May 14, 2008
I’m sitting at the airport, waiting for our Iberia flight to board. Since I woke up this morning, I’ve been thinking about our last trip to Israel. It was one week after college graduation that Harvey & I got married and only four days later did we leave for our honeymoon in Israel and Europe! In those four days, we were supposed to go to the beach on Long Island, but because it was raining, we went to the movies and saw Lawrence of Arabia. Ever since then I’ve had this desire to ride a camel in the desert! Packing bags and getting ready to leave today, helped to jog all kinds of memories of our honeymoon. We had a budget of $2,500, which included the student charter flight. We had our departing and returning flights for our 9 week trip, and the Let’s Go Israel guidebook. That was the extent of our planning. Each day we would wake up and decide what to do and where to go. We sometimes decided to move on without knowing where we were going. We would go to the train or bus station get in line and ask people where they thought we should go.
On this trip, we will be celebrating our 37th wedding anniversary in Jerusalem! We have wanted to return for many years, but each time we plan a trip, it feels like it’s too dangerous or we’ve had health issues. This time, Harvey insisted on going provided that we update our will. A little paranoia is healthy!
Over the years, we’ve changed. The thought of showing up in a city without a clue where we would stay is no longer an option. With much anticipation we’re ready to see what there is to see, do what there is to do and experience Israel once again! It’s different this time. We’ve been reading, revitalizing our minds regarding history, and expanding our perceptions by learning more about modern day Israel. We’ve read The Source (James Michener), The Israelis: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Land (Donna Rosenthal), Walking the Bible (Bruce Feiler), The Haj (Leon Uris), and Kabbalah: A Love Story (Rabbi Lawrence Kushner). Harvey has been reading about the political and economic history of Israel as well as its neighbors.
This seems like an appropriate time to pause and think about the people who helped me to plan this trip, those of you on TripAdvisor! My heart wants to thank everyone for your contributions, comments & suggestions, and contagious enthusiasm that have made this dream trip possible. Thanks for answering all my questions and for making suggestions on our itinerary, driving directions, restaurants, hotels, music venues & how to get tickets, bus reservations (and which side of the bus to sit on for best views), actually driving over to check out a bed & breakfast we were considering (!!!), for translating Hebrew text on websites – so many requests and and so many responses freely given. Such sharing and comraderie is so special and is appreciated! I would like to return the favor in kind…so maybe in some small way, updating this trip report for the next 33 days will serve to inform and inspire others. We’re all kindred spirits in our enthusiasm for travel, our desire to discover & experience Israel and our willingness to share and help others. THANK YOU SO MUCH!
May 15, 2008
When the plane’s tires touched ground in Tel Aviv, people clapped their hands! We’ve arrived! It was a quick pass through immigration and customs, then a taxi to our Hotel Cinema in downtown Tel Aviv. A warm welcome from the front desk personnel…and to our room, with a wonderful view off the balcony of Dizengoff Square. More about the hotel when I write next.
Harvey had a yen for felafel and shwarma, so with a recommendation from the front desk, we tried The Magicians or Hakomem, just a few block from Hotel Cinema. It was the lightest, crispiest, tastiest felafel we have ever had! Each bite of the felafel pita and the shwarma pita was just delicious. The menu was in Hebrew, but the staff helped us out and with lots of smiles and handpointing, we did just fine. We sat outside in the delightful twilight, breathing in the warm evening air and enjoying the street scene. I asked Harvey to pinch me to make sure I knew I wasn’t dreaming. I highly recommend The Magicians for a very informal light bite!
We then took a walk around the neighborhood and made our way back to the lovely rooftop terrace of the Cinema Hotel. There, with pleasant views of the square below, we enjoyed the night air and the complimentary desserts, tea and dried figs, dates, and apricots. I asked Harvey to pinch me again to remind me that this is real and we are truly in Israel. Just want to say that WE ARE SO EXCITED TO BE FINALLY HERE!
Here is a link for today's images: