Tel-Aviv

Trip Start Oct 23, 2008
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Trip End Nov 05, 2008


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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Our flight from Boston to Paris (where we had to make the connection to Tel-Aviv) was quick, pleasant and uneventful...I bought myself a few french magazines before the departure (why I bought french magazines in Boston instead of getting them in Paris is beyond me...I guess my brain was already on vacation and completely non-functional ), but I didn't have a chance to read them - after a few glasses of champagne I just fell asleep and woke up only before landing...so for me it was a very quick flight...
we had a few hours before our next flight to Tel-Aviv, and we briefly contemplated venturing into the city - it was just soooo tempting! - but thought better of it...our plane was on time, and in 4 hours or so we landed in Tel-Aviv... Sasha (he now works and lives in Tel-Aviv with his girlfriend Michal) was waiting for us in the airport...we haven't seen him for more than a year (last time was in Italy in May 2007)...but even despite his now shaven head he hasn't changed at all... we often talk on the phone - sometimes for hours at a time, and we frequently email each other, but it's not the same as being together in real life, face to face...so it was a very, very warm reunion...

we agreed ahead of time that we would spend our first night at their apartment, then in the morning all 4 of us will go together for a few days to Jerusalem , and then return to Tel-Aviv for a few more days... it was already evening, so - we left our luggage at the apartment and went for dinner to one of their favorite restaurants ...as always - when we have a chance to be together - we had a great time...talked a lot... laughed a lot...just had a wonderful time...I just wrote this and realized that for those who are looking for travel tips and such - this whole "Israel" part of our vacation will be much less interesting, because the visit to Israel was more about spending time together with them than anything else... yes, we had tours, museums and trips - Sasha and Michal (in all fairness - mostly Michal) planned everything perfectly...but the most precious, "look forward to" part of the trip was their company and these long conversations - sometimes philosophical and serious, sometimes funny, silly and light-hearted, but always warm, sincere and soo enjoyable...

Sasha loooves Tel-Aviv...and he tried to show us the city in such a way that we could understand why...I liked it, but it's not quite my "type" of the city - I am usually drawn to big, old cities like Paris or London...but I could see its appeal - it's a young, vibrant city which seems to have something for everybody... my first thought of Tel-Aviv was "I think I saw it before...what does it remind me of?...ah! of course - Naples in Italy!"...now, I might be mistaken, because we don't really know Naples - we were just passing through it on our way to Pompeii, but it had this unforgettable "flavor" to it ...the smell of the sea mixed with the smell of the laundry flopping in the wind...haphazardness mixed with some charming shabbiness... I am not saying that Tel-Aviv is exactly that, but there was some common theme (at least in my perception)...maybe all mediterranean cities are slightly alike...and the attitude of the people seemed to be relaxed, easy-going, informal... before this trip I heard a lot of "are you sure it's safe to go now?"...but I haven't noticed anything obviously dangerous (not in Tel-Aviv anyway) - people were walking on the streets, relaxing on the beach... the restaurants and cafes were full...life is life, after all, and it is going on...
in the Old Jaffa we saw several newlywed couples posing for their wedding pictures - it was nice and peaceful there...Jaffa is one of the oldest cities in the world, but eventually it was engulfed by much-much younger Tel-Aviv, and now it is part of it ...some neighborhoods there are quite poor and shabby, but the Old Jaffa is beautiful in a very romantic way... we walked there one evening and stumbled upon a bridge called the "Wishing Bridge" - it promises to everybody who steps on it and makes a wish that the wish will come true... there are only 2 conditions to be met (that's nothing compared to the list of conditions for sealing your love for eternity under the Bridge of Sighs in Venice!):
1) you have to hold your zodiac sign (there is a row of zodiac signs along the length of the bridge)
2) you have to look towards the sea while holding your sign and making your wish

what could be simpler?...yet look at my angel's picture and Sasha's picture: they both look at my camera, not at the sea!...what happened to "follow the directions"?! ...but good thing that at least they have me: first of all, I do follow the directions well... secondly, it helps that I am born on the cusp - exactly between two zodiac signs, and so - I got to hold them both ...and 2 signs = 2 wishes, no?...and! in case that was not enough - my first wish was to grant me several more wishes - so, I got everything covered (including the world peace!)! ...well, it is all silly of course, but it's fun! ...

it was in the Old Jaffa where I found a souvenir to bring home...we never really shop when we travel...except maybe window shop...and once in a while something in the window would catch our eye, and we would walk inside... and in this case - it was in a little gallery in the Old Jaffa that I found my fish...I almost got a different fish in a different country a year ago, and now - this fish...what is it with me and the fish, I wonder?...it is not my favorite animal - far from it (and is it even considered "animal"?) ...I like it in sushi, but that's about as far as my tender feelings for fish would go...and yet I somehow end up liking a fish...if not one then another...strange...maybe I have an alter ego who wants to acquire an aquarium and pushes me in that direction ...

speaking of animals, fish, and animals who might like fish: there is a huge quantity of cats in Israel...and I don't mean pets - I mean stray cats, street cats...I myself am a dog person and usually pay very little attention to the cats, but I couldn't help but notice packs (gangs even!) of them everywhere... cats rule in Israel...they feel very comfortable, act as if they own the land and everything on it - they sleep on top of the cars, have feasts in trash cans, watch you suspiciously when you walk by and can attack you out of the blue (at least according to one resident of Tel-Aviv who told me that she and her dog were attacked during their quiet walk for no reason whatsoever...I bet they despise dog people!) ...strange - this overpopulation of cats...

we had only one "day trip" from Tel-Aviv - to the Sea of Galilee...
they call it Lake Kinneret in Israel (it is only about 53 km or 33 miles in circumference, and it has fresh water in it, not salt water - so, I think that "lake" is somehwat more accurate classification)...much of the preaching of Jesus and some of his miracles described in the Bible occured on the shores of this lake, and it has been one of the major destinations for Christian pilgrims...
and we went on our own little pilgrimage there to celebrate Sasha's birthday...
but we started late, got sidetracked by various temptations along the road, so - by the time we got there it was quite dark...we did see the lake though, we even shared a bottle of wine on its shore before heading up to the mountains where Michal booked a wonderful restaurant in a resort overlooking the Sea of Galilee...it was all great
...

unfortunately time flies, and the greater the time you are having - the faster it flies...






and even though my next blog will still be about Israel (Jerusalem and the 'day trips' we took from there), it is here, in Tel-Aviv, that our visit to Israel ended
...
Sasha and Michal actually came to to America to see us for a couple of days right after our return from London, but that would be later...
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