For the days that we were in Jerusalem, we walked around the city. We parked our rental car several streets away so we would not have to pay for parking. On the evening before we left for the Dead Sea, we moved our car to the spaces in front of the apartment building because we wanted to get an early start. My husband tried to put money in the parking machine, but was told it was broken. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, someone fixed it. When we went to our car, we had a parking ticket. We were told at the airport that any tickets we would get were to be paid at the Post Office. So, before we left Jerusalem, we asked a neighbor where we could find the closest one. We put the address in WAZE and off we went.
The address turned out to be a law office, but a very nice man explained that the post office was only a 1/2 block down the street. My husband drove around the block to pick me up not knowing that I was no longer in that building. In the numerous times he went around the block, he had an encounter with a motorcycle.
In Israel, motorcycles drive like they do in California – between the lanes. They also go very fast and weave in and out of cars. Since I was not in the car, I can’t say what exactly happened, but my husband was a short way down the street. I ran to the car and jumped in to tell him that I had to go to the post office because I was really at a law office when a motorcycle pulled in front of our stopped car and began yelling at my husband. He even parked his motorcycle and came over and started beating on my window. Though we didn’t understand all of the words, we knew he was pretty angry. He accused my husband of hitting him and putting a tiny, tiny scratch on his bike. We both got out of the car – my husband to try to find where on our car there was damage and me to try to calm the man down. My husband kept saying that he didn’t hit him and he kept yelling that my husband was ‘crazy’. The scene became so out of control that the nice man from the law office came out. By this time, I’m yelling at the young motorcyclist “Sheket, sheket (shut up, shut up), we’re tourists!” He just kept yelling. There were no marks that my husband could find on our car, but this young man acted like we had crashed into him, wrecked his bike and killed his best friend. That’s when I headed to the post office.
According to my husband, he pulled out his cell phone and began taking pictures of his motorcycle and our car. He threatened to call the police, too. The man from the law office calmed him down a little, but the scene happening in the middle of the street where no one was to be parking was a sight to behold, I’m sure. At some point, my husband just got back in the car and drove a few more times around the block while the man was still yelling at him. He found a parking space near the post office and waited for me.
In the post office I met a very nice gentleman. He said “Boker Tov” (good morning) and I said that I wasn’t sure yet. I had just left my husband to deal with a mad man who claimed my husband hit his motorcycle. The man was compassionate and asked what happened. From what I told him, he said the motorcycle was in the wrong because he was behind my husband which means he hit us and not the other way around. It was calming to stand there in line talking to someone in their right mind. I paid the parking ticket and bought post card stamps and went out to my very stressed out husband. It was time to leave Jerusalem and drive to Haifa through busy, busy Tel Aviv.
On the way we stopped for gas. Just like in Brasil, the stations are still full serve. Someone pumps your gas and washes your windshield. We spent 195NIS (shekels) to fill our tank with liters. The cost was about $55 American dollars.
Our drive through Tel Aviv was … slow. Apparently the traffic is always slow through the city. We could have taken a different route, but we wanted the one by the sea. We could have taken a different route and joined up with the route by the sea. At least we can say we drove through Tel Aviv. With all the morning’s events, the crazy way WAZE took us out of Jerusalem, the stop for gas and the traffic in Tel Aviv, we arrived at Caesarea.
That, too had its trials. We are learning very quickly (or slowly depending on how you look at it) that WAZE sometimes decides to send you on quirky routes just to turn you around at a round about. There are few, if any, stop signs in these cities. They use roundabouts everywhere. Actually, they are really nice because the traffic keeps moving and correcting an erroneous turn is much easier. However, it is very frustrating when WAZE makes the erroneous turn and then sends you out of your way just to take you around a turnaround.
Secondly, signs. There are few if any marked signs except at the last minute. Going to Caesarea, we saw one sign indicating that we needed to take the next exit. Fine. Great. We did. As soon as you exited the freeway, there was a Y. Most people know that at a Y, you choose to go left or right. Without a sign that tells you which way to go for Caesarea, you guess along with WAZE who guesses.
