Visit to Zichron Yaakov

For the second part of Passover and through the following week, Noah and I had very special visitors:

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Noah’s parents visited for about 10 days, and we had a great visit. It was a lot of fun to have visitors, and it was also a real treat to travel more throughout the country and see some new places. To begin the visit, Noah and I met his parents at the Tel Aviv airport.

Small interjection about one of the “so Israel” things that I love about this country, the man waiting at the arrivals corridor next to us was reading the Talmud Bavli. Oh, Israel. ❤

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When Noah’s parents arrived, we picked up a rental car at the airport, and then drove together to Zichron Yaakov. Zichron Yaakov is at the base of Mt. Carmel, south of Haifa and was founded in 1882 as part of the First Aliyah movement. The settlement was founded by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, a Zionist, French Jew who provided the financial backing for much of the first aliyah movement.

In Zichron Yaakov we stayed at the Purple House, a lovely place that Noah’s mom found on Air BnB.

Adorable, yes?:

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AND, with a lovely garden:

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Upon our arrival, we went for dinner at a restaurant called Casa Barone at the Beit Maimon hotel. It was kosher l’pesach and had various meat-y items – I had a burger with fries (the restaurant was dark, so no good pics).

The next morning, we had a nice breakfast at Cafe Kilimanjaro, a coffee shop that Noah’s mom found to have a lot of good reviews on Trip Advisor.

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Breakfast was delicious…

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…and Noah ordered the cafe’s signature drink – some sort of chocolate/coffee mixture:

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After breakfast, we strolled a bit around Zichron Yaakov’s main pedestrian street, peeking in windows and (of course) posing with statues:

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The day’s primary activities began with a trip to the gardens of Ramat Hanadiv – beautiful sprawling gardens in the memory of Baron Rothschild.

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At the gardens, we watched a brief movie about the Baron Rothschild and then spent a couple hours walking through the various garden paths and admiring the trees and flowers, as well as visiting the grave of the Baron whose tomb is within the gardens:

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After the gardens, we drove to Caesarea and explored the ancient ruins there. The ruins included – among other things – a Byzantine fortress wall, Roman theater, and various rooms and storehouses used by the area’s previous inhabitants:

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My favorite part of the ruins was the Herodian amphitheater:

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The ruins were right along the coast which provided some great views of the water:

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The area was quite sprawling and a bit overwhelming to make sense of without a guide, but luckily there were some informational panels smattered throughout the ruins providing information:

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After leaving the ruins, we made a quick stop at the (impressively intact) remains of the Roman aqueduct and then went back to the Purple House for a relaxed evening:

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Other posts about visiting with Noah’s parents:

Ein Hod Artist’s Village and Acre (Akko) – Crusader’s Fortress and market
Exploring in the north and Hamat Gader spa and hot springs

Visiting the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum and Keukenhof Gardens

After a long travel day on the first day of vacation, the first full day in Amsterdam was very busy! After breakfast, we headed to the Van Gogh Museum for a 9:00am entrance. Many of the museums in Amsterdam are very popular and can get some pretty incredible lines so, when possible, it’s definitely a good idea to buy advance tickets. With our 9am advance tickets, we walked right into the Van Gogh Museum.

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The museum offered an audio guide that was probably one of the best audio guides I’ve used. Usually, I feel like audio guides have way, way, WAY too much information and it would take hours to go through everything. Also, the descriptions can often be so long it’s hard to stay interested for the entire recording. The Van Gogh Museum, however, offered several options on their audio guide, including a 40-minute highlight tour through the museum’s three floors which was perfect:

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The museum, in combination with the audio guide, gave a very interesting overview of Van Gogh’s work and life (which was very tragic). This location was one of the trip highlights:

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After the Van Gogh museum, we headed to the Rijksmuseum (the Dutch National Museum) which was basically right next door. We also had advance tickets to the Rijksmuseum, so we fortunately could breeze past the line.

The Rijksmuseum is in an incredible building built in the 1880s:

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The inside foyer was no less impressive:

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This museum was huge – it would have taken all day to see everything! We focused on looking at the Rembrandt works, instruments, doll houses, town houses (furniture and art), and some ship models. By the end of the visit, I was in desperate need of some energy and rejuvenation.

Lunch at the nearby cafe, Panini did the trick. Noah and I shared a panini with peas/tomatoes and a mozzarella salad:

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After lunch, we hit up one more museum: Huis Marseille.

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This museum is comparatively small and entirely devoted to photography. My impression was that the quality of any given visit would depend a lot on what exhibits were showing. My favorite exhibit during our visit was a collection of photos from North Korea – fascinating!

Afterwards, we took a trip out of the city to visit Keukenhof Gardens. Getting to Keukenhof required about an hour of transit using a train and bus:

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The weather was still a bit dreary when we arrived to the gardens…

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But some beautiful tulips were still on full display:

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Goofin’ around…

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Keukenhof is the largest flower garden in the world, and it’s only open for a couple months of the year. We were lucky enough to be here just after they opened to the public. Unfortunately, this meant that a lot of the flowers weren’t yet in bloom…

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Nonetheless, there were some indoor areas that had quite impressive flower displays, and the outside flower areas were still fun to walk around even without an overabundance of flowers:

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Returning to the city after the gardens was fairly uneventful, but by the time we were searching for a place to have dinner I was very hungry! Eventually we decided to go to the Pancake Bakery – a restaurant recommended by our guide book and serving the Dutch delicacy, pancakes. 🙂

We shared a pancake with goat cheese/sun-dried tomatoes/honey and a veggie/cheese pancake:

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For dessert, we had some traditional Dutch desserts (when in Rome Amsterdam, right?): appelgebak (chunky apple and cinnamon pie) and stroopwafel (two thin wafers sandwiched together with a light syrup).

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Check back soon for a recap of a canal cruise and other activities during the second day!

 

Other Amsterdam Posts

Travel day and hotel
Canal Cruise, Museum of the Canals, and the Old Jewish Quarter
Anne Frank House, Amsterdam City Museum, and Oude Kerk
Day trip to Rotterdam, architecture tour