The last day of my parents visit was spent traveling. It was a bit strange to do this; we broke my father’s cardinal rule to not travel too far the day you plan to leave for a trip. Yet, my parents flight didn’t leave until 12:01 am, so we had all day to do “stuff” and there was still so much to see. We decided to leave early, head to Haifa and then go to Tel Aviv before dropping the car off at the airport. We packed up the car with my parents suitcases and made our way north.
In planning our visit to Haifa, I did a lot of research on good things to do there given the amount of time we had, but it was difficult to find a definitive answer on what the main attractions are. The only place that stood out as a must see was the Bahai gardens, which is a series of terraced gardens found in the middle of the city. Amazingly the day we planned to go to Haifa was a Bahai holiday (who knew!) and the gardens were closed. We therefore went to Haifa with nothing concrete in mind to see except the Mediterranean Sea.
When we got to Haifa we parked the car in an area that was a bit more industrial. We walked down toward the harbor, but the area was walled off which makes sense because it was the actual harbor rather than a touristy marina type area. We then walked along the main road for a while, a bit disappointed that the shops we encountered were more for everyday living rather than tourists. We continued to walk for a little while and ended our trek at the train depot, which may not seem too exciting, but since I have a three-year-old nephew who is obsessed with trains, it was wonderful to be able to take up close pictures of the trains to show him. After this, we made our way back to the car, a bit disappointed with the area that we had explored. We decided to find a place for lunch before making our way to the sea’s edge. We turned up a street that looked promising and found ourselves in a beautiful, touristy part of town that had lots of restaurants and small shops. We found a place to park, and when we got out of the car we realized that right in front of us was the Bahai gardens. It was an absolutely breath-taking site! I can only imagine what it is like to see them when they are open! A reason to go back and visit I guess…
As we walked to find a restaurant, it began to rain. The weather had been iffy the entire week my parents were here, which was unexpected since it usually doesn’t rain after Passover. I felt terrible that I told them to pack clothes for 70 degree weather; it turned out to be in the low 60s and high 50s the entire week and sweatshirts were more useful than t-shirts. Oh well! We ducked under the awning of a small food shop and waited out the rain. It only lasted for a few minutes. We then walked down to a Cafe Cafe, which is a chain restaurant all over Israel. We decided to eat there based on my experience with Cafe Cafe in Tel Aviv. When Adam and I visited his cousin back in November, we ate in a Cafe Cafe with her. I was so excited to eat in an “authentically Tel Aviv” restaurant only to see one when we got off the bus in Jerusalem. There is also one on Emek Refaim right near us. They are everywhere! So much for authentically Tel Aviv! Anyway, this prompted my parents to want to eat there. We really enjoyed the restaurant. It was really cozy and the food was delicious. We really felt relaxed.
After lunch we walked back to the car and found our way to the sea’s edge. My dad, Adam, and I took off our shoes and put our feet in the Mediterranean Sea. Because it was a bit stormy, the waves were pretty big and despite the fact that I rolled up my pants, I got pretty wet when I got splashed by a gigantic wave. It was pretty funny! While we were getting our feet wet my mom was collecting small seashells which are absolutely beautiful.
After our stroll in the sea, we got back into the car and started to drive. Plans changed a bit and instead of heading south to Tel Aviv, we instead headed north. At the very top of Israel near the Lebanon border is a place called Rosh Hanikra. Rosh Hanikra is known for its beautiful views and the grottoes, which are sea caves that have been carved by the sea. They are absolutely beautiful and may be one of my favorite natural sites in Israel. Adam and I were talking about Rosh Hanikra with my parents on our way to Haifa and while we were walking back to the car from lunch, Adam and my dad decided that we could and should make the trip. Because we didn’t get there until around 4 pm, we didn’t have a chance to take the cable car down to the grottoes, but my parents did get to see the beautiful views and to my father’s delight, the Lebanon border. We stayed there for only a half an hour. Then we hopped back in the car an made our way to Tel Aviv.
Our impromptu trip to Rosh Hanikra gave us less time to spend in Tel Aviv. We stopped at the central bus station to look at some of the stores there to see if there were any last minute souvenirs that my parents might have wanted. Like the central bus station in Jerusalem, there is essentially a mall in the central bus station in Tel Aviv. To be honest, the Tel Aviv bus station was a bit skeevy, so we didn’t end up staying too long. We originally had planned to go to the beach in Tel Aviv, so we started to head in that direction. It was getting dark and late, so while we parked the car near the beach, we didn’t really get a chance to visit. Instead we headed to a small diner-like restaurant. We had a nice meal, laughing and chatting despite the impending separation. After dinner we made our way back to the car and headed to the airport.
At the airport, we returned the rental car and then took the shuttle to the terminal. At this point my anxiety had peaked, and I could no longer hold back the tears that I had tried to keep inside all day. I was actually sobbing as I hugged my parents goodbye. We hugged as many times as we could before they had to head through the first leg of security. I continued to cry as we waited for them to move through the line. It took them a little bit of time to get through to the checked baggage lines, so I had a bit of time to calm down. We stayed until they got to the checked baggage lines, said goodbye one more time and then we left. We took a taxi home at my parents request. They didn’t want us to take the bus since it would get us home so late. It is always important to listen to your parents.
When we got home the apartment felt so empty. We watched some TV while we waited for their flight to take off. Eventually I went to bed. Overnight my sadness transformed into worries about them getting home safe. They did of course, and we video chatted with them later in the afternoon after they had a little time to take a nap. It was good to “see” them again although it wasn’t as nice as being able to really see them and hug them.
Now we are back to our routine of video chatting and talking on the phone. We won’t see them again in person until we visit home in January, but we are thankful for the time we had with them. We love them so much!
Until next time…
Here are a few pictures that capture the day. Sorry that there are no pictures from Tel Aviv. It was too dark by then…
Here are a few pictures of the grottoes that Adam and I took when we first visited Rosh Hanikra about 2 years ago.