Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Caesarea . . .

Modern Day Caesarea.
Today our goal was getting to Caesarea, about 60 km south of Haifa along the Mediterranean coast. Caesarea is an ancient city, first established and built by Herod the Great in 25-13 B.C.E. Over the centuries it has been conquered and "destroyed" by numerous civilizations, but interestingly, today Caesarea still exists as a living, breathing city in the State of Israel. While the ruins were our destination, there is a modern and prosperous Caesarea adjacent to the ruins. It's an amazing story of a cities' survival.

Overlooking the Ruins of Caesarea
You may recall we weren't able to rent a car yesterday, so we had to rely on the city bus system. It happens to be easier than we thought. We caught a bus in downtown Haifa, about 5 blocks away from our Inn and then changed buses at the South Bus Terminal. The first stop was Caesarea. A 20 minute walk and we were at the gates to the National Park.

The ruins are still considered an active "dig" by archaeologists -- both from israel and universities around the world. At the entrance to the "park" there are a variety of cafes and stores selling souvenirs and memorabilia. After the 20 minute walk we had just completed, we sat in an air conditioned cafe for awhile and enjoyed a cool drink and snack. Today was Linda's birthday, so we told our server who, at the end of our visit there, presented her with a nice dessert and sparkler celebrating her day. It was an enjoyable and memorable event. I'm sure she never expected to celebrate her birthday at such a venue and among ruins older than she (lol)  !!
Linda and Archway along an
ancient street.

We explored the ruins for about 2 hours, searching the interesting little streets -- some covered with stones. Archways were at the beginning of many of them. The ancient city doesn't look very large, but it does cover quite a bit of territory. At the far end is the "colosseum" and "forum". The city had all the "amenities" -- bath-houses, entertainment, government buildings and sports facilities. There was even a "tax" office, so the ancients had to pay their "fair share" too!! (I wonder if they had their 1-percenters??).

We finished our exploration of the ruins and found our way back to the bus stop. This time we took a cab. As luck would have it, a taxi driver happened by and offered us a ride to Haifa for the "same price" as the bus. So, for 18 shekels each, we enjoyed an air conditioned ride to the city in a Mercedes sedan. Not bad!!  We finished the day by further celebrating Linda's birthday at a delightful restaurant on Ben Gurion Road near downtown Haifa.

Tomorrow we're off to Safed (Tzfat), again by city bus. As we near the end of our trip, it's fun to look back at all the sights we've seen and things we've done. Israel is a wonderful country to visit. No doubt about it!!