Friday, January 06, 2006

Felafels of biblical proportions

The next day, we took an hour-long train ride to Haifa, Israel’s third-biggest city. Shortly after we arrived Karen’s uncle Avi (her mother’s brother) came to pick us up, but not before we had a chance to ride the Haifa subway, which is rather interesting: there is only one line, and it goes straight up the inside of a mountain on a steep angle. From the top we had a breathtaking view of the harbour and the Mediterranean sea, and the Baha’i Gardens that stretch down the hillside to the prominent monument that marks the burial place of El Bab. (This is apparently one of the two holiest sites for Baha’i, the other being in Akko.) Climatically and topographically the city resembles San Francisco, or perhaps Kobe.

We drove from Haifa to a small Druze village on the Carmel mountain range. Visiting a Druze village sounds more interesting than it turned out to be, since only a tiny fraction of the population is actually Druze and they are generally invisible anyway, so that what we ended up seeing was just felafel restaurants, souvenir shops, and a busload of American Jews on their “Birthright Israel” tour. But farther on, at a Catholic monastery high on a cliff at the site where Elijah the prophet allegedly did the thing he is supposed to have done, we had a remarkable view of Galilee, from the sea to Nazareth and beyond. We’ll spend the next couple of days there, staying with Avi and his wife Tali. There is a lot to see in the land of Jesus (Jesusland, one is tempted to call it).


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