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Abstract:
Travel guide; now out-of-date.
Notes:
See also Frommer's Guide to Haifa and The Best of Israel, and see Acre (Akka) and Bahji, below.

Mirrored from Electric Library.


Frommer's Guide to Israel:
The Golden Coast (includes Akka and Bahji)

by Robert Ullian

1998-11
Jump to:
          Ashkelon
          Herzlia
          Netanya
          Caesarea
          Israel's Wine Country
          Acre (Akka)
              Bahji
          Nahariya and North to the Border
Like the rest of the country, the shore strip combines the old and the new in a uniquely Israeli juxtaposition. Neon and chrome exist side by side with biblical and even prebiblical ruins. And there's much to see and do on the beaches of sand, pebbles, or rocks: Sports enthusiasts can swim, fish, dive, boat, ski, or surf.

Seeing the Area

It's best to see the Golden Coast in sections: the southern and central coasts are convenient to Tel Aviv and can also be visited from Jerusalem; the north-central and northern coasts are easily accessible from Haifa and the Galilee. The water can be almost bathtub-warm in summer and swimming is possible from April until November. In fact, in a February heat wave, some visitors from northern climes may find the Mediterranean near Tel Aviv as warm as the North Atlantic ever gets in August.

Warning: On many days undertows and whirlpools develop that not even the strongest swimmer can fight. Obey the lifeguards! Be extremely wary about swimming in unguarded areas if there is any wave activity.

1. Ashkelon

56km (36 miles) S of Tel Aviv.

Ashkelon is the southernmost tourist stop along Israel's Mediterranean shoreline, although beautiful beaches stretch farther south. This thriving seaside town has grown up over the ruins of civilizations buried in its sands for 25 centuries. One of the five Philistine city-states (the others were Gath, Gaza, Ekron, and Ashdod), Ashkelon was an important caravan stop. This is where Delilah supposedly snipped Samson's hair and strength, and where Herod was born.

Exactly what happened at Ashkelon over the last 4,000 years is a chapter of history still waiting to be written, since ancient Ashkelon is only now being archeologically explored in depth. Many civilizations and sand-covered cities of antiquity lie buried here. Recent finds include perhaps the oldest arched gateway in the world, and a Philistine winery and bazaar. One of the most mysterious archeological discoveries made here in recent years is an enormous cemetery for dogs. Ashkelon was not primarily a Jewish city, and the significance of dogs to the ancient non-Jewish population is presently being pondered. At one point along the shore, you'll see where a tentative longitudinal slice has been made into the cliff, revealing a network of pillars and caves several strata deep. Perhaps the most exciting object recently uncovered is a tiny Canaanite silver calf, probably a cult object, now on display at the Israel Museum. Further excavations will most certainly reveal important historical treasures, because the Bible mentions Ashkelon frequently.

After the Crusaders and Muslims fought over the city, Ashkelon, like so many other places, fell into utter ruin. Later, builders took the remains of Roman staircases, Hellenistic pillars, and Crusader stonemasonry for building materials in Jaffa and Acre.

Ashkelon is not a big town, but it's very spread out. A large part of its population is composed of Jewish families that came to Israel from North Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. Today the city is undergoing a major building boom as it absorbs thousands of recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Ashkelon has the perfect climate, blessed by cool breezes from the sea, but modified by the dryness of desert winds. Because Ashkelon is at the southern end of the coast, you have the best chance of getting in some early spring or late fall swimming here.

Essentials

GETTING THERE

By Bus

Egged bus no. 300 and 301, from Tel Aviv, arrives at the Central Bus Station on Ha-Nitzahon in the newer part of town (time: 1 hour). Frequency is about every half hour; last bus is 9pm, or 2 hours before Shabbat on Friday. Your bus will come into town from the highway on Ha-Nitzahon Road. You'll pass by Migdal, the old city, on your right.

By Car

There are direct main highways from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

VISITOR INFORMATION

The Government and Municipal Tourist Office (Phone 07/677- 0173 or 07/673-2412) is in the City Hall, Afridar Center, behind the Bus Station. It's open Sunday and Tuesday from 8am to 1pm and 4 to 6pm; Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8am to 2pm. You can obtain up-to-date information on everything from picnicking and camping in the beachside national park to seasonal events, such as the Arts and Crafts Fair in July or August.

GETTING AROUND

Municipal Bus 5 serves Zepahania Square, the Afridar Center, Bus Station, and the Pedestrian Mall in Migdal. Bus 6 serves Afridar, the Ashkelon National Antiquities Park (near the beach) and Migdal. It runs once an hour.

Exploring Ashkelon

The part of town you must get to know is Afridar. In Afridar Commercial Center, with its conspicuous Clock Tower, you will find the Municipal Tourist Office, banks, shops, restaurants, cafes, a cinema, and the small Ashkelon museum. Early on during your stay in Ashkelon, check out Afridar Center.

National Antiquities Park. Phone 07/673-6444. Free admission; cars: NIS 12 ($3.40). Apr-Sept, daily 8am-7:30pm; Oct-Mar Sat only 9am-4pm.

The highlights here are archeological sites. Walk south along the sea, and you'll see bits and pieces of pillar and column poking through the sand. Toward the end of the public beach, a staircase leads into a park; walk through the park, and you'll soon come upon the sunken arena ("Sculpture Corner") that houses Ashkelon's handful of finds: a headless Winged Victory supported on the shoulders of a childlike Atlas, Isis and child, and grouped pieces of colonnade from Herod's collection of carved capitals, "Stoa of a Hundred Columns." There's also a refreshment stand here.

Painted Roman Tomb. Free admission. Daily.

Practically hidden in the sand dunes, this Roman burial cave is just north of the Shulamit Gardens Hotel, on the beach. The paintings hold romance and eternal springtime -- nymphs reclining, marsh birds nesting in a stream thick with fish. On the ceiling are nude children playing, greyhounds and gazelles, birds, and clusters of grapes. The gods Apollo and Demeter look down between the vines, assuring that the deceased's physical, if not spiritual environment, would be Elysian.

The Beaches

Ashkelon's main recreational attraction is the beach, and there are several public beaches. Swim only if there is a lifeguard present or at very shallow depths, since on all but the calmest days the water can hide tricky currents. All beaches are free and seldom crowded. My favorite beach areas are about a quarter of a mile north of the Antiquities Park.

Where to Stay

Ashkelon charges its highest rates from mid-July to the end of August, and during Passover and the September holidays. This all has to do with Ashkelon's weather, a commodity that local residents discuss with fanatic possessiveness. You will probably be offered rain insurance: For every day it rains, beginning on the second day of your stay, you get to stay a day free -- breakfast included!

An inexpensive alternative to hotels is to stay in a private home. Generally, this costs about $20 to $30 per night per person, but can double during Jewish holidays and high season weekends. To find out about home accommodations, contact the tourist office, in Afridar Commercial Center (Phone 07/673-2412).

Expensive

Shulamit Gardens Hotel. Shulamit Gardens, Ashkelon. Phone 07/671-1261. Fax 07/671-0066. 260 rms with baths. A/C TV TEL. $170-$220 double. Breakfast included. MC, V.

A large, sprawling place with a heated outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, disco, and a synagogue. Guest rooms are standard contemporary and the best available in Ashkelon, though not special. Ask about off-season and midweek discounts. Many guests are religiously observant.

Inexpensive

Samson's Gardens (Ganei Shimshon). 38 Sonnebend (Ha-Tamar) St., Afridar, Ashkelon. Phone 07/673-4666. Fax 07/673-9615. 26 rms (all with bath or shower). A/C TEL. $50-$60 double. On Jewish holidays, add $25 to higher rates. No credit cards.

As the name suggests, this hotel is situated in a garden. Rooms are very basic, but have terraces overlooking the garden. Guests can use the pool at a nearby hotel at reduced rates. Kosher meals are available. Ha-Tamar Street is right off Darom Africa Boulevard, near the Municipal Gardens.

Camping

Ashkelon has a beautiful and extensive campground -- 15 acres of lawns dotted with trees and marble pillars, located inside the seaside National Antiquities Park. Trailers, tents, and simple wooden "bungalow" shelters are available for hire year-round. Rates are $15 to $18 per person in bungalows; $50 to $65 for two people in caravans (higher rates are for air-conditioning). If you bring your own tent, the fee is $6 per person. A receipt from the campground exempts you from the park's car admission fee. There are two to four beds in each bungalow; the large caravans (trailers) can accommodate six; the smaller ones, four. The three shower and toilet areas are ample. There are a grocery store and a restaurant, or you may purchase bottled cooking gas for your own equipment. Many of your fellow campers will be Moroccan-Israeli families with fabulous food, spirit, and music!

For further information, you may write to the campsite at Ashkelon Camping, P.O. Box 5052 (Phone 07/673-6777 or 07/673- 4027). Or contact the Israel Camping Union, P.O. Box 53, Nahariya (Phone 04/992-3366). Members of the Israel or International Camping Union will receive a 5% to 10% discount on certain items. Take bus no. 3 or 9 to national park. Follow the marked pathway to the campground.

Where to Dine

Down in Migdal, the old section of town, are various lunch-counters, and there's one at the Central Bus Station as well. With such limited dining possibilities, it's not difficult to see why so many visitors arrange for half or full board at their hotels.

Side Trips to Rehovot & Ashdod

Rehovot

There are two ways of heading north from Ashkelon. The easier and faster way is along the coastal road, which intentionally misses several of the population centers in the region. The inner road, however, connecting with Gedera -- once the northern tip of the Negev until Israeli farmers pushed the desert back beyond Beersheva -- is well worth the extra effort and time. You can reach Rehovot from Gedera, and there's also a connecting road directly off the coastal highway.

Either way, it's a short drive to Israel's foremost scientific establishment, the Weizmann Institute of Science. You enter through a gateway on Rehovot's main street, and as soon as you're inside the grounds you'll feel as if you've stepped into another world. This is a beautiful compound of futuristic buildings, lawns of the deepest golf-course green, lily ponds, and colorful gardens -- all, apparently, for the spiritual satisfaction of the hundreds of scientists from all over the world at work here.

Dedicated in 1949 in honor of Israel's first president (himself an important chemist), the institute grew out of the Daniel Sieff Research Institute, established in 1934. Conducting both fundamental and applied research, the Weizmann Institute also has a graduate school where about 700 students work for their masters degrees and doctorates.

On the grounds are the Wix Library, where there is an exhibition on Dr. Weizmann's life, and the Wix Auditorium, which presents audiovisual shows on the institute's activities at 11am and 3:15pm daily (at 11am only on Friday).

The Weizmann House was built by Dr. and Mrs. Weizmann as their residence in the 1930s, and is a wonderful example of International Style domestic architecture. It is a dazzling, streamlined interpretation of a Roman/Mediterranean atrium house, the masterpiece of the German refugee architect, Eric Mendelsohn, who also designed the original Hadassah Hospital and Hebrew University on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem. The interior of the house is marked by an airy, sinuous staircase set in a stair tower lit with narrow vertical windows; private living and reception wings with French doors lead to a central pool patio. Another 1930s element, round porthole windows, brings light into the house from exterior walls. The furnishings were carefully designed by Mendelsohn, who involved Dr. and Mrs. Weizmann personally in the project. The house itself (like Washington's Mount Vernon and Jefferson's Montecello) reveals much about the personality of Dr. Weizmann, the world in which he lived, and the international visitors he entertained. The Weizmann House is open Sunday through Thursday from 10am to 3pm; there are guided tours in a number of languages. At press time, tours of the Weizmann House have been suspended; to inquire about a house tour, call the Weizmann Institute before your planned visit. Near the residence is a simple tomb marking the Weizmanns' resting place and a Memorial Plaza dominated by a Holocaust Memorial depicting the Torah being snatched from flames.

A number of cafeterias at the institute serve light dairy/vegetarian meals.

Where to Dine

Pundak Ha'Osher Ha Sheshi (The Inn of the Sixth Happiness). 53 Herzl St. Phone 08/ 941-7477. Main courses NIS 28-48 ($7.80-$13.50). DC, MC, V. Sun-Thurs 11am-9pm (last guests served). YEMENITE ISRAELI.

Rehovot is not strong on fancy restaurants, but this unpretentious place run by Mrs. Hannah Damari and her daughters offers good home-style cooking with some exotic Yemenite touches. There are well-prepared Middle Eastern salads as well as a choice of hearty Yemenite vegetable and meat soups. Main courses are grilled meats, fish and poultry, but there may also be specials, like oven roasted lamb. Yemenite l'huckh, a delicious, slightly rubbery flat bread that's good with main courses, soups, and with jam and honey, is on the menu, as is regular pita.

Ashdod

If you're traveling directly along the coast between Tel Aviv and Ashkelon, you'll pass Ashdod, now surpassing Haifa as Israel's largest and busiest port. Ashdod was one of the main Philistine coastal cities, and it was to Ashdod that the Philistines carried off the Ark of the Covenant in the period of the Judges, before the time of King Saul (1 Samuel 5, 1-6). The Ark of the Covenant turned out to be a hot potato for its Philistine captors: its mere presence in Ashdod caused the idol of the Philistine god, Dagon, to fall on its face and smash to bits inside its temple during the night. Disease broke out in the city; in panic, the people of Ashdod sent the Ark to the inland Philistine town of Gath (modern Gat), and after misfortunes struck that community, the Ark was sent back to the Israelites.

Present-day Ashdod is about 2 miles north of the ancient site. It's a planned, sprawling city of 140,000, (and growing by leaps and bounds with housing projects for recent immigrants), filled with factories and apartment blocks. A tourist information office is at 4 Haim Moshe Shapira St., Rova Daled (Phone 08/864-0090). Located as it is, along a glorious strip of coastline, Ashdod is scheduled to develop a tourist infrastructure sometime in the future, but for now the main tourist attraction is Idi's, one of the most famous seafood restaurants in Israel.

Idi. 6 Bosem St., Light Industrial Area, Ashdod Port. Phone 08/852-4313. Reservations necessary; 3 weeks in advance for Thurs evening; 1 week in advance for Fri and Sat. Complete dinner NIS 100-130 $28-$36.50); complete lunch NIS 100 ($28). No credit cards. Daily noon-midnight. SEAFOOD.

People come to Idi (David Israelovits, chef and proprietor) from as far away as Jerusalem and Herziliya for his fabulous fixed price gustatory menu of fresh fish and seafood. Travelers in this area who love seafood, or have a car, will find Idi's a very worthwhile excursion. You'll have many choices, but it is best to go with Idi's recommendation of the day. The salad mezze, accompanied by home-baked Georgian bread, is a wonderful collection of creations. The fish and seafood bouillabaisse is famous, as are the deep-fried calamari rings and saut³ed shrimp served in a pan of garlic sauce. For a main course you'll be offered a selection of grilled or broiled fish and also be served additional treats from the kitchen, like calamari stuffed with mushrooms and shrimp in a rich butter, garlic, and dill sauce or steamed crab. Chocolate sorbet, halvah parfait, hot walnut pie, and a heavenly black-and-white chocolate mousse are some of the possible desserts. Decor is nautical, dress is informal. Thursday nights feature live Greek music. The exact price of a meal varies according to the catch of the day and Idi's mood.

2. Herzlia

15km (10 miles) N of Tel Aviv.

Herzlia is one of Israel's most famous beach resorts. It was founded in 1924 as an agricultural center, but has been changed dramatically with the unexpected growth of Tel Aviv. As that large Israeli metropolis grew northward, the beaches of Herzlia suddenly became much more accessible and desirable.

Today when you're talking about Herzlia, you're talking about luxury. The waterfront area is studded with fine hotels and some of the country's most expensive villas; very good restaurants abound (mostly inland). A disproportionate number of foreign diplomats reside in Herzlia; their neighbors are airline captains and other high-income earners. Swimming here is better than in Tel Aviv, and many Tel Avivans, as well as visitors, come up for a day of beaching and a pleasant meal.

