The second stop after the chilled days in Tel Aviv was Haifa. I decided to stay there for a night and visit Akko from there, since I didn’t want to stay for too long on the road. I took the train from Tel Aviv which I definitely can recommend. Air conditioned wagons, wifi, new trains – definitely better than in Austria I’d say (or many trains in my lovely home country).
I stayed at Port Inn close to the railway station. If you ever go to Haifa, I can definitely recommend this place – they offer dorms or single rooms and I spoiled myself with a really really huge room with a double bed just for me. After the tiny room with five other ladies this was a welcome and quiet night, just wonderful. The Port Inn has a really beautiful backyard and lovely staff. They explained everything in detail, also how to move on etc. And one of the best things: the breakfast! What a start into the day – a full Israeli breakfast buffet with all you need and the best pancakes on my trip. The conversation with the kitchen lady and the other guests were nice too. Such a nice place if you go solo!
I met a lovely German couple in the hostel and Toby and Vera wanted also to go to Akko. So we formed a little travel group and went there together. Again we took the train, it took us approximately one hour. Akko is a little north from Haifa and divided into a new part and the ancient old medieval city. It is surrounded by old walls and there is a lot to discover: the market, the famous hummus said (I never had such fresh hummus before), the famous mosque, the templer’s tunnel and little streets. We walked around and discovered the city – to be honest, we maybe should have chosen another time of the day, it was incredibly hot. Especially on the old walls, where we watched young daredevils jumping into the ocean (scary to watch due to all the rocks down there). The end of the sightseeing tour was the templer’s tunnel and a cold coke before we went back home. Akko is worth a visit – but don’t be too surprised when there are masses of tourists taking the turbo-efficient city tour.
After returning from Akko I took the Carmelit train up to the Carmel mountain in Haifa. The train is called subway, but we rather would call it cable car. From there it’s a 10 mins walk to the entrance of the famous and beautiful Bahai gardens, the main pilgrim’s site for the Bahai religion with the shrine of Bab. From up there you have an amazing view down to Haifa and I enjoyed watching the misty sunset there while looking down to the houses, the huge port and the busy streets. My feet still hurt from Tel Aviv and Akko, so I decided to only take the walk down to the German colony and then back to the hostel. If you have the chance to go for dinner: go the German colony with all the different restaurants – I think you will have a difficult decision what to take ;) From the main road you also have a stunning view up to the illuminated Bahai gardens during night. And also to the Carmel with all the little lights from the houses that seem to stick in the darkness during night.
Even though Haifa is very compact, I didn’t have time to walk through the Arabic quarter, which is a pity. On the next day I slept long and enjoyed breakfast, before the three of us went up to Bahai gardens to take the tour. You can enter the first three levels of the gardens on your own, but if you want to take the full (free) tour, you have to sign up at half past eleven at the official entrance. You have to wear modest clothes and tell them your name and home country. To be honest: For me it would have been enough to go on the first three levels to take a look on the perfectly symmetrical gardens and then go back down by bus. The tour was almost too detailed and it was awfully hot. And you can’t enter the shrine anyways.
Haifa has a good net of public transport with trams, buses and the Carmelit. Whether you want to go on by train or by bus, you won’t have any problems to get to the different stations. I chose the bus to move on to Tiberius at the lake of Galilee. The city itself in my point of view is a good stop for any adventures around Caesarea, Akko or even more to the north. You can see all the city easily in one day, so you should take this into consideration when you plan your trip. And if you go by the Carmelit, you can tell your friends you rode the shortest subway in the world ;)