A week in IsraelAdded: Monday August 11, 2008
What a nice weather!Saturday August 2, 2008
After a fine KLM flight (and a not so fine hour waiting for someone to bring us to our car, who never showed up) we arrived in Gesher Haziw in the early morning. The weather was already nice and warm. It is quite humid, but the warmth is something else than the occasional warm days in Holland.
We didn't do much on our first day. We did go to the beach (Chof Betset) for an hour or so and drove a little further up north to Rosh Haniqra. Here are the first few pictures. More will come for sure this week.
We visited the Golan heightsSunday August 3, 2008
On the second day of our visit to Israel we drove through the Golan heights. We first stopped for some pictures at Keren Naftali, which overlooks the valley (a former swamp) in front of the mountains. After passing the valley we climbed (by car) to Har Bental. This is a high mountain overlooking Israel on one side and Syria on the other. There's a coffee shop (not the Dutch kind) on the mountain called Coffee Anan. Anan is the Israeli word for clouds. On some days you can drink your coffee in the clouds.
We moved through the Golan after having a picknick in the Odem Forest. We stopped ever so often for pictures of the area. Behind every corner was a new picture opportunity. We managed to leave the Golan in time to see the final rays of the sun hit the Golan. From the cemetery of Tel Hai the sunset was spectacular and I hope the panorama shows its beauty.
Sunset at Rosh HaniqraSunday August 3, 2008
On our third day we didn't do that much. We did however visit some beaches in Rosh Haniqra to take pictures of the sunset over the Mediterranean Sea. The view was absolutely stunning. It went by so fast, I hope we'll have another possibility this week to take more pictures.
Rosh Haniqra areaMonday August 4, 2008
On the fourth day of our visit to the 'Holy Land' we drove for some time through the area around Rosh Haniqra. We started at a very important bridge near Kibbutz Gesher Haziw. The Israeli word for bridge is 'gesher'. Before Israel was declared in 1948 it was under British government. The Israeli resistance were trying to fight the British to find a place of their own. One day the resistance decided to cut off Israel from the outside world by blowing up over ten important bridges. This railroad bridge (with the track from Beirut all the way to Egypt)was one of them. Because the action was seen by alert guardsmen the resistance came under fire. The explosives they carried with them were hit and exploded, destroying the bridge. Fourteen people from the resistance were killed. They were all young men in the spirit of their youth. That's how the word 'ziw' is best translated.
After the bridge we stopped at some nice places on the hills of Rosh Haniqra and Hanita. In Hanita a watchtower was rebuilt which was used to start the creation of safe places to live in.
Akko and Rosh HaniqraWednesday August 6, 2008
We started this traveling day by visiting the old city of Akko. The city is still surrounded by old walls and a lot of old buildings are still standing. It is a very nice place to visit, but it's hard to take a picture of all the historical city elements because it's now full with electricity cables, airconditioners, tv-antennas, commercials and much more. We finished the day by visiting the caves of Rosh Haniqra during sunset. Although the caves are very nice they are too dark to take good pictures without a flash. From the outside though, it's a magnificent place to take pictures. We spent a couple of hours doing so, even when it was fully dark I tried long exposures of the wild sea.
Gesher, Golan and KursiFriday August 8, 2008
We went for another day of traveling through this beautiful country. We started at the old Gesher kibbutz. This kibbutz has been in the fireline of wars quite some times. The remains of the old kibbutz can be visited, but we were out of luck, not when we were there. The huge powerplant which uses water from two rivers to provide power is now deserted and visible from outside. After this we visited the Sea of Galilee (or Kineret in Hebrew). This huge lake is getting smaller and smaller, but still provides a very nice view in the area. We also overlooked it from the Golan heights. After this we visited Kursi, where an ancient monastery, church and chapel were found. Some mosaics can be seen, while some walls are still standing. Finally we finished the day with a beautiful sunset over the Mediterranean Sea from a beach near Rosh Haniqra.
National parks in IsraelSunday August 10, 2008
On our last day of touring through Israel we visited two national parks. First we went to the archeological site of Zippori. A lot of stuctures have been preserved quite well, giving an impression of the area. A lot of mosaics are more or less intact, showing the hard work of fine craftsmen. It is expected that a lot more will be found when they completely dig the sand from the hill. Later we went to Beit She'arim. In this park the main attractions are the caves which were used as cemetery. A lot of tombes can be seen from close by, although they are damaged because thieves robbed everything from the tombes.
The cemetery of Gesher HaziwSunday August 10, 2008
With two days to go we didn't go for a big tour through Israel anymore. We just went to the cemetery of kibbutz Gesher Haziw. The cemetery is said to have the nicest view of the kibbutz. It lays against the hill which forms the kibbutz and gives a nice view of both the Mediterranean Sea and Rosh Haniqra. Lower against the hill archeologists found Roman grave chambers.Some of them are open (and empty) for the public. It's nice to see that every place in Israel has such a history.
HaifaMonday August 11, 2008
On our last day in Israel we visited Haifa. We started at the lowest of eightteen terraces leading to the shrine of the Bab. The Bab (or Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad) was the messenger who spoke of another messenger more important than himself. Baha'u'llah was the name of the second messenger and starter of the Bahai religion. The shrine of the Bab is the second most holy place of the Bahai religion. The shrine was completed in 1953 after the Bab had been burried there in 1908, sixty years after being executed in 1850. In 2001 the terraces (designed by Fariborz Sahba in 1987) were opened for the public. Entry to the upper, lower en middle terrace is possible for everybody. The beautiful gardens are maintained well and the lights give a spectacular view in the dark. Unfortunately we didn't have time to take pictures in the dark. While climbing higher (by car) on mount Carmel the view of Haifa changed a lot and gave even more great picture opportunities. I also finally took a picture of the district government center, the tallest building (when antenna's are included) of Haifa. From the first day in Israel I wanted to take a picture of this architectural masterpiece.
Back to normalMonday August 11, 2008
After a little over a week we touched down back in Holland. The contrast couldn't have been much bigger. Dark grey skies, rain and only 15 degrees. This certainly makes you long for Israel. I had a fantastic time in Ha'aretz. I hadn't been in Israel in nine years and saw so many differences. My biggest surprise were the clean roads near the beaches. All the bottles are neatly thrown away in special containers instead of being tossed to the side of the road. Amongst other things I also noticed the huge changes to kibbutz Gesher Haziw.
I had a great time with family and friends and visited many beautiful locations. I took over 1500 pictures and will probably need some extra time to go through all of them. I want to thank everybody in Israel for the great time I had and I hope to see you all soon again!