While we stopped at Caesarea Maritima on the way to our new lodgings on Sunday, that was really just a stop to kill time until we were allowed to check in. So we just wandered and didn’t stress too much. But we definitely didn’t see everything we wanted to, so on Monday we went back. (Seriously, I am SO glad we bought the annual pass for the Israeli National Park system. It has been the best choice ever. We can get into any national park (except City of David) for free, and can go back as many times as we want to. So cool.)
Herod the Great (Jerk/Builder/King/Whatever) decided to build the greatest seaport in the Eastern Mediterranean, and he decided to do it without a natural bay or inlet already present. This is the first time in history this was done, and apparently is was done incredibly impressively. Two thousand years of wear and tear, however, especially with earthquakes and land subsidence and sea level rising and all, covered up his magnificent accomplishments, and the harbor wasn’t rediscovered until the 1960s and 70s!
Gee has been feeling exhausted by our pace, and chose to take advantage of the quiet of our little house by the sea and stayed home for Monday’s excursions.
Caesarea Maritima, Keryn and Em, Byzantium bathhouse
The swimming pool of the Lower Palace. At the north visitors’ center, there was an incredibly awesome and somewhat hokey film telling about Herod building Caesarea. At one point he grandly says, “And move my palace right over the ocean!” with a wave of his hand. And the look on the face of the actor playing the architect was just perfect–he’s like “What? Fine, whatever.”
The waves at Caesarea are really strong, and the beach seems to be mostly shells.
View from the Byzantium bathhouses, Caesarea.
Amazing old mosaics–I still can’t get over the fact that you get to wander around right on top of them. For real, in the US this would be roped off with park employees watching carefully. But I guess when your entire region is full of history, you can’t rope it all off.
Gorgeous. I love the patterns.
I’m thinking about painting a new barn quilt for my backyard. I like this pattern!
This area WAS roped off. Look at how intricate the mosaics are! I can’t remember what this was–a bathhouse? a chapel? oh dear. It’s all running together, but so amazing!
Me! Photo credit: Yummy
Selfie by the seashore.
View from one of the storehouses that were possibly also used as a mithraeum. The sea is so impossibly blue.
One of the storehouses was squeaking. Loudly, like the souls of the damned. So, naturally, Em needed to investigate. I rather trepidatiously followed.
The sound was bad enough, but the smell! (And I can’t even smell that many things since Covid!) Bats, hundreds and hundreds of them. Em was entranced. I was repulsed.
Look at the details! I love this so much!
LaDonna and Zee, hanging out in the shade.
Yum and Em at the Crusader Castle area. Funny story about this area–both times we came to Caesarea we parked at the south gate where the free parking is–and so I could never figure out where the vaulted Crusader gatehouse was. I mean, it’s on the cover of their little pamphlet!
So I took the pamphlet to the visitor center and showed it to the man at the desk. “Where do I find this?”
He looked at me like I was bananas. “It’s were you came in!”
Feeling defensive, I said, “We parked down by the amphitheater.”
“Ah,” said he. “Go to the left and across the path.”
And finally I had success.
Em walking toward the vaulted Crusader gatehouse.
The vaulted gatehouse. Gorgeous.
There’s an unusual statue, I should take a closer look!
Wow! What a handsome model that artist used! And what talent–he is very lifelike!
What?!? It moves!!! (Hebs the statue)
A modest yet ultramodern take on Rodin’s “The Thinker”
The moat of the Crusader castle. Sadly dry.
Israel has some SERIOUS thorns.
There is a gelato shop next to the southern entrance to Caesarea. We love them. And their little shovel-spoons are so appropriate.
To the beach! After resting for an hour at home (seriously, I need to take some pictures of our rental house, it’s so amazing!), Zee, Yum, and I went down to the beach. Turns out the red flag means that you have to use caution swimming, and is always flying at this beach. But it’s super shallow way far out from the beach, and so it was a great place for some ocean novices like ourselves. I finally let the kids go farther into the ocean–I’m kinda a wimp when it comes to swimming.
Yummy and I found these weird grocery bag looking things in the sand. We were super doubtful they were natural, but cautious–so we poked one with a stick.
Ewwwww. They are gelatinous and gooey. Yes, we figured out they are jellyfish–and once we saw one, we started seeing a lot more stranded on the beach. At least we didn’t see any in the ocean!
Zee headed back to the house (just four small blocks away, seriously like a 7 minute walk), but Yum and I decided to explore the beach northward. We walked and walked and talked and laughed and picked up WAY too many seashells. It was such a lovely evening. I ended up with 17,500 steps that day, so it was quite a walk.
We found a crab claw! (Didn’t keep, because it was a little squishy and a lot smelly.)
As we walked back to the beach access, we saw Bradley swimming in the ocean, and Yummy ran out to join him. She loves the waves.
I love this man! I’m so glad we made it on this 20th anniversary trip (20.5 years, and we brought our kids and our mothers, but still…)