How Fast Is Invisible?
The unrivaled aircraft that flies in the face of physics
On the Sabbath, we all must rest. This line of divine instruction from the tenets of Judaism always leads to surprises for travelers visiting Israel. Who’d guess that this commandment applies to a toaster and coffee machine at a hotel’s breakfast? That ATMS will refuse to furnish you with funds on the Sabbath? Or that plenty of entertainment districts go completely dry for 24 hours at sunset on a Friday?
Haifa’s transit system comes to a halt on the day of the Lord. The system is composed of an underground cable railway that connects the waterfront area with upper portions of the city, traversing 900 feet in altitude. On the Sabbath day, Saturday, which is known as Shabbat, this means: 500 steps to climb. But the view and the Bahá'í Gardens and Shrine are worth the effort: Inside a splendid Persian park stands the golddomed Shrine of the Báb, the marble mausoleum that is the final resting place of a principal forerunner of the peace-loving Bahá'í Faith.
As television only broadcasts bad news from the Middle East, the Holy Land is portrayed as a sociopolitical minefield. But seeing the country differs from what is described in headlines: While traversing breathtakingly lovely landscapes in a country not quite as big as New Jersey,
Mysteries of three world religions, myths from 5,000 years of history, enchanting cities, and breathtaking natural landscapes: id visits the Holy Land…
which contains 8.5 million residents descended from 140 nations, visitors bear witness to 5,000 years of history and the cradle of three religions.
The cosmopolitan metropolis of Tel Aviv is a “beach with a city”: 6 miles of powder-fine sand lines the highrise skyline along the Mediterranean. Here people bask in swim trunks and bikinis even in February. But on the southern outskirts of the city it’s a different story: Next to modern Tel Aviv, the ancient port city of Jaffa looks like the setting of a folk tale from One Thousand and One Nights. To the north the beaches and seaside resorts continue until Rosh Hanikra, where the white chalk cliffs mark the border with Lebanon. At the halfway point lies the captivating city of Haifa, which is situated on Mount Carmel above a vast bay. Here there’s even a German Colony founded by German Templars in the 19th century. Today it is a lively, trendy district with bars and outdoor restaurants lining Ben Gurion Boulevard. Verses from the Bible written in German can still be seen above many of the front doors. From here the lush gardens of the Bahá'í Temple area are visible. The Arabic neighborhood of Wadi Nisnas is a land of plenty. In a small market alley visitors are greeted by enticing aromas of soups, falafel, and kebabs. A spot in the sun is free at Fausi’s fish restaurant, where outdoor tables are set with plates of mezze ( appetizers): hummus, fried eggplant, salads, goat cheese, pita bread, which precede entrées that are grilled to perfection. All around Arabic and Hebrew can be heard: In tolerant Haifa coexistence still works, although such a state of affairs has become very difficult to maintain in many other parts of the country. At night the moon glinting off the sea reinforces Haifa’s position as one of Israel’s most beautiful cities.
The north of the country is worthy of still other superlatives. The biblical Galilee and Jordan Rift Valley are like Israel’s own Garden of Eden: sprawling fruit and vegetable plantations, green meadows and vineyards, forests and waterfalls in the conservation area, and olive trees so knotty and gnarled it’s as if Jesus had personally planted them. Right next door is Nazareth. A trip to the Golan Heights reveals why this powerful border zone of plateaus has been fought over so intensively: From the summit of Mount Bental you can see ( and shoot) far into Israel as well as Syria.
The journey to the south shows the variety of Israel’s landscapes: along Lake Tiberias, through the occupied West Bank, from fertile Galilee to the desert of stone near the Dead Sea. On a 1,445-foot-high plateau of rock stands the fortification at Masada— a symbol of freedom in Israel as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is where 967 Jewish defenders committed suicide in AD 70 because they had refused to surrender to the Romans who besieged them. Today a cable car runs up the side to enable visitors to easily access this historic point of interest. While you’re touring the site you might share a gondola with a battalion of young soldiers on a field trip, each with an automatic rifle slung over his shoulder—even in their private lives, the Israeli soldiers never leave their weapons behind.
When it’s time to unwind, a sojourn in the Kibbutz Hotel Ein Gedi is just what the doctor ordered. The resort is located at the edge of the Judaean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea as well as the hills of Moab. Ein Gedi is an oasis with healing sulfur springs and a nature preserve complete with a mountain river and waterfalls—a paradise for hikers 650 feet below sea level that some consider to be the most beautiful place in the world. From time to time a sandstorm will blanket the desert oasis, reminding visitors that even the most idyllic locales are not exempt from Mother Nature’s caprices.
Last but not least is Jerusalem— with its prominent and storied history this 3,000-year-old city, which is key for three major religions, is among the greatest marvels in Israel. People of numerous faiths flock to this holy city to reconnect with religious roots.