After spending 3 adventurous days in Rome, we flew to Israel. Israel was founded in 1948 as a homeland for the Jews. The capital is Jerusalem, however most people live in or around Tel Aviv. We stayed about 1 hour north of Tel Aviv in the city of Netanya. We lived in a big condo with 3 bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and it even had a piano. One of the bedrooms was specially designed as a a safe room that can be used in case of rocket attacks. During our trip everything was calm and peaceful. Miriam, Hannah, and I all shared a room, and we had dance parties every night. Our flight to Israel got delayed, and by the time we arrived at our condo, we were so tired that we just fell asleep. The next day, we had a lot planned, as we were going to drive to Haifa, a city in northern Israel. We went with a private tour guide, who told us about the the history and showed us beautiful sights.
|View from above the Bahá’í Gardens|
Haifa is a major port city that lies on and around Mount Carmel in northern Israel. It borders the Bay of Haifa at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. Many religious landmarks are in the Haifa area, including the Baha'i Garden, Elijah's cave, The Stella Maris Church on Mount Carmel, the ruins of Caeseria, and Rothschild burial site. After driving for an 1 hour, we arrived in Haifa, at the top of the Baha'i Garden, overlooking beautiful buildings, a large sea, and a gold dome that stood out to us the most. Bahai is monotheistic religion founded in 1860 in Persia. Today there are about 5 million Bahai's, and most dream about coming to visit the temple. The Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa extend all the way up the northern slope of Mount Carmel. The garden starts very high up, and we had to walk down 700 steps to the bottom. At each level, there were a variety of things such as flower beds, hedges, sculptures, and views of the city and the Mediterranean Sea. After walking down all those steps we were exhausted, however we continued on. Our tour guide led us into a beautiful golden dome. Before we went inside, we had to take our shoes off and we weren't allowed to talk while inside. Inside this dome, there were numerous lit candles.
Beautiful Golden Dome
|At the bottom|
Our next stop was Elijah's cave. Elijah hid in this cave at Mt. Carmel in the 9th century BCE while hiding from King Ahad and his Persian wife Jezebel. In this cave it was pitch black, and there wasn't much inside. Eliah lived, hid and studied in this cave, and he was never found by the king, who was going to kill him. After exploring the cave we moved on. We drove to the Stella Maris Church, where we hiked down to the sea. There were beautiful views of the sea along the way. When we reached the bottom, we got to take cable cars back up. A cable car is a vehicle that hangs in the air from a cable, and it pulls it up and down mountains. It was a really fun ride, and it saved us from having to walk all the way back up!
|Honorary chair to Elijah|
After the ride, we stopped by for a quick lunch break before we moved on to our next destination, the ruins of Caeseria. Caeseria was built by Herod the great at around the time of 25-13 BCE. Caeseria was built right on the beach, and there were numerous mammoth-sized rocks that we climbed. In a big sandy area, thousands of slaves and animals fought for their lives, to entertain an audience of people. They also had chariot races, and many other races as well.
|Ruins of Caeseria|
Our last stop that day was Rothschild's burial site. Rothchild specifically said in his will that he wished to be buried in Israel. He was a very rich man, and he donated a lot of money to help build Israel when it was first founded. Now they have a park with gardens dedicated to him. The gardens had all types of beautiful flowers, and many interesting trees. While spending time in the park, we saw a few couples taking their wedding photos. A walk in the garden is definitely a great way to end a long and exhausting day.