Israel's Good Name

Pesach (Part 1)

In Galilee, Haifa, Israel on April 15, 2012 at 11:00 AM

This is the first of two blog posts about the week of Passover (Pesach) that just passed us. Pesach started on Shabbat but the blog-related fun began during Chol HaMoed, starting with Sunday. Late Sunday morning we headed out to Keshet Cave, found along the Israel-Lebanon border and just a few minutes away from the Mediterranean Sea. I’ve already been to Keshet Cave, and even wrote a small post about it, but this time we went as a whole family. To reiterate, the Keshet Cave is actually a large natural arch over a shallow cave and dropping down cliff-like to the forested land below.

Keshet Cave's natural arch with the rappel rope dangling

Both times we saw Extreme Israel groups doing some sort of rappelling action. They have the easy drop to the cave floor and the scary swing under the arch rappelling which we did not get to see – had we gotten there some thirty minutes earlier we would have seen screaming people as they swung under the arch. Other than the great view and hiking trails down below, there is not much to do up on the arch, unless you are doing extreme sports – but there were tons of people. Here is a panoramic from the cliff edge – looking down on the lovely green forests:

Panoramic from the cliff edge

On Tuesday we took a longer and more extensive trip, to Haifa, with the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art as our first and foremost destination. Part of Bank HaPoalim’s subsidized Pesach trip plan, the Tikotin museum was just one of the many museums and attractions free for all to come and see. So, along with thousands of other Israelis, we took to the road and sought out free attractions. I didn’t think that the Tikotin museum would be very populated, mostly due to the fact that it is a specialized museum and isn’t a hotspot for children.

Inside the Tikotin Museum

But I was wrong, the museum was pretty full and there were even free tours being assembled (in Hebrew) for further explanation and description of the museum’s collection and history. In my opinion, the samurai sword collection was by far the most interesting exhibit in the museum, the paper fans, prints, paintings, ceramics and artwork were less interesting but displayed elegantly. The museum itself was partly designed by a Japanese architect with shoji screens as walls and doors leading to the outdoor garden courtyard. Interestingly enough, the Tikotin museum is the only Japanese museum in the entire Middle East, with a collection numbering over 7,000 pieces. There is also an extensive Japanese library but that wasn’t open during the time we were in Haifa. After our museum visit, we walked over to the Louis Promenade (just minutes from the museum) and basked in the glorious view. But our experience was hindered by a suspicious package that made the police shut the area down. We had to wait for the bomb-disposal team to come out and secure the suspicious package. It wasn’t long before the expert verified that the package was simply an abandoned backpack and the area was reopened to the public. Here are two pictures of the ordeal – just look at that view!

Police removing suspicious package

Bomb disposal one-man team

After we finished at the Louis Promenade we continued on over to the Haifa Zoo, another place I have already been to (and wrote about) but for the family it was new and special.

A coati in the Haifa Zoo

The zoo was far too populated to properly view the animals in their habitats but we tried and covered about 40% of the zoo, passing through the throngs of joyous people, some clutching children, some clutching lunches and some clutching the cages, trying to coax the animals into action. When I took my solo trip to the zoo back in January the zoo was nearly desolate but I had missed one area and that was the waterbirds:

Haifa Zoo waterbirds

As we tried to make our way to the exit, escaping the milling, exhausted crowd, we happened upon the Bank HaPoalim mascot. We saw another one at the Tikotin Museum but this individual was more willing when it came to photography.

Posing with Nissim and the Bank HaPoalim mascot

After the harrowing escape from the zoo we headed back to the car and enjoyed some lunch: rice cakes with cheese, honeydew, potato chips, Coca-cola and popcorn. That is a concise summary of our first two outing days. The next post will address Wednesday and the experiences had on that day.

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