Meanwhile, I left the Istanbul penthouse last Thursday and flew to Tel Aviv. Things went very smoothly again, although flight-wise it was yet another regret. Just like Asiana Airlines was the cheapest ticket to Istanbul, the 7.55 am flight to Tel Aviv on Pegasus, Turkey’s low-cost carrier, was also the cheapest. I wish I had spent the extra in order to fly non-Korean and I wish I had spent the extra so I didn’t have to take a taxi out to the airport at 4.30 am. Oh well, what’s done is… But make a mental not to do it ever again.
The arrival into Tel Aviv went smoothly. The airport was virtually empty. I got through customs and immigration in a flash, found a cab a shortly arrived at my final destination in Rashi Street in downtown Tel Aviv. It was a bit spooky at first… Seeing all those Jewish grandmothers, I had a momentary PTSD spin-out moment and felt like I had time-travelled back to 1997 to Pier 5 Hickson Road Walsh Bay, when I worked at the Wharf Restaurant.
This is my third visit to Israel, the other two times being in 1999 and 2000. I was obviously 18 years younger and I also stayed with locals on those two occasions. It was also pre-iPhone and pre-social media. I mourn the loss of pre-iPhone travel when all you had to do was go to the travel agent to get your ticket and the bookstore to get your lonely planet guide. Then, if you wanted to rent a cheap room in someone’s house, you just approached an old lady sitting in the train or bus station holding a sign. Unlike these days, you didn’t have to ask for a list of included amenities, cross-check her on multiple platforms or stalk her on social media. No-one needed to be smiley and happy in those days, for fear that the other person would write a bad review
Rent and hotel prices in Tel Aviv is on par with with a surname of the host. It makes social media stalking that much more time consuming when you only have a first name to go by. Anyway, my stalking paid off. Everything here is fine, but still, sharing an apartment is sharing an apartment.
As I mentioned before, the last time I was in Israel was in 2000. It was 18 years ago and I was obviously 18 years younger. You experience life and the world differently in your thirties as you do in your fifties. I think also distance and time lend a certain enchantment. We tend to romanticise and build things up in our minds when we are away from them. I had also at that time travelled solo through Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt, so arriving in Tel Aviv was like seeing an oasis in the desert. Bottom line is that I’m not getting the high pitched buzz out of Tel Aviv that I was expecting. The food is indeed delicious, even simple street food is amazing… And the nightlife is better than Sydney’s. What does that even mean, “the nightlife is better than Sydney’s”… I’m sure even Damascus and Bagdad have better nightlife than Sydney these days. Nonetheless, I don’t think the reality of Tel Aviv as this amazing 24/7 party and foodie destination quite lives up to the hype (or at least my expectation). As a result, I’m escaping Tel Aviv and heading north to Haifa for a couple of days.
Shortly I’m heading for the train station to make the one hour trip to Haifa. My main reason for going there is to visit the mosques and old city of Acre and the biblical sites in Nazareth. I’m not sure how I’ll go… The heat is absolutely. It makes walking extremely difficult and what’s more you’re expected to wear long pants to enter the mosque. If the same climate of political correctness whereby the locals need to adapt to ME and being offended is my greatest weapon were present here, I could just enter the mosque in shorts carrying a four litre cask of wine and claim it’s all religious. Shorts are acceptable in my religion and wine is given at holy communion. But hey, let’s see… Maybe just seeing the outside will be enough.
Here are a few random snappies from around Tel Aviv and Jaffa. Tel Aviv and Jaffa are not exactly a photographers dream, especially after Istanbul. But hey, here’s Jaffa
And Tel Aviv…