Ahlan wah sahlan! Shalom! Today’s FriFotos theme is paradise and I’ll be depicting it as a state of mind. “Paradise” as such was my epic solo female Middle East road trip, which took me from Cairo to Jerusalem, onto a 3-week Couchsurfing and hitchhiking adventure around the Holy Land, then onto the Nabatean city of Petra, beach towns in Sinai, and Upper Egypt. Today’s post is part 2 of that solo female Middle East travels of mine, depicting some of my adventures in Northern Israel!
Also read part one of this series: Solo female Middle Eastern road trip: Cairo to Jerusalem
Solo female Middle East road trip continues: Jerusalem to Haifa
As I emailed my family back in Puerto Rico (and convince my mom that a rifle would not be shoved at me again in Spanish), I chatted with Indonesian traveler Yohannes about where to go next. You see, up to that point, I had no plans whatsoever for this solo female Middle East road trip of mine. Not even loose ones. Legit impromptu.
Don’t get me wrong though: I did know how to get from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, or how to go on and visit dangerous cities such as Hebron, or calmer Arab towns such as Jericho. Yet, I wanted to go elsewhere on my second trip to the Holy Land. And so I had a loose idea of following more of Jesus’ footsteps, maybe even see the Dead Sea again and an additional historical site or two. That’s when Yohannes reminded me of gorgeous Haifa.
Seriously Maria?! How could you forget about Baha’i!? *shakes head* Indeed, I almost forget to visit the impressive Baha’i gardens. Thanks heavens for knowledgeable Indonesian travelers! He also reminded me of some sweet spots to visit in Northern Israel, which would be easy day trips from wonderful Haifa. I (roughly) dotted down the route for the next few days, sent out a couple of Couchsurfing emails, and when I secured a Haifa host within a few hours, off I went!
My first overnight Couchsurfing experience
I took a bus from new Jerusalem bus station (CBS) to Haifa. Comfy, painless. I followed my CS hosts directions to the T, had a great walk around town in return, and safely got to their place after getting lost a couple of times (my fault, not theirs).
Couchsurfing in Haifa was my first true overnight experience. I legit slept on a (very comfy) couch and was graced with the wonderful hospitality every CSer raves about. The many memories of my few days there have already been documented on this Middle East travel blog. Thus, simply click that Haifa link to learn more about this beautiful Mediterranean city, my CS experience and what I did there. A brief summary for your convenience: I went to a salsa dancing party, learned how to cook Thai curry, and…
Took a free tour to the Baha’i Gardens (on-site, simply show up):
My CS hosts drove me to and taught me more about the history of their home town Akko (Acre):
While staying with my second pair of hosts in Haifa, I even made it to Nazareth! Church of the Annunciation was particularly impressive…
Hitchhiking in Rosh Hanikra–and a free history lesson
My last day in Haifa, I met some travelers and we made it all the way up to Rosh Hanikra. They asked me how in the world I was on a solo female Middle East road trip…and thought I was cool enough to take a day trip with me. That was *quite* the adventure, as we had to hitchhike on our way back (my idea, of course, as the boys were scared. They ended up loving it, though!).
A grandpa with his grandchild picked us up after we had walked some kilometers from Rosh Hanikra. And then, I enjoyed one of the finest history lessons to date! Grandpa told us all about the war with Lebanon (as we admired Lebanese mountains in the background) and even said: “Oh! You see that field a few yards away? I saw a bomb explode right there!” So.legit. (I dislike war, but the fact that we were driving by a former battlefield was cool in an odd, eerie kind of way…don’t judge me…). Indeed, a great day trip!
And Rosh HaNikra concludes part 2 of my solo Middle East travels photo essay series! Third post, to be published next week, will include my experience Couchsurfing in a kibbutz, how I delved even deeper into hitchhiking solo in Northern Israel (for many kilometers!) and how I even trespassed into a plantation by the Sea of Galilee, as I got lost trying to walk to the Mt. of Beatitudes. Indeed, this trip will keep getting more and more interesting, so stay tuned!
Keep reading (onto part 3): Kibbutz Couchsurfing and hitchhiking