Essentials

GETTING THERE

By Bus

An Egged bus ride from Tel Aviv to Herzlia takes about 45 minutes; a special bus service run by United Tours connects the Herzlia hotels with downtown and north Tel Aviv. From Herzlia you take another bus to the beach. (If you tell the bus driver that you want to go to the beach, he'll let you out at the connecting bus stop near the highway, saving you a trip into town.)

By CarHerzlia is on a main highway, 20 minutes north of Tel Aviv.

VISITOR INFORMATION

Herzlia's sprawling layout is confusing for the first-time visitor. The luxury Sharon Hotel, right on the beach, is a major landmark. Inland just a block is De Shalit Square (Kikar De Shalit), around which you'll find several moderate hotels and inexpensive to moderate restaurants. Many fine restaurant choices will be found inland at the New Industrial Center.

The Beaches

This whole beachfront section of town is known as Herzlia Petuah, to differentiate it from the inland city, on a hill to the east. The Herzlia beach is lovely, but expensive by Israeli standards. The best beaches are the Zebulun, near the Holiday Inn Hotel; the Sharon, next to the Sharon Hotel; and the Accadia, between the Dan Accadia and Daniel hotels. Remember that a dangerous undertow exists, and swimming is strictly prohibited when a lifeguard is not on duty.

Where to Stay

Expensive

Dan Accadia Hotel. Herzlia on the Sea 46851. Phone 09/959- 7070. Fax 09/959-7090. 187 rms (all with bath). A/C MINIBAR TV TEL. $180-$430 double; Chalet (Suites) extra. 15% service charge. Rates include breakfast. Family plan and children's rates. AE, DC, MC, V.

Located on the beach in the far southern part of town, this relatively low rise resort hotel, built in 1956 and well maintained, is set among lawns and gardens that center on the pool area. A massive renovation of the hotel will be complete by mid-1998. Standard rooms are a bit small, but all have balconies (some of which may disappear in the renovations; there are also deluxe chalet rooms and suites. There are activities for children on weekends and during the summer, poolside barbecues and dancing, and the management can arrange horseback riding and access to the golf course of the Dan Caesarea Hotel a half-hour drive to the north. Discounts are available on the Dan Hotels 7-day plan.

Dining: Two restaurants, snack bars, coffee shop, bar.

Services/Facilities: 24-hour room service, massage, hairdresser. Outdoor pool, six tennis courts, Jacuzzi, wet and dry sauna, health club, shopping arcade, free parking.

Holiday Inn Crown Plaza. Herzlia on the Sea 46769. Phone 09/952-8282. Fax 09/952-8288. 200 rms (all with bath). A/C TV TEL. $240-$450 double. Add 15% service charge. Rates include breakfast. AE, DC, MC, V.

A 14-story tower complex right on the beach, totally renovated in 1996 and near the central part of town, the Holiday Inn offers the most in luxury: glistening public areas with polished stone surfaces, curving staircases, and mezzanines, announce luxury. A kosher Japanese restaurant, the symbol of a top-flight hotel in Israel, is in the lobby. There's a variety of rooms and suites, all fresh and new; no-smoking and disability-access rooms are available.

Dining: Three restaurants.

Services/Facilities: Business Center; 24-hour room service, beautician, bar. Indoor and outdoor swimming pools, health club, sauna, steam, massage and whirlpool rooms, children's pool, children's playground and summer activities, tennis courts, parking (fee).

Moderate

Tadmor Hotel. 38 Basel St., Herzlia 46660. Phone 09/952- 5000. Fax 09/957-5124. 58 rms (all with bath or shower). A/C TV TEL. $80-$120 double. Add 12% for high season. Off-season discounts. Rates include breakfast. AE, DC, MC, V.

The Tadmor Hotel, a 5-minute walk to the beach, is an Israeli institution. Hotel staffs from all over the country train here, and chefs are cultivated and launched from the Tadmor. To this end, the hotel has two in-house restaurants and a good lunch buffet. The building has character; it looks a bit like a desert fortress. Rooms are well maintained and comfortable, but bathrooms are small. Large gardens, an outdoor swimming pool, and a fine park with a children's playground are additional highlights.

To find the hotel, walk three blocks east of Shalit Square. Driving from Tel Aviv, look for Basel Street to the left off the main road.

Outside Herzlia

Kibbutz Shefayim Guest House. Kibbutz Shefayim. Phone 09/959- 5595. Fax 09/959-5555. 166 rms (110 with bath, 56 with shower). A/C TEL. $86-$166 double. AE, MC, V.

Right on the sea, a 10-minute drive north of Herzlia, the location of this low-rise, modern kibbutz guest house has put it in great demand with both Israelis and visitors. A busy water park containing a swimming pool with waves and slides, open to the public, is another attraction, especially for families with children; it's open mid-April to mid-October. The grounds of the kibbutz are especially extensive, and include wild, sandy paths along the top of cliffs overlooking the sea, and a beach that's good for bathing on calm days -- when the sea is even mildly rough, the presence of rocks in the water makes for hazards. Always check for the hours when lifeguards are on duty. At times, a kibbutz tractor brings guests up and down the cliff to the beach, a welcome aid on hot summer days.

It's on the main Tel Aviv-Haifa highway; look for exit sign for Shefayim.

Where to Dine

The best place to look for inexpensive meals is in De Shalit Square (Kikar De Shalit), a pleasant little plaza surrounded by snack shops, ice cream parlors, and small restaurants catering to locals and the beach crowd alike. You'll find more expensive, inventive restaurants in the building complexes of Herzlia's New Industrial Center, inland from the beach, near the Tel Aviv-Haifa highway. In fact, people from all over Israel come here for some of the best dining experiences in the country! All of our restaurant choices here are worth a star and, with the exception of Tandoori and Picasso, (which have branches in Tel Aviv) they're all worth a trip from Tel Aviv.

Expensive

Atlantis. 32 Maskit St., Industrial Center. Phone09/956- 8959. Reservations recommended. Complete fixed-price dinners NIS 85-150 ($23.80-$42); fixed-price lunch from NIS 65 ($18.20). AE, DC, MC, V. Daily noon-1am. FISH AND SEAFOOD.

Managed by the owners of the fine Tandoori chain, Atlantis is an inventive gourmet restaurant with a graduated menu of complete dinner choices. In the most modest menu, you might begin with an interesting crepe as a first choice, and go on to steamed crab with fresh herbs or a baked catch of the day. More ambitious menus might start with terrine of salmon with black caviar, and continue with grilled shrimp and mussels served on a bed of basmati rice; or medallion of foie gras on a bed of sweet red potatoes with caramel mango sauce. Fixed menus include dessert and coffee; ö la carte choices are available.

Taverna. Dan Accadia Hotel Beach Promenade. Phone 09/959- 7107. Reservations recommended. Main courses NIS 50-100 ($14- $28). AE, DC, MC, V. Sun-Thurs 6pm-midnight; Fri-Sat noon- midnight. CONTINENTAL.

Right on the beach, with an outdoor dining terrace and a beautiful view of the sunset, this is a pricey but easygoing restaurant with an ambience of ceiling fans and sea breezes and a wide selection of seafood, fish, and meat. For appetizers, try the interesting Greek/Mediterranean array of small salads (mezedes) for about $3 to $5 each. You can also have light courses like goat cheese mousse, a plate of little fried fishes, or foie gras in onions and raisins, all in the $7 to $12 range. Among main courses, you'll find a changing daily menu including items like fried mullet in chile and lemon sauce, salmon trout in coriander and cream, fried mussels, or prawns diablo. There's also a selection of lamb, beef, and chicken. With its fine view, this is a good place to come off-hours just for coffee and dessert or evening drinks.

Moderate

Black Steer Grill House. 3 Yohanan Ha Sandlar St., Herzlia Industrial Area. Phone 09/955-7464. Reservations necessary. Main courses NIS 40-100 ($11.20-$28); business lunches NIS 40-50 ($11.20-$14). AE, DC, MC, V. Daily noon-midnight. SOUTH AFRICAN STEAKHOUSE.

The best steak restaurant in the Tel Aviv area, the Black Steer is part of a famous South African chain with branches in Zimbabwe, Indonesia, and Australia. Choose from a variety of grilled steaks, spare ribs, and chicken, all served with tasty South African-style marinades. The business lunches, served from noon to 5pm are unbeatable deals; whenever you dine, you'll have excellent value and a filling meal. There are vegetarian choices. Free parking.

Churrascaria Brasiliera. 29 Maskit St., on the 2nd floor of the Industrial Center Building. Phone 09/951-2314. Reservations necessary. All-you-can-eat dinner NIS 90 ($25.20); all-you-can-eat lunch NIS 50 ($14). AE, DC, MC, V. Daily noon-1am. BRAZILIAN.

At this comfortable restaurant, you help yourself to a salad bar and a buffet of wonderful hot side dishes and when you return to your table, you are approached by roving waiters armed with spits of freshly grilled sausages, rare entrecªte, and shoulders of beef, lamb, chicken, fish, livers, hearts: As much as you want will be sliced onto your plate, accompanied by wonderful Argentinean and Brazilian sauces. The carnival of meats is endless, followed by excellent homemade ice creams. To all this is added a live Brazilian show at 9:30 each night except Sunday and Tuesday. The lunch extravaganza is only slightly less stupendous. A 24-hour fast before and after visiting here is advisable.

Dona Flor. 22 Ha-Galim St., New Industrial Center. Phone 09/950-9669. Reservations recommended. Main courses NIS 42- 70 ($11.80-$19.60). AE, MC, V. Sun-Thurs noon-4pm and 7pm- midnight; Fri noon-4pm. Closed Sat.

White walls, terra-cotta tile floors, earthenware dishes, and an open-walled kitchen all contribute to the rustic South American feel of this place. The food, too, has a light touch of exoticism: Nothing is overpoweringly strange, but every dish is unusual and delicious. Among the interesting house appetizers are marinated fish in lemon, orange, and dill; phyllo pastry in pepper sauce stuffed with smoked chicken and vegetables; a fabulous dish of smoked, sliced veal brain with pecan; and a number of unusual salads. Main courses include smoked lamb chops cooked in pistachio sauce, steamed trout in lemon and mustard sauce, sea bass in vetapa (coconut-tomato-peanut) sauce, and chicken escaloppes in a vinaigrette of honey with pearl onions. Main courses come with steamed vegetable, rice or potato, or carrot french fries. The dessert list, too, is special.

Picasso. 1 Ha-Etzel St., Herzliya Pituach. Phone 09/956- 6888. Reservations recommended. Light meals NIS 25-42 ($7- $11.80); main courses NIS 42-75 ($11.80-$21). AE, DC, MC, V. Daily 8am-2am. CONTINENTAL.

This branch of Tel Aviv's quintessential stylish but moderately priced restaurant offers an exciting, intelligent menu. Seafood, poultry, fish, and meat dishes, as well as enormous hot and cold salads, all presented in unusual ways, have made this a smash hit. New surprises are always being added to the menu including a line of healthful low-calorie choices that don't sacrifice Picasso's much admired verve and joie de vivre. The large rooftop bar is an additional evening draw.

Tandoori. Mercazim Building, 5 Maskit St., New Industrial Center. Phone 09/546-702. Reservations recommended. Main courses NIS 22-60 ($6.20-$16.80). 10% service charge. AE, DC, MC, V. Daily 12:30-3:30pm and 7pm-1am.

This is the most opulent of the fine restaurants in the Tandoori chain, with twin curved marble staircases leading to the upper dining area, and decorative silver and enamel work imported from Jaipur. As in all the Tandoori/Kohinoor restaurants, the traditional Indian dishes you'll find here are prepared with a special lightness and elegance. I especially liked the sabzi jalfrezi, a very modestly priced dish of vegetables lightly steamed and then quickly dry-saut³ed with ginger, garlic, cumin seeds, and fresh mustard. The boneless tandoori chicken dishes are my favorites, especially chicken tikka masala, but the whole range of lamb and fish choices is also superb. It's worthwhile trying the traditional Indian home-style desserts, and you should know that the Tandoori chain is famous for its cocktails. The entire experience is one of tranquillity and elegance, yet the price is reasonable.

Inexpensive

Crocodile. Kikar De Shalit. Phone 03/957-0762 or 03/957- 5026. Reservations recommended. Main courses NIS 38-75 ($10.60-$21); salad bar NIS 33 ($9); fixed-price dinner NIS 50 ($14). MC, V. Daily noon-midnight or later. AMERICAN/ISRAELI.

In an expensive town like Herzlia, Crocodile is an attractive oasis of good, reasonably priced food; I place it in the inexpensive range because of the salad bar and fixed-price dinner options. The luxurious salad bar includes a selection of 25 interesting fresh salads, plus four hot vegetable dishes that range from a daily Asian stir-fry to a Saturday vegetarian bean cholent, or Sabbath casserole. The fixed-price Deal of the Week includes the salad bar, soup, your choice of one of five main courses, and coffee or tea -- one of the town's great bargains. The place has a garden feel, with style enhanced by green tablecloths, candles, and tables that offer a more private ambience. The specials bring Crocodile into the inexpensive range, but those ordering ö la carte will find this restaurant more in the moderate range. There's an $8 complete children's meal.

3. Netanya

34 kilometers (21 miles) N of Tel Aviv.

Netanya is regarded as the capital of the Sharon Plain, the rich and fertile citrus-grove area stretching from the outskirts of Tel Aviv to Caesarea. Perched on verdant cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean, it is also the center of Israel's diamond industry.

Founded in 1929 as a citrus center, the seaside town has for many years been a popular holiday place for Israelis. Over the years visitors (especially long-term visitors and senior citizens) have been joining them, for they've discovered that Netanya is quiet and convenient, geared to service, and in easy reach of several areas, including Tel Aviv and Caesarea. It's a sizable city, with all sorts of cafes, hotels, and shops -- but the real appeal remains the sunny beach and easygoing pace. (Note: Those with walking problems may find the stairs up and down the cliff to Netanya's beaches something of an obstacle.) Those who decide to rent an apartment and stay in Netanya for a month or more will find the local English speaking community extremely well organized. The population of Netanya has grown by more than a fifth in recent years with an influx of new immigrants from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, so Netanya has more of a European flavor than other Israeli cities.

A handsome park parallels the beach -- and the coast itself has become popular with Scandinavian visitors who take dips in December and January. Most everybody else waits until April or May, when the weather is almost perfect.

Essentials

GETTING THERE

By Bus

Several express buses operate between Netanya and Jerusalem. Connections are available from Haifa, and there is regular bus service from Tel Aviv. Netanya buses (no. 601 or 605) leave Tel Aviv about every 15 minutes during the day until 7pm. The last bus to Tel Aviv departs at 11pm.

By Car

There is a main coastal highway that connects Tel Aviv and Haifa.

VISITOR INFORMATION

The Tourist Information Office (Phone 09/882-7286) is in a little modern kiosk at the southeastern corner of Independence Square. Hours are 8:30am to 6pm on Sunday to Thursday; from 9am to noon on Friday. Winter hours may be shorter. This office is especially helpful, and will answer questions about Netanya or other places in Israel. Be sure to pick up a copy of the monthly booklet listing special events, entertainment, and services in Netanya. If you're traveling by bus, you might also want to pick up their bus timetable, which you might find clearer than the information you'll get at the station.

Netanya closes down between 1 and 4pm every day, so plan to shop or go to the bank before or after the afternoon siesta.

