Caesarea - the first major man made harbor

Trip Start Jan 12, 2008
Trip End Oct 01, 2008

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Waking up before the alarm, yet again, I am glad we are leaving the hotel in Tiberias as that place was a dump.  We drive pass Nazareth (not before plenty of walking on water jokes fall flat) on the way to the Mediterranean to see the ancient city of Caesarea.  Our family went to Caesarea 12 years ago and I had very fond memories of the ruined port so I was extremely excited to revisit the "most romantic place in Israel" according to our guide, Yael.  It also happens to be the most expensive area to live in the country at the moment, why?, I'm not sure.

Since the last time we visited, a bunch of buildings around the harbor have been re-created to give a sense of what the city may have looked like, however, the area is very commercialized with restaurants and gift shops that detract from the untouched ambiance.  The good news about this change is that there is now a museum with a digital model of the city as it stood and fell under the many different regimes that controlled it.  There is also a short film about how the first man-made harbor was built by filling up large wooden crates with volcanic ash that hardened when in contact with water.  Unfortunately, the speed in which King Harrod experienced wild success of the harbor was only matched by the quickness in which it was destroyed with conflicting stories as to how the sea reclaimed it no more than 60 years later!

We check out the hippodrome (horse track) and I accept a challenge to run in a race around the track as the group cheers on. 

I leave my competition in the dust, which wasn't saying all that much, but still fun to run a race in the ancient venue and imagine how insane it would have been back in the day.  We see the remnants of what could quite possibly be the coolest outdoor pool prior to running water on the edge of the sea outside the pillars of King Harrod's castle.  Then, we head to the amphitheater where we experienced a most hilarious scene!  An entire class of Israeli middle school kids are singing and dancing to the Superman song.  They were phenomenal and I actually caught a little bit on video so I hope the video posts without a problem!

I took a photo to imitate one that I took when we were here before and either the foot shrank or I grew!  Maybe someone at home can post the previous picture so we can see the before and after comparison?

After Caesarea we hit up another mall for lunch.  I am beginning to get frustrated and embarrassed by the fact that we are not only looked at as "the Americans" but the group fits the stereotypes perfectly by wanting McDonald's or Burger King instead of the traditional falafel or Shwarma (sp?).  I wind up finding a schnitzel place that was half decent but would still much rather prefer to get off the beaten path.

We head to the Rothschild Cemetery which is a large garden that houses a tomb for Baron Jacob Rothschild and his wife.  The actual crypt was amazing with a zen garden entrance.  The garden of smells is lost on my clogged nose. 

We do a nature walk to an amazing vantage point overlooking the Mediterranean and wind up back at the bus despite my wishes that we would end the hike with a taste test at the Rothschild Winery nearby.  We venture into the cute artist's town of Zichron Ya'akov to relax and it reminds me of many U.S. towns I've been to.

We head back to Jerusalem for the night where I take a Tylenol PM and pass out for some much needed sleep despite being colder than a polar bear's toe nails once again. 
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