such a lowly person to live all these years? And worse, we invest in him by allowing him to live off the Jewish state (a state with many needy people). And since we grant him the privilege of life, he gets to dream that some day he’ll be free to lynch another Jew. He basks in his disgusting fame and we let it continue. And now, because he was sitting uselessly in an Israeli jail all these years, the day has indeed come. He’s been released and most definitely is ready for his next attack against Jews.
Now, capital punishment for the worst terrorists against Jews and Israel – that would show that we believe in the sanctity of life.
And what about the fact that 11 of the terrorists were released to East Jerusalem? Jerusalem, as in, the Israeli capital. Inside undisputed borders as far as we’re concerned (supposedly)? There were some great street parties there the day they were releasted, celebrating Israel’s decision to harbour terrorists in our own capital.
One person in another Israeli city was appalled when she had to see a group of Arab workers across the street from her house celebrate the release of one of the murderers. All these celebrations inside Israel. Why do we allow it?!
Yesterday, on October 20, the Israel Police’s official Facebook page had the following update (translated from the Hebrew):
Half an hour ago, a bus of 40 Israeli citizens from different towns arrived at the Hadarim Jail.
The passengers began a protest there, waved Palestinian flags and called for the abduction of more Israeli soldiers in order to ensure the release of all the security prisoners in Israel.
Israeli security forces arrived at the scene and requested of the protesters to clear the area since they were assembling there illegally. After requests by the police a few times, and after the protesters refused to leave, 12 of them who were carrying Palestinian flags and calling for the kidnapping of soldiers, were arrested.
Now the protesters have been removed to the bus and the event is over.
Why does this report only mention that the assembly was illegal? What about the fact they are calling for the kidnapping of soldiers? We allow people to express their obviously traitorous opinions in our country? There should be serious repercussions for people who choose to celebrate terrorism against Israel or support kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. Until that happens, we have not truly proven our belief in the sanctity of life.
Of course this is not to mention other steps that should be taken in order to deter terrorism. For example we should not return the bodies of terrorists to their families. We should bury them ourselves, with pig skin (then there will be a great reason for growing pigs in Israel). And we should seriously consider returning to the policy of demolishing their homes. Again, these actions would prove our belief in the sanctity of life. They play on their ridiculous beliefs, deter future terrorist activity and show our important disrespect for their barbaric ways.
Because really this part of the world is way simpler than many people want to believe. Our neighbours don’t want us to exist and they believe it’s holy work getting rid of us. I think that this is the #1 rule of the region as far as Israel is concerned and all that’s left is for us to compile a set of rules around that.
Of course this is far from pleasant and so we usually complicate things with Western ideas some of which just don’t work with our very un-Western neighbours. They get us in trouble. Like when we worry about killing the (possibly) innocent bystander on our enemy’s side and, worst of all, when we worry what everyone else will think, we’re paralysing ourselves against the evils that face us.
So the same goes for Gilad Shalit. Are we sure there was no other viable way to get him home? Or did we complicate things with worries? I wonder how this ended up being the path chosen and wonder if there weren’t any other options that more truly would have expressed our belief in the sanctity of life. Like cutting off Gaza from Israel until they gave Shalit back and making it clear how much Gaza residents would suffer if Gilad were to be killed, God forbid.
It’s very hard for me to believe that there were no other options that may have been less popular with the international community (and many Israelis), but could have gotten Shalit back earlier and without having to release 1027 terrorists.
Meanwhile, whatever anyone thinks about the deal that was reached with Hamas for Gilad, it’s a relief to welcome him home. I have no idea how Gilad and his family survived such a nightmare and I thank God it’s finally over.
And now it’s time for us to really start proving to ourselves that we’re a light unto the nations by starting to implement serious steps towards deterring terrorism. That way we can know that we are truly cherishing the lives of Israeli citizens and prevent any future Sbarro, Dolphinarium or Park Hotel horrors.
I wonder, is the rest of the world watching these embarrassing (OK, sometimes amusing) Israeli commercials? Israeli TV usually goes between one and 100 steps beyond my comfort zone. Here are some examples:
Moshe says the f word?! (GPS commercial)
Charedim dancing about HD TV
I assume this is offensive to ultra-Orthodox Jews. At least there are no women in this one! That practically makes it kosher! Honestly, this one is sort of cute.
Hippie runs fellow hippie over?
I don’t really get this one. Such silliness.
Meh. This one is not so great and not so terrible. They don’t even show the cheese on the burger so it’s practically kosher too!
Ministry of Tourism advertises Israel
Any of us who live in Israel know how totally honest and realistic this ad is for Israel. Uhu.
Water and capoeira
This one is actually artistic. Very nice.
This one is disgusting.
Nerdy suave man choking on an olive for Tnuva
So, are Israeli commercials worse than the others you’ve seen? Should we be embarrassed or proud?
P.S. I already published this post but just found another one that is actually pretty cute. This dude can’t find parking and then figures out the perfect solution (not what I thought!).
Who do you think of when refugees connected to the Middle Eastern “conflict” are mentioned? The approximately 800,000 Jewish ones from North Africa and the Middle East, of course. Right?
Well, no. The story of the Jews in Arab countries whose lives became increasingly unliveable starting around the founding of the state of Israel in 1948 is little known. So many of them had to flee for their lives. Many were held prisoners, terrible pogroms were acted out against them, until they almost totally cleared out of what became hostile territories for the Jews. Many of whom had lived in those areas for hundreds, maybe thousands of years.
You can read this article by the JTA in order to learn more about the organizations who have taken it upon themselves to document these refugees’ stories.
There is a very cute website which publishes amazing stories that happen in Israel. It’s called, “Only in Israel” and that is a perfect name because people love to say that. When you tell a crazy story because of how unbelievably kind someone was or, sometimes, not so great, often someone will say, “Only in Israel.”
Of course this is often subjective because as you get to know other worlds you find out that things which you thought were Israeli, weren’t necessarily.
But, sometimes it really does seem like an amazing story. This is one of them. This family’s street block was not going to have electricity the day of their daughter’s wedding. It’s deeply touching to see what the electric company did in order to help them. If you’re anything like me, get ready to shed a few tears.