SOCIAL CLUBS

Many international social clubs hold regular meetings in Netanya, including Rotary, Lions, Hadassah, Freemasons, International Toastmistress, Pioneer Women, and B'nai B'rith. Ask at the tourist office, or see the listings in the free guides to Netanya for times and places. Open House for Visitors is held every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 9:30 to 11:30am, at the British Olim Society, 7 Ha-Matmid St., and also on Wednesday at 4pm at the WIZO House, 13 MacDonald St. (Phone 09/882-3192). The Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI), at 28 Shmuel Ha-Naziv St., Phone 09/833-0950, offers a good schedule of lectures and other social activities.

If you'd like to meet an Israeli citizen, apply 3 days in advance at the tourist office and you'll soon find yourself invited to a home for a friendly chat and a cup of coffee.

SPECIAL EVENTS

In late July, there is a 1-week art exhibit on Ha-Atzma'ut Square (Sunday to Thursday from 5:30 to 11pm; closed Friday; Saturday from 8:30pm to midnight). The city sponsors free evening concerts and events throughout the summer. A chess tournament is held in Netanya yearly during May and June; every 2 years there's an international match. Games start at 3:30pm and last until 10pm. For further information, contact the tourist information office.

During Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), there are 4 free evenings of folklore in Ha-Atzma'ut Square, featuring the various ethnic groups living in Israel, with dance, song, and typical traditional snacks.

City Layout

Netanya is a big town, but it's not really difficult to find your way around. The main coastal highway is known as the Haifa Road. Coming north on Haifa Road from Tel Aviv, you will see the exit for Netanya, which will get you onto Herzl Street, Netanya's main east-west boulevard. At the beginning of Herzl Boulevard, not far from the coastal highway, you'll pass the large Kanion (indoor shopping mall).

About six blocks down the street is the Central Bus Station, where Herzl meets Weizmann and Benyamin boulevards. Another six blocks along Herzl and you're in the great expanse of Ha-Atzma'ut Square, by the sea in the very heart of Netanya. Most of the hotels and restaurants recommended below are within a few blocks of the square.

The square, the town's pedestrian promenade, has been enlarged in recent years, and now extends up Herzl Street all the way to Dizengoff Street.

Around Ha-Aztma'ut Square you'll find everything you need, including the Tourist Information Office, banks, ATM machines, places to change money, a post office, and eateries of many kinds as well as pubs, discos, cinema, hotels, and more. Be warned that since the center of Netanya was not designed for a population of almost 200,000, parking is a serious problem, and parking regulations are enforced with draconian rigor!

Beaches, Sports & Other Outdoor Pursuits

BEACHES & WATER SPORTS

The main attraction at Netanya is, of course, the lovely beach, and you'll have perfect beach weather here more than 75% of the year. The water is great for swimming -- you can go out pretty far before it starts to get deep. There's a lifeguard on duty, and do swim in the approved area; it's posted not to swim beyond a certain point. In addition to sand, swimming, and sun, you can enjoy the attractions in the beach complex, with restaurants and snack shops, beach chairs, large public umbrellas, a basketball court, and a gymnastics field. You'll see people fishing up on the rocky breakwater. Surfing and sailboarding can be arranged at the Kontiki Club down on the Netanya beach -- lessons, too -- open daily from 8:30am until sunset.

Of course it's beautiful to see the sun set into the Mediterranean, and in the high tourist season, student patrols keep watch to make sure everything is okay. The lifeguards leave the beach in the late afternoon. Still, be cautious at night here; stay where you see other people, especially if you're a woman alone. During the winter when the student patrols are not around, it's not a good idea to hang around the beach or the parks on the cliffs at night.

If you have a car, you might want to drive to sheltered Mikmoret Beach, about 7 or 8 miles north toward Caesarea. It goes on for miles, and is a great place for walking. There are lifeguards, and other facilities; parking is $2.40 per person, but the fee is deducted from your bill if you eat a meal at the beach's restaurant.

HORSEBACK RIDING & OTHER SPORTS

Riding is available at two locations. The Ranch (Phone 09/866-3525), near Havezelet Ha-Sharon Village, has horseback riding daily from 8am until sunset; take bus no. 17 or 29 from the Central Bus Station. There's also the Cactus Ranch (Phone 09/865-1239), open daily from 8am until sunset.

Bicycle rentals can be arranged at the Hotel Promenade (Phone 09/862-6450). Paragliding can be arranged through the aptly named Ariba (Phone 09/834-9679).

Nature Walks & Hiking

The Poleg Nature Reserve, 8 kilometers south of Netanya, offers an interesting hike along the Poleg River, upstream from the point where it meets the sea. The riverbanks are lined with giant eucalyptus trees, planted almost a century ago to help drain the swamps that had developed throughout the plain of Sharon (eucalyptus seedlings were imported from Australia by early Jewish settlers, who valued their ability to withstand drought). In winter and early spring, the wildflowers along the route have made the Poleg Reserve a favorite destination for botanists. Unfortunately, the Poleg River has become seriously polluted, a situation not unusual in the intensively developed coastal plain. Recently, the Mediterranean beach has been closed to swimming, and the river water itself will probably be off-limits to visitors.

The Iris Nature Reserve, at the southern edge of Netanya, is a sanctuary for wild and cultivated irises. There is an adjacent pond that attracts seaside birds and waterfowl.

SPORTS CENTERS

Elitzur Sports Center (Phone 09/865-2931) has a heated swimming pool and features squash and tennis. The center is at the end of Radak Street (take bus no. 8 from the Central Bus Station). It is open daily from 6 or 8am until 5 to 10pm (call to check which hours are on what days). The Wingate Institute (Phone 09/863-9523) also has a swimming pool, as do many Netanya hotels.

Visiting a Diamond Factory

Israel is the number-one spot in the world for cutting and polishing diamonds, and Netanya is Israel's number-one diamond center, with two large factories. If you're in the market to buy, you can probably save about 20% by buying here. Even if you're not interested in buying, a visit to the National Diamond Center, 90 Herzl St. (Phone 09/862- 0436), could still be an unusual experience. Telephone for information about the center's interesting and pressure-free tours. The Tourist Information Office can direct you to additional diamond industry tours in Netanya.

Where to Stay

In most cases, you needn't go far out of Ha-Atzma'ut Square to find a hotel. Netanya is oriented toward warm-weather vacationers and prices are seasonal, and even inexpensive hotels can charge moderate to expensive rates during high season. Generally speaking, high season is from early July to the end of August, plus Jewish holidays, and low season is November to February; between these times the prices will be somewhere between the high- and low-season rates.

Be sure to check for heating and/or air-conditioning, if you think you'll need them, depending on the weather and the season. In winter, days can be balmy but nights can get chilly. By the way, all of Netanya's hotel kitchens are kosher.

North of Ha-Atzma'ut SQUARE

Rehov Ha-Melekh David is the main street going north out of Ha-Atzma'ut Square, close to the beach.

Expensive

Mercure Blue Bay Hotel. 37 Hamelachim St., Netanya. Phone 09/860-3603. Fax 09/833-7475. 196 rms (all with bath or shower). A/C TV TEL. $90-$180 double. Rates include breakfast. 15% service charge. AE, DC, MC, V. Bus 29.

The most northern of the town's hotels, the Blue Bay offers hourly shuttle service into the center of Netanya. Away from the sometimes busy tempo of Ha-Atzma'ut Square, this Mercure hotel is one of the largest in town. Much renovation has been done over the past few years. Facilities include a swimming pool (heated in winter), a new fitness room with sauna and Jacuzzi, restaurant, disco, bar, and a floodlit tennis court. There's a resort feel here; rooms have video players, and you can arrange bicycle rentals and in-room massage.

Seasons Hotel. Nice Blvd., Netanya. Phone 09/860-1555. Fax 09/862-3022. E-mail seasons@netmedia.co.il 85 rms (all with bath). A/C TV TEL. $140-$260 double; higher rates for deluxe rms and suites. Rates include breakfast and service. AE, DC, MC, V.

Until the advent of the Carmel Hotel at the southern edge of Netanya, the Seasons was the city's top hotel. Guest rooms are large, with balconies and sea view; suites are very comfortable. Much of the hotel was renovated in 1994-95. Facilities include a heated outdoor swimming pool, tennis court, three restaurants, and free parking. A refrigerator/minibar is available on request.

Moderate

Maxim Hotel. 8 King David St., Netanya 42264. Phone 09/862- 1062. Fax 09/862-0190. 90 rms (all with bath). A/C TV TEL. $90-$160 double. AE, DC, MC, V.

The Maxim Hotel is the equivalent of a four-star establishment, and has a swimming pool and bar. Over half the guest rooms are extra-sized, and at the top of the price range. Major renovations in 1997 have spruced up and freshened the facilities.

Inexpensive

Hotel Ginot Yam. 9 King David St., Netanya 42264. Phone 09/834-1007. Fax 09/861-5722. 54 rms (all with bath or shower). A/C TV TEL. $50-$100 double. Rates include breakfast. AE, DC, MC, V.

On the left as you stroll up King David Street, this three-story building near the Bialik intersection is literally a stone's throw from the sea. Rooms have heat, wall-to-wall carpeting, and radios among other amenities, and there's a small snack bar/restaurant.

South of Ha-Atzma'ut Square

On the south side of Ha-Atzma'ut Square, several main streets and side streets will lead you to hotel choices that are only a short walk from the beach and from the busy square.

Expensive

La Promenade Apartment Hotel. 6 Gad Machnes St., Netanya. Phone 09/862-6450. Fax 09/862-6450. 2 apts with bath or shower. A/C TV TEL. $115-$180 double. Up to 5 people, add $15-$25 per person. Rates include breakfast. 15% service charge. AE, DC, MC, V.

Built in the early 1990s, this is the best of Netanya's apartment hotels. Apartments are sleek, with polished marble floors and contemporary decor; all have kitchenettes and balconies. There is an indoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi, room service, and free parking. The location is in the center of things, close to Ha-Atzma'ut Square and the beach. Monthly rates are available.

Moderate

Residence Hotel. 18 Gad Machnes St., Netanya. Phone 09/862- 3777. Fax 09/862-3711. Web site www.inisrael.com/zyvotels. 96 rms (all with bath or shower). A/C TV TEL. $60-$140 double. Rates include breakfast. AE, DC, MC, V.

Billing itself as "Netanya's most luxurious three-star hotel," the Residence is building its clientele by offering cut-rate prices for people staying a 1-week minimum. Most of the rooms have balconies and spectacular views of the sea. Since the hotel is eight stories tall, if you get an upper room you'll really have a bird's-eye view. There are special reduced rates for June, September, and November 1 to 15. The Residence Hotel is part of the Zyvotel Chain, with a number of properties in Netanya; guests can use the nearby Blueweiss Hotel's spa and health club for an $8 fee; or the Jacuzzi and sauna at the nearby Hotel Galil.

Inexpensive

Galei Ha-Sharon Hotel. 42 Ussishkin St., Netanya 42273. Phone 09/834-1946. Fax 09/ 833-8128. 24 rms (all with showers). A/C. $45-$75 double. MC, V.

Those looking for a modern hotel with a decent location and reasonable prices might try this place at the corner of Gad Machnes. Although it's small, the Galei Ha-Sharon somehow achieves a surprising feeling of spaciousness. The rooms, while not luxurious, are adequate -- all with shower in the bathroom, shuttered balcony, and wall-to-wall carpet. There's also a cozy bar beside the lobby.

Margoa. 9 Gad Machnes St., Netanya 42279. Phone 09/862-4434. Fax 09/862-3430. 64 rms (all with bath or shower.) A/C TV TEL. $65-$100 double. AE, MC, V.

Just a short distance from the information kiosk is the Hotel Margoa -- actually two Hotel Margoas, the Margoa "A" on your left and the Margoa "B" on your right, by the sea. For either hotel, the reception, as well as the dining, are done at the Margoa A. Rooms come with heat, air conditioning, and wall-to-wall carpeting. Some of the rooms in Margoa A have balconies.

South Netanya

Expensive

Carmel Hotel. Jabotinsky St,. Netanya. Phone 09/860-1111, or 09/860-1170 reservations. Fax 09/860-1166, or 09/860-1171 reservations. 190 rms (all with bath). A/C TV TEL. $115-$275 double; highest rates for deluxe rms and suites; . Rates include breakfast. 15% service charge. AE, DC, MC, V.

Built in 1994, this high-rise hotel on a now quiet stretch of beach (slated to become a luxury resort center) 2 miles south of downtown Netanya, is the city's only five-star-equivalent hotel; it has set a new standard for luxury in Netanya. Public areas are busy, rooms are fresh and attractive. Like much of Netanya, the hotel is located on a cliff above the beach -- getting down to the beach can be a problem, although an elevator service is planned. Facilities include a large swimming pool, heated in winter, a health club, sauna, steam bath, Jacuzzi, children's programs in summer and holidays, and a variety of restaurants and pubs. There are ample parking facilities (always at a premium in Netanya); refrigerators and minibars are available on request.

Private Rooms & Apartments

One of the best ways to save money on accommodations, particularly if you plan to stay in Netanya for some time, is to rent a private room or apartment. The actual rental arrangements will generally be handled by local agents, and you'll have to pay an agent's fee, which is a flat 10% of the total rental (no extra charge if meal arrangements are made).

Room rentals are available for at least 3 to 4 days, apartments for a week or more. Most of them are within walking distance of the sea. Rooms in private homes come with sheets and blankets, and no meals are served, though guests may use the refrigerator and stove. The cost is about $30 to $40 per person in summer; prices go up on weekends and holidays and are lower off-season.

Apartments are provided with basic furniture. The place is cleaned up before you arrive, but upkeep is on you for the length of your stay. What is known as a two-room flat (living room, one bedroom, kitchen, bath, balconies) costs about $800 to well over $1,000 per couple per month. A three-room flat (two-plus bedrooms) costs $900 to over $1,500 per month. A four-room flat (three-plus bedrooms) would cost at least $1,600 for the same period; deluxe accommodations, of course, could be more. Bear in mind that these are summer rates, and that demand will probably drive these prices up during the lifetime of this edition. The supply of apartments may also be a problem.

Consult the Municipal Tourist Information desk at Ha-Atzma'ut Square (Phone 09/882-7286) for listings of private room and apartment rental agents.

Where to Dine

You'll want to try one of the many little sidewalk cafe-restaurants that line Ha-Atzma'ut Square. Here you can find just about anything your heart desires, and if it's not here, it's only a short walk along Herzl Street.

Expensive

Lucullus. 2 Jabotinsky St. Phone 09/861-9502. Fixed-price lunch $17; fixed-price dinner $21. MC, V. Daily noon-3pm and 6pm-midnight. FRENCH/SEAFOOD.

This is probably the best and most stylish restaurant in town, and the place for a special meal. Tables are candlelit and decorated with fresh flowers, there's dance music on Fridays, and often a pianist at the bar in the evenings. Bernard Gabai, the owner of Lucullus, was born in Tunisia, and he has created a menu heavily influenced by French tradition. First courses include choices like mousse of salmon and crevettes or pät³ de foie gras; main course choices include fresh fish, calamari, shrimp, and lobster as well as filet mignon, goose liver, duck, and even chateaubriand. If you choose from the ö la carte menu, a complete dinner with wine could run well over $30 per person. Lucullus is located in the southern part of town, somewhat away from Ha-Atzma'ut Square. When you call for reservations, ask about the restaurant's free taxi service policy. Lucullus has a kosher branch, Locus, at 5 Ha-Atzma'ut Square (Phone 09/861-7831), with a similar French menu adapted to kashruth restrictions.

Moderate

"Ha-Nassi" President Restaurant and Cafe Bar. 5 Herzl St. Phone 09/861-7147. Full meal NIS 40-75 ($11-$21). MC, V. Sun-Thurs 11am-midnight or 2am; Fri 11am to 1 hour before Sabbath; Sat 11am-2pm. Reserve and prepay for Sabbath meal. JEWISH.

