Monday, December 12, 2016

Shalom Israel! Getting to know Tel Aviv

Sunday, November 20, 2016
London-Tel Aviv, Israel

We were deeply excited about exploring the Holy Land as it had remained on our Bucket List for far too long. Besides, Llew and I would be reunited there after about three and a half months of separation. It would be a really significant place in which to have a fond reunion.

Nov 19, Sat: London-Tel Aviv

             I left my friend Rosemary’s place in Battersea at the crack of dawn to take an Easyjet flight from Luton airport to Tel Aviv, capital of Israel. Llew would be flying out from New York via Madrid. After a comfortable, if uneventful flight, during which we took off and flew right over a sprawling country estate in England, the white cliffs of Dover and the sea port of Calais in France (all clearly visible from my window seat—and I have pictures to prove it), I touched down in Tel Aviv after a four hour flight. It was about 6.30 pm local time.

 Llew had been awaiting my arrival for about an hour and a half and it was quite easily (and with relief) that I spotted him standing with Moti, the man who would be our driver and tour guide for the duration of our trip. We had our happy reunion and were immediately escorted by Moti into his waiting vehicle for the hour-long ride to our hotel called Hotel Shalom which was right by the waterfront. We checked into a very luxurious and spacious room which included, unexpectedly, a Jacuzzi tub right in our room, and were in the process of making ourselves comfortable when we received a call from our friends in the lobby to inform us that they had arrived after a day spent outdoors. We hastened down to meet them and were delighted to see our close friends Ian, Jenny, Cheri-Ann and Gemma again and to make the acquaintance, for the first time, of Vasanti and Glen as well as Ken and Fleurette. We would make a happy Tensome for the next eight days as we got to know each other in the Holy Land.

Exploring Tel Aviv’s Boardwalk:

            It was at the suggestion of our friends, who had spent the whole day in Tel Aviv, that we did not lose any time in seeing the Boardwalk which was right outside our hotel. Taking their advice, Llew and I set out on the ten minute walk to the Boardwalk, which even at 9.00 pm was buzzing with humanity as the Sabbath had just ended and life was slowly returning again to Israel. Apart from the fact that the shops were open for business, we saw a number of food stalls selling everything from barbecued chicken to kanafi, the dessert to which we had become introduced, a few years ago, during our travels in Jordan. Had we some Israeli currency on us, we would, no doubt, had ordered some and eaten it right there. However, the lack of local money and inability to pay by credit card deprived us from tucking into a dessert that I did not find anywhere else in the Holy Land in quite the same guise. Moral of the story? Do not arrive in a foreign country without some local currency in your pocket. (As seasoned travelers, we ought to have known that!)

            After spending more than an hour by the water and getting a taste of Israeli night life, we decided to call it a day. We turned back and walked to our hotel where, because we were only spending  a night and had a long and tiring day, decided to make full use of our Jacuzzi. It was unlikely that we would find another such hotel. Accordingly, we filled the tub and got into it and spent the next half hour soaking away our travel fatigue. Tel Aviv had presented itself as a very modern city with highways as in the West and a social life that looked similar to any enjoyed in the world’s most prosperous cities.

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