Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Hadera, The Final Frontier

The town of Hadera, forty kilometers up the coast from Tel-Aviv, has such a solid reputation as a shithole, that when writing my book about cities in Israel I promptly skipped it (though I did mention it on my blog before, right here). Alas, the publishing house pulled me by the ear and forced me to board the train headed there. Alon waited for me at the train station, his camera prepared to immortalize dullness.

Five hours later we were at the far end of a 2,400 meter long wharf sticking out into the windy Mediterranean. Beneath us were jellyfish over one meter in diameter. We've just been inside a smokestack 300 meters tall, currently the tallest structure in the Middle East. The wind was insane. We were feeling just fine.

That wharf is a coal terminal for the local power plant. I'm not mad about coal-powered power plants, but in terrorism-prone Israel, nuclear is scary, and until they get their act together and harness the sun and wind, coal is somehow acceptable. In terms of Hadera tourism, it's a serious treasure.

Not that Hadera lacks anything. It's got an historic clifftop-Bauhaus-mansion-coffee-shop, a park pond full of fish so precious that a guard has to be placed there to protect them, and an outdoor market offering the biggest strawberries I've ever seen (certainly in January). Once more I learn that prejudice towards places is similar to racism and makes about as much sense.

P.S. The real final frontier is as always Jaffa. There's a stray horse, a beautiful white Arabian, hanging around my neighborhood for about a week now. On my walk back home from the pub tonight it followed me part of the way. Cute as can be!

This was the first time I noticed his limp, which is probably the cause of the abandonemnt. I reported this to the city's veterinarian service, which has a 24 hour hotline, and asked them to keep me informed on where he's taken to and how he's being treated. They promised they will, let's hope they stay true to their word.

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