This local institution is a glatt kosher restaurant specializing in traditional Jewish dishes, freshly redecorated. It offers a multitude of meats from the grill or the oven. The house specialty is the Saturday meal, a traditional Shabbat feast, served from 11am to 2pm for $14, which must be paid in advance.

Inexpensive

Apropo Netanya. Gan Ha Melech. Phone 09/862-4482. Reservations recommended for summer and holiday evenings. Main courses NIS 25-60 ($7-$16.80). 12% service charge. AE, DC. Sun-Thurs 9am-midnight; Fri 9am-2pm; Sat after Shabbat to midnight. EUROPEAN/INTERNATIONAL.

In a modern, glass pavilion overlooking the sea at the far end of Ha-Atzma'ut Square, this restaurant serves the most cosmopolitan menu in town, ranging from large salads to pastas, blintzes, bagels and lox, and a list of appetizers and main courses prepared with a very tasty touch of Thai style. You can order salmon trout steamed with fine herbs, in a mildly Thai fashion, or have a genuine Thai soup, or kosher fried sesame-coated faux "shrimp." A selection of lavish kosher pastries and cakes makes this a good stop for coffee and dessert.

Conditory Espresso Ugati. 1 Herzl St. Phone 09/882-2607. Breakfast NIS 16.50 ($5); desserts and light meals NIS 15-25 ($4.50-$7.50). No credit cards. Sun-Thurs 8am-midnight; Fri 8am-3pm; Sat 6pm-midnight. CAFE.

A Central European pastry shop that is just perfect for devotees of the creamy confections favored in Berlin and Vienna. Stop in for afternoon tea or after-dinner coffee -- and a pastry from the refrigerator case out front. You can get espresso here, special apple pie or strudel for diabetics, and if you'd like brandy with your blintzes, they have that, too.

Pundak Ha-Yam Grill. 1 Ha-Rav Kook St. Phone 09/861-5780. Main courses NIS 20-45 ($6-$13.50). MC, V. Reservations not accepted. Sat-Thurs noon-midnight; Fri noon-3:30pm. GRILL.

A plain, no-nonsense grill with meats sizzling, hard-working waiters, and a minimum of decor, it is nonetheless a top favorite with locals. Reasons? The grilled meats are prepared to your order, before your eyes; service is quick, portions are good, and prices are moderate. Order shashlik, steak, heart, or liver, and you'll get a salad, french fries, a plate of spaghetti, and several rounds of flat bread, too. For noncarnivores, there are interesting salads.

Yotvata. Ha-Atzma'ut Square Phone 09/862-9141. Light meals NIS 17-25 ($4,80-$7); main courses NIS 25-60 ($7-$16.80). AE, DC, MC, V. Daily 8am-1am. DAIRY VEGETARIAN.

One of the best-quality dairy and vegetarian restaurants in the country, Yotvata has everything brought in fresh from the famous Yotvata Kibbutz down in the Negev. Giant servings of natural juices made from your choice of 15 different kinds of fruits are available as well as blintzes, vegetable pies, pasta dishes in cream sauces, cheesecakes, and great ice cream, all done with style. Saint Peter's fish rounds out the top end of the menu's price range.

Netanya After Dark

There's no problem finding plenty of things to do around Netanya after a day at the beach. Everything in Ha-Atzma'ut Square is open until around midnight or later, and the square is alive with strollers, sippers, diners, and people-watching cafe-sitters on a warm evening.

Be sure to check with the Tourist Information Office and the weekly calendar in the Tel Aviv section of Friday's Jerusalem Post for special events, performances, and activities of all kinds, including the weekly activities at the AACI, the Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO), and the British Olim Society. There's quite a lot going on, especially during the summer months. Each week, in the amphitheater in Gan Ha-Melekh Park, which runs along the beachside cliffs just north of the square, there are community sings, screenings of free full-length feature films, and classical and light music (performed Sunday to Thursday from 5:45pm until sunset). There's also entertainment in Ha-Atzma'ut Square by top Israeli singers and folklore groups as well as community folk dancing every Saturday, beginning at 8pm. Weekly programs for children start at 6:30pm, with magicians, clowns, and so on.

Since Netanya is a resort town, with a seasonal turnover in clubs and discos, it's best to check about current choices with the well-informed tourist office at HaAtzma'ut Square. Bridge is often sponsored by WIZO on alternate Wednesday evenings; Bingo evenings at the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel, 28 Shmuel Ha-Naziv St. (Phone 09/833- 0950), are Sunday at 8pm.

4. Caesarea

40km (25 miles) N of Tel Aviv; 49km (30 miles) S of Haifa; 16km (10 miles) N of Netanya.

This is one of my favorite places in Israel. It has recently been the scene of a lot of activity and development -- a luxury hotel, a golf course, and a country club, as well as archeological digs.

Caesarea's beautiful excavations give you a real feeling for the tide of history that has washed Israel's shores. Located about a third of the way from Tel Aviv to Haifa, behind a cluster of banana groves, Caesarea is the spectacular city of Herod the Great (37-4 B.C.), who set out to construct a port to rival Alexandria. It was Herod who enlarged and beautified the town, adding a spectacular harbor and naming the city in honor of his Roman suzerain and benefactor, Augustus Caesar. By the time of Herod's death, Caesarea was one of the grandest port cities of the eastern Mediterranean.

Caesarea was the headquarters of Roman rule in Israel, and figures prominently in the story of the apostle Paul: he was warned not to go to Jerusalem; he went anyway, returning to Caesarea in chains to stand trial for heresy. The Jews increasingly resented the Roman militaristic domination of their land, and tensions came to a head in A.D. 60-70 when pogroms against the Jewish population began, culminating in the brutal massacre of 2,000 Jews in the Caesarea amphitheater. All Judea subsequently rose in revolt and the Romans retaliated by destroying Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and conquering Masada in A.D. 73. In A.D. 132, the rebellion of Bar Kokhba brought another massacre, and the greatest sages of the time, including Rabbi Akiva, were brought to the amphitheater of Caesarea, tortured in public, and burned alive.

Under the Byzantines, the city's history was less grisly. Caesarea was home to a succession of important church scholars, who codified the church laws, and was the seat of a metropolitan bishop responsible for all the Christian communities of the eastern Mediterranean. A small but significant Jewish community thrived throughout this time. The Arab conquest, in A.D. 640, put an end to this period.

In 1101, Baldwin I and his Crusader army landed in Caesarea and slaughtered the entire Arab population. Among the treasures Baldwin's troops discovered after this conquest was a green crystal vessel reputed to be the famous Holy Grail. It was taken to Italy, where it is preserved today, known as the Sacro Catino, in the Cathedral of San Lorenzo in Genoa. Caesarea changed hands several times during the following century, even though Saint Louis of France had fortified its walls in 1252. Most of the Crusader ruins we see today date from Saint Louis's 13th-century fortress. When Muslim armies took the town (1265 and 1291), they did their best to pull down the defenses, remembering that this had been Baldwin's beachhead, and for the next 500 years Caesarea's impressive structures slowly became covered by sand.

In the 1700s, Ahmed Jezzar Pasha, Ottoman governor of the province, sent his workmen to Caesarea to reclaim its Carrara marble, columns of decorative stone, and finely carved capitals for use in the reconstruction and beautification of his provincial capital at Acre (Akko).

An Arab village survived here, but it was abandoned by its inhabitants during the 1948 war. Caesarea's modern history really begins in 1940, when Kibbutz Sedot Yam was founded. Its members discovered the unexpected richness of Caesarea's archeological remains, and a full campaign of restoration followed. Today, the city is one of Israel's most impressive archeological sites.

Essentials

GETTING THERE

By Bus

Public transportation to Caesarea is poor and very time-consuming (which makes an organized tour a good option). To get to Caesarea by bus, you must first take a bus to Hadera from Tel Aviv, Netanya, or Haifa. Buses to Hadera from all these towns run roughly every 30 to 45 minutes. From Hadera, bus no. 76 (NIS 6.50/$1.80) leaves six times a day for Caesarea, departing Sunday to Thursday. Check with Egged information in Haifa for current timetables both ways. On Friday the last bus leaves Hadera at 12:40pm, and no buses run on Saturday. Return buses to Hadera leave Caesarea about 20 minutes after each inbound arrival. You can also take one of the intercity Egged buses between Tel Aviv and Haifa, and ask to be let off on the main highway near the road to Caesarea, but from there, it's a desolate hike of about an hour to the national park.

By Car

There is a main coastal highway between Tel Aviv and Haifa, with the exit to Caesarea clearly marked.

VISITOR INFORMATION

The remains of Caesarea (Qesari or Qesarya, in Hebrew) are spread along a 3-kilometer (2-mile) stretch of Mediterranean beach. There are two separate entrances: To the Roman theater, and 1/2 kilometer (1/4 mile) north, to the walled Crusader city. Just inland from the Crusader city entrance is a small snack restaurant and a shady parking lot. Be sure to wander behind the restaurant for a look at the ruins of a Byzantine street (described below). Finally, about a kilometer (1/2 mile) north of the city, a 10- or 15-minute walk along the beach, is the impressive Roman aqueduct.

Exploring Caesarea

Caesarea National Park

You'll arrive at either the Roman theater or the Crusader city, which are in fact right next to each other, though the entrance gates are 1/2 kilometer (1/4 mile) apart. You can enter the city to visit restaurants or stroll the ruins for free after hours, but special exhibits are closed.

You can get a map showing the details of all the various eras of construction at this site, both on land and in the water -- the cities and harbors of Straton's Tower, the earliest settlement, and the cities of Herod, the Romans, the Byzantines, and the Crusaders. I recommend that you do this, since it will give you a much better idea of the scope of the place. The excavations you see are only a very small part of what's actually there, waiting to be discovered; new finds are constantly being unearthed. During the summer of 1995, a massive temple dedicated to Roman gods was uncovered and attributed to the great builder, King Herod; it may be open for public viewing during the time span of this edition. I'll assume you're going to see the ruins from south to north, starting with the theater.

The Roman Theater, capable of seating 5,000 spectators, was constructed in the time of Jesus and Pontius Pilate, and has been restored. You may be lucky enough to visit when a summer concert or other performance is planned, and sit on the warm, pale limestone seats with the Mediterranean as a backdrop. Test the acoustics by sitting in the stands and listening to someone speak on stage or clap hands.

You enter the Crusader city on a bridge across the deep moat, then through a gatehouse with gothic vaulting. Emerging from the gatehouse, you find yourself in the large fortified town, which covered a mere fraction of the great Herodian/Roman city. Sites within the fortified town are marked by signs in Hebrew and English. Especially noteworthy are the foundations of the Crusader Church of Saint Paul (1100s), down toward the sea, near the little Turkish minaret (1800s). The citadel, next to the group of shops and restaurants, was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1837, as was most of the Crusader city.

The Port of Sebastos, a quay, part of the Crusader port, extends from the Crusader city into the sea, but King Herod's harbor at Caesarea, completed in 10 B.C. and also named Sebastos, extended at least three times as far as what you see today. It curved around to the right, where a separate northern breakwater extended to meet it, roughly where the northern Crusader fortification walls meet the sea.

The breakwater was also a wide platform, with room for large quantities of cargo, housing for sailors, a lighthouse, colossi (gigantic statues), and two large towers guarding the entrance gates to the harbor. The harbor could be closed off by a chain stretched between the two towers, preventing ships from entering; it was big enough and protected enough to permit ships to winter over, allowing the departure of ships laden with cargo from the East just as soon as winter ended.

Herod's harbor was one of the largest harbors of the Roman world, mentioned by historian Flavius Josephus as an especially amazing feat of engineering because it was a total creation -- built without the usual benefit of a topographical feature such as a bay or cove. Historians did not find the harbor until 1960, when a combination of aerial photography and underwater archeological explorations revealed the ruins sunken offshore.

We don't see more evidence of this fantastic port structure because two geological fault lines are just off the coast running below the Herodian port. Historians and archeologists believe that the harbor structure probably sank vertically downward shortly after its construction -- by the 3rd century A.D. at the latest -- in response to an earthquake.

The excavation of the underwater ruins is an important international project, one of the major endeavors of the Center for Maritime Studies at Haifa University. There's a diving center at the site of the ancient harbor (Phone 06/361-441), where you can get a map, complete with directions for a self-guided diving tour of the ruins, with an abbreviated version for snorkelers.

Admission (including Roman theater and Crusader city) is NIS 18 ($5) for adults, half price for children. Hours are Saturday to Thursday 8am to 4pm (until 5pm April through September), and Friday from 8am to 3pm. Call Phone 06/636- 1358 or 06/ 228-983 for information.

The Byzantine Street

Fifty yards east of the Crusader city entrance, behind the little snack shop, is the Byzantine Street, or Street of Statues, actually part of a forum. The statues depict an emperor and other dignitaries. Much of the stone for construction of the forum was taken from earlier buildings, as was the custom at the time.

The Hippodrome

Head east from either the Byzantine Street or the Roman Theater to reach the ruined hippodrome, in the fields between the two access roads. Measuring 80 by 320 yards, the hippodrome could seat some 20,000 people. Some of the monuments in the hippodrome may have been brought from Aswan in Egypt -- expense was no object when Herod built for Caesar!

The Jewish Quarter & Roman Aqueduct

Caesarea's Jewish Quarter is outside the walls of the Crusader city, near the beach directly north. The community that flourished here during Roman times was well within the boundaries, and the walls, of Herod's city.

The great aqueduct north of the Jewish Quarter is almost 9 kilometers (6 miles) in length, though most of it has been buried by the shifting sands. There was an earlier aqueduct here, but the present construction dates from the A.D. 100s. The southern part of the aqueduct is exposed to view, and you can see it.

The Aqueduct Beach

Swim at the white, sandy lagoons beside the romantic Roman aqueduct. Even off-season (late spring, early autumn) the sea is warmer than the North Atlantic and the Pacific ever get in the States. Some days the sea is lake-calm, but at other times, as everywhere on the coast, beware of rocks and severe undertows.

Where to Stay

Dan Caesarea. Caesarea 30600. Phone 06/626-9111. Fax 06/626- 9122. E-mail danhtsl@danhotels.co.il. 114 rms and suites (all with bath). A/C TV TEL. $118-$365 double. 15% service charge; $58 per rm surcharge Thurs and Fri. Rates include breakfast. Family plan and children's rates. AE, DC, MC, V. Free parking.

Promoting itself as a golf hotel, the Dan Caesarea offers a full array of sports activities. The hotel is a lovely four-story complex set amid acres of gardens and archeological ruins. All rooms have balconies and vistas of the Mediterranean (some distance away) or the countryside. As with many of the older Dan Hotels, deluxe rooms have been beautifully renovated and contain luxurious polished stone bathrooms; furnishings in standard rooms show their age. There is a large outdoor swimming pool, and the hotel is adjacent to Israel's only 18-hole golf course, which guests can use for a fee. Horseback riding, fishing, diving, bicycling, and other country activities can be arranged, and there is a full program of in-hotel sports. The hotel is not close to many restaurant choices, and guests depend on in-house dining facilities, which are adequate, but no more than average.

Dining: Restaurant, snack bar/cafe, bar.

Facilities: Outdoor pool, fitness center, Jacuzzi, sauna, two day/night tennis courts, access to golf club.

If you want to stay close to the sea and the extensive antiquities, this large one-level villa, the home of Ilana Berner, who is a licensed tour guide, is recommended. Within walking distance to a grocery, restaurant, and synagogue, the house has a swimming pool in summer, a hot tub/Jacuzzi (available with advance notice), and offers such amenities as game boards and two bicycles for rent. Ms. Berner also has dogs and cats and maintains a no-smoking rule. There is also a three-bedroom apartment that sleeps eight and rents for $250 per night. Reservations necessary. Call for instructions or pickup from Hadera (fee) or Caesarea.