We ended up on a public beach which was actually a good place to be because Caesarea is by the sea. We were just not at the sea of Caesarea. We tried Google maps to hear a different voice, but we had No Service on our phones or it was so slow it gave up. Thank you Verizon Wireless for all the service you gave us on this trip that cost us a lot of money. NOT.
While sitting on the beach in our car, a police car drives by. My daughter says, “Mom, get out and ask them directions.” So, that’s what I did. First, I had to wave them down because they didn’t see me. Then, when one of them opened their window, I asked, “Inglit?” No. Neither of them spoke English. I used my broken Hebrew, “Eifo Caesarea?” (Where is Caesarea?) Now, really this was stupid because though we weren’t at the archaeological site, we were at Caesarea. But, those two young men actually figured out what I was looking for and then tried to give me directions. When they realized I knew the words for left and right in Hebrew, things when much better and without WAZE, we found our destination.
Caesarea is the most beautiful place on the Mediterranean Sea. It is obvious as to way King Herod built his palace there. I would too if I were a King. There are no words to describe the beauty of the place and the enormity of the ruins of the Amphitheater, the Hippodrome, the Palaces, and the Praetorium where Paul would have been tried before Caesar.
We enjoyed a wonderful lunch in the Crusader part of the city of Caesarea. We had falafel, shashuska, and fresh squeezed juices. We also fed the cat that waited hopefully for a bite to eat. If he didn’t remind me so much of our cat, I wouldn’t have given him a crumb. He didn’t look starved and I’m sure he played the same game with everyone who ate at the outdoor cafe. Then we walked through the iron gate to the world of Caesar and the Sea.
We walked the Hippodrome where chariot races were held. The next time we watch Ben Hur we will have a different perspective of the heat, the horses, the dirt, the race, and the royalty box. This Hippodrome was also the place where countless believers became the center of the entertainment until they died. The dust of the ground on which we walked held the blood of those Jews and non-Jews who lived and died for their faith in the Messiah of Israel. It was quite poignant to hear a young Jewish man singing his prayers for the day while sitting on the steps that looked out onto the Great Sea. There is a lot of Roman and Crusader history in Caesarea that includes the death of many brothers and sisters of Yeshua.
One of the little shops in Caesarea sold glass objects. From the wind chime hanging outside, it seemed like it was the most beautiful glass I had ever seen. We walked over to the shop, and the artist invited us into his studio and explained how he made his glass objects, some from pieces of Roman glass that was found around Caesarea during the excavations that continue. I bought a glass dreidle, a mezzuzah and Sabbath candle holders.
Acts 10:1-6 “At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa (Old Tel Aviv) to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
Acts 25:3-5 “They requested Festus, as a favor to them, to have Paul transferred to Jerusalem, for they were preparing an ambush to kill him along the way. Festus answered, “Paul is being held at Caesarea, and I myself am going there soon. Let some of your leaders come with me, and if the man has done anything wrong, they can press charges against him there.”
From Caesarea, we drove to Haifa. Again, WAZE decided to take us on a detour. I have not looked at a map to know exactly where we went, but we were taken away from the sea (Haifa is on the sea), made to turn south (the direction from which we came) and then did a roundabout thingy to return north and west toward the sea. In other words, WAZE took us off the freeway and had us do some circle dance around some other city that was not Haifa. We decided we knew better and turned WAZE off.
Finding our apartment in Haifa was easy. It was one of only two tall buildings on the beach. One is still a hotel called the Leonardo, the other has private apartments. The price for a room in the Leonardo is $300 per night; the price for our apartment was $100 per night.
Our other dilemma problem as I mentioned above was that our Verizon International Plan was not working on my phone. My husband had service for WAZE and Google, but all information for the apartments and the trip were on my Facebook and Gmail. Without access to these programs, I could not contact the woman whose apartment we were renting. We managed to explain to the security doorman our problem and he knew of Irina. Please note, this is a high rise apartment building with 16 floors and hundreds of apartments and he KNEW Irina’s phone number. She explained that our apartment had changed from 823 to 1213, a much nicer apartment. Mr. Security Man put us on the elevator and we went to the 12th floor to find the most amazing apartment ever.
