We hit up two aesthetically-pleasing sites along the Israeli coast today. Stop number one was Caesarea, the ancient port established by Herod the Great, that little rascal who purportedly wanted baby Jesus dead so that he wouldn't be usurped as "King of the Jews" (obvs. things didn't quite work out like he'd hoped).
Caesarea has been ruled by many different groups throughout the centuries, beginning with the Romans, and including the Byzantines, Muslims, and Bosniaks. Today its ruins along the Mediterranean Sea are a tourist destination; Wikipedia tells me the area is up for consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so that's hip and cool and fun.
Our trumpet-toting tour guide, Yair, playing such classics as the theme song from the Pink Panther and The Champs' "Tequila," led us around Caesarea. Pit stops included the Roman theater, which still plays host to concerts today; the hippodrome, where gladiators and charioteers delighted crowds with their violent shenanigans; and the public bathhouse, where well-off citizens gabbed and gossiped with each other while enjoying a nice steam bath.
We stopped in at פורט קפה (Port Cafe) for a lunchtime feast: endless plates of cucumber-y salad, perfectly-baked bread, lamb and rice, miniature ravioli, and what was most likely fresh-caught fish. Dessert appeared in the form of caramel-drizzled funnel cake. It was almost too much for the Squad and I to handle, but we made it through.
Sometime later, the bus transported us further north along the coast to Israel's third-largest city, Haifa. We rode up the northern slope of Mount Carmel — you know the one — to take in the view of the city below from the terraces of the Bahá'í Gardens. Yair informed us that the Bahá'í Faith is the youngest monotheistic religion in the world, having been founded by a character named Bahá'u'lláh in the mid-19th century. The terraces are situated around a building called the Shrine of the Báb, the second holiest place on Earth for believers of the Bahá'í Faith.
The view from the highest terrace is absolutely breathtaking; you can look at a picture like the one above, but nothing compares to the real deal. Ten out of ten would recommend a visit at some point in your life.
Nazareth called out to us in the evening and so that is where I currently find myself typing up this post, sitting on my bed at the Golden Crown Hotel. I had falafel earlier for the first time — cannot say I am a huge fan, but it was tasty enough.
Peace out, girl scout.