Nahariya and Akko

Trip Start Nov 28, 2011
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51
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Trip End Mar 11, 2013


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Where I stayed
Akkogate Guest Hostel Acre
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Israel  ,
Thursday, January 3, 2013

I got up and had breakfast at Bordo's Cafe because it was close to the hotel.  Later in the day, somebody recommended it to me.  I agree with the recommendation.  They gave me more food than I could eat, and all of it was delicious.  The salad must have had a whole large cucumber and a few large tomatoes in it, and the dressing was perfect.  The tomato part of the shakshouka was seasoned just right.  (The egg part wasn't as runny as I'd like, but that could be because I let it sit for a minute while I worked on the salad some more.)  The bread that came out with the shakshouka had the perfect texture.  Fabulous!  The service started out quick, but when it was time for the bill, it took me quite a while to get anybody's attention.  I guess that's better than the other way around.
In the states, the folks who come up and ask for money usually look a bit pitiful.  Some of that I think is intentional to try to pull on your heart strings, but in some cases, that's their real situation.  The guy who came up to me (and at least one other person) in Nahariya was wearing a nice Adidas track suit.  He had a cigarette in one hand and a coffee in the other.  I wasn't going to give him money anyway because 1) that's why I donate to social services and 2) spend your cigarette money on your kids instead of cigarettes and maybe then you won't need so many donations, but it did make me think about the concept of panhandling in the streets.  I mean, how much do you have to have to not want to panhandle?  Why are we more likely to give to somebody who looks dirty (but not too dirty) than somebody in a nice outfit?  I'll leave that philosophical debate for a different forum, but it most certainly made me think.
I walked around town a bit.  In general, the streets were pretty dead.  The boardwalk area was almost empty, but there were a few people sitting and enjoying the view of the ocean.  The only area where there really were people was the main shopping street.  There, people were hustling around trying to purchase.
It very much is a beach town in winter.  The architecture reminds me of every other beach town- all the apartments have balconies and a sense of openness.  The only difference is that all of the buildings here are very tan instead of having the multi-colored or white buildings as elsewhere.  The streets are very straight and flat- great for running- and they're lined with palm trees.  If it had putt-putt on every corner, it would remind me of the residential areas of Ocean City in winter.  It may be cleaner though- I'm not sure I saw a single piece of dirt anywhere.

 The original plan was to spend the whole day in Nahariya, but there wasn't so much to see or do, so I headed to Akko (aka Acre, Acco) early.  That is also a town on the shore, but it has lots more character (and dirt).  Nahariya seems sterile compared to Akko.  
The north parts of Akko have apartments where people live.  Many of them reminded me of Nahariya in a way that made me wonder if Nahariya in 50 years would look like those parts of Akko now.  (Although, I have no idea if Nahariya is actually any younger than those parts of Akko or not.)  As you get further south though, you begin to hit the Old City.  I wandered about the old city for a bit, looking for my hotel.  Unlike the rest of Akko, the old city does not have nice straight streets.  The streets are all curled in on themselves and many are not car-accessible.  
There's a lot of history here.  There's a Crusader Citadel, and old city wall, an old church, an old Mosque, and old synagogue, an old market, an old moat, old homes, etc.  One thing I think is very cool is that one of the people I was talking to who lives here said "I love how Jews and Arabs live together side-by-side" here.  This is a mixed city and from what I saw, a good example of how people can get along.  Everybody I spoke with was friendly.  The one thing she lamented is that the tourists don't stop here a lot.  Everybody goes to Jerusalem and other places, and skips over Akko, but Akko has so much history that it doesn't make sense.  I see her point though.  This is my 4th trip to Israel, but my first time in Akko.  Ok, Jerusalem has a more religious history and we get why people go there as #1.  But, Akko has Roman history that beats out some of the other cities that people go to more frequently for Roman history.  Akko has Templar Tunnels and Crusader history that beats out some of the other cities people go to for Crusader-era history.  Akko has a Turkish bath house and some sort of museum.  Akko has UNESCO World Heritage sites and is older than most of the other "ancient places" people go to in that it dates from the Phoenicians (which says it's almost 4000 years old). For people with money, you can even take home things that were dug up by archaeologists.  (In this place, she had jewelry made from bits of ancient Roman glass and she had certificates that the glass was over 2000 years old.)
Beyond the history, Akko has some other things going for it.  There is some neat art being made here.  (The David Miro gallery was amazing, although some of my excitement may be because it had so much shiny.)  The circles in the newer part of town have art in them (similar to the way Karmiel did.)  The walk by the beach was paved in an interesting design and there were some monuments along that way.  The parks were small, but have natural beauty.
For Americans looking for their last bit of Hostess, there is at least one vendor here who has some hohos left, but probably not for long.  I was joking with him about how he could put them up on ebay and make a ton of money, and he was dead serious in saying that there were a lot of American tourist who were getting so excited to see them and were buying them up from him.
On the food front, I was told that the best falafel in old town is Falafel Arafe, so I went there.  They guy making it was so fast!  He had his big bowl of dough and bam, bam, bam, the falafel was magically turned from a dough pile into individual falafels in the fryer.  The guy who was making the sandwiches was just as fast.  In just a few seconds, it went from a pile of freshly fried falafels to a stuffed pita with all the fixings.  I should have gotten a video.  The falafel was delicious, and I obviously wasn't the only person thinking so, because there were a bunch of locals greeting each other and eating from there as well.  I'm glad I got there when I did though, as the other shops in town had started shutting down, and a few minutes later the falafel place was too.  I don't know if everything closes early because it's Thursday, the last day of the workweek here, or if it's because all of the tour buses had left and so the streets were much quieter than they were during the day.
In any case, I toured around the old city some more until it was getting dark, and then I headed back to the hotel.
 

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