Monday, April 25, 2016

Israel ~ along the Mediterranean coast

Most of Israel's western border is the Mediterranean sea...and that's where this post is going today!

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 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 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 Tel Aviv where it began and ended for us at the airport. From our walk through the past to our time spent seeing modern was definitely a trip of a lifetime!

 Thanks for joining me as I shared a few memories of our tour.


  1. A trip of the lifetime for sure Judy. So glad you could go and experience so much history we've heard about all our lives in this part of the world.

  2. A fast paced trip with a mind that has absorbed much. Thanks for sharing. MW

  3. Very enjoyable and educational. I thoroughly enjoyed your account

  4. What a trip of a lifetime for sure! It must be so surreal to visit cities that have been here since Before Christ. That underground city sound fascinating. I love the views and getting a sense of the food and lifestyle. Wouldn't it be fun to see a concert at that outdoor amphitheater. I doubt our buildings today would last that long. I have to get my H to read this post. He is dreaming of this kind of trip.

  5. You have documented your "once in a life-time trip" so well Judy! Brings back so many memories of our trip there.

  6. It has been incredible to go along on this trip with you and to see so many amazing places! Thank you for taking us along!

  7. Amalia lives in Haifa...what a pretty place! I never would have dreamed "knowing" so many from around the world or that the ones I know would travel to so many places and, best of all, share them. Your pictures are beautiful; your commentary interesting. What a trip! Are you able to select a most favorite scene or experience? (I think I might have avoided the quarter mile tunnel. LOL!)

  8. Another wonderful and informative post Judy. It really is a beautiful country so rich in history. Thanks for sharing your trip with us! Amazing.

  9. How wonderful for both of you. I have a friend who is a tour guide there and she always posts the most beautiful photos, as have you!
    Best to you and Elmer


  10. Your pictures are soooo good Judy. I felt that I could smell that particular smell - of dust and 'dry' air and the sea. What a trip you had!

  11. This was an amazing trip and tour, Judy! I never had the desire to visit the Holy Land but now I think I'd like to see some of these sights one day. So much history there--the beginning of civilization itself!


'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson