Lost in Haifa, Israel
Recently I took a trip up to the northern Israeli port city of Haifa with a few friends. It was the one main city in Israel that I had never visited, so I was extremely excited to check the city off of my Israel list. Though my friends and I came up with a general plan for our trip before we embarked on the journey, it turned out to be one of those trips when nothing goes according to plan—and it could not have been more fun.
The first plan that was immediately muddled was the timing. We intended to take a sherut, a group taxi, from the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv to Haifa around 10 o’clock in the morning. I was the first of my friends to arrive at the bus station, and after two others arrived, we quickly realized that our final friend was not answering her phone or seeing the messages we were sending her. She was still asleep! We waited for her at the bus station, and within another hour or so, we were finally on our way.
When we arrived in Haifa, we were very ready for lunch and found ourselves a traditional feast at the clearly popular Hummus Abu Shaker, where we dined on two kinds of hummus and too many servings of pita. Despite our very full bellies, we trekked uphill after lunch to reach the Bahai Gardens, only to find that we were unable to enter from that point without a tour, and that the next tour was the following day at noon. All of us being too laid back to truly be disappointed, we wandered to a nearby overlook of the city of Haifa and enjoyed that view instead.
Instead of telling us anything about the hike we were trying to do, the three men who worked there tried desperately to convince us to sit and have coffee with them and forget our dreams of hiking.
The following morning was nothing short of a series of confusing events. We planned on spending the day hiking on Carmel Mountain before returning to our home cities by sunset, but the staff at our hostel only had recommendations for 10 or 12 kilometer hikes, neither of which we would realistically have time to complete. Our bus ride to the University of Haifa, where the hostel staff recommended we begin any hike, took almost an hour, much longer than we had anticipated.
Once we arrived at the University, we spent half an hour looking for the start of the trail, which turned out to be right around the bend from where we were originally let off the bus. During our search for the trailhead, we found an office equivalent of a National Park Service. Instead of telling us anything about the hike we were trying to do, the three men who worked there tried desperately to convince us to sit and have coffee with them and forget our dreams of hiking.
Once we got ourselves away from the men and finally found the trailhead by simply wandering some more, someone in a car spotted us and stopped to ask if we had a map and knew where we were going—which we didn’t. The man directed us towards the green trail and instructed us to take the blue trail all the way to the end once the green trail dead-ended. He told us that our hike down the mountain would take at least four hours. Though the trail turned out to be quite well marked, there was a fork in the blue trail when the green trail ended and we had to decide which direction to take the blue trail.
Our decision to turn right bode well, and somehow we completed the hike—which turned out to be beautiful and incredibly fun—in just over two hours. We were dumbfounded when we made it to the end much more quickly than we had anticipated. Overcome with relief that we had completed the hike long before sunset—which we were concerned we wouldn’t—we found a bus back to the center of Haifa and made our lunch of peanut butter and nutella pitas while relaxing outside our hostel.
My friends and I couldn’t help but laugh at all of the ridiculous and confusing events that took place in such a short time in Haifa.
When it was finally time to catch a train back to Tel Aviv, I could not enter the train station with my train ticket, no matter how many times I tried. As a result, I almost missed the train, while the rest of the group was waiting for me on the other side of the gates. But alas, I made the train, I made it home, and my friends and I couldn’t help but laugh at all of the ridiculous and confusing events that took place in such a short time in Haifa. It all goes to show that when traveling anywhere, and especially in Israel, you really just need to go with the flow. Things might not (read: probably will not) turn out as planned, but eventually you’ll make it home with loads to laugh about.