NOTE: This Blog is a journal of one Bahai’s first trip to Haifa Israel on 9-Day Bahá’i Pilgrimage. It began on January 19th, 2009. After being on the waiting list to go for over 10 years, I guess you could say I was pretty excited! I’ve documented everything on here to help others on their first trip to the Baha’i Holy Land. Hope it helps…
Letter of Acceptance to go on Pilgrimmage
When you receive your letter (which is accompanied by an email) you have to go to this site which is Pilgrimage Scheduling site for Haifa. They will have given you a login and password in the documents you were given… The cool thing is, even though your time has come to Travel to Haifa – there are PLENTY of dates to choose from on site, including all the various different language hosted tours – Hey that’s what makes the Bahá’i Faith so cool.
Tip: While you are logged in to the Pilgrimage scheduling site, its a VERY good idea to go in and check / update your contact details. After you select your date, you will get a “welcome package” covering all the basics. I booked for Jan. 19 – 27 2009 which as of this posting in coming up reaaaaally quick.
Booking Plane Tickets to Haifa, Israel
The first thing to bear in mind is when you get your letter that you are due to choose dates to go on Pilgrimage is that you DO NOT wait till a month out to purchase your plane tickets. Just book at least 2 months in advance to get the best options. And by best option, I mean not have to have a layover in Hong Kong for 20 hours. Luckily I had a great travel agent fro Harvey World Travel named Melissa. After about 30 minutes of searching she found a rout with only an 8 hour stay in Hong Kong.
Tip: About plane tickets – I can’t recommend enough the need to use a ‘Travel Agent’ to help you book your flight. There is just to many variables to try and attempt it yourself.
I was also advised by several people not to fly El Al Israel Airlines, but for the second half of my voyage after flying into Hong Kong from Cathay Pacific Airlines, El Al was the only option. I will have a better idea of why I was advised against flying with them, but from what I gathered, there is heaps of extra security hassles when flying with them. Stay Tuned… (*UPDATE: Yes, there is A LOT of security checks. Fly another Airline if possible. El Al is otherwise great airline).
Booking Hotel Accommodations in Haifa
For me the first thing I did was ask my other Bahá’i friends where they stayed. Once I got a few names, I then went to Trip Advisor to see what other people were saying and the ratings the different hotels in Haifa were getting. There is plenty of accomodation both at the Base of Mt. Carmel and at the top looking down the mountain with a particularly good view of the Shrine of the Bab…. After reading the reviews of Dan Gardens I booked my room for 9 days with them.
The total cost of the room was $912 US. This includes a breakfast each morning. I’m not sure if this is a good price or not, I had no idea what it would cost or if this is an expensive time of year to go there. Below are three pictures of the Hotel, one of the patio area, another of the front exterior of the building, and finally the reason to book Dan Gardens in the first place…. aaaaaaah look at that view!
Tip: Don’t forget to request a NON-SMOKING room, they will put you in one if not noted…
Tips: Preparing for Pilgrimage to Haifa
This is a work in progress as I’m still two weeks out from leaving Here is what I’ve learned so far:
- Find out what the weather is in Haifa for the time of year you are going. Its summer here in Australia, I highly doubt its summer in Haifa
- Your Passport: This one is a biggy because you need to check your expiration date and ensure it has at least 6 months before it expires
- Bring your Bahai ID card
- Bring your Acceptance Letter for Pilgrimage
- Inform firstname.lastname@example.org that you are indeed coming. Also inform them if anyone one in your family cannot make the trip NO MATTER how late it is
- Pack your carry-on with all your most important items including shoes and a change of clothes. I have been warned that it is very common to have your luggage lost and nobody wants to spend their first day in Haifa shopping for shoes
Note: Baha’i Pilgrimage full trip days 1-9 follow this post….