Where to Dine

While there are few overnight facilities in Caesarea itself, there are pleasant restaurants, especially among the ancient ruins. Few visitors realize that these places stay open after the archeological park has officially closed; you can enjoy extensive or light meals on their waterfront terraces as well as fabulous sunsets and starry nights.

Charlie's. Old Caesarea. Phone 06/836-3050. Reservations recommended. Main courses NIS 40-80 ($11-$22.40). MC, V. Daily 10:30am-1am. INTERNATIONAL.

Charlie's rambles over its site among the ruins inside the Crusader walls, offering you large and small whitewashed arched-ceiling dining areas and a covered harbor-side terrace. There's a really wide variety of choices here, from appetizers like avocado filled with shrimp and Moroccan "cigars" (edible) to main courses of shrimp, squid, fresh fish, and grilled meat. A very complete bar offers wines at $12 to $20 a bottle for long on-the-terrace evenings overlooking the sea. Friday evenings often include folklore performances and sing-alongs; large tour groups often book here, so reservations are imperative.

Herod's Palace. Old Caesarea. Phone 06/836-1103. Reservations recommended. Main courses NIS 36-65 ($10- $18.20). MC, V. Sun-Thurs 9:30am-1am; Fri 9:30am to before Shabbat; Sat after Shabbat. INTERNATIONAL.

This is the only kosher restaurant in Caesarea, beautifully situated in a restored building at the southern end of Crusader ruins inside the Crusader walls. It has a large upstairs terrace overlooking the sea. A romantic place to spend balmy evenings, Herod's Palace serves a selection of grilled fish, meats, and desserts. A 10% service charge is added to each bill.

5. Israel's Wine Country

Located in the hills north of Caesarea, in a pretty area that could be called "wine country," Zichron Yaakov, founded in 1882 under the special patronage of the Baron Edmond de Rothschild, has the distinction of being one of the first agricultural towns to be developed in Israel in modern times. Zichron Yaacov means "memorial of Jacob," and was named for the Baron's father, James de Rothschild (in Hebrew, Jacob); these days, many just call it "Zichron." Of interest here are the Carmel Mizrachi Winery in Zichron Yaacov, and the Baron and Binyamina Wineries in nearby Binyamina (see below).

You can also visit Ramat Ha-Nadiv, or the Heights of the Benefactor, containing the tomb of the Baron Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934) and his wife, Baroness Adelaide de Rothschild, set in handsome gardens filled with all the varieties of plantings the Rothschilds helped to develop in Israel. Near Ramat Ha-Nadiv's vista point, overlooking Caesaria and the Mediterranean, you'll see a stone map marking the many towns and agricultural settlements developed under Rothschild sponsorship. The Rothschilds were reinterred here, according to their wishes, after the establishment of the State of Israel.

Hameyasdim Street, old Zichron's main thoroughfare, is lined with the town's original houses, some of which have been restored; you'll find a few places to have a snack or light meal, and a few quaint shops. Stop in to see the Aaronson House, 40 Hameyasdim St. (Phone 06/639-0120), where a small museum commemorates the heroic and tragic Aaronson family. The Aaronsons' story is a national legend that has grown more romantic and poetic with time. Aaron Aaronson (1876- 1919) was an agronomist of international repute who received his training in France under the aegis of the Rothschilds. He discovered and studied an ancestor of modern wheat that grows in the vicinity. He and his sisters, Sara and Rebecca, and his assistant, Absolom Feinberg, with whom he had set up an experimental farm at Athlit, were at the center of NILI, an anti-Turkish spy ring that supplied the British with intelligence during World War I. Feinberg was killed while traveling through Gaza on a desperate mission to contact the British army in Sinai. After the Six-Day War 50 years later, when a search was made so he could be reburied in Jerusalem, the site of his grave in Gaza was identified by a palm tree that sprouted from dates he had been carrying in his pocket when he was ambushed. Both Sara and Rebecca had been in love with Feinberg; Sara was arrested and committed suicide after being tortured by the Turks. Aaron Aaronson himself, one of the most promising and admired members of the Jewish community in Palestine, died in a plane crash on his way to the Paris Peace Conference at the end of World War I. The house, with its period ambience and display of historical mementos, is open Sunday to Thursday from 8:30am to 1am; Tuesday from 3:30 to 5:30pm and Friday from 9am until noon. Admission is NIS 7 ($2).

Opposite Zichron Yaakov, on the coast, is Kibbutz Maagan Michael, whose beautiful carp ponds at the edge of the sea also serve as a bird sanctuary. Depending on the season, bird watchers can find herons, cranes, and storks and exotic birds, including (at rare times) flamingos.

The Field School at Maagan Michael (Phone 06/639-9655; fax 06/639-1618) is an important bird-watching center. November through February, during migrations between Europe and Africa, is an especially rich time for sightings at this station. You can arrange a private guided tour of the sanctuary through the Field School; the rate is approximately $130 for the day. If you want to visit on your own, the Field School can supply you with advice and printed material in English. Kibbutz Maagan Michael produces plastic products and also has a livestock center featuring in-residence Israeli cowboys and herds of Brahmin-type cows.

Carmel Mizrachi Winery. Zichron Yaacov. Ha-Nadiv St. Phone 06/639-1241. Reservations recommended for tours. NIS 12 ($3.40). Sun-Thurs 9am-3pm and Fri 9am-12:30pm.

The sister winery of Carmel Mizrachi in Rishon LeZion, south of Tel Aviv, this is the largest winery in Israel; founded in 1906, it produces 60% of all wine exports. There are organized tours, wine tasting, and a shop on the premises with a complete selection of Carmel Mizrachi products sold at about 15% under standard retail price. Among notable choices are cabernet sauvignon 1985 from the Rothschild Series, and the merlots from the Estate Series. Also look for a fruity red wine called Hilulim, the first wine produced after the grape harvest.

Baron wine Cellars. Binyamina, south of Zichron Yaacov. Phone 06/638-0434. Tours by appointment. NIS 14 ($3.90). Sun-Thurs 9am-4pm; Fri 9am-2pm.

This midsize winery produces wine under the Tishbi, Tishbi's Cellar and Baron labels. Its reputation for white wines (sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and Emerald Riesling) is very good; it also produces Champenoise, a sparkling wine. Signs throughout Benyamina direct you to the winery.

Binyamina Winery. Binyamina, south of Zichron Yaacov. Phone 06/638-8643. Tours by appointment only. NIS 2 (60 cents). Sun-Thurs 8am-4pm; Fri 8am-1pm.

Another midsize winery, Binyamina offers the visitor a tour of its production center and the vineyards. There is wine tasting, and a shop on the premises. Investment in new staff and equipment here in the early 1990s promises to make this a very interesting though less prestigious stop. Signs throughout Binyamina direct you to the winery.

Where to Stay

Radisson Moriah Gardens Zichron Yaacov Hotel. 1 Etzion St., Zichron Yaacov 30900. Phone 800/221-0203 or 212/541-5009 in the U.S.; 06/630-0111. Fax 06/639-7030. 112 rms (all with bath). A/C TV TEL. $120-$145 single; $120-$180 double. AE, DC, MC, V.

This contemporary, sprawling low-rise hotel, with beautiful gardens overlooking the countryside at the edge of Zichron Yaacov, was originally built in the 1970s as one of the country-clublike retreats for trade union members in the days when Zionist socialism was still in full swing. It's comfortable and very attractive, but not so much of a deluxe property as some of the other Radisson Moriah Chain Hotels, and this is reflected in the rates. The hotel is a pleasant base for exploring Caesarea, Megiddo, the artists' colony at Ein Hod and the beaches of the Mediterranean coast. There is an outdoor swimming pool, lobby bar, restaurant, coffee bar, and children's play area.

Where to Dine

Shuni Fortress. Jabotinsky Park, Zichron Yaacov-Binyamina Road (Route 652). Phone 06/ 638-0227. Reservations recommended. Appetizers $10-$20 range; main courses $15-$25 range. DC, V. Mon-Sat lunch and dinner. Closed Sun. One kilometer north of Binyamina. COUNTRY FRENCH.

Set in the arched, whitewashed rooms of a renovated ancient fortress, this restaurant is the special creation of Chef Antoinne Taub, who has been an important force in shaping the traditional haute cuisine scene in Israel. There is no menu: Everything depends on what the chef is doing on the day of your visit, but you may encounter mushrooms Proven­ale or goose liver pät³ among the first courses, and honeyed breast of mallard or boeuf bourguignonne among the main courses. Classic preparation and sauces are the general rule, but there is a rustic feel to the menu here, with homemade breads, and wines from the area as well as from Chef Antoinne's own vineyard. In good weather, the few patio tables, with lovely vistas, are in demand and must be reserved ahead of time. Desserts are always worthwhile.

A Side Trip to Dor

On the highway skirting the beach, road signs announce Nasholim, a kibbutz located on one of Israel's most beautiful bathing beaches, Dor Beach. A wide expanse of sandy beach, it is beautified by natural lagoons. Looming nearby is Tel Dor, a mound containing the remains of the ancient city that was inhabited since Bronze Age times by Phoenicians, Israelites, Greeks, and Romans. The ruins of a massive Greco-Roman temple dedicated to Zeus add drama to the site. Farther to the north at modern Dor is a picturesque area of caves eroded by the sea to form a natural tunnel at the water's edge.

Where to Stay

Nasholim Kibbutz Holiday Village. Carmel Beach 20815. Phone 06/639-9533. Fax 06/ 639-7614. 80 rms (all with shower). A/C TV TEL. $80-$105 double; July 15-Sept 1 and Jewish holidays add 50% and half board required. Winter: 10%-25% lower. Lower rate available if booked on Kibbutz Fly & Drive Plan (800/552-0141). MC, V.

This kibbutz-operated vacation village is about an hour's drive from Tel Aviv, and within easy access to Caesarea and Haifa. It's a great place to spend the day, or several days. The islets around the beach make for sheltered, warm swimming, even during the winter or storm seasons, and the recreation facilities include a children's play area and tennis courts and a video television room as well as a disco/club for younger guests. Rooms are simple, lined up like rows of cabanas with small terraces in front; they include small kitchenette units. There are antiquities around this recreation village, and it's a good base for sightseeing tours. Nasholim is justly proud of its meals, among the best in the kibbutz guest-house system, which are served in the air-conditioned dining room. The place is mobbed with Israeli families and kids in the summer school vacation program and on Jewish holidays; at other times it's more relaxed and quieter.

Note that there is no exit from the coastal highway to Nasholim. To reach Nasholim, leave the main coastal highway and use the parallel inland road between Binyamina and Faradis.

6. Acre (Akko)

23km (14 miles) N of Haifa, 56km (37 miles) W of Tiberias.

Acre (also Akko or Acco), with its romantic minarets, massive city seawalls, and palm trees framed against the sky, has had a long, eventful history. It was first mentioned in the chronicles of Pharaoh Thutmose III, about 3,500 years ago. It was a leading Phoenician port, and although it was allotted to the tribe of Asher, the tribe was never able to conquer it. The town is mentioned as part of David's kingdom, and was given by Solomon to Hiram, king of Tyre, in return for his help in building the temple.

Alexander the Great conquered Acre in 332 B.C., and later, in 280 B.C., it was captured by the Ptolemies, and renamed Ptolemais. Under this name it is mentioned in the New Testament as a stopping place of Saint Paul. Julius Caesar stayed here in 48 B.C.

From the time of Acre's allocation to the tribe of Asher, Jews had lived in relative peace with the other local inhabitants, but during the Bar Kokhba revolt many Jews were killed by the Romans. Still, remnants of the Jewish population continued to live here.

When the Arabs conquered Ptolemais in A.D. 636, the town reverted to the name of Acre, and it was known by that name until the Crusaders took the town in 1104 and renamed it Saint Jean d'Acre. The town became the regional seat of Crusader government, and it expanded to include an entire underground city, which you still can visit today. Except for one 4-year period, the Crusaders held Acre until the 13th century when they were defeated by the Mamelukes, who sacked the town. The fall of Acre ensured the doom of Crusader dominion in the Holy Land.

It was not until 1749, when Bedouin Sheik Daher el-Omar conquered the town, that Acre experienced a resurgence, but his plans for a serious rebuilding program came to a sudden end when he was murdered in 1775 by the notoriously cruel Ahmed El-Jezzar Pasha. Under the impetus of El-Jezzar, the town's most important rebuilding took place, including the Jezzar Pasha Mosque, the Khan El-Umdan, the Turkish bathhouse now housing the Municipal Museum, the massive stone walls, and the aqueduct to the north. These structures still stand today.

Acre's decline as a major port was sealed by the advent of the steamship and modern naval technology, with shipping activities gradually transferred to the larger port at Haifa across the bay, which remains Israel's primary port. On May 4, 1947, Acre was the scene of the largest prison break in history when 251 prisoners escaped from Acre Fortress with the help of Jewish underground fighters.

Essentials

GETTING THERE

By Bus

Buses no. 262 and 272 (express) and 271 (local) leave the Haifa bus station every 10 minutes, bound for Acre; the schedule is less frequent on Saturday.

By Car

Independence Road in Haifa port runs north out of the city past a heavily industrial area. At a crossroads called the "checkpost," bear left, following the signs, over the railroad tracks, and you'll be on the northern coastal road to Acre and Nahariya.

VISITOR INFORMATION

Directly across from the Mosque of Jezzar Pasha is the Tourist Information Office (Phone 04/991-1764), open from 8:30am to 4pm Sunday to Thursday, closing early on Friday. Here -- or next door, at the entrance to the Subterranean Crusader City -- you can buy a large, wonderfully detailed map of the entire city of Acre for only NIS 5 ($1.40). In conjunction with this office is the Western Galilee Tourist Society, 1 Weitzman St., Old Akko (Phone04/981-7419; fax 04/981-7423), which distributes information on touring, local festivals and lodging throughout the entire Western Galilee.

A note for women: Medieval Acre is fascinating, but women unaccompanied by men, even in pairs or in groups, attract a lot of attention around the labyrinthine Old City.

GETTING AROUND

Coming into town by car, you can simply follow the signs for the Old City. There is a small parking lot on the left ($3), just inside the city walls.

If you arrive from Haifa by bus, city buses no. 1, 2, 61, 62, 63, and 65 all make stops at the entrance to the Old City. You can also walk from the bus station: Turn left as you exit and walk one long block to the traffic lights on Ben-Ami Street. Turn right (west) onto Ben-Ami and walk four long blocks to Haim Weizmann Street. Make a left onto Weizmann and you'll see the walls of the ancient Turkish fortress about two blocks ahead. Soon the minaret and dome of the Jezzar Pasha Mosque will come into view.

CITY LAYOUT

Today Acre comprises two distinct parts. There's the modern city of Acre, with about 40,000 residents, and a number of large industrial plants (including Steel City) and immigrant housing projects. Then there's the Old City, still surrounded by high, thick stone walls on all sides, situated on the tip of land jutting out into the sea, forming the protected Bay of Acre.

Exploring Old Acre

Allow yourself a half day to wander through Old Acre's medieval streets. Unlike the restored Old City of Jaffa, which is filled with tourist shops, Old Acre is genuine, charming, and its streets teem with real life. The best place to start your tour is at the Mosque of Ahmed Jezzar Pasha. Right across the street from Jezzar's mosque is the marvelous Subterranean Crusader City, and just a few steps farther is the Municipal Museum, housed in Ahmed Jezzar Pasha's Turkish bath.

