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Day Two

  March 19th, 2009

We headed to the beach at the quiet hour of 5:30am, taking full advantage of the jet lag for early morning exploration. As the sun rose we wandered to Fort Jaffa at the water’s edge. The fort, a two thousand year old cluster of ruins, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This particular corner of the city is a curious mixture of old and new. The fort abuts a string of sky high luxury hotels that run along two miles if sea shore. With the exception of the skyscrapers, the city has a whitewashed Mediterranean feel from the dominance of the textured white limestone brick. The State requires that all buildings be constructed with the regional limestone out of tradition and for aesthetic reasons. It gives a strong impression of uniformity and code.

My favorite way to explore any new place is to run. I was apprehensive about running here but my desire to take advantage of the chance to explore outside of the group of twenty won out. I was initially fearful of attracting unwanted attention or inflicting unintentional offense due to a potential lack of modesty. Luckily, it turns out Tel-Aviv is a modern and diverse city that is apparently bursting with recreational athletes. I ended up joining the stream of spandex clad foot and bike traffic along the surf and beach side promenade. The early morning crowds were dog walking and practicing tai chi and yoga. With the string of modern hotels and palm lined boulevards, I could have been cruising along Venice Beach or “Any Town” So Cal. Never the less, it was a relief to feel the freedom of safety and adventure around town without worry.

 Most of the afternoon was spent near the shore of the Eastern Mediterranean playing in tide pools (there’s only a one foot rise in tide) and speaking with a newly recruited marine biologist (and former OSU student) from the National Marine Laboratory. He discussed some of the ecological impacts of the Suez Canal and hosted our visit through the coral nursery, one of the world’s leading research efforts on coral reef regeneration. The latter part of the day took us through Haifa, a diverse port city at the foot of Mount Carmel. The Baha’i World Center is located along the hillside and maintains seven immaculately groomed tiered gardens. It was striking to learn the tumultuous history of a city that, like many others in Israel, has been repeatedly settled, destroyed, and resettled. The remnants of multiple layers of cultural and architectural themes that have dominated and retreated over time give the impression of frequent change. We ended the day winding our way out of the city and through the countryside near the Sea of Galilee. We watched the sun set over Lebanon and caught views of snow-capped Mt. Hermon whose peak is technically Syrian territory. Because so many borders meet here in the Golan region, the area is heavily fortified and the presence of electrified fencing, landmines (left over from previous conflict), and teenagers causally toting guns half their height in length have crept in as “natural” fixtures. Tonight we share our hostel with a lively group of high schoolers who will soon begin their 2-3 year mandatory military service.   




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2 Responses to “Day Two”

  1. Nice blog! Have fun, be safe!

    Comment by Amy - March 19th, 2009 @ 9:30 PM
  2. It is an incredible country with more diversity than I would have imagined. Hope you enjoyed your experience as much as we did. Highly recommended!

    Comment by Sandy Springs Homes - May 3rd, 2009 @ 9:00 PM

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