Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 3 - Hot Haifa

Day 3, Wednesday, started much like Tuesday: with breakfast. But the one major difference was that on Tuesday, Ariella was exhausted from sharing a room with her sisters. Apparently, a five and fwee-quawtews year old needs more rest than her teenage sisters. So on Tuesday night, we laid down the law; either she was going to go to sleep quickly, or she would have to bunk with us. David put Lola to bed in the girls' room and warned her that he was coming to check in five minutes if she was asleep. When he returned ten minutes later, she was clearly pretending to be asleep in order to avoid deportation. So he laid the trap. He announced that she would be missing Kim Possible. She maintained the act. He talked about Scooby Doo - still nothing. So David signaled to Shana to open and slam the door. Sure enough, she popped up like a Jack-in-the-box, ready to par-tay. Caught! Sure enough, she was whisked over to our room, where she slept like a rock, a very active, snuggly rock. But hey, who doesn't want to wake up with your little one's legs over your neck.

So the morning began a little more cheerfully than the one before. Ariella was chipper enough to be eating pancakes by the handful - and I do mean handful. When we told her to use a fork, she happily obliged, by sticking a fork into the pancake currently nestled in the palm of her hand. Mmm.... tastes like pancake on a stick. Fortunately, the pancake cushioned the blow of the tines and nobody got hurt.

Our first stop of the day was the Bahai Gardens, located blessedly close to the hotel. We thought we would head out early before the heat of the day. Our bad. Every part of the day was the heat of day. The gardens themselves are very beautiful, but much of the area is off limits to civilians, who are warned not to eat, drink, or chew gum in the holy area. The view of the city is also stunning.

Next we headed to the Japanese Art Museum. Without being too rude, our assessment was: don't waste your time. We fortunately had free passes; otherwise, we probably would have asked for a refund. When we entered the building, doing a thank goodness for air conditioning dance, the guard warned us that one exhibit is not appropriate for children. Good, fine, no problem. The cashier nicely told us the same thing, then took our passes, processed them, and remarked, "It's really a very small museum without that exhibit." Great, thanks. She was right. While some of the art was interesting (mostly limited to Japanese woodblock artists of the 20th century), there was not much to see and our climate controlled time ended all too soon.

We next headed for the Carmelit, Haifa's subway that travels up and down the mountain. The cars are built like steps, and the descent is quite steep. We got off at one stop, where a shopping area was located, realized that Israeli tourism maps are rarely drawn to scale, got back on the train, headed uphill, and returned to the hotel for lunch, purchased from a makolet.
Next it was into the car for a drive to the bottom of Haifa, to the Museum of Clandestine Aliyah and the Naval Corps. It was a really interesting museum, which carefully detailed the experiences of the illegal immigrants and all they endured in their quest to make it to Israel. It was really rather poignant, knowing that we had made Aliyah three years ago that day, and while we know there were and still are challenges involved, it is an absolute joke compared to what others have gone through to survive and to find a place in this land. The chronology continues through the establishment of the State, and the development of the Navy. We walked through a submarine, astounded by the tight quarters and amounts of equipment. Not so sure that if you need so much electronics to get under the water, that you should really be there in the first place. While we watched one of the movies, Dani had some questions about quotas and the like. I said that the British wanted to limit the number of Jews allowed to enter Israel, because they didn't want too many of us here. Ariella got a panicked look on her face, then relaxed and said,"But that was before Claire (her British aunt) was born, right?"This is the Af Al Pi Chen, a ship used to bring Maapilim to Israel.

After a beverage break (the museum has very reasonably priced drinks - keep it in mind!), we headed for the cable car. Up and down the mountain we went, and again, nobody got hurt. In a vain attempt to cool off, we headed for a center called Castra, which on paper is a mall with an antiquities museum and a doll museum, as well as artists and craftsmen. Better on paper. The mall was rather drab and unimpressive, and like so much else in Haifa, had very little in the way of kosher stores. The doll museum was a cool idea: artists made dolls and put them in dioramas depicting Jewish history from the beginning of Tanach all the way to the current day. They also included Jewish holidays and some fairy tales. The idea, attractive, the dolls, hideous and grotesque. We didn't find the antiquities museum too quickly, and we were getting hungry. We headed downstairs to the supermarket - there seems to be one in almost every mall in Israel! - and purchased supplies for dinner. Then back to the hotel, dinner, showers, and collapsing into bed.

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