Next you'll wander through the pleasant and colorful streets of the bazaar. Be sure to see the most picturesque shop in the bazaar, Kurdy and Berit's Coffee and Spices, at no. 13/261 (ask around, it's deep in the market). If you make a purchase at Kurdy and Berit's, the very hospitable owner may invite you to try a cup of thick Arabic coffee. Acre's "formal" market is Suq El-Abiad, but numerous streets within Old Acre serve as shopping areas. You'll pass the El-Zeituneh Mosque to the Khan El-Umdan caravansary, marked by a tall segmented tower. A caravansary, or khan, was a combination travelers' inn, warehouse, banking center, stable, and factory, traditionally built around a lightly fortified courtyard to house caravans, pilgrims, and other visitors.

The market streets, filled with delicious Arabic bakeries and hummus restaurants, are an excellent area to find snacks. Just beyond is the port, a good place to stop for lunch (see "Where to Dine," below). At the port, you can also hire a boat to take you on a sea tour of the city walls (about $5 per person). Don't be afraid to bargain. Many boat operators will be glad to take you on a motor or fishing boat cruise around Old Acre. Settle on a price in advance (about $14 to $17 for an hour is the average), and get a boat that looks comfortable. A large tourist boat, the Princess, takes visitors on a 20-minute ride around the Old City walls, but only when enough people are waiting to make the run profitable. The fare is NIS 10 ($3) per person.

In Venezia Square (Ha-Dayagim in Hebrew), facing the port, is the Sinian Pasha Mosque, and behind it the Khan El-Faranj caravansary. Yet another khan, named El-Shwarda, is a short distance to the northeast. A few steps back is the Ahmed Jezzar Pasha Mosque. You'll also want to visit the Museum of Heroism and El-Jezzar's Wall on Ha-Hagana Street.

The Top Attractions

Mosque of Armed Jezzar Pasha. Admission to mosque complex and subterranean Crusader vaults NIS 4 ($1.10). Open 8am- noon; 1:15-4pm and 4:45-6pm. Modest dress required. No entrance during prayers (exact times vary according to time of the year).

Ahmed Jezzar Pasha was the Ottoman Turkish governor of Acre during the late 1700s. When Napol³on invaded Egypt, the English joined the Ottomans in trying to drive him out. Jezzar Pasha, thinking Napol³on an easy enemy to defeat, set out confidently for Gaza with his forces, but Napol³on's French legions drove him right back to Acre. The French were forced ultimately to withdraw, but Jezzar Pasha's troubles were far from over. Internal unrest and the other semi-independent Ottoman governors in the region threatened the unity of Ahmed Jezzar's District. A few years later Jezzar was called upon by Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) to march into Arabia and try to put down the revolt of the ultra-religious Wahhabi movement. The pasha died in Acre in 1804. Despite his great ability as a governor, he was branded as a stern administrator and nicknamed El-Jezzar (The Butcher).

Ahmed Jezzar's contributions to Acre included building fountains, a covered market, a Turkish bath, and the harmonious mosque complex that bears his name. Built in 1781, it is an excellent example of classic Ottoman Turkish architecture and stands among the pasha's most ambitious projects. Every great man in the empire wanted to endow a mosque in his own name, an act that not only added to his glory on earth but also made points for him in heaven. A number of charitable institutions were usually constructed around the mosque, and shops were built into the walls, the rent from the shops paying for the mosque's maintenance. Though the greatest of these complexes were in Constantinople, the Ottoman capital, the one in Acre gives you a good idea of the exotic style of Ottoman architecture (rooted in both Byzantine and Persian traditions), and how the mosque complex worked.

As you approach the mosque area, El-Jezzar Street turns right off Weizmann Street. The mosque entrance is a few steps along El-Jezzar Street on the left. Before you mount the stairs to the mosque courtyard, notice the ornate little building to the right of the stairs. It's a sabil, or cold-drinks stand, from which pure, refreshing drinking water, sometimes mixed with fruit syrups, was distributed -- a part of the mosque complex's services. Note especially the fine tile fragments mounted above the little grilled windows just beneath the sebil's dome. Tile-making was an Ottoman specialty.

Up the stairs, you enter the mosque courtyard. Your ticket will enable you to explore the complex of Crusader buildings (now flooded and used as cisterns) under the mosque. Just inside the entry, mounted on a pedestal, is a marble disc bearing the tughra, or monogram, of the Ottoman sultan. It spells out the sultan's name, his father's name, and the legend "ever-victorious."

The arcade around the courtyard can be used for prayers during hot days of summer, as can the arcaded porch at the front of the mosque. The shadirvan, or ablutions fountain, opposite the mosque entry, is used for the ritual cleansing of face, neck, hands, and feet five times a day before prayers. You must slip off your shoes before entering the mosque proper. This is not merely a religious rule, but a hygienic one: worshipers kneel on the carpets during prayer, and want to keep them clean.

Inside, you'll notice the mihrab, or prayer niche, which indicates the direction of Mecca, toward which worshipers must face when they pray. The galleries to the right and left of the entrance are reserved for women, the main area of the floor for men. The minbar, a sort of pulpit, is that separate structure with a curtained entry, stairs, and a little steeple. Around to the right is a mausoleum and a small graveyard that hold the tombs of Ahmed Jezzar Pasha and his successor, Suleiman Pasha, and members of their families. The mosque is still used by Acre's Muslim population, so when it's in service for prayer (five times a day), you must wait until the prayers are over to enter the mosque (about 20 minutes).

Subterranean Crusader City. Admission NIS 12 ($3.40) adults, reduction for students and children. Admission includes entrance to Municipal Museum. Sun-Thurs 8:30am-6pm; Fri 8:30am-2pm; Sat 9am-5pm; closings are 1 hour earlier in winter.

Virtually across the street from the Mosque of Ahmed Jezzar Pasha is the Subterranean Crusader City. In the entrance is a tourism information kiosk, where you can buy a city map and an entrance ticket.

The Crusaders built their fortress atop what was left of the Roman city. In Ottoman times the cavernous chambers were used as a caravansary until Napol³on's attack. In preparation for the defense of his city, Ahmed Jezzar Pasha ordered the walls heightened, and the Crusader rooms partially filled with sand and dirt, to better support the walls. Today, you get a good look at how the Crusaders lived and worked in the late 1100s.

The bottom of the hall was built by the Crusaders, the top by the Ottomans. The next hall you enter once held an illegal (in Muslim times) wine press. Next comes the courtyard, with the 125-foot-high walls of Acre Citadel, which was used by the British as a prison during the mandate and now houses the Museum of Heroism (see below).

Beyond the courtyard, through a huge Ottoman gate, are the Knights' Halls, once occupied by the Knights Hospitalers of Saint John. In the ceiling of the hall, a patch of concrete marks the spot where Jewish underground members, imprisoned by the British in the Citadel (directly above the hall), attempted to break out.

Back through the courtyard, you now head for the Grand Maneir, or center of government, in the Crusader city. Past it, through a narrow passage, is the Crypt, so named only because of its present depth; it was actually the knights' refectory, or dining hall. Beyond the refectory is a longer tunnel leading to the Post (El-Posta), a series of rooms and a courtyard similar to a caravansary, the precise use of which is not known.

Municipal Museum (Turkish Bath). Admission NIS 12 ($3.40) for adults, reduction for students and children. Includes admission to Crusader City. Sun-Thurs 8:30am-6pm; Fri 8:30am- 2pm; Sat 9am-5pm; closings are 1 hour earlier in winter.

Down at the end of El-Jezzar Street, just around the corner, is the Municipal Museum. The building is the Hammam El-Basha, built by Ahmed Jezzar Pasha as part of his mosque complex in the 1780s. The museum exhibits are interesting, but the building itself is fantastic.

The first few small rooms hold collections of artifacts from Acre's last 2,000 years. Beyond them you walk along a passage (with a garden through the grillwork on your right) to the folklore exhibit of mannequins dressed in Ottoman garb, arranged in various scenes of everyday life. Note especially the pretty tilework.

Follow the passage from the folklore exhibit to the bath proper. Turkish baths were built on the Roman plan, with three distinct rooms. The first was the entry and dressing room, the next was the tepidarium (its Roman name), with warm steam, and the last was the caldarium, with hot steam. The hot room was always the most ornate.

As you walk through the first two rooms, note the tiny glass skylights in the domes. The third room, the one for hot steam, is rich in marble and mosaic work. In the center is a circular platform for steam bathing. The heat source was beneath it. Some Turkish baths have a small swimming pool here instead. Four private steam cubicles occupy the four points of the compass.

The exhibits here, mostly enlarged copies of drawings, lithographs, and engravings, depict Acre during the Napoleonic Wars. When you're finished with your explorations, a guard will let you out a door just off the hot-steam room.

Museum of Heroism. Phone 04/991-8264. Admission NIS 8 ($2.20) for adults, with reduction for children and students. Sun-Thurs 9am-5pm.

The museum is in the Citadel of Acre. This complex of buildings was used as a prison in Ottoman and British Mandate times, but is now a mental hospital. Part of the prison has been set aside in honor of the Jewish underground fighters imprisoned here by the British. With the help of Irgun forces, 251 prisoners staged a mass escape in May 1947. If you saw the movie Exodus, that was the breakout and this was the prison. The prison is also revered by Arab Israelis and by Palestinians, whose own national fighters were detained and, in many cases, executed here during the British Mandate.

Among the exhibits are the entrance to the escape tunnel and displays of materials showing the British repression of Zionist activity during the mandate. Not all prisoners were lucky enough to escape, however. Eight Irgun fighters were hanged here in the 10 years before Israel's independence. You can visit the death chamber, called the Hanging Room, complete with noose.

Inmates here included Zeev Jabotinsky and Dov Gruner, among other leaders of Zionism and Israel's independence movement. Before the mandate, the prison's most famous inmate was Bahaullah (1817-92), founder of the Bahá'í faith (see below).

The museum can be reached by walking north from the lighthouse on Ha-Hagana Street, along the seawall. You can also come here directly from El-Jezzar Mosque. Walk down El-Jezzar Street and continue in as straight a line as possible to Ha-Hagana Street, which skirts the city's western seawalls. When you reach the sea, turn right, and soon you'll see the entrance to the museum on the right-hand side.

El-Jezzar's Wall

To appreciate the elaborate system of defenses built by Ahmed Jezzar Pasha to protect against Napol³on's fleet and forces, turn right as you come out of the Museum of Heroism onto Ha-Hagana Street and walk a few steps north. You'll see the double system of walls with a moat in between. Jutting into the sea is an Ottoman defensive tower called the Burj El-Kuraim. You're now standing at the northwestern corner of the walled city. Walk east (inland) along the walls and you'll pass the Citadel, the Burj El-Hazineh (Treasury Tower), and cross Weizmann Street to the Burj El-Komander, the strongest point in the walls. The land wall system continues south from here all the way to the beach.

At the entrance to the Old City on Weizmann Street, near the Walls of El-Jezzar, is a sunken children's playground bordered by the Dahar El-Omer Walls. Dahar El-Omer (or Daher El-Amar) was the sheik who rebuilt the city walls after capturing Acre from the Mamelukes.

The Khans & the Port

Make your way south through the city, toward the port, and if you need a point of reference, ask a local to point you toward the Khan El-Umdan. The khan (dating from 1785) is much older than its tower, which was built as a clock tower in 1906 to celebrate the 30th year of the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II. El-Umdan means "The Pillars," and when you enter this vast colonnaded court you'll know how it got its name. Another of Ahmed Jezzar Pasha's harmonious works in the public service, this caravansary served commerce. It was built on the site of a Crusader monastery of the Dominican order.

Just to the east of Khan El-Umdan is Venezia Square (Ha-Dayagim) and the Sinian Pasha Mosque. The port is to the southeast and industrious fishers are still at work here. Behind the port are two more caravansaries. The Khan El-Faranj (Afranj), or the Inn of the Franks, is a few steps north of the Sinian Pasha Mosque. This complex began in 1729 as a Franciscan convent, but some of the building was apparently rented to French and Italian merchants.

Northeast of the Khan El-Faranj is the Khan El-Shwarda, right next to a tower in the city walls called Burj Es-Sultan. The Burj is famous because it is the only construction built by the Crusaders that remains intact. At the tower's base is one of Napoleon's cannons, cast in Li²ge and captured by the Ottoman and English forces.

Walk up Marco Polo Street to your next stop. Marco Polo, by the way, was one of several famous visitors to Acre in medieval times; another was King Richard the Lion-Hearted. The Khan El-Shwarda, at the northern end of Marco Polo Street, occupies the site of a convent of the nuns of Saint Clare that closed in 1291 when Acre fell. There's not a lot to look at today.

The Mosque A-Ramal (or El-Ramel), the former "Sand Mosque," on Marco Polo Street, was built in 1704-05. A Crusader inscription was found on the southeast wall of this mosque, which today forms part of the back wall of the fourth shop on the left from the mosque entrance. The Latin inscription reads, "Oh, men who pass along this street, in charity I beg you to pray for my soul -- Master Ebuli Fazli, builder of the church." The mosque is now used as a scout house, and it's open daily from 4 to 6pm (admission is free).

An old lighthouse, still in use, stands atop the Crusader fortification of Burj Es-Sanjak, on the extreme southwest point of land at Acre. From here you get a marvelous view, both north and south. Just north of the lighthouse, you'll notice a large space in the seawall. This stretch of the wall was destroyed during the heavy earthquake of 1837, the same earthquake that leveled several cities in the mountains.

Bahji

To Bahá'ís, this shrine to their prophet Bahaullah is the holiest place on earth. Bahá'í followers believe that God is manifested to men and women through prophets such as Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, as well as the Bab (Bahaullah's predecessor) and Bahaullah himself. The Bahá'í faith proclaims that all religions are one, that men and women are equal, that the world should be at peace, and that education should be universal. Bahá'í followers are encouraged to live simply and to dedicate themselves to helping their fellow men and women. They look forward to a day when there will be a single world government and one world language.

The Bahá'í faith grew out of the revelation of the Bab, a Persian Shiite Muslim teacher and mystic who flourished from 1844 to 1850, and was executed by the Persian shah for insurrection and radical teachings. In 1863, Mirza Husein Ali Nuri, one of the Bab's disciples, proclaimed himself Bahaullah, the Promised One, whose coming had been foretold by the Bab. Bahaullah was exiled by the Persian government in cooperation with the Ottoman leaders to Baghdad, Constantinople, Adrianople, and finally to Acre, where he arrived in August 1868. He and several of his followers were imprisoned for 2 1/2 years at the Acre Citadel. The authorities later put him under house arrest, and he was eventually brought to Bahji, where he remained until his death in 1892. He is buried here in a peaceful tomb surrounded by magnificent gardens. Bahá'ís are still persecuted, especially in Iran where the faith was born; the Shiite Muslims in authority today look upon them as blasphemers and heretics.

You can visit the shrine at Bahji (Delight), where Bahaullah lived, died, and is buried, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday only, from 9am to noon. The house's beautiful gardens are open to visitors every day, from 9am to 4pm. Catch a no. 271 bus heading north toward Nahariya, and make sure it stops at Bahji.

Going north from Acre, you'll see an impressive gilded gate on the right-hand side of the road after about 2 kilometers (1 mile). This gate is not open to the public. Go past it until you are almost 3 kilometers (about 2 miles) from Acre, and you'll see a sign, Shamerat. Get off the bus, turn right here, and go another short distance to the visitors' gate. The Ottoman-Victorian house holds some memorabilia of Bahaullah, and the lush gardens are a real treat.

Argaman Beach

The favorite local spot for swimming is the Argaman Beach, just south of town by the Argaman Motel. This is one of Israel's most beautiful Mediterranean beaches, with the view of Haifa on one end of the bay, and the old seawalls of Acre on the other. Lifeguards are here in summer. Unfortunately, like other beaches along the northern coast, Argaman sometimes suffers from serious pollution.

