After waxing lyrical about Abraham Hostel in Jerusalem, I had met one of the partners there (Maoz) and found out that he actually got a head start on the backpacking scene in Israel and helped kickstart the industry around 2005 with his boutique hostel (is that a term? It is now), the Fauzi Azar inn.
Lonely Planet gives out high praise to the Fauzi Azar inn so I was really interested in checking it out, so I rocked up with a 3 night stay planned, hoping I could entertain myself in Jesus’ home town for that amount of time. In the end, I wish I had stayed longer.
The Fauzi Azar inn is found in centre Nazareth’s old city, almost lost amidst the wonderful narrow, winding paths that try to steer you off target. Luckily, the guys at the Fauzi Azar are well aware how confusing it can be and they have signs EVERYWHERE, seemingly at every junction, so you’ll find it pretty easily. And if you have any problems, like I did arriving at night, you can ask anyone in the city and they know exactly where you mean. The Fauzi Azar has really made its mark in the city.
Nazareth is a must-see place in Israel, it’s predominantly Muslim, but the Arab Muslims mostly all speak Hebrew which is rare. Also, the Christians, Jews and Arabs who live here get on famously giving us all hope for the conflict in the Middle East, if these guys can do it, why can everyone not? But that question is for another day.
When you get to the Fauzi Azar, you’ll see why I love it so much. It’s a 200 year old Arabic mansion from the Ottoman era, converted into a really personal boutique hostel. When you walk in, there’s a sprawling courtyard where you can chill and drink (the free) coffee and tea and escape the midday heat.
Upstairs there’s a common area with computers, maps, books etc AND a kitchen offering a free, seemingly limitless offering of cakes, buns, local delicacies. I’ve never seen this in a hostel before, but I expect it from now on! Freshly baked morning chocolate brownies, as a backpacker?! It’s too good to be true, but it’s here and it’s free!
There are 2 dorms too, with the original painting on the ceilings. Dorms run around 90 shekels ($23) which is great value when you see what you get for the free, all-you-can-eat breakfast! It’s a huge Jewish spread, pittas and cream cheese, and minipizzas, bowls of fresh fruit, toast, jam, cereal, juices – it’s heaven. If you’ve been roughing it on the road like me, this is something special. You’ll never wanna leave.
You’ll easily fill 2 or 3 days in Nazareth, first up when you stay here you’re eligible for a free, off-the-beaten-track tour every morning from around 11-1.30. Following in Jesus’ footsteps, you’ll visit local carpenters, order fruit from the local market, drink tea in multi-faith domino houses, it’s the real deal and it won’t cost you a penny.
The guys at the Fauzi Azar Inn really know their stuff to. Maoz, the owner, is somesort of traveling-genius-meets-backpacking-guru., and he’s a great guy to top it off! He’s set up a network, that hostels across the country now collaborate on. He started this ridiculously awesome place, he founded the ‘Jesus Trail’ which I’ll talk about tomorrow, he’s a partner in Abraham’s, the best hostel in Jerusalem and they’re all growing fast. If you come to Nazareth don’t consider staying anywhere else, this place has got you covered and it promises to be a very special stay. Happy travels!