Everything here takes longer than expected. It’s just a fact you have to get used to. John and Max left the house at 8 to rent a car. The tiny rental place they walked to had no cars: You can come back tomorrow and we can have one for you. They took a cab cross town to another rental place. Getting a car here involves haggling over price- you haggle EVERYTHING here including bank rates. Very different culture. And leasing a car in Hebrew is almost like signing a mortgage in America. Long page wise and time wise.
Anyway, our 9am departure was pushed to 11:45. It was a lovely day, and the route up the coast was gorgeous with the Mediterranean at our left and good tunes blaring from the radio, windows down. It’s only about 25 minutes to Rosh HaNikrah, one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world. Despite tons of school children making final field trips pre Spring break, we had a great time taking the cable car down the white limestone cliff to the grottoes below.
Afterwards, we made the 10 minute drive south to the beach town of Nahariyya. Cheap prices for clothes from myriad boutiques lining the main drag-no, I curbed my desires to shop(this time), and took my boys to a great felafel stand favored by locals. I went with one of my Hebrew teachers last year. It’s cheap, delicious, and they give you large plates for the biggest condiment bar I’ve ever seen. Beside the usual humus and tehini, you can get pickled carrots, shredded cabbage brined in a salty lemon mixture that is delicious. Or if you prefer, red cabbage in an orangey mayo dressing. There are turnips pickled in beet juice, spicy pickled lemons, corn, chopped tomato & cuke salad, a tasty sliced onions in vinegar & sumac, and my favorite. I could eat plates of this by itself!!!! A smoked, grilled eggplant which is Then fried in tons of olive oil with sea salt. Add this to the lightest, fluffiest, warm cloud like pita stuffed with fried chickpea balls (felafel) and chips (French fries), and you have Israel’s national sandwich. Yes, the pita was gluten heaven , and I devoured every delicious crumb!!! All for 14 sheckels, about $3.50! Together we will learn to make this tasty lunch after Passover.
There was no time for dawdling, as things begin to slow down late afternoon. We hit the highway for Old Akko to see the Crusader halls. I just knew my history buff son, Max would love it. In 2009, miles and miles of underground Crusader halls, tunnels, chapels, prison, hospital wards, monasteries had begun to be excavated. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The only word is amazing as you are transported back to the time of Knights Templars and Hospitallers, of Richard the Lionhearted and Saladin. Layers and layers of history built city on top of city from Canaanites to Greeks to Romans, Muslims, Christians, Turks, Brits, and now a mix of everything. We didn’t have nearly enough time to take it all in. John and Max were really having fun playing Medieval games of Morris, Ducks&Geese, and rope toss. We did tons but we’ll definitely come back again very soon.