In nonpeak seasons, visitors are usually welcome for a day-use fee to enjoy the facilities at the Palm Beach Hotel and Country Club (Phone 04/981-5815) on Argaman Beach. These include an outdoor Olympic-size swimming pool plus a heated indoor pool, tennis, volleyball, basketball, and squash courts, Ping-Pong tables, a health club, a Finnish sauna, and a private beach with lounge chairs and shades. Call ahead to make a reservation and ask the price.

Where to Stay

If you're not up for staying in the youth hostel, which is the only choice inside the walls of the Old City, there are some fine hotel choices just a short ride from Old Acre, especially for travelers with private cars.

Argaman Motel. Acre Beach 24101. Phone 04/991-6691. Fax 04/991-6690. 75 rms (all with bath). A/C TV TEL. Sun-Thurs $90 double; Fri-Sat and July-Aug $100 double. 10% discount for stays over 1 week. Rates include breakfast. Fri-Sat, July-Aug, and Jewish holidays, half board may be required. AE, DC, MC, V.

This modern hotel consists of a group of two-story buildings set around a swimming pool and garden a mile south of Acre on the coastal highway to Haifa, at the intersection of the main northbound road and its branch into town. It has a beachfront with views of Haifa to the south and the ancient walled city of Old Acre just to the north. The Argaman is right on the beach, with spacious double rooms, all with wall-to-wall carpet, heat, and private balcony, among other amenities. The hotel has a good culinary reputation.

Palm Beach Hotel and Country Club. Acre Beach 24101. Phone 04/981-5815. Fax 04/ 991-0434. 110 rms (all with bath). A/C TV TEL. $110-$140 double. July-Aug and Jewish holidays $160 double. Add 15% for nonhigh-season weekends. Rates include breakfast. AE, MC, V.

A luxury tower whose rooms have every convenience, the hotel is located a mile south of the Old City on the coastal road to Haifa. The greatest benefit of staying here, in addition to the wonderful beach and view, is the free use of the country club and other facilities. While nonguests may be able to use the country club when it's not too busy, staying at the hotel guarantees the privilege. On the hotel's premises are a swimming pool, a piano bar, a Jacuzzi, squash, basketball, and tennis courts, a beach, a discotheque, self-service restaurant, and an evening terrace cafe as well as a playground area for children. All restaurant facilities are kosher. There is a bus into town.

Where to Dine

Abu Christo. Near the Old Port. Phone 04/991-0065. Reservations recommended on weekends. Appetizers NIS 7-22 ($2-$6.20); main courses NIS 33-65 ($9-$18). AE, DC, MC, V. Daily 10am-midnight. SEAFOOD/MIDDLE EASTERN.

This well-known restaurant is particularly nice in good weather, when you can sit out on the terrace under reed shades and enjoy the delightful waterfront view, which often includes local daredevils diving from the ancient ruins. For appetizers, a round of Middle Eastern salads is especially good here. Most main courses are straightforward dishes like steak, grilled skewers of lamb, or grilled fish (the fresh grouper is expensive but great) all served with french fries; there are also Greek-style specialties and house dishes like skewered shrimp in sesame garlic sauce cooked on an open fire. Abu Christo often features special low-price treats, like tiny fresh fish fried in garlic, which you eat, bones, heads, and all! Full bar.

Oudeh Brothers Restaurant. Old City market area. Phone 04/991-2013. Reservations recommended weekends. Appetizers NIS 7-20 ($2-$5.60); main courses NIS 33-65 ($9.25-$18). Higher prices for lobster. MC, V. Daily 9am-midnight. SEAFOOD/MIDDLE EASTERN.

This clean, pleasant restaurant has four large, airy dining rooms (alas, no waterfront view) and a large patio dining area beside the courtyard of the Khan El-Faranj (or Afranj), described above. It offers a wonderful 25-salad mazza, lamb shashlik with rice and salad, meat with hummus, pickles, and pita, and lots of seafood including lobster and shrimp. Turkish coffee is on the house if you've ordered a meal.

Ptolemais Restaurant. Fisherman's quay. Phone 04/991-6112. Appetizers NIS 7-20 ($2-$5.60); main courses NIS 25-65 ($7- $18). DC, MC, V. Summer daily 10am-1am; winter daily 10am- 8pm. SEAFOOD/MIDDLE EASTERN.

This restaurant, near the Abu Christo, dishes up terrific fish main courses and meals like beef with hummus at reasonable prices. Watermelon makes a refreshing dessert. Students get a 10% reduction. Here, too, there's a full bar, and you can sit either inside or out on the waterfront patio, with the boats in the harbor bobbing up and down just a few feet away.

Acre After Dark

One of Acre's most enjoyable evening activities is strolling around through the tiny Arabian Nights streets, past the old khans and the towering minarets framed by moonlight and stars, gazing from the old port out across the bay toward the sparkling lights of Haifa and Acre's little lighthouse on duty. On a quiet night, moonlight shining in, you can stand in the courtyard of Khan El-Umdan and imagine all the people, animals, activities, and human dramas that have passed through here. Another atmospheric moonlight walk is around the city's seawalls.

Exotic Arabic music fills the air day and night all around Old Acre. Light and music pour out into the streets from the open doors of billiard parlors, and you're welcome to come in and shoot a few games.

You can sip a beer or cocktail at one of the waterfront restaurants, at the Burj's rooftop nightclub during the warm months, or at the other Burj meeting places. But if you're ready for a real live striptease act, head for the Burj's Han A-Sultan restaurant and nightclub on a Friday or Saturday evening, open until 4am. Everyone is welcome.

The discotheque at the Palm Beach Hotel and Country Club (Phone 04/991-2892) is open to everyone nightly in summer months; only on Friday in winter. Music and dancing and one drink are included in the NIS 20 ($5.60) cover charge. Also at the Palm Beach is the outdoor Pundak Cafe, open in summertime only, from 8:30pm to 1am, with live music on the terrace, food, and drinks.

Side Trips from Acre

The main highway between Akko and Nahariya parallels fragments of a stone aqueduct built by Ahmed Jezzar Pasha in 1780 over the ruins of a Roman aqueduct. The aqueduct originally supplied Acre with water from the Galilee's springs. Its picturesque ruins include many archways framing sabra plants. Before you reach Nahariya, you will pass two communities, just across the road from each other, that are well worth a visit.

Kibbutz Lohammei HaGetaot, the Ghetto Defenders' Kibbutz, 2 miles north of Akko, was founded in 1949 by a small group of survivors of Jewish ghettos in Poland and Lithuania. Initially scattered in towns and refugee camps throughout Israel, they felt they could best rebuild their lives among others who had similar tragic memories as former partisans and participants in Ghetto uprisings. The kibbutz flourished, and today their children and grandchildren manage the orchards, schools and factories of this very symbolic community.

The Ghetto Fighters' House (Phone 04/995-8080), a Museum of the Holocaust and Resistance, and Yad La Yeled, the Memorial and Museum of Children, document Jewish life in communities throughout Europe before and during the Holocaust. The complex contains a museum of writings, diaries, and artwork from the ghettos and concentration camps, and these detailed, very personal exhibits vividly inform us about the ghetto uprisings and the destruction of Jewish communities, including those in Holland, Saloniki, Vilna, and Hungary. Among the many models and installations is a replica of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Especially moving are the paintings and drawings done by children. The museum is the center for an international education program designed to try to understand the Holocaust, in the hope that such knowledge will help prevent such cruelties from being permitted in the future. It's open Sunday to Thursday from 9am to 4pm; Friday from 9am to 1pm; and Saturday and Jewish holidays from 10am to 5pm. There is no admission fee, but contributions are accepted for the guided tours. Bus 271 (midday frequency every 30 minutes) from Haifa to Nahariya will make request stops at the Kibbutz.

Just across the Akko-Nahariya Highway from Lohammei HaGetaot, a sign points to Hatzrot Yatsaf, an absorption center for the thousands of new Ethiopian Jewish immigrants who continue to arrive in the country. This vast caravan trailer community by the sea gives you a chance to glimpse the most recent and perhaps the most exotic aliyah, or wave of immigration to Israel. The stately, graceful immigrants, some still wearing traditional white robes, are invariably courteous and kind. After the road crosses the train tracks, Hatzrot Yatsaf begins.

Things are always changing here, but after approximately 3 blocks a sign on the right should direct you to beit hayotzer, the artisans' workshop, where black low-fire terra-cotta ceramics and, at times, other crafts are produced for sale. (If there is no sign, just keep asking.) As you turn down this side road, Beit Hayotzer will be about 500 feet down on the left. The ceramic crafts on display at the Beit Hayotzer Hatzrif Yasaf Ethiopian Craft Center (Phone 04/991-6325) have their roots in traditional Ethiopian pottery, but the designs also draw on the artisans' encounter with a new society. There are ceramic miniature tableaux depicting Ethiopian scenes and myths. There are handmade Hanukkah menorahs incorporating Ethiopian motifs, although since Ethiopian Jews were separated from the mainstream of Judaism too early to have had knowledge of the 2,200-year-old festival of Hanukkah, they did not celebrate this holiday until they came to Israel. Look for tiny, charming frogs, praying Ethiopian peasants, and rough ceramic "marriage boxes" in which you will find a naive representation of a couple involved in amorous activity. The boxes are used as a kind of household signal, according to the artisans -- a slightly open box is meant to convey that at least one marriage partner is ready for lovemaking.

A number of the craftspeople have developed personal followings among customers and collectors. Prices range from one or two dollars to several hundred, and are about half what they would cost at galleries in the main cities. Salespeople here will often point out "seconds." I bought an exotic lions' head menorah for $42 -- if perfect, it would have been a $150 design. Proceeds go directly to the artisans. The workshop will pack purchases for carrying, but transport them with care: Terra-cotta is very breakable. Open Sunday to Thursday from 8am to 4pm. No credit cards are accepted.

Where to Stay

Nes Ammim Guest House. Mobile Post, Ashrat 25225. Phone 04/995-0000. Fax 04/995-0098. 48 rms (all with bath). A/C TV. $98-$140 double. Discount on Kibbutz Package Plan. Rates include breakfast. AE, DC, MC, V. Drive north along highway to signs pointing east to Nes Ammim and Regba; turn here and go 4km (2 miles) inland.

Another short drive from Acre, to the north and through an enchanting avocado forest, is a 200-member Christian village organized in 1963 for the purpose of bringing Jews and Christians into closer contact. While here, you can enjoy the swimming pool, bar, the wonderful greenhouse creations, the botanical gardens, and get a free tour of the community. Guest rooms were redone during 1995-97. There are 13 family-size rooms; rooms for the disabled are also available. Although not a kibbutz, the hotel is part of the Kibbutz Guest House Association, and can be booked through their packages. Study tours on the subject of Jewish-Christian relations can be arranged through Nes Ammim.

If you're not staying here, but are interested in the community, call ahead and arrange for a tour. The Nes Ammim community is especially interested in making the land alive again, and you will be amazed by its efforts and dedication. Coming by bus is a bit more of a challenge, but it can be arranged; call ahead and they'll tell you the best way to do it.

7. Nahariya & North to the Border

Nahariya: 33km (20 miles) N of Haifa.

Founded by German Jews in the mid-1930s, Nahariya is a popular summer resort with Israelis, but visitors are catching on. On the Lag b'Omer holiday in the spring (the only day a Jew can marry during the 6 weeks between Passover and Shavuot holidays), Nahariya is packed with honeymooners. Maybe there's a connection between Nahariya's honeymoon attractions and the fact that archeologists dug up a Canaanite fertility goddess on its beach.

This holiday town has an unusual main street: A stream shaded by breezy eucalyptus trees runs down the middle. There is a low-key, pleasantly small-town feeling to Nahariya. Horse carts will take you around town; settle on a price before you start out.

Essentials

GETTING THERE

By Bus

From Acre, take the no. 271 or 272 Haifa-Acre-Nahariya bus. The ride is less than 25 minutes.

By Car

From Acre, Nahariya is a 15-minute drive north on the coastal highway.

VISITOR INFORMATION

When you leave the Central Bus Station, turn left and walk down about half a block on Ha-Ga'aton. On the left you'll see a small square, and at the far end of the square, a seven-story edifice with flags waving in front. This is the Municipal Building, where you'll find the Tourist Information Office (Phone 04/987-9800), open Sunday to Thursday from 9am to 1pm and 4 to 7pm, on Friday from 9am to noon; closed Saturday.

If you're interested in meeting the locals, the staff at the tourist office can arrange it. Local chapters of Rotary, Lions, Soroptimists, and Freemasons also extend a warm welcome to international members; contact the Tourist Information Office for meeting times and places.

CITY LAYOUT

It's pretty easy to find your way around this small city. The Central Bus Station and the railway station are just off the main highway on Ha-Ga'aton Boulevard, Nahariya's main road. Head down Ha-Ga'aton and you'll be going due west, to the sea. Don't worry about the weight of your bags as you only have to walk about five blocks to get to a hotel.

Beaches & Outdoor Pursuits

The beaches of Nahariya, the town's raison d'°tre from a visitor's point of view, suffer, like other places on the northern Israeli coast, from the region's lack of a sewage treatment plant and the proximity of Lebanon, where decades of chaos have led to garbage dumping into the sea. The junk often swirls into Nahariya's waters, and at times in recent years, coliform bacteria counts per 100 ml of seawater at Nahariya were four times the Israeli Health Ministry's acceptable level (although within the less strict standards of other Mediterranean countries).

The main beach, Galei-Galil, just to the north of Ha-Ga'aton Boulevard, has won prizes in the past for cleanliness and safety. Today it also offers an Olympic-size outdoor pool, a heated, glass-enclosed indoor pool open year-round, a children's pool, dressing rooms, playgrounds for children, and restaurants. It is open June through September, daily from 8am to 6pm; October through May, daily until 5pm. Admission is NIS 12 ($3.40); reductions for children.

At the marina breakwater you'll see people fishing off the rocks, and you can rent a sailboat, or go snorkeling. Tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts are other attractions, as is the big water slide just on the north side of the beach.

If you just want to take a dip in the Mediterranean, the free Municipal Beach is two blocks south. The view from both beaches is lovely. On a clear day -- and most of them are -- you can see all the way from Rosh Ha-Niqra at the Lebanese border to the north to Haifa in the south.

For a hike with the Friends of Nature (Hovevei Hateva), check with the Municipal Tourist Office (Phone 04/987-9800). Hikes are often scheduled for Saturdays.

Museums & Ancient Sites

Nahariya's Municipal Museum is in the seven-story Municipal Building, on Ha-Iriya Square. The fifth floor houses an art exhibit. The sixth floor, in addition to an interesting malacology (shell) collection, displays many artifacts from the area around Nahariya, with its fascinating history dating all the way back to the Stone Age. On the seventh floor is a department showing the history of the town. The museum is open Sunday to Friday from 10am to noon, plus Sunday and Wednesday afternoons from 4 to 6pm. Admission is free.

Nahariya's ruins of a Canaanite temple were accidentally discovered on Ha-Ma'apilim Street, a few yards up from the Municipal Beach, in 1947. Experts believe it to be a temple dedicated to the Canaanite goddess of the sea, Asherath (or Astarte), dating from about 1500 B.C.

The beautiful mosaic floor of a 4th- to 7th-century Byzantine Church can be seen on Bielefeld Street, near the Katznelson School. The mosaic depicts the hunting and working scenes as well as flora and fauna designs typical of mosaic floors found in Byzantine churches, but is one of finest yet discovered. Check with Tourist Information (Phone 04/987-9800) to arrange a visit. There may be an admission fee of under $1.

