I'm starting to understand why some people find it hard to share chronicle their experiences in a daily journal or a regular blog--these posts take time! And you're usually so spent in the here and pressed for time that spending some time writing is the last thing you want to do. But, I'm also trying to keep the perspective that I'll be losing internet access soon, so I should take advantage of it while I can--right? I'm not quite sure. I've started to question my thoughts and actions as of late. The fear of losing something or having something taken away shouldn't push you to exhaust yourself or every opportunity to experience that rush, should it? Maybe it depends on the situation or experience. I feel like I employ a feast or famine mentality to a lot of things, like food, for example. Either I'll be cutting things out completely or gorging myself, there doesn't seem to be a good balance. Chad was telling me about the first few months of his and Bret's sail and how in the beginning, for the first seven months, they always felt like they had to do as much as they could, especially when they got to a new city or country. After a while, they realized how exhausting this was and instead of feeling forced to cram as much in as possible, they grew comfortable with the idea of spending a quiet night on the boat instead of going out. I really feel like I could relate to that. I think I've always been go, go, go and trying to cram in as much as I can into my limited schedule, sacrificing quiet time, thinking time and basically my sanity, to get things done. While this has been great in some instances, it's not sustainable and is actually quite harmful in the long run as it would lead to regular burnouts where I would become a hermit and camp out at home. So, what now? I'm not quite sure, but it's something for me to noodle on. I'm sure as I think about it a little more, I'll have mini epiphanies, some that will hold true and some that are fleeting, that will bring me some clarity. In the meantime, I'm trying to loosen my grip on my web devices and spending more time journaling and reading---even though I know I'll have plenty of time to do that when we set sail. After all, that's part of the reason that I decided to participate in this trip: to free myself from my typical day-to-day and see where that would take me. Back to our adventures...
On my last trip to Israel, we were throwing around the idea of taking a day trip out to Haifa, a city that's about an hour north of Tel Aviv, but ultimately decided against it because we were spent from our busy week. Silver lining to being stranded in the marina is that the marina is in Haifa, a city that I wanted to explore but never got the chance to! The Baha'i Gardens is the biggest tourist attraction in Haifa, and for good reason--it's beautiful! We managed to join an English tour where we heard bits and pieces about the history of the garden. While the tour itself was ok, at best, the views were incredible and there is a sense of serenity in the air. After the tour ended, we explored a side section of the garden and ended up chatting with a security guard who seemed more enthusiastic and willing to share stories and answer questions than our guide was.
(Payam and Sam, I'm still waiting for you guys to drop some knowledge on me.) From him we learned that it was forbidden for Baha'i to work in Israel--even those who work in the Garden are not Baha'i. Most of the Baha'i who live in Israel are there temporarily as tourists or volunteers, which is pretty astounding to us given that Haifa and Akko are considered to be two of the most sacred places for the religion. All in all, I would recommend taking a trip to the Garden, bringing your camera to capture the views (or if you're like me, you'll snap a few pictures and just bask in the feeling of being there), and reading up a little on the religion to give yourself some context and grounding. Tip: Go early. The Inner Gardens close at noon while the Outer Gardens are open longer; if you want to see both, you'll want to be there earlier in the day. Also, you start your tour at the top of the Garden and walk down 9 terraces (about 300 steps maybe?) to the exit. To get back to your car, if you drove there, requires a cab ride, a bus, or in our case, a 15 minute walk uphill.
After all that walking, we had worked up an appetite and stopped by this really cool restaurant that someone had recommended to Chad the last time he was in town. We went to this awesome restaurant called Rak Basar (I wouldn't really recommend it to vegetarians as it's mostly meat based, unless you're fine with making a meal for yourself out of appetizers and such--which is pretty easy to do in Israel with salads, hummus, etc). We walked in and were immediately greeted with glasses of wine--brilliant!--before we were walked over to the meat counter and given the run down of how the restaurant operates.
Basically, you order your meat at the counter and let them know what piece, what kind of cut, how you want it cooked, etc. and it's served to you a la carte, on a grill, with a side of potatoes and chimichurri sauce. (Bonus: we were there for lunch so there was a 50% discount). You're then taken to your table where you can order other sides and appetizers if you'd like. The kicker: for 30 NIS (I think) you can get as many glasses of the wine they offered you when you entered, which the boys opted for. It was a really good meal, a restaurant we'd recommend and a concept we'd love to see in the US one day.
After a great morning and a great meal, we made our way back to the boat to tackle the ongoing issue of the missing paperwork. Figuring out the paperwork continues to be frustrating but being able to explore and experience a new city provides some silver lining. Wish us luck!