Tel Aviv I

It was a cold day in February when I saw a commercial for traveling to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and maybe the wine was speaking, when I decided to find out, how expensive flights are. Surprisingly not that much as I expected and some days later I booked my first travel to Israel…

I wasn’t really prepared because work kept me busy in the time between. I thought about checking the page of the foreign office one week before departure. And maybe this was for the best, since I could just dive into the experience without expectations. The Hostel was a recommendation of a friend and when you like to meet new people it is perfect. Every evening they put out the Shisha and there is a reduced hour for beer (we checked the shops around, it was nearly impossible to get it cheaper elsewhere) and at some point the volunteers take everyone for a bar/club crawl, since the roof terrace had to be quiet at night. Most of the people there stayed only for one or two nights, but me and two Swiss students stayed for nearly a week so I became friends with them. We went together to Jerusalem and spent most of the evenings together. I also learnt Backgammon from a dutch couple and had some very interesting talks with some Austrians.

Tel Aviv is a city where you find many tourists, from what I heard and saw mostly from eastern Europe, United States (most because of a program called birth right) and Germany (but oh boy, germans are everywhere). It’s on the Mediterranean sea and people told me it is more “western” than other places in Israel. When you like you can do party there whole week (except Shabbat I think, but I wasn’t there on Shabbat to try out) and go to the beach. I like a little bit more exploring on my vacations so I made two trips, one to Jerusalem and one to the Dead Sea. The other days I spent walking around Tel Aviv and Jaffa, and to be honest, my head was exploding with new images when I went home.

My mum was very concerned before I went to Israel but it felt the safest spot I’ve ever been. The only moment when I was concerned about something or better, someone, was when I was sitting in a shared taxi with only the driver and he making the music louder, while we drove through the desert. But before I could replay all the possible crime shows who starts like this in my head I arrived at the bus stop where the bus to Jerusalem was departing. I payed 10 Schekels, which was for that short ride horrendous, but at least I didn’t had to walk 20 minutes through the heat of the desert on the lowest point of earth. I was at the Dead Sea (to be exact at the Biankini Beach) on that day with 40° Celsius. Unfortunately the water is also very warm so no refreshment from that side. And I am not really into covering myself in some mud, which was the main attraction of most of the other tourists there. So I just went into the water once to experience the floating (which actually is pretty cool) and then I went up to the resort again to get something to eat and a souvenir for my parents. Since most of the tables were already occupied I asked an older couple if I can join them. We talked a bit, so I found out, that they come from the Netherlands and their daughter (which is my age) was as concerned as my mother that we went there. I felt a little bit as if they want to protect me, maybe because I reminded them of their daughter or because I am a woman on my own. There was another woman solo-traveling on our table, a Chinese woman in her 50s. Later when we all met again at the busstop she was talking to a young Syrian guy, that she want to go to his home country before it gets to crowded with tourists. I found this a bit odd since Syria is since 2011 in constant war. Not sure what this guy was thinking.

Back at the Hostel I waited for my Swiss friends because the next day was my birthday and we wanted to join the bar crawl to celebrate that. It was a fantastic night, even we didn’t liked that music too much and lost the group, but I am thankful for the fun we had together. My birthday itself I spent in Jaffa the old harbor city which was included to Tel Aviv when it grow around it. I ate at Mr. Shakshuka and wandered around the small streets and get lost a bit. Later I went to the beach with some figs and saw the sunset. I was so happy to be there and realized that a decision I made two years ago and with which I was struggling for a while made it possible to be there and feeling that free. And that in a country most of my family and some friends warned me about or find it “very brave” to go there and yet I felt as safe as never before. I don’t want to talk down the conflicts there, you see a lot soldiers walking around and when I came back from the dead sea the bus passed a Checkpoint where I saw a guy blindfolded and in handcuffs, my Swiss friends heard the word “Hamas” on one of their bus trips.. one guy I was talking about had a very different experience at the airport than me with a lot of questions and strict search but as a white woman traveling alone I definitely was less noticeable. Maybe me staying on tourist path was also helping. On my flight I read a book about the conflict and one of the best advises from that I want to give to you:

“Don’t start to talk about it. You are in absolutely none position to judge any site, the conflicts went on for too long, everyone has lost people they love and there are more things to consider than you as an outsider would ever know. When someone else starts the conversation just listen, because you still have no clue. When you want, ask questions but don’t believe you’ll ever have enough information to judge it.”

And this is an advice I learnt by heart, not only for Israel but every place I go. Nowadays I find myself more often in political conversations during my traveling than then. And I often realize how weird it is when others judge about Germany and having a different view on it from the outside than me and my friends living here. So, why should I judge on a country I barely know?

For today I wrote enough, next week I’ll tell you a little bit about Jerusalem and how I nearly missed my flight back home. I was in Tel Aviv only 5 nights but I had so many new impressions, I can’t express them in one post, so come back!

That’s me on the beach of Tel Aviv waiting for the sunset.

Published by katzengedanken

I am a german woman in her 30s, who tried out many things. Right now I am in a phase of change, because my studies come to an end and I am searching a new job opportunity. I have two blogs here, one in english for my travels (Travel Learn Share Repeat) and one in german which I use more like a personal journal and playground. Unfortunately I didn't used the second one often, but I think about changing that.

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