Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Chapter 35 Haifa - Part 3: The Baha'i Gardens

UNESCO Word Heritage Site.

Baha’i holy site.

Built in 1987 by Iranian architect Fariborz Sahba.

It is misleading to call them gardens. Genuinely it is.

Really what they should be called is the aweinspiringperfectlymaintainedtieredupamountainwonderthatisthe Baha’I Gardens.

I stand and gawp at how picturesque the soaring terraces are for a minute before walking in. As we are scanned by security, the rules are stated formulaically:

No smoking.

No eating or drinking of any kind.

Do not drink from the water fountain.

Do not, under any circumstances, climb into the fountain. No… not even for a photo.

The guards let us in and go back to their conversation:

‘Well it’s the borders that are our first line of defense. They…’

Okaayyy... yup - flowers beautiful, gardens - a feat of absolute genius, all great, thumbs waaayyy up.

I shuffle back towards the gate, unconvincingly pretending to be fascinated by the flawlessly aligned blades of grass as I strain my ears to overhear.

I know. Eavesdropping is rude. I did feel a little guilty.

‘After 9/11 the US called on us to train them in security. They were not tight enough on the borders.’

The man dominating the conversation was speaking English with a strange almost-Spanish accent.

‘Now they understand better how to do it. Israel has always been the best at these things.’

I didn’t really get much else as my studied staring at the grass was starting to look, at the very least, faintly moronic.

I ambled away and up the stairs to gaze down the mountain, over the garden and onto the sea.

Absolutely amazing.

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