Sunday, August 18, 2013

King Herod had a Wicked Pool

Last week we actually managed to get out a little more than we had in our first week back from the honeymoon. With energy fully recovered, we did a little travelling around.

On Monday, we spent some time at home because Rieta (Shar's piano teacher) and Yuri came in the evening for a little bit of food. Listening to them talk is always interesting, because there are some words in Hebrew that overlap with Arabic and sometimes I can understand a little. That being said, mostly I have no idea what's going on. :)

On Tuesday, we decided to set out to nearby Caesarea and check out some ancient ruins. It was actually a pretty cool place with a very interesting history - it's changed hands so many times, and everyone who lived there left a little something behind. There are ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to the Roman Empire, a massive octagonal church from the time of Constantine, and a still standing mosque from one of the Muslim periods (I don't remember which, there were two). Here are some of the things we saw:

Some of the ruins were converted into shops and restaurants - how do you guys feel about this? I was a little intrigued but also kinda disappointed.

Roman temple ruins:

The beach front - the water was A LOT calmer here than in Haifa because of the bit of a breakwater that's left from the ruins:

King Herod's pool. As Shar put it - the inventor of the infinity pool:

This stone was a dedication to Pontius Pilate. Totally weird:

Standing in front of the Roman Forum where chariot races, and later gladiator fights, would have taken place:

On Wednesday we did some family visiting, and Thursday we did some running around in Haifa. Our resolve against the heat finally gave out on Friday and we bought a rotating fan to put on during the night in the room. Friday night, we went out with Shar's parents for a little bite to eat and a drink in an attempt to beat the heat.

Yesterday, we spent the entire evening out visiting family again in Jish, which is about a 20 minute walk from the Lebanese border. The weather was PERFECT. It's not more than an hour away from Haifa, but the humidity is non-existant and the night actually got quite cool. Thanks, mountains. Here is what the village actually looks like at dusk:

We went back to the house after a little exploring for some food and coffee:

Most importantly, we ate fresh figs(!!!!!) and cute little green grapes from Shar's grandfather's trees. Absolutely the best fruit I've ever eaten in my life.

It's hard to believe we're only here for another week and a half! We'll be trying to get around a little bit this week too, hopefully back to both Acre and Nazareth a little, as well as some new places!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

When in Israel...

The last few days have seen a bit of an upswing in activity for us - we've shaken off the post-honeymoon fatigue and are starting to get out and about a bit more. 

On Friday, we mostly hung around until the evening, when we took a little walk on the beach and then went to a cute cafe on the mountain called Arabic for a delicious veggie salad and the best fruit smoothie I have EVER tasted.

Yesterday, we went back out to Shafa'amer to visit Shar's aunt - with the goats! - and another of his cousins. It was really neat sitting outside as people were letting off little paper hot air balloon type things from different parts of the village as part of their Eid celebrations. Very pretty.

Today, I had the true Israeli shopping experience of going to the farmers market (of sorts). It was a little chaotic, but awesome. I've never seen such fresh (and cheap!) produce in my life! I just kept the one rule Shar taught me once in my head as we walked around: if there's liquid on the ground, don't step on it. It's probably fish guts.

This afternoon, we took a trip with Shar's family to a fish restaurant in Acre that the family has been going to for decades. Acre itself was a total zoo today with tons of holiday tourists and a couple carnivals running. The driving was absolutely heart attack inducing. The streets are barely big enough for one car, let alone two PLUS crowds of people that are totally unafraid of being run over.

The fish restaurant itself was AMAZING. The fish was caught this morning and we got to pick out which ones we wanted. And by we, I mean Shar and his dad. What the heck do I know about picking fish? 

Now we're just relaxing at home and digesting. Looking forward to some more adventures this week! :)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The honeymoon is over... (literally).

Boo hoo! Our honeymoon is over, and now we're safely back in Haifa and trying to resume something that resembles our normal lives. Actually, now that I think about it, I guess it's not really over - I'm still in Haifa and it's still 30 degrees, and I'm still 10 minutes from a sandy beach. Yay! Oh, and I still have my lovely husband's company. That too. Love you honey!

So, here's the Sparks Notes version of what Italy was like:

During our ABSOLUTELY AMAZING stay in Sorrento (Hotel Mediterraneo - I'm not kidding, go there right now, you will thank me when you get there) we did a few interesting things.

We visited the ruins of Pompeii:

Then we decided it would be a really cool idea to go and climb to the top of a volcano (Vesuvius/Vesuvio):

After a little rest in beautiful Sorrento...

...we took a yacht trip with another few tourists to see the absolutely beautiful island of Capri:

We saw some really big boats there:

Including this one that looked like a spy boat (We asked the captain, he said it cost an extra 3 MILLION EURO to get it painted black. Some people have too much money.):

After a couple more days bumming around poolside, eating way to much, and indulging in a lot of happy hour goodness at the hotel, we said a sad goodbye to Sorrento and headed off to Roma!

On our first afternoon, after surviving the terrifying 10 minutes of actual driving in Rome that wasn't highway, we decided not to be too ambitious with our sight-seeing and just try to find the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. Unfortunately, we're a little easily distracted, so we followed a random tower in the distance....

... and walked unwittingly into one of the coolest things we saw - the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Piazza Venetia, where we took a (scary) glass elevator to the top of the building and got a wicked birds-eye-view of all of Rome:

Then we made our way to the Trevi Fountain, which was PACKED with tourists:

And the Spanish Steps, which were even MORE packed with tourists:

The next day we decided we would boldly set out and see the Coloseum, which had the longest/least organized lineup in all creation (and a sign that said "watch out for the ruggedness on the path", which made me laugh so hard when I imagined Russell Crowe in Gladiator), but was totally worth it:

Prior to that, we managed to run across (again, because we're too easily distracted), the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, which was gorgeous:

And we capped off the sightseeing of the day with walking a little around the ruins of the Roman Forum:

On the Thursday, we tackled Vatican City, beginning with the Basilica of St. Peter:

By chance, we discovered that by taking the 500+ steps up, we could get on top of the dome of St. Peter's, as well as walk around a bit on the roof, so obviously we did it:

After that we took a brief walk over to the Vatican Museum so that we could take a look at the Sistine Chapel, but unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to take any pictures. Boo. 

That pretty much concluded our time in Italy! I can't begin to describe what an absolutely AMAZING time Sharbel and I had while we were there. I must say, we were both much more attached to Sorrento as we found Rome to be a bit busy and touristy in the end, but I'm really glad we did it. 

Now, as you might imagine, we're back in Haifa recovering from our honeymoon and making gradual steps towards real life again. We're back at the gym in the mornings, and Sharbel's been practicing piano like a fiend. Myself, I think I might even start to think about repertoire for my kids choir for the fall! That being said, there are still some adventures planned for here.

Phew, I feel like I just published a novel with this post. No more 2 week waits for updates - I promise! :