Visiting the Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa, Israel
Traveling alone is a surprisingly communal experience. After years of relying on Bertrand’s charm and ability to make instant friends, I found is startlingly easy to find good company and conversation while exploring Northern Israel on my own.
When Bertrand abruptly left for Benin with the girls after his father passed away, I found myself with ample time on my hands. I would follow my family to Benin two weeks later, but in the meantime, I was by myself in a large empty house. I loved having time alone with my thoughts, but found staying at home alone to be unnervingly lonely.
I decided to travel.
The Baha’i Gardens in Haifa are perfectly ordered—every blade of grass cut to the same height, every pebble as it should be. There are three levels, built seperately as the Baha’i have acquired more land in Haifa. All three levels open at 9:00 am, but the shrine in the middle level is only open from 9:00 to 12:00.
To get from level to level, you have to exit the gardens, then hike up Mount Caramel. Yikes. It’s quite a steep hike, and not through picturesque parts of town. After visiting the lower level, I took at taxi to the middle level (it was exhorbitant, and I walked from the middle level to the upper level).
At each entrance, Baha’i guards reminded visitors that we were entering a holy place, and to be respectful. Don’t walk on the grass. Don’t touch the perfectly clear and clean water.
The shrine in the middle of the gardens is stunning, and incredibly peaceful. Pictures of the interior are verboten, as are shoes, but you can see below a photo of the beautiful stone and marble work on the outside.
Finally, I made it to the top. My legs and glutes were killing me from the uphill walk, but the view was worth every moment of pain.
I found the Baha’i Gardens soothing in a way that quite surprised me. I didn’t expect the complete and total orderliness to be quite so satisfying. Bringing the children along, and I will eventually do that, would not have brought such deep peace to my soul.
It was an incredible way to begin my trip up North.