Where to Stay

Most of Nahariya's hotels are located, quite logically, at the western end of Ha-Ga'aton Boulevard near Galei-Galil Beach. You can also check with the Municipal Tourist Office (Phone 04/987-9800) for lists of rooms to rent in private houses. Prices are around $25 to $35 per person, including breakfast, depending on season and facilities.

Carlton Hotel. 23 Ha-Ga'aton St., Nahariya. Phone 04/992- 2211. Fax 04/982-3771. 200 rms (all with bath). A/C TV TEL. $115-$220 double. Rates include breakfast. 15% service charge. AE, MC, V.

Located on the main street in the center of town, this six-story hotel is the best and most expensive in Nahariya. Rooms are comfortable, but not really up to this price category. There isn't a real beach atmosphere at this location, but the hotel's heated outdoor pool, which is covered in winter, provides the chance for off-season swimming. In summer and weekends, the hotel is filled with activities that, together with late-night main street action, can be a bit too noisy for some. There is a sauna and Jacuzzi.

Days Inn Frank Hotel. 4 Ha-Aliyah St. (P.O. Box 58), Nahariya 22381. Phone 04/992-0278. Fax 04/992-5535. 50 rms (all with bath or shower). A/C TV TEL. $85-$120 double. Passover and Sukkot, add 15% to high-season rates. MC, V.

Founded over 50 years ago by a Nahariya family originally from Germany, the Hotel Frank is efficiently run with a careful, personal touch; it has recently affiliated with Days Inn, but the same management continues and part of its business is with long established clientele. Located just back from Ha-Ma'apilim two blocks north of Ha-Ga'aton, this 1970s contemporary hotel is in a quieter neighborhood, relatively close to the beach. It offers a small outdoor swimming pool (the pool may soon be redone), rooms with good, moderately firm beds, heating, and at times, German-language TV channels.

Erna House. 29 Jabotinsky St., Nahariya. Phone 04/992-0170. Fax 04/992-8917. 26 rms (all with bath or shower). A/C TV TEL. $68-$78 double. Rates include breakfast. MC, V.

This neat, well-kept, two-star establishment is a converted house with the look of a solid, comfortable little hotel. It's a small family-run enterprise; the rooms come with heat, carpeting, and a TV if you request one, at no extra charge. Among other amenities is a video TV room.

Where to Dine

Nahariya is not exactly what you'd call a gourmet's mecca. It's small and many vacation visitors have their meals at their hotels. If you decide to go out, the first place to try is Ha-Ga'aton Boulevard, with its bistros, sidewalk cafes, and two commercial plazas, Ha-Banim Square (Kikar Ha-Banim), and Ha-Iriya Square (Kikar Ha-Iriya). The plazas are across Ha-Ga'aton from one another, at the intersection with Herzl Street, half a block west of the bus station. Each square has a cinema, lots of shops and other services, and some indoor-outdoor snack bar eateries.

El Gaucho. Ha-Ga'aton Boulevard. Phone 04/992-8635. Main courses NIS 32-75 ($9-$21). MC, V. Daily noon-midnight. ARGENTINEAN.

This restaurant specializes in Argentinean-style grilled meat, and lots of it, cooked over the coals behind the many cuts of fresh meat on display for all to see. The decor here is ranch, with touches like cowhide chairs, a South American pan flute, and horns on the walls. You can sit inside, or out in back on the palapa-covered patio. The chefs are from South America; much of the meat served here is veal. Menu items range from an inexpensive half-chicken dinner to the house specialty, a 750-gram (about 1 1/2 pounds) mixed grill, a giant repast for two (or even more) people. All meat dinners are served with bread and butter, baked potato with butter and sour cream, vegetables, salad, dessert, and the special chimichurra meat sauce that's so delicious you'll be sopping it up with the bread.

Penguin Cafe. 33 Ha Ga'aton Blvd. Phone 04/992-4241. NIS 7- 40 ($2-$11.20). Daily from 8am to midnight. ICE CREAM/SNACKS.

Located outside the big Penguin Restaurant complex (see below), the menu includes such hot-weather favorites as banana splits, milkshakes, and fruit cocktail, as well as blintzes, pancakes, pastries, and beverages. You can even order pizza with a kosher "shrimp" if you want something different. There are also low-calorie frozen yogurts mixed on the spot with the fresh fruits of your choice.

Penguin Restaurant. 21 Ha-Ga'aton Blvd. Phone 04/992-8855. Main courses NIS 3365 ($9-$18.20). V. Daily 8am-11pm.

The newly renovated Penguin is the nearest thing Nahariya has to a mall, with a bookstore and many trendy shops surrounding the dining space. The menu runs from pasta to schnitzel to Chinese food, fish, salads, and hamburgers. Photos on the walls remind you of the original tin-roofed Penguin and the bleak, empty landscape that was Nahariya in the 1940s.

Singapore Chinese Restaurant. Ha-Meyasdim and Jabotinsky. Phone 04/992-4952. Reservations recommended summer weekends. Main courses NIS 25-55 ($7-$15.40); set combination dinner NIS 48 ($13.50). DC, MC, V. Lunch daily noon-3pm; dinner daily 7pm-midnight. Closed Chinese New Year and major Jewish holidays. CHINESE.

Two blocks north of Ha-Ga'aton and across from the Yarden and Eden hotels, you'll find this roomy place done up pleasantly in Chinese decor. The menu contains 110 items; as you'd expect, there are a number of Singapore specialties, including lemon chicken, a Singapore Sling cocktail, or Singapore ice cream with Chinese fruits for dessert.

Side Trips North of Nahariya

Akhziv

Heading north along the main road, after 4 kilometers (2 1/2 miles) you'll see the road to Akhziv Beach, on the left (west). It's another kilometer (1/2 mile) to the beach proper, where you'll find a parking lot, changing rooms, shelters and snack stands, as well as freshwater showers. It's open daily from 8am to 7pm in summer. There's a charge of NIS 12 ($3.40) per person for admission during the summer swimming season.

Heading north again, a kilometer (1/2 mile) past the Akhziv Beach road, you'll pass the parking lot and entrance to Akhziv National Park (Phone 04/982-3263) with its sheltered beach, restaurant, picnic, and changing facilities amid the ruins of a seaside Arab village.

Akhziv existed when Joshua assigned the tribes of Israel to their various territories, and is mentioned in the Bible as a Canaanite town that the tribe of Asher, to whom it was allotted, was never able to conquer. At the Nahariya Municipal Museum, you can learn about the varied history of the town through the wealth of archeological artifacts on view.

In more recent times, Akhziv was an Arab village, but the inhabitants fled in 1948 and the village remained deserted for a number of years. In 1952, Eli Avivi, one of Israel's legendary eccentrics, received government permission to settle in Akhziv, and promptly declared the "independence" of Akhzivland, which is just north of the park boundary. The ramshackle building that is Akhzivland's main structure houses Mr. Avivi's living quarters and his personal museum of artifacts found on and near Akhzivland. You can visit the museum for a small admission charge.

There is a NIS 12 ($3.60) summer admission to Akhziv National Park, but off-season, you can sometimes just wander through the gates and up the hill through the lovely gardens. It's a beautiful spot for a picnic; there is a guarded but somewhat rocky beach for swimming. The park is open daily from 8am to 7pm. At the south end of the parking lot is the entrance to Club M³diterran³e's vacation resort.

Where to Stay

A half kilometer (about 1/4 mile) north of Akhzivland is Yad Le-Yad Hostel, P.O. Box 169, Nahariya (Phone 04/982-3345), offers beds arranged in two-, four-, and six-bed rooms for $24 per person, plus 21 rustic beach shelter/bungalows housing four people for $17 per person.

Gesher Haziv & the Akhziv Bridge

While the town of Akhziv has a history going back to biblical times, the name is most often remembered in connection with a tragic, heroic event that took place here on the night of June 17, 1946. Attempting to cut British rail communications with neighboring Arab states, a Hagana demolition team was destroying railroad bridges along this line. At the Akhziv bridge, however, they were spotted by a British sentry, who fired a flare in order to get a better look. The flare ignited the team's explosives. The bridge was blown, but no one survived. The 14 who perished are commemorated by a large black metal monument across the road from the youth hostel.

Where to Stay

Kibbutz Gesher Haziv Country Lodging. Phone 04/995-8568. Fax 04/982-5971. 26 rms (all with shower). A/C TEL. $60-$80 double. Rates include breakfast and service. AE, DC, MC, V.

Guests have access to the kibbutz seaside diving center and horseback riding stables at discount prices. There are simple but comfortable rooms with refrigerators and coffeemakers, an outdoor swimming pool, and kosher dining facilities. For an extra charge, you can use the health club, Jacuzzi, and sauna, as well as 2 night-lit tennis courts. The location is excellent, just 5 minutes from the beach, and close to Akko, and many sites in the western Galilee.

Rosh Ha-Niqra

This dramatic site is on the border with Lebanon, astride a tall cliff overlooking the sea. On a clear day, standing atop the cliff, you can see the coastline as far as Haifa. Beneath the cliffs are grottoes carved out by the sea, reachable via cable car. Operating from 8:30am to 5pm (until 9 or 10pm in summer), on Friday until 3pm, the cable-car ride and admission to the grottoes costs NIS 25 ($7) for adults, with a discount for children and students. You can walk into the caves and passages and see the pools of water lapping the rocks. To see the artifacts that have been recovered from these caves, visit the Municipal Museum in Nahariya.

To reach Rosh Ha-Niqra, take the bus from Nahariya, which runs several times a day; sherut service is also available, in front of the Nahariya Central Bus Station, on Ha-Ga'aton Boulevard. You can dine at a reasonably priced self-service restaurant on top of the cliff called Mitzpe Rosh Ha-Niqra. The view is terrific. Open the same hours as the cable car.

Where to Stay

Rosh Ha Niqra IYHA Youth Hostel. Phone 04/982-5169. Fax 04/982-1330. 220 beds, family rms available. A/C. Dorm bed $18.50; double rm (when available) $23 per person. Bus: 20 from Nahariya.

Surrounded by gardens, this often heavily booked well-run hostel has pleasant dorm rooms with up to five beds, each with its own bathroom; rooms are heated as well as air-conditioned, and private or family rooms can be arranged depending on how busy the hostel is. Wheelchair-accessible accommodations are available. There's a swimming pool, meals are served, and you can walk to the beach and hike to the Rosh Ha Niqra grottoes. Reception is open Sunday to Thursday from 8am to 1pm and 4 to 7pm; Friday from 8am to 1pm.

Chaim Weizmann: Statesman & Scientist

Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952), biochemist, statesman, and first president of Israel, was born in a small village near Pinsk, in Russia. At the age of 11 (a decade before Herzl turned to Zionism), Weizmann wrote, "Why should we look to the kings of Europe for compassion that they should give us a resting place? In vain, all have denied . . . to Zion! Jews to Zion let us go!" A brilliant student, Weizmann gave lessons to earn his tuition at Berlin's Institute of Technology in Charlottenburg and at Fribourg University in Switzerland; in 1901, he began to teach at Geneva University. In 1903, in response to pogroms in Russia, the British foreign secretary proposed a Jewish homeland in a 5,000-square-mile area of British East Africa (Uganda). Herzl seemed willing to accept the offer; the young Weizmann sided with those who would not accept Zionism without Zion. He married Vera Chatzman, a Russian Jewish medical student, in 1906, and that year accepted a teaching position at Manchester University. In 1906, Weizmann met with Prime Minister Balfour, who wanted to interview an anti-Ugandist; Weizmann's charm and energy impressed Balfour and won him access to the highest circles of British society. He was lionized in 1916, after developing a production process for synthesizing acetone that was crucial to the British war effort. (In his professional career, Dr. Weizmann received patents for over 100 processes and inventions.) Moving to London, he continued to build support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. At the end of 1917, the Balfour Declaration was issued.

In the 1920s and 1930s, as leader of the Zionist movement, Weizmann worked to build the infrastructure of a modern society in Palestine "house by house and dunam by dunam." Without romantic illusion and with a passion for fairness, Weizmann warned the Zionist movement to understand "the truth that 600,000 Arabs live there [in Palestine] who, before the sense of justice of the world have exactly the same right to their homes in Palestine as we have to our National Home." In 1937, addressing a Royal Commission on the Partition of Palestine, he prophetically explained the plight of European Jewry: "There are 6 million people . . . for whom the world is divided into places where they cannot live, and places which they cannot enter."

Weizmann's eloquence could not alleviate the vast tragedy that World War II brought to his people. In 1942, his own son was killed in action with the Royal Air Force over the British Channel. Struggling through the breakdown of his health and a hostile postwar British government, Weizmann's final achievement was winning American support for the incipient Jewish state in 1948. In February 1949, he was elected president of Israel, a position he held until his death. The title of Vera Weizmann's memoirs, The Impossible Takes Longer, summarizes the philosophy behind her husband's heavily burdened but determined optimism.

The Anglo-Saxon Connection

Visitors to Israel from English-speaking countries are often amazed at how easy it is to get around using their native language, especially in light of the fact that Israel's two official languages, Hebrew and Arabic, don't even share alphabets that remotely resemble our own. In major cities, signs, traffic instructions, and restaurant menus are almost always in both English and Hebrew. Israeli entrepreneurs have become adept at designing shop signs and logos that blend English and Hebrew lettering (which are written in opposite directions) into interesting compositions and the chance is good that your 20-something wait person, the sales clerk where you take your film to be developed, or the elderly Palestinian owner of a grocery shop will be able to shift into fluent English at a moment's notice. And unlike many European countries, which dub English-language films and television programs, in Israel you won't have to watch Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks, or Jerry Seinfeld bantering away in Hebrew.

Of course, the British were here from 1918 to 1948, but 30 years of the British Mandate are only one part of the formula that has made Israel so user-friendly to the English-speaking world. Immigrants to Israel from English-speaking countries, though less than 2% of the general population, have had an impact far beyond their numbers. Known locally (and to their own bemusement) as Anglo-Saxons, these Israelis have provided two of the nation's eight presidents -- Chaim Weizmann, a British subject whose scientific discoveries were crucial to the Allied victory in World War I; and Dublin-born Chaim Herzog, whose father served as chief rabbi of Ireland. Golda Meir, a former schoolteacher from Milwaukee, held many important positions in Labor Party governments, including that of prime minister from 1969 to 1974. Prime Minister and standard bearer of the Likud Coalition, Benjamin Netanyahu, is also from an American family. Israel's most famous and eloquent diplomat, South African-born Cambridge-educated Abba Eban, served as ambassador to the United Nations and was foreign minister for many years; the American-born Moshe Arens was foreign minister in the Likud governments of the 1980s and early 1990s. Henrietta Szold, the Baltimore-born first president of Hadassah, held the social welfare portfolio of the National Council of Palestine Jewry in the 1930s and was responsible for developing many elements of the emerging nation's system of health, education, and social services. South Africans, Britons, and Americans were heavily involved in creating the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and are in the forefront of the women's rights, religious rights, and ecology and peace movements. Americans are also strongly represented in the West Bank and Gaza Settlement movements. Despite their extraordinary contribution, Anglo-Israelis are regarded by many of their fellow countrymen as something of a people apart.

The Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI) and the British Olim Society (for British, South African, and Australian immigrants), with branches in most main cities, offer busy schedules of lectures, get-togethers, activities, tours, and legal advice for seniors, singles, and families, and are a terrific resource for English-speaking visitors who plan to stay in Israel for an extended period of time.

Impressions

We [from English-speaking countries] have experienced democracy at first hand. We know what democracy is and should be. That can be, perhaps has been, our greatest contribution.

-- Alice Shalvi, Israeli educator and founding chairwoman, Israel Women's Network


      Robert Ullian, The Golden Coast. , Frommer's Israel, 01-01-1998.
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