In which I eat my words and we travel in new ways

Munch, munch, munch I’m pleased to report I was wrong – or at least not entirely right.

We set out from our hotel this morning with a pretty clear plan of action. We were fortified by some great coffee made by the receptionist together with some charmingly delivered advice which we completely disregarded. The advice was to not catch the train “Why would you catch a train, you’re mad. Take the sherut.” Sheruts are shared taxis and we did contemplate taking the advice until we realised that unless you read Hebrew it’s impossible to find the one that you need.

So it was back to the train, where we almost got stopped at the first post when the security people didn’t like the fact we didn’t have our passports on us. Even they were smiling and pleasant about it; calling in a more senior person – she had to be all of 22 – to ask us probing questions about our purpose in life. Eventually she  waved us through and we were on our way to Haifa.

Callum waiting for funicular.

In Haifa we strongly restrained ourselves from going into the wonderful smelling bakeries as we made our way to our second form of transport for the day. Haifa is built on hills and the smallest underground railway in the world takes the bite out of walking up them. The 6 station, 1.75kn funicular railway is Israel’s only underground railway and is worth a ride just for being so cute. One nice touch: each car has Leviticus 19:32 stencilled on the back – looking it up, it turns out to be “Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.” Lovely isn’t it?

We spent the day at the  Israeli National Museum of Science, which we’ll review properly elsewhere. But the thing I have to say is that every single person we came in contact with was absolutely wonderful. From the smiling young woman who sold us our tickets and explained how things work to the charming gentleman in the solar-system tie who translated the introductory movie and turned out to be the Museum’s Director. People gave helpful advice, made sure we were doing okay, and everyone smiled.

After a full day at the museum we caught a taxi over to the other side of Haifa. The taxi driver was also smiling and funny. He sang the address, he sang about Australia, he sang about the traffic. See the emerging trend here?

An army of Declans.
Cal on a bed of nails.

It could be that we have had bad luck with Avis, it could be Avis; but we had yet another fiddly and somewhat frustrating experience picking up our hire car. Last time we hired a car was in Sicily a couple of years ago and then we had trouble getting booster seats for the kids; it all happened again here. Still, we were riding a wave of all things being good and managed to slide on through with only mildly gritted teeth. Our car is white and bigger than I’d ideally like (an upgrade we didn’t really want). Turning it on involves inputting a number into a little code box – Callum is keeper of such numbers for us and, to add in additional security, demonstrated he learnt something at the museum by converting the code to binary on the fly.

Driving back to Akko was less hairy than we feared. Perhaps driving in Sicily inured us to people beeping their horns in my direction. Perhaps having Google Maps on tap made it all seem less confusing. Perhaps all the Israeli drivers were also in a good mood today.

So unless the North-East coast has cornered the market in nice Israelis, it’s been great to find that there’s another side to the notorious local character.

Yumm… tasty words being munched here….

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