Day 5: Zichron Yaacov, Ramat Hanadiv

Trip Start May 14, 2008
Trip End Jun 17, 2008

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Breakfast at Villa Carmel is delightful.  I don't know if I want Harvey to get used to this.   We are greeted with the dining room table set with a linen tablecloth, juice, hot water for coffee or tea, a plate of freshly cut cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots and onions, a basket of freshly baked breads, yogurt, sliced cheese, olives and butter.  Gabby joins us and makes our eggs as we wish, over easy.  It is far more food than we can eat; we especially enjoy the tomatoes and other vegetables that actually have a flavor that you can taste! Now well fortified, we start the day.

Our first stop today is the Information Center in Zichron Ya'acov.  Here, the two women take a local map and mark up where we should go and also call to see what is open.  Unfortunately, the Ahronson House is only open for school tours today, but we can go to the First Aliyah Immigration Museum. I engage one woman who tells me about how she and her husband grew up on kibbutzim in the Galilee and have lived in Natanya, a large city to the south.  Now they are living in Zichron and find it much better for their kids, since the kids are not as materialistic as in the city and they can enjoy going to the beach and other activities together (does this sound familiar to the U.S.?).  Zichron is a nice half way between the big city and the more farming areas.  Harvey speaks with another woman who lived in the US for 8 years and really wanted to return to Israel.  They had time to talk with us and were not rushed at all. 

We walk the main pedestrian street of Zichron and it feels like a quaint pretty town.  Charming driveways and side yards full of flowers on display seem inviting; we walk them to check things out.   On one for example, we find a handmade paper shop, Tut Neyar, in a courtyard.  Interesting practical applications of artistic paper creations include lamp shades, wall hangings, and note cards.  They are very creatively done.
Following our map, we walk into a building and are looking around, wondering why it is checked on our map.  Someone walks up to us and asks if he can help us.  We show him our map and he says that this really is quite an interesting building, but most likely it was checked off by mistake!   He thinks it is the ugliest building in Zichron and perhaps that was why it is marked.  That gets us talking to him and as it turns out, he is the publisher of a weekly local magazine about the Zichron geographical area.   His magazine is housed in this building.   We talk about the magazine and places we should see while we're in the area.  He is so friendly and welcoming!  He seems to have all the time in the world.  That is in sharp contrast to the next time we see this same man in the street.  He is on his cell phone, shaking hands with a driver who stops in the street and is talking to several people at the same time!

Our next stop on the map is the Museum of the First Aliyah.  This museum is dedicated to the Jewish immigrants who came to the land of Israel from 1882 to 1904.  When we walk in a young woman and security guard greet us.  We banter about being glad to be here and the young woman offers to go over all the things to see in Zichron!  As we talk, we learn that she is pregnant and due in July.  And as Harvey takes out his wallet to pay the admission fee, she notices our platinum MasterCard.  She says that because of that, one person can be admitted for free.  Since we each have platinum MasterCard's, we both get free admission!  See that, we just saved 30 NIS!  To start our visit to the museum, the security guard gives us an overview of the museum and instructions on how to proceed to the three floors of the building.  This museum does an exceptional job of recreating the choices Jewish immigrants made first deciding to come to Israel and then the life they made learning to be farmers and building a life.  The series of short movies follows the lives of a family.   Both Harvey and I have similar reactions:  1) we had no idea that the philanthropy of Rothschild really was an investment that resulted in Rothschild becoming a feudal landlord.  He put up the money, but took the land and sent overseers to force the settlers to work harder.  2) we learned more about the history of our forefather's families than we had from our own families; our families, instead of going to Israel, came to the U.S., but the initial reasons for leaving Russia,  Austria and Poland were probably the same.

It is time for refreshment, to help us absorb the First Aliyah museum.  For this, we refer to a list of possibilities from our TripAdvisor forum member, Mabat (if you're reading this Mabat, thanks!).  We walk down the main pedestrian street, the outdoor café with awnings of Alma, and its menu choices attract us.  The sign is only in Hebrew - not English.  But they have an English menu.  We try the roasted sweet potatoes with a tahini and date honey sauce that was scrumptious.  We also try the vegetarian lasagna with our mandatory side salad (we love the salads in Israel!).

After lunch we take a short drive to Ramat Hanadiv, a memorial garden for Baron de Rothschild.  The landscaped grounds are an oasis of green trees from around the world as well as specific plant groupings such as a rose garden, an aromatic garden for the blind and a butterfly garden.   We speak with one of the gardeners about the watering system. It seems so logical that I wonder why we don't do the same at home.  They water the ground and we water the leaves and whatever gets to the ground.  

There are many school groups here today.  And we see three brides and grooms having their photos taken prior to their wedding tonight.   This is the first time Harvey has a conversation with an Arab. He is the brother of one of the grooms and somehow they are communicating in Arabic, Hebrew, sign language and a little English.  A smile goes a long way.  We take photos of the brides.  They pause and let us take their photos as well. 
Today, as we lie down on benches in the shade of a tree, I think of the intention for Tuesdays:  "The sun radiates and shines and expects nothing in return."  I first heard this read over the radio as part of a eulogy for someone who had died and the announcer was describing how this person had tried to live their life.   If you reflect on this simple statement, there is so much to learn! I think about unintended consequences and what I believe so much in - "the ripple effect".  The very strong Israeli sun provides the energy for all these trees, plants and flowers to grow.  The sun doesn't have any intention to do this, it just radiates and shines.  And look at the beauty that is created!   I am reminded how interconnected we are and how one person's energy ripples to another.
Harvey leaves his hat where we had been lying on benches. He remembers this before we had left the grounds and it was still there.  This presages some more serious episodes of forgetfulness in the next few days.  We are now doing a "check, check, double check" whenever we move from place to place.

We return to Villa Carmel for a rest before dinner, sitting outside in the garden.  Once again we end up in a delightful conversation with our hosts.  We even get a demonstration by Prince the omnivorous canine.  This dog actually eats carrots and apples.

Click here for today's photos!
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