Arrived Ben Gurion airport after the inevitable long flight with cramped seating, stiff neck, lack of sleep and over cooked food. Had some lovely seating companions not the last of who were my daughter. Also a young Turkish woman (did i mention the first leg of the flight was to the Istanbul airport) going home after two years in NY. Her excitement to see her family and be back in her motherland was moving. The layover in Turkey was short. It involved schlepping luggage, drinking Turkish coffee and a little bit of waiting.
After deplaning at the Israeli airport near Tel Aviv we got on the foreigners line for presenting our passports. Even in the foreigners line the Israeli method of line forming is already inaction. Shoulder to shoulder, belly to back, jostle for a better position in a formation I would call a mass rather than a line. When it was finally our turn we went up as a group shared our main reason for visiting Israel: to see our son/brother on the occasion of his tekkes or graduation ceremony after many months of training in the Golani 51. We call it playing the IDF card because there is clearly a respect for the fact that one of our family members has made this enormous commitment to their country.
Post the passport business is collecting our luggage and the require hassling over the cab fare to Tel Aviv. While I have been the group leader up to now I relinquish the reins to Bernard who snaps into action demanding to know the fare and if the meter will be running and so one. Later, of course, we will get more refined instruction in this procedure from Ben!
We go through the hot afternoon in our little taxi, radio blaring including a Israeli-style rendition of shalom alecheim. We arrive at our hostel, the Gordon Inn. I over tip the gruff taxi driver who suddenly gets a bit softer. Later we are instructed not to tip the driver. The Gordon is great for a cheap night’s accommodations. Aside from being on the fourth floor (walk up, not good for Bernard) our tiny room rally does fit us all and there is wonderful terrace just outside our door that looks out across the two blocks leading to the beach and the is the sea sparkling in the sun!
Sasha now steps up to be our leader and takes off leaving us to laying on our bunk beds in a state of mostly exhaustion sprinkled with exhilaration and excitement. She returns in short order with beers (tuborg and carlsberg, the ubiquitous coke, and an assortment of Israeli ice pops). We lounge on the terrace. Eventually the decision is to leave Sam a note as to our where abouts and head out to find some dinner.
We walk along the promenade that follows the coast lone and the white sandy beach. It is dotted heavily with beach chairs, lounges and umbrellas owned by the various restaurants that supply food and drink. Every son often, in-between, there are also public beaches. We go to Le Mer as recommended by Gidan, the helpful concierge at the Gordon. And not much after being seated on low plastic chairs, driving our feet into the still warm sand, we are joined by Sam. Now we are the group of five that are making this journey to see our Ben! Dinner is good. Lamb kebabs, merguez sausage, hummus, chopped salad, liver, fries, falafel. A feast. Bernard tops it with a Turkish coffee (Israel-style, I think I’ll devote an entire post to coffee in Israel latter).
Some us go back to our room and others continue to lounge on the beach. Eventually we are all snoozing, snoring and even a bit of sleep talking according to Sasha, stacked in our bunk beds in our little room on the fourth floor of a sandy colored building on the corner or Gordon and Ben Yahuda Streets in the teaming and vibrant city, Tel Aviv. What a day.