30.09.2008 - 09.10.2008 25 °C
I really like Israel. Traveling through Israel is like a miniature trip around the world. You meet people here that emigrated from all over the world, it's very multi-cultural.
I crossed the border at Taba in Egypt. Of course, when I told the Egyptian idiot at the desk that I didn't want the stamp in my passport but on a sheet of paper, he just nodded and stamped my passport. The arrival on the Israeli side was much more successful. I had of course to answer many questions from the security when I repeated my request about the passport, but they were really kind and polite and gave me a stamp on a sheet of paper.
I only stayed one night in Eilat and decided to move directly to Tel Aviv, because the Jewish New Year was approaching during which everything closes and transportation shuts down. So I decided to get stuck in Tel Aviv. I spent 3 days there, mostly on the beach. I didn't see much of Tel Aviv night life, since most places were closed (The New Year is a holiday spent with the family). However it's definitely a party city.
There seem to be many lost people in Tel Aviv. I met so many people that don't know what to do with their life and kind of stay here and wait for god only knows what. I had a good discussion with a german guy who is converting to Judaism (a process that takes about 2 years). Israel is so successful because people from all over the world came here to build a country and they all took their local know-how with them. Thus there were always people that had good solutions for all the agricultural and technical problems they faced. There were also many many smart people that came here. He said at the beginning there were more professors than students at the universities. The future looks bleak though, because this influx of smart people has stopped now. And since Israel is spending more than 50% of it's total budget on military spending (I heard up to 60% from other people), all the other areas are underfunded, especially education, which is very low in comparison to western standards.
Since everybody in the hostel was going to Jerusalem I decided to go north to Haifa. Haifa is a very nice town around and on Carmel Hill. Here's a look from the hill.
There is a special feeling of tolerance in this city, Jews and Arabs living together. Maybe it's due to the fact that Haifa is the center of the Baha'i faith (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bahai), a young religion which tries to unite the three monotheistic religions and Buddhism and others, Abraham, Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, and Mohamed (and of course the Baha'i's own prophet, the Baha'ullah) being all different prophets of god, as far as I understood. Anyway, it seems to promote tolerance, which is a rare thing around here. The Baha'i have a really nice garden that stretches from the top to the bottom of the Carmel Hill. Here's a view from the upper gardens and the Baha'i shrine with the German Colony in the background (the street with to red-roofed houses).
A closer look at the very well-kept gardens:
And here's a look from below:
In Haifa I'm living in the Port Inn, a very nice and clean Guest house close to the sea. If anybody wants to come to Haifa I really recommend it. Here's a picture of Jaffa Road, where it's located:
On the other side of the road there's my friend Tsvi who is a born musician. He has a small pizza place here to earn some money (he really makes good pizzas, italian style!). I was walking down the street in the evening when I saw him all alone in his shop playing accordion. He seldom has any customers in the evening (the center of the city has moved uphill) and uses this time to practice. He actually plays guitar but decided to lean accordion two years ago.
After Haifa I went to Akko, an old city even further north. The old town is inhabited by Arabs while the new town is Jewish. It's a very relaxing place. Here's a view of the old town.
The Akko port. Refreshingly, the fishing boats here have not yet been replaced by tourist boats.
The old town Mosque tower in Akko. Eat this Hezbollah!
Today and tomorrow is the Yom Kippur Holiday, when everything shuts down once again. The israelis are really serious about their holidays, only ambulances are allowed every other car is being stoned by the people on the streets. So I decided to come back to Haifa until this holiday is over. On Friday I'll continue east towards Galilee and the Golan Heights.
It feels so great to see and feel grass again!
I took 500 euro with me from Egypt for one month. I have spent most of it after 10 days. Goddammit, this country is expensive!
My antibodies have become fat and lazy. I caught a cold at the first hint of temperatures lower than 30 degrees.