Monday, January 18, 2016

A Whole New World

I have a full schedule planned for my last week in Israel. I have my last 2 days of class and some sightseeing plans, as well as packing and trying to do homework.

Today I traveled a little north of Haifa to one of my favorite cities that I've been to in Israel: Akko! In English, I have seen a million different spellings of this city. Akko, Ako, Acre, Aco, Akka... so feel free to choose your own favorite.

I'll stick with Akko for now because it sounds most like the Hebrew word. Akko is also on the Mediterranean coast like Haifa, and is a 30 minute train ride north. I've been there twice before, but never on my own, so it was fun to walk around and see some new things at my own pace.

The first place I went was the al-Jazzar Mosque. I've never been inside a mosque in Israel (only in Turkey), so this was a first. This one was built in the late 1700s by the Ottoman governor of the city, al-Jazzar. His name means "the butcher" in Arabic, so I'm guessing he wasn't the nicest guy. He is famous for kicking Napoleon out of the Holy Land though, so props for that.

You have to cover your hair to go inside... remind me to delete this picture if Trump gets elected so I don't get deported. ;)

As you can see, it's a pretty place! It's fairly small, but still nice to go see. My favorite part was the electronic scoreboard looking thing announcing the specific prayer times for the day. 

Here's one last picture of the entrance. In this one you can see the scary clouds. The weather forecast for today said "sandstorm." Yep, that's a thing here. A few times I did actually taste sand in my mouth, but it really wasn't too bad. Just very windy and overcast. However, it was about 60 degrees, which was definitely nicer sightseeing weather than Germantown's current -20 windchill.

I think one of the reasons I really like this city is because it actually feels old and authentically Middle Eastern. So much of Israel is modern because of wars destroying things and new things being built. In Akko you can still see a lot of Crusader and Ottoman-era architecture. Here's what it looks like to walk through the streets.

There's a pretty big covered market that I spent a while walking through. It reminds me of Jerusalem's, but a lot less crazy and crowded. And with a lot more fish... since Akko's on the coast.

This is a last glimpse of the mosque while I was heading back to the train station. It was a fun little day trip.

Yesterday when I was on campus, I checked another thing off my bucket list by going up to the top floor of the Eshkol Tower again for some pictures. There are amazing views from campus of the Mediterranean and the Carmel national park, especially from the 30th floor of this tower!

I've obviously been here for a while now, and I've still never gotten used to the amazing views. That's definitely something I'll miss!

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