Friends and Family, Travel
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Tel Aviv. The first 24 hours.

Getting out of Israel this time was harder than last time.

Have you been to Indonesia. Why did you go to Indonesia. Why were you in Morocco. Do you know anyone in Morocco. Is that the only time you went to Indonesia. Why were you in Turkey. What is the name of your boyfriend. Do you know a Turkish person. How often do you see that person….

My travel buddy thinks that I maybe overthought the questions, and volunteered too much information, but I’m kind of used to the Aussie system: if in doubt, overdeclare.

Even so, I completely forgot that Andy and I had made a trip to Indonesia in 2012.

“Sure, I went when I was young with my parents”

And when the next question came, why yes, I was in fact travelling with something, given to me by someone in Israel, to deliver to someone else outside the country.

When I explained that it was a letter from my friend’s daughter to her ex-kindergarten teacher, then lady looked at me suspiciously, and demanded I empty all of my crammed bags to find the tiny letter. And then when I pulled out the tiny pink envelope, scrawled with clearly childish handwriting, her look turned to incredulous.

“You get that I’m asking the question in case you have something dangerous like explosives, right?”

Sure lady, I get you. But you asked the question.

In the end, my friend and I got pulled aside at the next level of security, and every inch of our belongings was checked for bomb-making residues.

To be honest, it’s the first time I’ve actually felt that all the hoopla of airport security was more than just a charade.

But let’s rewind a little now. Rewind back to the beach and the sun and the food and the friends.

Our favourite Mexican (Asdru) is currently doing a three month research stint in Be’er sheva (oh how the customs lady laughed when we tried to pronounce this on the way in). Meanwhile, my second favourite Israeli  (Gal) has recently moved back to Modi’in with his family. And so, Mercedes and I traveled to Israel for a long weekend visit.

The planning was a bit spur-of-the-moment, based on when we could get non-exorbitant flights and following Gal’s words of warning “There are cooler places than Israel in July… like hell”.

June it was.

So we woke up at 4 am, flew direct toTel Aviv, and were installed in our flat near the beach shortly after lunchtime. With bathers under our dresses, we walked south along the beach promenade, heading for the old town of Jaffa.

  

This is probably the best sentence that ever introduced a city in wiki:

Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical stories of Jonah, Solomon and Saint Peter as well as the mythological story of Andromeda and Perseus, and later with oranges.

In any case, Jaffa is an ancient port city, and the oldest part of the Tel-Aviv stretch. It’s rather beautiful, with a rambling old-town charm that is missing in Tel-Aviv. Plus, they have seafood, cats, hills to climb and view the world from, and, as you might have guessed from the photos, a market.

  

We wandered around the market, wandered around the city centre, and then wandered up the hill-park to look back on Tel Aviv and pose like the tourist we were.

Good eh?

Mercedes managed to look a little more pulled together. This is the zodiac bridge. You stand on the bridge, hold your zodiac sign, and make a wish.

I don’t believe in that stuff, so I held the zodiac I share with my friend, and made a wish for her. I think that’s how it works, right?

The Statue of Faith. On the top, the Conquest of Jericho. On the left the Binding of Isaac, on the right, Jacob’s Ladder.

We didn’t spend a long time walking around the city, but instead headed back to the beach for a swim and a nap on the sand.

Our zzzzzs were interrupted occasionally by doggos running past and spraying us with sand, and then ended permanently when a frisbee landed between us, and a large and super-pleased-with-himself border collie landed on top of it/us seconds later.

We walked back into Jaffa, and spent the entirety of our remaining shekels at an Israeli-friend-recommended locale.

It looks a mess, but there is nothing more perfect than this sloppy mess of tahini-covered felafel goodness. We took a lamb schwarma as well, but the falafel was the clear winner.

As the sun begun to set on Jaffa we walked back along the promenade towards our apartment, only to serendipitously meet up with Asdru and his friend Miguel on the boardwalk.   

Guys, I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating.

There is no better place for the sun to set, than over the sea. Here unfortunately we missed the final dip because of the horizon haze, but it was still a very pretty site to behold.

And when the sun went down, the moon was there to fill its place.

The evening was filled with late dinner with Gal and Tamar, which I was too tired photograph, and a whole lot more (slightly accidental) walking.

The next morning was all about sun and the clear blue. We walked along the promenade again, this time eventually cutting inland to the Carmel Market.

^This apartment building thinks it is Gaudi.    

Mercedes is giving me that face because they were searching for me and I was being a creepy paparazzo and photographing them from the other side of the road.

Ok. So I’m a little embarrassed to say that we ended up eating a Mexican breakfast. Miguel, travel companion number 4 and Asdru’s housemate, has been in the Israeli desert (Be’er sheva) for two years, and was hankering for a taste of home.

Honestly, it wasn’t the worst way to start the day!

We filled our stomachs, and then strolled through the busy market checking out the sights.  

We exited the market to an unfortunate display of anti-gay sentiment.

As they prosthelytised, a man in six inch black high heels, black undies, a fishnet smock, a black wig and fully be-glittered face walked on past.

Did I mention that that day was Friday 9th, a.k.a Tel Aviv Pride 2017?

We later saw the same beautiful man as a major talent on one of the floats.

I just hope he felt empowered. I hope he didn’t feel intimidated.

Walking down the street, it was clear that something was beginning.

Colour was leaking into the city from all sides.

  

We headed back home to grab some more sunblock and frozen drinks, preparing ourselves to hit the streets at the height of Pride.

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