Sunday, 13 December 2009


Hi! Wow, it's been a chaotic few days since I left Marc's.

First here's a picture from Tel Aviv.

This is one of many plastic bottle recycling stations. They're all decorated like this, and I'm glad I managed to snap one at last.

So I got to Haifa on Thursday. I'm staying at a lovely little place called the Port Inn, which has great reviews every I've seen it mentioned. It certainly lives up to them. Relatively small, a mix of 2 dorms and the rest private rooms. The guests here are more mature than the hostels in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. There is a lounge with TV, and kitchen. Often in the evening up to ten people are hanging out reading and watching TV in the lounge.

Haifa is a port city (hence the name of the hostel), and its main attractions are the Baha'i gardens and Shrine of the Bab. Baha'i pilgrims come from all over the world to walk up the 1400 steps. The Port Inn is, I think, run by Baha'is, judging from the decor.

Wait, I have more pictures from Tel Aviv - from a couple of weeks ago when I was hanging out in the dog park. I watched this group of house crows squabbling over an empty crisp packet (they knew it still had crumbs in it - one of them repeatedly turn it upside down and shook it).

...and then tried to run off with it!

OK, back to Haifa. I should point out that I'm pressed for time as my hostel doesn't have wireless only coin operated terminals. So I can't waste time providing useful links, you'll have to dig out the info yourselves. Haifa is a city mixed of Jews and Arabs. It is known for the tolerance and mixing of the communities. However, the Arab population here is largely Christian. I suspect this has some bearing on the matter, for several reasons. Anyway.

Not sure why this is here, but it is. It depicts the twelve star signs.

View of one of the streets near the hostel.

And again. This is in the Arab area.

Which, like I say, is mainly Christian. I was still quite surprised by this store though.

Like Tel Aviv, there's plenty of street art and murals in this area.

Including this rather striking piece.

Now this is interesting. The doorway of the Greek Melkite church. Melkite probably comes from the Hebrew root MLK, meaning King or royalty. But what caught my attention was the design above the doorway. It's one (regal-looking) man trampling on another man. The pose recollects that of Michael (a.k.a. George) and the dragon. Curious.

Interesting trees. Do they grow naturally like this? I don't know.

This, bizarrely, is a school. When I took this there were young children playing in the front enclosure by this door.

I was quite impressed by the trilingual service in Haifa. The English was very useful. However -
- I have to wonder whether they always know exactly what the words they use mean. I decided not to drink at this establishment.

Another one of the road.

This is the minaret of the 'Great Mosque'.

I liked these ruins.
And as I walked towards this one, I became convinced it was skillfully painted onto the wall.

I was wrong. But I think the figures are very well done.

Shop front of Spiro Bakery.

After so much walking I relaxed with a beer at this place. Haifa is the Guinness capital of Israel - every pub has a Guinness sign outside.

So that was day one. On Friday I went to the...

Greek Catholic House of Grace. I actually found it by accident while looking for the flea market - Lonely Planet seems to have omitted this place which is a great shame because I found it stunning. The art in this small church is amazing, stretching from the clearly very old to the very modern. So, you get dozens of photos (I took one of everything).

One of the newer ones. This is metallic and raised, very eye-catching.

Michael and the dragin again. This is actually 3D, Michael and his steed are a separate piece raised from the background.

I don't know what this says but it's obviously very old so it's probably TRUE.

Arabic Bible. For some reason this gave me pause for thought - not sure why, it should be obvious that Arabic Christians would have the Bible in their own language. But still it struck me as odd.

Right, now I think this is Michael again. I'd love to know more about this picture. Sorry if I'm going on about my namesake so much (hey, he is the most important of the angels and that's not my fault). The scales, and measurement in general are associated with Michael (blah, Enoch weighing the deeds of souls, and Enoch=Metatron=Michael, don't get me started on this because I know you're not interested). Also there's a story of Michael fighting Satan out of heaven as the climax of the Fall of the Angels narrative. Possibly this represents that. I don't know.

Some interestingly Ethiopic looking characters in these pictures.

Okay, that's it from there. If you're still awake the next one', well not sure what it is but it looked good.

So, I decided to do the tour of the Baha'i Gardens. To do this one must catch the Carmelite, Israel's only subway. Here it is:
The train arrives at a 30 degree angle, and the entire journey continues upwards at this angle, for more than ten minutes. This gives an indication of how glad I was to have decided not to walk it.

If I had, I would not have felt like this:

So this is the Baha'i Gardens from above:

And so are those. My computer's just beeped so I have sixty seconds to finish this and post it - more soon!


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