Our first stop is a port city in western Galilee...the ancient town of Acre which is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was known as Akko in Biblical times (Judges 1:31)...and is one of the places from which the Israelites did not drive out the Canaanites.
We walked beneath ancient trees to the courtyard...
...and on to the entrance to the underground museum.
Acre is some 4500 years old...and is one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities. It was first mentioned in early Egyptian texts of the 19th century BC...and through the ages it has been a stronghold for many civilizations (Greek, Roman, Islamic, Crusader, Mamluk, Ottoman, Palestinian).
We learned a lot about the fascinating history that has passed through the streets of Acre at the recently excavated Underground Crusader City. We walked through the market place of that time...the dining hall...the prison...the hospital...the knight's hall...the 'bath room'. All intact. And then we walked through an underground tunnel which has only recently been opened to the public. It is nearly a quarter-mile long and connects the fortress to the port. To think this tunnel was built by the Crusaders more than 800 years ago is rather mind-boggling.
Our next 'port-of-call' was Haifa...a city built in tiers from the Mediterranean Sea and up the slopes of Mount Carmel.
The city's most striking landmark is the Baha'i Temple and the surrounding gardens....also a Unesco Heritage Site.
The shrine is accessible only to those of Baha'i faith...but the gardens are open to the public.
It was a lovely spot...with a great views of the city, the sea and the hills of Galilee.
From there...we drove south to Caesarea....the Roman capital of Judea for some 600 years. It was one of the great trading posts of the Roman Empire...established by Herod the Great in 22BC. Caesarea was given to King Herod by Augustus Caesar and is named after him.
Though there is now a modern city here...we came to see the wonders of the past!
We sat in Herod's amphitheater...where concerts are now held in the summer months.
Herod built a temple, a palace, an aquaduct...a city which was the marvel of the world.
His refined palace with a swimming pool once stood right here.
We read about Caesarea in the Bible...it was the home of Philip and Cornelius the centurion. It was where Paul was imprisoned for two years. It was where we wandered about among the ruins of the past...where a carved limestone block with the inscription of Pontius Pilate was found a few decades ago. It was rather like walking through a story!
We had a teenager in our group...a fun gal from Chicago traveling with her parents. At times the 'historical immersion' was a bit much for her...and she escaped with her cell phone. The past meets the present!
Let me end this post...and my travelogue on Israel...in Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv is a modern Jewish city situated on a 14 mile strip along the Mediterranean coast. We had a free day while we were there and had time to walk about...see, touch, taste and enjoy!
The bustling and colourful market was a fun place to visit.
We met up with this group of partiers several times throughout the day...apparently a pre-wedding celebration for one of their own. Some things are the same no matter where in the world you find yourself.
The promenade along the beach stretches for 14 kilometers...through Tel Aviv and to the old city of Jaffa (pictured above). We put in many steps that day...enjoying the fresh sea air and watching the people along the way.
Our day in Tel Aviv ended at a local restaurant that served typical Israeli cuisine. We asked the server for a recommendation...
...and all enjoyed meals that included Ptitim (also known as Israeli cous cous). Ptitim is a type of toasted pasta that is shaped in little balls and was developed in Israel in the 1950s when rice was scarce. Quite tasty, it was!
We also enjoyed the scene that played out on the street...just outside the restaurant window where we were seated. First we saw an officer ticket an illegally parked car. Next we watched while a tow truck arrived to remove the offending vehicle. With only inches to spare in front and behind the car...we wondered how they would be able to get at the vehicle. No problem! The tow truck pulled up alongside and lifted the car up and onto the truck deck (from the side) in a few minutes time. Most entertaining. We wished we could have been there to see the owners reaction when he came in search of his car.
And so ends our time in Israel...in Tel Aviv where it began and ended for us at the airport. From our walk through the past to our time spent seeing modern Israel...it was definitely a trip of a lifetime!
Thanks for joining me as I shared a few memories of our tour.