Our second day in Israel dawned sunny and beautiful. After breakfast, most of the company hit the beach to enjoy the bathwater warm Mediterranean waters. With the many domes and minarets adorning the horizon, it's such a different beach vista than I'm used to. Afterwards, it was time to travel to Karmiel, the site of the festival, to take class and rehearse. I always find the trips to destinations almost as much fun as the destinations themselves when you're in a new country. At times the hillsides of northern Israel reminded me a lot of the Northern California landscape, perhaps with a few more olive trees. The festival site was bustling with many different types of music broadcast over the speakers. There is quite a vibe of excitement buzzing around this quiet little town in anticipation of the festival. It felt good to stretch the muscles after all that traveling.
After rehearsal, the company ventured out to see some of the local sites. We had the bus drop us near the center of the "Old Town" of Acre and wandered around the maze of stone streets and alleyways. It was quite magical—the sun was beginning to set over a beautifully tranquil Mediterranean Sea and as we started the walk along the parapets of the ancient fortress walls we could hear the Muslim evening call to pray echo off the stone walls and archways of the ancient city. Never, in all my travels, have I truly felt like I was someplace so different from my everyday existence.
We ate at one of the various restaurants lining the harbor. The fresh, flavorful cuisine was a crowdpleaser: ceviche, shrimp with saffron and artichokes and fluffy pillows of potato gnocci in porcini mushroom sauce. The area thrives late into the night with even families coming out hours past sunset. It's on trips like these that you realize how different we all are and yet how the similar—in the pulse of a drum beat, in a child's squeal of excitement as he jumps over an ocean wave and in a shared experience beyond words and conveyed by a smile.