Tuesday, October 11, 2022

[HAIFA] Work from Mediterranean

Haifa wasn’t really part of the original itinerary because the only place of interest I had in the north was Nazareth. But then again, my flight landed at 4:30 AM at Ben Gurion and I can’t walk around Nazareth with a wheelie in tow, so I thought, why not settle in Haifa after that daytrip and enjoy working along the Mediterranean coastline, right? The plan was to head there first from Tel Aviv to drop my luggage off. And then Ethiopian Airlines left it in Addis Ababa so I went straight to Nazareth with just my backpack anyway.

The trip from Nazareth to Haifa took only 40 minutes and NIS12 (~PhP200). I had to change to a local Haifa bus to get to the hotel. That was just another 10 minutes. It was a Sunday afternoon and all I wanted to do was rest after all that sightseeing. Had I known that the Baha’i Gardens were closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, I would’ve squeezed that in despite my exhaustion. That’s why you always consult Google, children. What greeted me were two Pinoy stores selling everything from Halo-Halo to Tinapa barely a block away from one another. We Filipinos really are everywhere, huh?

The whole of Monday was spent working, meaning no sightseeing took place whatsoever. This week is Sukkot, by the way, a Jewish holiday. That means some stores and public transport neither open nor run like they normally do. Luckily, McDonalds opened at noon which took care of my hunger, and further confirmed that the cost of living in this country can be prohibitively expensive. Each meal has cost me more than NIS50 (~PhP850) so far! And this isn’t American sized portions we’re talking about but rather typical fast-food meals you can get in Manila for less than half the price!

Anyway, sightseeing continued on Tuesday which was a free day from work. I decided to take the bus going uphill to the Carmelite monastery and church. Google said they open at 9 AM which meant I had an hour left to spare, which I spent hiking the hill nearby. There are pathways leading down to the beach below but lined up with uneven rocks that are quite slippery. An alternative is to take the cable car next to the monastery, but I didn’t know their operating hours and I didn’t have cash on me.

There is a small chapel which I believe used to be a lighthouse, now reimagined as the Holy Family chapel or something to that effect. I wanted to go in but the door was locked. The building itself is really small but becomes a solid feature of the horizon if you want a nice pic with the Mediterranean as the background. There’s a bench on one of the slopes where you can just chill and enjoy the scenery.

As the clock struck 9 AM, I headed to the church. I only got as far as the door because there was a sign saying it’s been under construction since the start of the month and is therefore closed to visitors. Cool. This along with the Baha’i are Haifa’s two main attractions, so do your prior research to make sure they are both open when you drop by for a visit. Otherwise, you can still enjoy Haifa’s Mediterranean coast. The city, after all, is a prominent port of call in many Mediterranean cruises.

After that, I walked all the way downhill to check out Baha’i Gardens. The Baha’i faith is relatively new and I am not really that familiar nor interested. Their gardens here in Haifa are a major tourist attraction, though, sprawling some real estate from uphill all the way down near the coast. It is truly a sight to behold. Check out Google Images if you are curious. As mentioned, they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Some of the gardens are open to the public while some require a reservation that you don’t have to pay for. In return, you get a free guide to tour you inside the premises.

Despite not being able to get in, I did enjoy the glimpse I saw from the other side of the gate. I can only imagine how epic the views are from uphill. The views from down below were not that shabby either! Overall, I feel liked I missed an opportunity due to bad planning here. Suffice it to say, though, that I was still satisfied with the little that I saw.

[HAIFA] Work from Mediterranean

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