As the building is on the beach, we have a never ending view of the Mediterranean Sea. So I sit here writing on a Tuesday afternoon with the breeze of the Mediterranean blowing in the sliding glass doors. The water is blue and the view is magnificent from our balcony. Yes. We have a balcony. There are only four apartments with balconies and one of them is ours and we have the added blessing of watching the sun set over the sea.
One of the reasons we decided to stay in Haifa was to visit our friend, Eliana. She has known our family for many years and sang at my oldest son’s wedding. She was the original reason for the visit as she was getting married. Unfortunately, she had to call the wedding off after we had made all of our trip plans and reservations. We decided to come to Israel anyway and we stopped in Haifa to see her another time.
Once again we decided to use WAZE to find the bakery where she worked. Will we ever learn? WAZE got us almost there, but then had us turn right when we should have turned left. Of course, we didn’t know that, but turned around because there didn’t seem to be any bakeries in a residential area. As we began to enter the little commercial area nearby, I saw a bakery. AND, I say Eliana inside. My husband made a quick right turn on the other side of the bakery to park, but it was a one way street the wrong way. I jumped out while he drove around trying to find parking.
It was wonderful to see Eliana again. The pastries in the bakery smelled so good and sweet. The ones that looked like cinnamon rolls were actually cinnamon rolls. There were chocolate pastries, apple filled ones, and breads of all different sizes and shapes. Because the shop was nearing its closing time, we were allowed to take whatever we wanted for our breakfast the next morning. While I waited for a long time for my husband, a man came into the bakery. Every night, he fills bags and bags with all the breads and pastries and takes them to homeless shelters and orphanages.
We had a wonderful visit with Eliana at a little restaurant near where she worked. It was wonderful to reunite in Israel and see her in her own world and culture. She ordered all of our food in Hebrew and it was fun to listen to her speak. She said that I had improved tremendously. There is a lot of truth in what she said because when you speak no words and then speak 15 words, there is definite improvement.
She was shocked at our Dead Sea war wounds and laughed at our ridiculous adventure. She also told us that the salt pillars around the edges of the Dead Sea are dangerous and Israelis wear water shoes. So why doesn’t anyone mention these little issues? Salt pillars. Water shoes. Israel and the resorts around the Dead Sea must make everything look inviting for the sake of tourism. She was very sad that we did not have a chance to roll and play in the mud. En Gedi didn’t have mud that we saw anywhere.
When we were with the soldiers at Masada, no one in the entire platoon had magazines in their guns. We found this strange and wondered if they had just been inducted into the IDF or were in training. Eliana explained that for the first year of service in the military, the soldiers do not get magazines for their guns. They are trained in how to carry the gun and protect the gun. No one would want a soldier to be attacked and lose a loaded gun. After one year, they are given another stripe on their shirt and then they are allowed to have ammunition. So what happens if there is an incident and a soldier has no ammunition? They use their gun itself as a weapon.
We need to always pray for these soldiers. Unlike the United States where we have a voluntary service, these young men and women have no choice, but to serve their country. In the United States, when someone graduates from high school they have parties to celebrate. In Israel, they do not. This is because they know that they have three more years ‘in bondage’ as she called it. She said so many soldiers, whether or not they see active combat, are never the same quiet, gentle persons they were before. Though these young people all know and understand the enormity of protecting their country, there are those who are just not mentally and emotionally capable of serving, but have to.
Our evening ended with us taking Eliana home without WAZE and we made it to her apartment perfectly! We will be seeing her again on Shabbat in Tiberias so our good byes were more of a ‘lehetriot’ (see you later). We put on WAZE and began to descend down Mount Carmel. Believe it or not, that little program got us back to our apartment. It was 1 a.m. and , after such an eventful day, we were exhausted.
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