Wednesday, October 14, 2009

National parks: Caesarea edition

About a year or two after we made aliyah, the Shiputzim Family Legislature (read: YZG and I) enacted an iron-clad ban on driving up North during chol hamo’ed.

Suffice it to say that we had several bad experiences sitting in traffic around Tel Aviv.

Indeed, even after Kvish 6 (the Trans-Israel Highway) opened, we were still wary.

But this year, our determination to hit as many national parks as possible prompted us to bite the bullet and brave the holiday hordes.

And so, first thing one fine chol hamo’ed morning, we set out for Caesarea.

The site’s numerous attractions include the well-preserved ruins (click here to read about the funny thing that happened on the way to the forum amphitheater); a movie about the ancient city’s history; an interactive exhibit where one can “speak” (via computer) to actors portraying many of the historical figures associated with Caesarea; and, of course, the bright blue ocean.

IMG_6415IMG_6421 IMG_6476 IMG_6477 As always, click on the pictures for a closer view.

But, arguably, the highlight was the equestrian show in the remains of the Roman hippodrome.

To say that this show was the height of kitsch is putting it mildly.

First of all, there were riders dressed like Roman soldiers, complete with gaudy red costumes and what looked like brightly colored plastic brooms on their helmets. As these soldiers entered the arena, the loudspeakers blared the “Back to the Future” theme.

Also, the confusing and highly anachronistic storyline involved Herod’s daughter, a traitorous Roman legionary, and even a pirate.

And yet…

I actually found myself moved to tears.

Because right there, in the middle of the destroyed hippodrome – once the ultimate symbol of the Roman Empire’s might, hegemony, and cruelty – the modern Jewish actors proudly carried an Israeli flag:  IMG_6428 IMG_6434 IMG_6430

!עם ישראל חי

Am Yisrael Chai!


  1. Great photos! Caesarea is definitely on my "to visit" list.

  2. Leora - We had a great time, and I highly recommend it.

  3. You left us in great, great suspense in regard to the drive up. How was the traffic? Was this a one time event or have you canceled your ban of driving up north on Chol Hamoed.

  4. Be All You Can Be - Sorry about leaving you in suspense. :-)

    To answer your question: TPTB (the powers that be) have determined that Kvish 6 is exempt from the Chol Hamoed Ban, which otherwise remains very much in effect.

    A final ruling on how far away from Kvish 6 one may go is still pending. But apparently, Caesarea is close enough to Kvish 6 to be considered within the safe driving zone.

  5. Lovely, maybe next holiday, you'll visit Shiloh!

  6. Yes, we also wondered about the brooms...

  7. Batya - That would be really nice!

    Malke - YZG wanted to know why I referred to them as "what looked like brightly colored plastic brooms". He suggested that I remove the first three words...

  8. It is cold and snowish here. I wish I were in a warmer place like the one featured on this post. Lovely photos.


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