February 8, 2012

Shalom to Israel

Saturday -  my last day in Israel. So sad.
Five of us would be leaving very early Sunday morning to go home, the rest were going on to an optional tour to Eilat and Petra.
I was on intellectual overload by that time, so leaving at this point was fine, although going on with the rest of the group would have been even finer. Ah, well…
We spent the morning on a walking tour of the old city, walking along ancient history. And then through the bazaar area. The afternoon was ours to do whatever we wanted. Five or six people did their own self-guided tour of various churches but I opted out of that – I was churched-out and toured-out by that time. I went with Elaine and Sandy to have lunch at the YMCA, an unlikely place to go for a meal but it was recommended by Arie, and one of few places open on the Sabbath. Well…it was wonderful! Not only delicious food but a gorgeous environment.
After lunch I relaxed for a bit at the hotel (played Words With Friends on my Kindle Fire) and then went to wander the old city on my own. An Israeli man approached me as I was walking, and started a casual conversation, asking where I was from, how did I like Israel, that sort of thing. He asked me to have coffee with him so we went to a hotel and sat in the lobby but he couldn’t buy me a coffee because it was still the Sabbath and so he didn’t have money.
So then we walked around a bit and he showed me his neighborhood and since we “just happened” to be near his home he asked me to come meet his 90 year old father who lived with him. So I did. I know, I know…
There was his father, sitting in the living room – no TV on or anything, of course – on oxygen, eating pistachios, wearing a suit.
I didn’t stay long but it was a very funny view of life in Israel.
Said goodbye to my new friend and went back to the hotel to meet up with my group for a farewell dinner.
Should I admit that I was overserved that night and don’t remember much of the evening? Well, I guess I just did. Sad to say goodbye to my travel companions. Sadder still when I got my wake up call at 1:30 in the morning for a 2:30 am pick up to take us to the airport. I threw on the clothes that were strewn across my bed, washed my face, packed my bags and got on the shuttle.
We flew to Istanbul, then a long-ass fully-packed flight to New York, then a tight connection and on to Chicago, and it all worked out perfectly. Bags where they needed to be, flights leaving on time…
It’s been fun doing this travelogue – it brought back the memories and made me smile. I hope it made you smile as well.

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