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Israel Day 3: From Haifa to Akko and Rosh Pinna

Awake by 7 am, we got dressed and repeated our walk from the night before, up and down Ben Gurion Avenue. We gazed at cascading symmetry of the Baha'i Gardens and marveled at its perfection. It was hard to fully appreciate the history and the beauty of the German Colony in Haifa in our exhausted and sensory overloaded state last night. This morning, we finally did it justice. 

The German Colony of Haifa was established in 1869 by the Templers (not to be mistaken for the Knights Templar), a German Protestant sect that sought to hasten the Second Coming by settling in Palestine. In the latter decades of the 1800s, the Templers built seven colonies in Palestine and are credited for introducing improved methods of transport, technology and agriculture. The German Colony, only really represented on Ben Gurion Avenue, consists of attractive stone houses with red shingled roofs. Germans continued to live in the colony until 1939, when the British interned them as enemy aliens and deported them to Australia.

After our walk, a leisurely and delectable Israeli breakfast at Fattoush was in order. It was here that I tried my first Shakshouka, eggs poached in a rich sauce of tomatoes, capsicums and onions, spiced with cumin. Relishing the dish together with some crusty bread, an Israeli salad, a selection of cheeses, hummus, dips, olives and a mint tea, I couldn’t think of a better way to fuel our day’s journey. 
Today, our journey would take us to the old Crusader city of Akko (Acre). A manageable 45 minutes away, our GPS did not fail us this time. 

Reaching the city itself, we wondered where the old part was located. Getting out of the car and asking an Israeli couple for some directions, they told us that we still had some distance to walk. Elsewhere in the world, the locals would have been satisfied with giving us quick directions before continuing on their way. This couple, however, went the extra mile; they instructed us to follow them in their car while they led us to the start of the Old City, they found an ideal parking spot for us, then helped to halt traffic while we maneuvered our vehicle into the parking space. Israelis sure had communal spirit in spades.

The Old City of Akko it is a perfectly preserved Crusader city. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002, its port was built during the reign of Ptolemais II (285-246 BC), transforming it into an international port city and the gateway to Israel. Reaching its zenith during the conquest by the Crusaders, Akko became the capital of the Crusader Kingdom in the Holy Land in the 13th Century. After it was conquered by the Ottomans, the port was neglected and reduced to a fisherman’s harbour. Today, its ruins continue to be unearthed and preserved for generations to come. As we explored its narrow alleys, souqs, ramparts and underground passageways, I noted that, in comparison to other historic towns, Akko remained refreshingly uncommercialised. 

After sightseeing for 2 solid hours, a simple bite to eat at a local eatery near the port was in order. Unfortunately, the price a city pays for tourism is the sacrifice of its authenticity. In Akko's case, it was the quality of its eateries and restaurants, which catered to tourists. After a mediocre meal served by jaded servers, we got into our car and drove for one hour Rosh Pina, where we would spend 2 nights. 

With the street name of our Rosh Pinna B&B remaining undetected by our GPS - we'd cursed the darned thing a dozen times already -  we had gotten used to programming the city centre of any destination, then just pulling over and asking for directions from the locals once we got there. We eventually found our B&B, thanks to a couple of ladies who were working their garden. 

Rosh Pinna is a town of approximately 2,800 people located in the Upper Galilee, on the eastern slopes of Mount Kna'an in the Northern District of Israel. Founded in 1882 by thirty families who immigrated from Romania, it is one of the oldest Zionist settlements in Israel. Unfortunately, most of the original two to three dozen families left after three hard years of drought. Only three families remained, one of which were the Friedmans, whose descendants founded our B&B, Pina Barosh. In fact, the upper floor of the B&B is still occupied by the sixth generation of the original settlers.

Casting our weary eyes over Pina Barosh, our spirits immediately lifted as we gazed at the handsome stone building, charming courtyard and undercover verandah which served as the dining area. Dotted with colourful tile-top tables, it had a commanding view of the wide Hulla valley, Golan Heights and Mount Hermon. With only 7 guest rooms, we looked forward to getting some well earned rest and respite from all the driving and accommodation hopping.

After settling into our suite, we showered and dressed for dinner. We didn’t have far to go. Pina Barosh’s restaurant, “Shiri Bistro,” (run by Shiri Friedmam) and wine bar - which specializes in boutique wines of the area - have a stellar reputation. Savoring a sensational seafood risotto and sipping on an excellent Pinot Noir, Peter and I watched a bright orange full moon ascend slowly into the night sky. Life was looking pretty good.

Posted by Victoria Ugarte on 10th September, 2014 | Trackbacks
Categories: Israel

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