The second half of my trip has been a bit more laid back, although there are a slew of meetings tomorrow and Thursday. Of course, I accomplished so much in the first eight days, I have far more source material for my work. Today I decided I wanted an opportunity to see a bit more of Israel – of places that were on my “Israel bucket-list.” So, I took a tour visiting the ancient Herodian port and palace at Caesaria (I went last year, one of my favorites, so a repeat visit was truly enjoyable). I think I enjoyed it even more today. But someday I want to go without being on a clock, and just spend hours poking around the various ruins.
We then drove up the coast, made a drive through Haifa (which I had just left) and stopped at the top of the Baha’i Gardens (where I think I knew more about them, than the guide), That was still kind of cool. I truly love that city, so even another 45 minutes there was enoyable.
Next we drove north along the coast to Rosh Hanikra, and its ocean grottos at the Lebanese border. We took a tram to the bottom, and then walked through the caves/grottos.
This was the highlight of the day. Absolutely gorgeous, and the water was crystal clear. If I could have ridden a kayak through them! We were right on the Lebanese border, and there was an Israeli naval ship patrolling the area off-shore. I first learned of them in the travel documentary, Israel: The Royal Tour, and have wanted to see them ever since. They did not disappoint. Its hard to imagine soldiers fighting in those grottos in prior wars.
The day then ended in the Crusader-era city of Acco (also known as Akko, or Acre), where we had lunch and visited the old city. This ended up being much more interesting than I expected. About 40 years ago excavations began and the crusader-era city under the Ottoman empire buildings was uncovered. This was truly impressive. I took a ton of photos, and some are on Facebook, most were taken with my good camera, and will be processed when I get home. A good 11 hour day.
Then I walked around Tel Aviv and enjoyed a fun dinner at “The Chocolate Bar.” Yeah, how could I not? All in all a good day. 8am breakfast meeting with the former deputy director general of the Peres Peace Center in Jaffa.