Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Adventures in Israel: Photos

I'm primarily here to visit relatives: my dad's parents, who I am staying with, my uncles, my aunt, my cousins, and their kids. However, the calendar of who's available when left these past two days largely free. I spent the mornings and evenings with my grandparents, who don't leave their town much - my grandfather is ninety, mind you - but I did some exploring during the afternoons.

First day: attempted trip to Holon Design Museum; trip to Tel Aviv Museum of Art
Second day: Binyamina, a small town halfway between Hadera and Haifa. I was supposed to do this with someone, but they had to move their day off from work.

I have right- and left-wing commentary in this post. Deal with and delight in the swimming contradictions.
A train station in Holon, a suburb of Tel Aviv. Israel's train service has seen huge improvements in recent years; this line was recently completed. A lot of the stations are new, like this one. It's off peak, and a train just left, so it's quite empty. Holon is a town that is not particularly noted for anything - a dormitory suburb that really got going after Jewish refugees arrived post-1948.

Typical urban Israeli residential architecture. This style dates from the 1950's, during the resettlement of refugees from the ma'abarot - tent cities built to accommodate 700,000 Jews who left Arab lands and Iran after 1948. The style kept going as more immigrants came in. Unfortunately, Israeli cities are often pretty monochromatic - light beiges, whites, and greys predominate throughout the country. Jerusalem, Tzfat, Jaffa, and anywhere with a large Arab population counters this trend with lots of wonderful stone. 

This building bucks the trend and has some fantastic colored tiling - appropriate, since it's a day care.

Sculptures in a city park in Holon

There, in the distance, is the Design Museum!

And arriving...the entrance is very hard to find.

The media center next door has this very creepy sculpture of a fish.

From the courtyard of the Design Museum. The website did not mention at the time that the museum was to be closed this week. However, the gift shop was still open!

The Kirya - the military headquarters, near the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. The Museum does not allow cameras to be used on its premises.

A bus stop in Binyamina. Bus stops like this are common in rural areas and small towns throughout the country.

Looking over Binyamina's main street - Mount Carmel is slightly visible in the farther distances.

The processing center of the Binyamina winery. Israeli wine isn't known for being all that great, but  wineries are pretty cool nevertheless.

All the barrels!

An old grape press

"Sauvignon Blanc" - a sample vine

Cat cat cat cat cat. Cats are not only common house pets here, but there are tons of stray cats too. This prevalence comes from before 1948: Palestinians, like many Islamic peoples, kept cats - which are seen as clean, and of course, pleasant companions. (It should be noted that cats are everywhere in the Middle East, and the West Bank particularly has tons and tons of kitties). Palestinians got pushed out, but the cats stayed. 
A city park with the seven species from the Tanakh growing within.

Fields and the start of Mount Carmel in the background.

Roadside sculptures on the way to Jabotinsky Park and Shumi fortress.

Forest land - people forget that this part of the world actually has some forested areas.  A lot, in fact.

View of the countryside stretching out over the Sharon plain. On a less hazy day, the hills of the West Bank are visible.

The KKL - or Jewish National Fund - owns this area, which is supposedly kept in trust for the Jewish people. As you can imagine, it's a rather controversial organization.

This park is known for awesome sculptures.

And again.

A memorial to members of the Irgun - a Jewish paramilitary troop during the 40s  that fought against the Mandate - that died while coordinating an escape from a prison. The Irgun is really controversial, particularly because they were terrorists. Which is a statement you cannot say in Israel today. I'm not terribly fond of the portrayal of the Irgun that right-wingers tend to stick to. 

A glen with a great, majestic tree.

The old Ottoman Shuni fortress. Shuni means "granary" in Arabic - after its military life, this fortress was converted into a grain silo for local Arab villages. Then rats figured out how to get in, so it was unused for a while. Then (official history starts here) it was used by the Irgun and Etzel - a British-aligned Jewish nationalist group that fought for the Allies in Iraq - as bases at various points. Now, it's a picnic spot.

Shuni's built on the ruins of a Roman-era village.

Another view of the countryside.

Leaving Jabotinsky Park - The sign reads "go in peace."

Misspelled road signs are pretty uncommon in Israel.

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