Continuing the story, Sunday the 10th was our last day in Nazareth. Sickness begins and little did I know it would worsen! Thanks to jetlag, Megan and I woke up early and decided to walk around the city a little after sunrise and take more photos. We took photos of an trashed couch covered in snow, photos of harsh shadows, and even with a local barber. After a bit of breakfast, which by this time, was getting a little less continental (I only opted for yogurt, coffee, and some lemony tea), we were off to Jerusalem with a few different stops along the way.
We first stopped at Acre / Akko / Akka. As you can see it goes by many names. It is a coastal city which has a ton of history from the Bronze Age through the Phoenicians, lived through the Greeks and Romans, to the Ottomans, Islamic era, Crusader period, etc. etc. Probably not in that exact order. Since this is not an all-encompassing history blog (sometimes I wish), I encourage you read about Acre because as dead as the city was when we visited, it really was incredibly interesting. SInce this day marks the start of my sickness, I will never forget buying a grapefruit/orange juice from a street vendor and it juiced the old fashion way and felt sooo good for my throat. We explored the ruins and tunnels and made our way to a short view of the Mediterranean. Even saw a cat and decided to be meta once again with pictures of us taking pictures of us taking pictures of us… (first meta photo was photo of bakclava on bakclava on bakclava).
Since we were already close to Haifa, the destination to meet our next speaker, we stopped at a Monastery called Stella Maris, grabbed some coffee and took a few photos. Besides the cool sights, drives, and history, our highlight today was speaking with Jameel Shehade and his Austrian mother, Agnes, at the House of Grace. They have been in charge of the halfway house for former prisoners and troubled youth since his father started it long ago in the AWESOME port city of Haifa. Amidst this conflict, it was so inspiring to see how they accepted everyone of all types of ethnicities, religions and political affiliations. The one thing that they cared about was taking care of others and showing them love. It was such a simple message that showed how resolving conflict requires seeing the humanity in others. Yet another inspiring story about how peace is possible. These little stories and miracles give one so much hope although the bigger story is such a complicated one to extract.
After than emotional rollercoaster of Q&A and storytelling, we grabbed falafel, simply stuffed with cucumber, lettuce, tomato, and a cream sauce for lunch and it was delicious. I don’t remember the name of the place, but it was the falafel place ACROSS Michelle’s Falafel. Sorry Michelle.
It’s too bad we couldn’t stay in Haifa for long, but on the road, we were able stop by the Aquaducts at Caesarea. Yup, the ones that Herod built to honor Augustus Caesar. From what I remember, it was pretty cold, but I couldn’t leave without just putting my feet in. It was so crazy looking at the structures and the ocean as the sun started to set. Also quick side note. While writing this, I had these big historical questions between who was who and who was more powerful and who would win in a fight between Alexander and Julius and Octavian and I decided that since they are all dead, I can’t dwell too much on all of that.
WE MADE IT TO JERUSALEM. So cool. You think Israel is tiny, but the diversity from town to town is insane. Picture Jerusalem as DC (diversity in state of mind, political hot spot) Nazareth, in my opinion was more quaint, quieter, unified. Tel Aviv is modern, a Miami if you will.
Before dinner, we had a little bit of free time where some of us were able to walk around Old Town Jerusalem and passing through the different quarters, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Armenian, you can already feel a little bit of tension. We entered through the Damascus Gate, treaded with caution on the slippery cobblestone paths, and it was a really crazy experience seeing the Western/Wailing Wall and watching the Jews split up into men and women sides and pray. Notes were stuffed into the walls, hair was covered, and nearly everyone walked backwards after they were done.
Our hotel was really cool too. It was an old palace converted into a hotel and we ate in this room that felt like where Knights of the Round (or in this case, very long and rectangular) Table should be eating. The usual goodies were served: lamb, fries, salads, and hummus, but what stood out the most was the delicious little ‘croqueta’ – like pieces of heaven.
Tomorrow would be our lunch with the Jewish Rabbi and trying out Maqluba for the first time.