While I was still in Jerusalem I took a day to visit Haifa. The Bahá’í Gardens are there, and it is the centre of the Bahá’í faith in the world.
The gardens are beautiful and symmetric, and slope down Mount Carmel to the city centre. To actually go in the gardens you have to join a (free) tour. Understandably, they don’t want people running freely through their hard work.
The clearly significant structure is called the Shrine of the Báb. The Báb is the herald of the Bahá’í faith, and he is buried in the shrine. When alive, he was incarcerated in an Ottoman prison and deprived of light. Now, with the ever present Haifa sun during the day and the hundreds of lights in the gardens at night, he always has light.
During the tour you get to learn about the Bahá’í faith. I liked what they were preaching: everyone is equal, love everyone, all good things. So far I’m on board with the “everyone is equal message,” but then I learned something else. Israeli citizens aren’t allowed to be Bahá’í. Maybe my thinking is completely radical but I felt like that undermined the “everyone is equal” belief. Anyways, I liked their garden.
Israel in general left me with a lot of mixed feelings, so this visit to the gardens just added to the list.
After seeing the gardens I decided to return to Jerusalem so I could make it back in time for the free dinner at the hostel.
Since I would be flying out of Israel from Tel Aviv, I thought I would spend a few days there to explore. Aryeh connected me with his friend Sarrit who kindly let me stay at her place for 2 nights. I only ended up spending one day in Tel Aviv, but managed to see some things like the Ottoman era Jaffa Clocktower.
The ancient port city of Jaffa/Yafo combined with Tel Aviv due to the latter’s expansion to make what is today referred to as Tel Aviv – Yafo. Walking in the Old Jaffa area gives a great view of Tel Aviv and its beaches.
This is also the location of Andromeda’s Rocks, the rocks where according to legend Perseus rescued Andromeda who had been chained to the rocks as a sacrifice to Poseidon.
Jonah is supposed to have embarked on his journey from Jaffa, but unfortunately for him he didn’t have a Perseus and ended up inside the sea monster.
Originally I planned on doing a second day in Tel Aviv, but something far better came up. There are a few people I’ve met on this trip who make it all worth it, and one of those people is a guy named Adam. We met back in Slovenia and have stayed in touch since. He flew into Israel in my final days there and we were able to meet up in Acre.
This day of talking and walking through the beautiful streets of Acre is easily a highlight of my trip. It’s always awesome to see the iconic buildings and famous artifacts, but whether it’s Canada, Serbia, or Israel, it’s the connections with other people that truly make the experience fulfilling.
There was a crusader castle and tunnel, both of which we visited.
It was a peaceful way to end my time in Israel, but I had one more surprise before I left.
My friend Paul from Waterloo was in the area and made his way to the airport so that we could see each other before I left. It was so nice of him to make the effort, as seeing another face from home was fantastic. He coached me on what to expect from security and we spent a few hours together before saying goodbye, as I flew onwards to Turkey.