Day 3: Now They Call It Akko

white market area

The "white market" in Akka

Day 3: It was Wednesday morning, January 5th. Our day to sleep in! Why is it that when you think you have all the time in the world, you find out you’ve run out of time?

We caught the pilgrim’s bus at the stop near our hotel and then headed around the bay northward to Akka. The city was once known as Acre, then Ptolemais, and Akko. Continue reading

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Day 2: Visiting the Shrine at Bahji

Kelsey and I gathered with the rest of our pilgrimage group in the Pilgrim House near the Shrine of the Bab and met with Jamshid, our guide. (We were Group M.) We all introduced ourselves, said a prayer, and Jamshid explained his role in guiding us to each of the holy sites — that he would give us some background each time and would remind us of when we had to arrive and leave and so on. Jamshid was an awesome storyteller and dear man.

Kelsey and Jamshid

Kelsey and Jamshid

We boarded the bus and headed up Hatzionut, past the entrance to the Temple Land and Baha’i Cemetery, then out to Bahji for the rest of the day. On the way, Jamshid explained more about the schedule. He also explained that there were a few stops the bus would regularly make at the bottom and top of the mountain for those pilgrims whose hotel was nearby. Since we were staying at the bottom, we decided to catch the bus the next day from the stop that was almost across the street from our hotel. It proved to be quite convenient! Continue reading

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Our First Day of Pilgrimage

Monday, January 3, 2011 – All of the pilgrims (nearly 400 of us!) were asked to arrive at the new Pilgrim Reception Center at 54 Hatzionut Street sometime before noon. There, in small groups, we attended a brief orientation, got our group assignments (ours was M), and got our schedule.

In the afternoon, we gathered outside the Pilgrim House and were greeted by two of the Counselors from the International Teaching Centre (more about the ITC in a future post). After a prayer, we proceeded to the Shrine slowly and circled around it — all 400 of us!

Shrine of the Bab

Sometimes it’s the little things that make an unexpected impression on us. For example, do you know how long a line of 400 pilgrims is when they walk all the way down a long foot path, around a very large sacred building, and down another very long foot path? As we were walking back to the Pilgrim House, I looked to my right and realized that a very long line still hadn’t reached the Shrine.

We waited for the caretakers to open all the doors to the Shrines for the evening, so that we could go on our own as we pleased. This was our first visit to the Shrine of the Bab, as well as the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. (More about them in a future post, too!)

At the end of the evening, we walked back with our fellow pilgrims, the Roshan family, to our hotel at the bottom of the mountain on Ben Gurion Avenue.  It was truly a marvelous day!

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A Pilgrim’s Journal

My daughter, Kelsey Jene, and I started off the Year 2011 in a very special way. We went to Israel as Baha’i pilgrims. So my next several posts will be my journal about the trip.

People of many faiths travel to Israel for reasons of the spirit. For Baha’is, it is a particularly loved and longed for journey to the Holy Land where so much of the early history of the Baha’i Faith took place in the late 1800’s and onward.

Timezone Adjustment in Tel Aviv

Timezone Adjustment in Tel Aviv

If you are Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, you may be thinking of Jerusalem, Bethelehem and other cities in Israel, and although these are recognized as significant cities in religious terms,  Baha’i travelers to Israel will be largely focused instead on the cities of Haifa and Akka.  Situated on the Mediterranean coastline about an hour north of Tel Aviv, Haifa sits at one side of the bay and Akka on the other.

Our journey began when we flew from Manchester, NH to Philadelphia and then to Tel Aviv. We arrived on Saturday, January 3rd, staying for one night in downtown Tel Aviv (Crowne Plaza) before taking the train to Haifa on Sunday evening. For the remainder of the trip, we stayed at the Haddad Guest House on Ben Gurion Street in Haifa. Continue reading

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