Israel – Haifa City and Karmel Mountain
Haifa is the third largest city in Israel. It stretches from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea to the slopes of Karmel mountain. The city is much cleaner and has fresher feeling than Tel Aviv. The number of sights is not large yet local Bahai gardens are worth visiting. Haifa includes kilometers upon kilometers of beautiful beaches. Also, Israel's largest port is there.
We reach the German Colony, a place where we stay over night, in 20 minuts. Quiant district is situated below the famous Bahai Gardens. Founded in the 19th century the district was established by German templars who settled in Israel. Some houses have their original masters' names written above doors.
Once we quickly accommodated ourselves we set out to admire the Bahai gardens. Baba shrine, the temple of Bahá'í religion dominates its green terraces. In 2008, the entire compound became a UNESCO protected sight. Two entrances lead into the gardens. However, you can't walk through the gardens all the way up to the shrine. Moreover, you can get to the shrine only between 9 am and the noon. At the noon, you may also take a guided tour in English. This is fo free. Even though we swet through the hike up to the shrine, we enjoy peaceful atmosphere, beautifully smelling flowers, fresh air and amazing vista over entire Haifa.
Upon visiting the gardens we set out for a long journey on a city bus. We are headed to University stop. There starts the trail across UNESCO's Karmel biospheric reserve. It is home to many animals such as fallow der, gazelles, vultures, or falcons. The trail into the reserve starts by the road. However, we are quite disappointed from the outset. There is a lot of trash around. We are still thinking if we are at the right place. The more we move off the road the lesser the quantity of trash. However, we loose the road after while. Then many walkways appear. Then our GPS, which has been often very realiable, stops working. So we go as we please. Yet the vista over the city is very beautiful. After some while we finally start to feel as we were actually in a reserve. On the oposite slope we spot one of those famous ancient caves with which Karmel mountain is dotted. Research there found out about half a million years of human evolution - from Neathertals to the Paleolite.
We travel by city bus back to the city center. On our way we visit Stella Maris convent where the Carmelites order was founded. Below the convent, there is a beautiful vantage point as well as the upper station of the futuristic cable car we use to get down. Then we admire huge iron construction of a former submarine. The vehicle belongs to the Secret Imigration and Navy Museum. Towards day's end we relax for a while on a beach. Then we use local subway (actually a bus traveling in bit higher speed) we travel back to the German colony.
Haifa is a beautiful town. The bahai gardens are truly unique place. Should you plan a vacation in Tel Aviv, visit them. Then you can travel further on to Nazareth. However, if we were you we would leave out the reserve in the Karmel mountains. Or we would plan another route more thoroughly.
Text and photos: Veronika Schubertová
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