Have you ever been to a new city and want to make the most of your time?!
Well I tried to do just that when I had only 18 hours to spend in Haifa, Israel. I had arrived in Haifa at around 11am on a Wednesday from Tiberias, Israel and then I had a train to catch at 5:25 am the next morning, to catch a flight from Tel Aviv (Ben Gurion airport) to Istanbul Turkey. So after my check-in at the hostel, I scurried and tried my best to explore the port city as much as possible.
I still don’t know much about Haifa but I had 2 places I wanted to check out – the famous Baha’i Gardens and Wadi Nisnas. As the Gardens is up on top of the hill, I figured I’d see Wadi Nisnas first and capture the sunset while up high over looking the city.
Come along with me for a quick tour of Haifa.
Wadi Nisnas is an Arab neighborhood of about 8000 inhabitants inside Haifa. I was told by the employee at the hostel that it boasts an excellent street market and delicious ready made food and fresh ingredients. If this is not your first time to my blog, you know I have a soft spot for fresh markets.
Well after my bus ride from Tiberias to Haifa, I was getting hungry as it was close to lunch time after I checked in and got a map of the city. Food is important, as I am the type who gets “Hangry” (hungry + angry) when my blood sugar level is too low. So I was really looking forward to finding this market.
Luckily, the hostel, which I chose for its proximity to the train station, is not all that far from Wadi Nisnas nor the Baha’i Gardens. Good thing the city is not very large, though going uphill on an empty stomach can be challenging. Don’t get me wrong, I saw food on the way to the market but as I didn’t want to ruin my appetite, I held back from snacking too much.
Along the way I saw a long line up inside an old shop, super tiny space but I know from experience that whenever there is a long line up with more than expected workers behind the counter, it’s a good sign. So unknowingly, I got to enjoy a delicious falafel from the famous Falafel Ha’Zkenim. Before, during and after gobbling down the falafel – I did not know it is ranked #1 on TripAdvisor.
This is just how I travel now. I no longer create a list of “must visit” places and a list of “must eat at” places and a list of “must shop at” shops. I used to 10 years ago but I would get frustrated or disappointed if I didn’t find it or if the place didn’t live up to expectation. Sometimes I would even be so silly and resent the people who had kindly given me the recommendations, for “wasting” my time.
So now, I leave it up to my intuition and the Universe to find the places I need to visit and find the food I need to eat. It is a LOT more fun this way!
Sorry – I was too focused on eating so I do not have a photo of the falafel place! My bad.
So along the way within Wadi Nisnas, I got severely distracted by the street art. This wander in the neighborhood just changed gears – from food to art. Yes, recently my friend commented that perhaps I may have an attention deficit disorder. But really, when it comes to unique street art, why not have a gander. Also, it’s good to live in the present moment and be able to go with the flow – shift and adjust.
As for the Baha’i Gardens, I did make it up to the top of the hill by doing a lot of walking. Though I did not realize the sun sets behind the Gardens! So even though my timing was impeccable, I just enjoyed the impressive panoramic views of the city with the warmth of the setting sun on my back.
If you really, really, really want to walk inside the Garden, do NOT go on a Wednesday (like me)!! There are no tours! Also, it is important to realize that no one is allowed to walk down ALL 19 terraces, unless you belong to the faith. Read all the details in their website – I do not want you to be disappointed. DO wear proper footwear!
All in all, I definitely did not expect to have such a fun day and come across this collection of artwork in the streets of Haifa. Even when I returned to the hostel and chatted with the hostel owner. He said that he hasn’t seen them nor have anyone else ask about them. So I guess I had an unique experience!
Now if you read about my announcement a couple of Sundays ago, or if you have missed it, you can read about it here. If you choose to join me in person on a travel tour, this would be the type of fun and exploration you would experience! If you’re interested, feel free to contact me!