I am an American immigrant to Haifa, Israel. Life in israel can be challenging but fun as well. Israel is a modern nation that offers plenty of social, cultural, and economic choices to its citizens. Haifa was my choice of city in this incredibly complicated and diverse nation due to the beautiful scenery, balmy weather, and cultural harmony of this glorious metropolis. Haifa is located on the sea and hosts a wonderful tiyelat or boardwalk. Haifa (Hebrew: חֵיפָה, Hebrew pronunciation: [χeiˈfä], Ḥefa; Arabic: حيفا Ḥayfā) is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Haifa is a mixed city: 90% are Jews, more than a quarter of whom are immigrants from the former Soviet Union, while 10% are Arabs, predominantly of the Christian faith. It is also home to the Baha'i World Centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Let's talk entertainment!
Israelis are avid readers and my favorite pastime is reading detective novels and attending book clubs. I am a particular fan of James Patterson. Bookstores are abundant in Haifa. Titiles are available in English, Russian, French, and other languages. Hebrew is the native language but English, Arabic, and Russian are widely spoken.Many of the classics and foreign titiles are printed in Hebrew. My favorite book store is Lia's Books in the Kryat Sefer section of Haifa. The owners are British born and oldtimers in Haifa. There are several nice cafes in the neighborhood.
Israelis also love movies. Haifa, my hometown has twenty-two theaters that show movies in most major languages and for all ages. Popcorn, hot dogs and cokes are usually available, but often at inflated prices. The ticket costs are comparable to those in America. Most movie theaters are located in malls, and allow the audiences to enjoy cafes, window shopping, and other mall amenities. Many cafes have outdoor terraces due to the balmy climate.
Very sadly, the revered American pastime of the Sunday afternoon drive is not part of Israeli entertainment. Driving in Israel is at best a rugged adventure. Israeli drivers are not known for their patience and in many parts of the country parking is a real nightmare. By contrast, the public transportation in the country is wonderful. In many places, bus and train services are readily available and inexpensive. I have been in the country for five years and still do not have an Israeli drivers license. Visitors can drive on their native licenses and rental car services are abundant throughout the country.
The entertainment of Haifa surely showcases a wide range of fascinating things you can do here, and in many cities in Israel. Among the large number of things to do in Haifa, you would probably first look for some eating joints in the city. Dining is one of the best forms of Haifa entertainment, with a large number of places offering everything from French, Italian, Chinese, Continental and the traditional Middle Eastern dishes. Located in some of the most convenient spots and serving delicious dishes, the popular restaurants in Haifa are surely a must try. The joy of international dining in Israel is enhanced by the number of nationalities and languages spoken by diners and staff in most houses of cuisine. One Saturday night, my American companion Linda and I counted seven languages while dining at our favorite cafe. We strolled along the Haifa beachfront after dinner along the Tiyelat or Boardwalk. Humus, Pita,and Falafel are the national dishes. However, you can find McDonald's, Pizza Hut, and Burger King with little effort.
Following a wholesome meal at the restaurants. you can also check out the scintillating nightlife of Haifa. Wonderful ambiance and great music, combined with the liquor of your choice will surely give you an excuse to party the night away. Shopping in Haifa is great. You can buy fashionable clothes, hand-blown glass, silver, enamel, pottery and also gold jewelry. Entertainment in Haifa thus includes the major shopping zones of the city on Masada Street and also the Dan Panorama Center. Many American products are sold in major malls. The Grand Canyon is the largest mall in Haifa.
The theaters in Haifa are popularly endorsed by both indigenous folk and tourists. They showcase the best of the local culture and traditions. Thus the major places of interest in Haifa also include the performance halls like the Haifa Auditorium and the Haifa Municipal Theater. Other than live theater, they are also known for hosting dance recitals, musical performances, orchestra and many other cultural events.
My friends and neighbors in Haifa
Our zoo cares for a fine collection of over 350 animals of 100 species in 55 enclosures. They include ungulates, predators ,waterfowl, raptor and primates. Our live reptile collection is one of the largest in the country . Many spices of snakes native to Israel including some of the venomous ones, are on display as well as reptiles from around the world. A small natural prehistory museum with dioramas of the Carmel and changing exhibits complete our permanent facilities. The zoo is located in the Mercaz HaCarmel part of Haifa. Many of the major hotels of Haifa are located in this community. There are high quality cafes and upscale shopping in this area as well.
For the family, entertainment in Haifa is not complete without Sports and Recreation. Full of fun and pleasure, the activities like tennis, bowling, basketball, skating, football, fencing, diving hiking, biking, swimming will provide you with a lot to indulge yourself in. Yes, Israel has professional sports teams and leagues! Health clubs are available to visitors on a short term basis. Yoga and Pilates studios also do the same.
The Shrine of the Báb is a structure in Haifa, Isr.ael where the remains of the Báb, founder of Bábism and forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh in the Bahá'í Faith, have been buried; it is considered to be the second holiest place on Earth for Bahá'ís, after the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh in Acre. Its precise location on Mount Carmel was designated by Bahá'u'lláh himself to his eldest son,'Abdu'l-Bahá, in 1891. 'Abdu'l-Bahá planned the structure, which was designed and completed several years later by his grandson, Shoghi Effendi. There is a daily tour of the shrine at noon in English.
The Baha'i World Center offers daily tours of the shrine in English at noon. Yesterday, I took the walking tour for the second time. The tour starts from the area behind The Dan Panorama and walks down the steps of the shrine. The tour ends at the bottom of the gardens. Visitors have access to public transportation at the exit of the shrine. The guided tour which takes between thirty and forty minutes includes information about the faith and the glorious site itself. The gardens comprise nineteen terraces which requires a staff of one hundred gardeners to maintain. At its heart stands the golden domed Shrine of the Bab, his final resting place. The costs of building and maintaining the center have always come from the generosity and responsibility of followers of the faith. Our tour guide told us a bit about the Baha'i faith and history. Please read the information below abouandt this wonderful and rapidly growing religion .
Haifa is also the final resting place of Elijah the Prophet. Visitors can tour his tomb and visit the adjoining Stella Maris Monastery. Elijah is considered a prophet in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Haifa is located on the Carmel mountain range where Elijah lived his nomadic life. Elijah's Cave is just one example of the sites in Israel where antiquity and modern life are entwined. This holy site overlooks the port of Haifa; which is bustling with vessels from all over the world. At any given time, visitors to Elijah's cave may meet tourists from dozens of countries or employees of local banks taking their lunch break. Residents and visitors to Israel have an endless array of opportunities to connect first hand with tradition and history.The mountains offer a wonderful place to hike.There is a nature reserve thirty minutes east of Haifa which offers tours in English.
Israelis watch more television and play more video games per- capita than any nation in the world. I am writing this article at the University of Haifa. My computer neighbors asked me to join them in a few hands of video poker! “This is my favorite pastime”, exclaimed David, a young American Oleh or immigrant! “What about your work and studies?”, I joked. He laughed in a good natured manner and drew a losing hand!
Israel is a small country about the size of New Jersey. The three major cities of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa are relatively close and within a two hour bus trip of each other. Train service is also available.Haifa and most major communities have day tours available to visitors and residents. They are listed by local travel boards and many major hotels offer these trips. They are usually between four and eight hours in length.
I use the Haifa based anglo-list.com website to obtain imformation about fun things to do in English. The anglo-list sponsors a weekly walk for English speakers each Wednesday along our local beaches. Please note that Haifa has local Lion's Clubs and Rotary Clubs.