As mentioned in my last blog, I headed west from Thailand and made my way to the Middle East. The first stop was Israel and after two flights, a ten hour overnight lay-over in Bahrain (where, can you believe it, Gulf Air put me up in a hotel) and a fun-and-games border crossing from Jordan, I arrived in the Holy Land.
I decided to enter Israel via the King Hussein crossing and whilst this involved an extra few hours compared to other crossings, not to mention an additional three buses and two taxi rides, it meant that I had neither a Jordanian exit stamp nor an Israeli entry stamp and thus it appeared that I had never left Jordan. This was necessary as I wanted to visit Lebanon, which one cannot do with an Israeli stamp (or an unexplained gap of dates) in your passport.
I arrived in the old city of Jerusalem where Jenstar met me at the Damascus gate, and in typical Jazza and Jenstar ‘muppetness’, we walked around for over a hour trying to find our hostel when it was actually twenty meters from where we’d met! Whilst in Jerusalem, we enjoyed a divine Friday night Shabbas dinner with Itai and his family. Itai and I met and traveled together in India for a bit before randomly bumping into one another in Nepal. Unsurprisingly for a Jewish meal and Shabbas in particular, no one went hungry (the food was amazing) and it was a fantastic evening. It was also so good catching up with Chezi over a few drinks that evening (Chezi was traveling with Itai round India) and I look forward to a few more beers boys when I’m back in town.
After a brief stay in Jerusalem, we headed to Tel Aviv for a large night out with Ari and Jake. Ari and I had met randomly on Chowpatty beach in Bombay in late January (after saying three quick words to one another at the hostel earlier that day) and it was actually through Ari that I met Jenstar and Hil. Ari, James and Jesse mentioned they were going to dinner that evening with these two Californian girls they’d met and they asked if I fancied joining. It’s crazy that we would meet up so far across the world after knowing each other for just a few hours.
In addition to catching up with friends I’d met on the travels, it was so much fun seeing friends I hadn’t seen in ages … ages being 17 years in some instances! Sharon, thanks for hosting a super evening and to everyone who made the effort to be there, thanks so much – it was so good seeing you again.
Before joining Ari, Jake, Becky and Jess at the awesome three day outdoor trance festival called Indigo, Jenstar and I headed north for a bit to visit the stunning B’Hai Gardens in Haifa and the ancient and historical town of Akko, where we stayed in a predominantly Arab region and so enjoyed wandering through the souqs.
Israel has heaps of nature parties throughout the year with Indigo being the biggest. The venue was the beautiful Sea of Galilee and it was a phenomenal few days with awesome people (I have to mention Rafiki and his red party umbrella, which he even took down the water slides with him) and heaps of great music (both bands and DJ’s).
After the festival, we headed back to Tel Aviv for a few days where Ari and Jake very kindly allowed us to sleep on the roof of their apartment complex. We enjoyed wandering round the markets of both Tel Aviv and Jaffa, attempted to surf in the Mediterranean and woke up a few mornings at 3am to watch the Stanley Cup finals. Unfortunately the Canucks couldn’t bring home the cup but boys, I’ll be sure to visit in season and I look forward to catching a game at the Rogers Arena.
One of the highlights of the two weeks in Israel was definitely the food (well there’s a surprise you’re thinking). I wasn’t a mad hummus and falafel fan before coming here but my views have certainly changed. One doesn’t quite have the variety of say India but everything we’ve tried (hummus, falafel, gherkins, pita, matabola, babaganooj) has been outstanding and I’m now a convert. I also really enjoy the fact that everything is shared and you’re not limited to only one plate!
Finally, in case you’re wondering about the title? I learnt the other day that another word for chick-peas is Garbanzo Beans!