Israel – I’ve lost track of what day I’m on…

Tuesday, I schlepped out to the Design Museum Holon – and quite enjoyed my visit. The current show is by Ron Arad – who also designed the rather amazing building that houses the museum – and featured several of his fascinating metal pieces and his trademark crushed Cinquecentos – or is it Cinquecenti? Non so… Anyhoo, I was quite taken with the building’s interaction with its environment (i.e. I took tons of photos).

Oh, and on the way in, a group of kids – two girls and a boy – asked me something. “Sorry, I don’t speak Hebrew.”

“What do you call that? It’s super cool!” referring to my septum piercing. They peppered me with other questions, amazed that I was all the way from SF and saying “Oh too bad…” when I indicated I was traveling alone. They also recommended a visit to the mall across the street. “Zara!” Nice kids… Oh, and the ticket lady at the museum told me she liked my mustache! I seem to be getting more popular every day – it’ll be good to get back home where everyone hates me!

Had a lovely dinner at Cafe 48, which I’d spied across the street from Mizlala over the weekend. I plan to write separately once I’m home about the restos I went to – but I heartily endorse this charming cafe. Really good food, an extraordinarily kind server (who translated the entire specials board for me and gave me some excellent recommendations – and a shot of gin and cucumber on the house. THAT really won me over!).

Today, I was up early and managed to find my way rather easily to the train station for my trip to Haifa and Akko. Other than getting off two stations too early (and fortunately figuring that out before leaving the station – had to wait 20 minutes for the next train). Good thing I’m in no hurry what with being on vacation and all!

Now, I’m relatively good at finding my way around with a map – so I’m going to go ahead and give a big “eff you” to Fodor’s for the shittiness of their Haifa map. It didn’t seem to relate at all to the actual geography. But given that my destination was the Bahai Gardens, which were gloriously visible from the train when I arrived, I figured I wouldn’t have too much trouble finding the funicular which goes up to the crest of the hill.

I was sort of headed in the right direction and sort of not, when an old dude came up to me, seeing me staring at my guidebook, and asked me something in Hebrew. “Sorry, I don’t speak Hebrew,” I advised.

“Oh, English? OK, I speak English. What other languages do you speak? Oh, French? Bonjour, monsieur! What’s your best language? OK, I speak English. Are you Canadian? Oh, where in United States? OK, here I take you.”

And with that he escorted me about three blocks to the funicular station, explaining to me on our arrival that it is called Paris Place because it was built by the French. I think this was pay-off for my attempts to bring good travel karma by helping lost tourists when I’m home in SF – though I suppose now I ought to start offering to escort them to their destination as a thank you to this very helpful gentleman from Haifa.

Rode to the top of the hill, had some breakfast and then took the noon tour of the Bahai Gardens. It was lovely – a walk down the 700 steps toward the golden-domed Shrine of the Báb, surrounded by burbling fountains and beatiful landscape cascading down the steep hillside.

Back to train station and rode another 20 minutes to Akko. Schlepped over to the old city (it was literally one million degrees out – again) and had a bit of a look around. Frankly, it wasn’t my favorite – I guess I’d seen similar-though-far-more-impressive scenery in Istanbul…

Train back to Tel Aviv and I walked past the Azrieli Center just as it was being hit with the setting sun. A wonderful trio of towers.

I was supposed to be taking an “East-West Tour” of Jerusalem on Wednesday – one with a decidedly political slant. Sadly, it got canceled at the last minute. So, with no plans to get up early the next morning, it seemed wise to re-visit the gay bar – where it was drag night and I got to see “Cher” and “Evita.” Lots of fun actually.

Quiet day after. Thursday I go to Jerusalem for an overnight visit!

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