Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes


May 17, 2013

Haifa, Israel

Victor Hugo wrote “A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in – what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars” – this line from Les Miserables fits Haifa, Israel to a tee.

Haifa is Israel’s 3rd biggest city, the home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Bahá’í Gardens and is my favourite city in Israel.  What surprised me about this city was how tranquil and at peace everyone seemed.

Our accommodation in Haifa was the Templar’s Boutique Hotel in the German Colony which is the best area to stay if you plan to visit the gardens.  The hotel offers a variety of different size rooms, no two seem to the same which works well with all the different type of travellers visiting Haifa.

My sister and I shared the below room which is just as stunning as the photo below shows, the room didn’t have a view of the Gardens however it made up for it with style, size and a gorgeous balcony.

templars boutique hotel haifa accommodation israel german colony

Mum and Dad did have a room with a Garden view.

templars boutique hotel room bahai gardens view haifa accommodation israel

Breakfast is served in the terrace courtyard and it was the best way to start the day; waffles, fresh fruit and ice cream (this was in my gluten eating days!).

templars boutique hotel haifa accommodation breakfast in terrace waffles israel

For some reason, Templar’s Boutique Hotel is listed as a two star hotel however I would say what you are actually getting is a four star property.

Haifa is the home of the gorgeous Bahá’í Gardens which is the main reason travellers stop off in the city.  The garden comprises of nineteen terraces and at the centre stands the golden-domed Shrine which is the resting place of the Prophet-Herald of the Bahá’í Faith

Baha'i Gardens and Golden Dome top and bottom of the gardens haifa israel things to do northern israel

Baha'i Gardens and Golden Dome haifa israel things to do northern israel golden dome

From the top of the gardens, the views over the city are stunning and you can see the sparkling Mediterranean Sea in the distance.

Baha'i Gardens and Golden Dome gardens Haifa Israel things to do northern israel

The gardens are perfectly groomed and are a treat to stroll around if you are a keen gardener or not; that’s my mummy taking a stroll around the gardens.

Baha'i Gardens and Golden Dome Haifa Israel things to do flowers

While in Haifa we also visited the Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum which to be honest contains a very dated exhibition and for me wasn’t really worth the time to visit; however if you have time to kill when visiting Haifa then take a look.

Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum Haifa Israel things to do

When visiting Museums in Israel you need to show your passport on entry and on this particular occasion our passports got a grilling especially mine as I have an Arabic translation with Libyan stamps so we had an interesting conversation with the officials – my dad sorted everything out, bless his little cotton socks!

We picked up a taxi to go back to the hotel and the driver asked if we fancied a trip to Nazareth and Yardenit, after negotiating a rate we were winging our way to Nazareth.

Our first stop in Nazareth was The Church of the Annunciation; it’s a beautiful stone church with a number of mosaics of the Virgin Mary which were donated by different countries around the world.  This is apparently the site of the annunciation from Angel Gabriel to Mary and was the cave that Mary called home according to the Catholic faith, so its an important holy site in Israel hence extremely popular with travellers.

Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth Israel things to do see

In the lower section of the church you can see the remains of earlier churches which were located on the site.

Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth Israel things to do northern israel

Our second stop was to St. Gabriel’s Church; where according to the Greek Orthodox faith they believe that Mary received the divine revelation while she was drawing water from the public well that St Gabriel’s Church sits above.

The site in Nazareth of where Mary received the divine revelation is still contested by the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox faiths.  By this point I was melting as you can see!

The Orthodox Church of Annunciation and Mary's Well Nazareth Israel things to do

The third church we visited in Nazareth was Cana; where Jesus apparently performed his first public miracle of turning water into wine during a wedding feast.

Interior of the Wedding Church, located on the spot where Jesus performed his first miracle of turning water into wine Nazareth Israel things to do

After our whistle stop tour of visiting three of the most important churches in Nazareth we were in the taxi again heading towards Yardenit; the baptism site on the Jordan River.

Not too far from Yardenit, we took a photo stop to catch the below photo of the Sea of Galilee.

jordan river northern israel things to do

Finally we were in Yardenit, the baptism site on the Jordan River – a number of pilgrims visit the site to get baptised each day.

yardenit baptismal site on the jordan river israel things to do

Which surprised me was the section where the baptisms take place is quite dirty and had a number of “don’t feed the fish” signs dotted around the baptism site (the fish are quite big if you look at the above photo eek!).  If you look a bit further down the river in the opposite direction to where the baptisms take place today; it’s a lot more tranquil.

For me this was the most commercial tourist sight we visited while in Israel, the prices were sky high and there was an extremely well stocked gift shop.

While staying in Haifa we had dinner at Fatoush (Ben Gurion St. 38) which is in the German Colony – the hummus with garlic mushrooms is out of this world!

Fatoush places to eat in haifa israel gay friendly


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