In my youth I had posters of Bruce Lee on my bedroom wall, owned a Ninja Suit and practised frequently with Nunchaku sticks (which didn’t end well, but that’s another story).
Another hobby of mine was “survivalism”. It had many meanings at the time, but to me it was, what we’d call today, Bushcraft (something which still fascinates me to this day).
A magazine I used to read at the time was called Survival weaponry and techniques. It had all sort of interesting things in there, but one guy wrote about military stuff called Robert C. Waddington.
He wrote a lot about Israel, its military tactics and history. I became fascinated by it.
Problem was, as a travel destination it was “dangerous” and my mum forbid me to go there in case I “got killed”.
Mum had passed a few years earlier, so I decided it was time to go and see this amazing place.
Dan and Glenn were coming, but in the weeks running up to the trip there were tensions in the area with the result that an airport bus was bombed resulting in minor injuries.
The message was clear, this wasn’t a trip to Ibiza. Dan and Glenn (understandably) both pulled out of the trip.
Having waited so long, I’d made my mind up, so I went on my own.
I flew Jet2 from Manchester.
Nearly everyone else on the plane was either an orthodox Jew or a member of the cabin staff.
Lots of people had been frightened off which meant the seat next to me was free so I could put magazines on it, stretch out and contemplate the wisdom of what I was doing.
The main goal of my trip was to visit Jerusalem (although I’m not religious).
Since the plane landed in the evening in Tel Aviv, I’d decided to have an overnight there and travel to Jerusalem in the morning (I now realise that you can just jump in a taxi direct to Jerusalem from the airport).
I could hear English football being discussed on the radio in my taxi as I was driven to my hotel.
It was right next door to the well fortified and guarded American embassy. When the driver asked for directions, the heavily armed guards told him to keep moving.
I found the beachfront hotel and I checked in.
It was normal sort of hostel fair, I had my own room, with a bed to sleep in, a bed to organise my stuff on and a spare.
I decided to head out and explore. I headed up the promenade to Old Jaffa.
On the way I passed the Irgun museum (which was obviously closed at 10pm at night).
I got to Jaffa. I’d heard the place was really nice and wanted to explore but it was late at night, and I know that the first 24hrs in any country are the highest risk.
Instead, I found a nice bar by the ocean.
Since it had taken me 28 years to get here, I had this photo taken of me enjoying a pint.
I had a 2nd drink, review my guidebook and read a few facts about Isreal.
The British mandate of the area then called Palastine, ended at midnight on the 14th of May 1948.
The following day, a coalition of Arab army’s attacked and the free state of Israel was declared.
It has the highest standard of living the middle east and a population of 8,502,900 of which 74.9% are Jewish.
I wandered back along the seafront and got some rest.
In the morning, I realised that “The Beachfront hostel” was facing the ocean and waterfront and did indeed have sun loungers right outside as I’d seen on their website.
What they’d failed to mention was there’s a busy road between them and the beach and if you’d “sat out” with your Tequila, you’d be 80 metres from any sand 🙂
I wandered along the waterfront. The sun was out now, and It was a beautiful day.
I wanted to explore Jaffa in daylight.
There wasn’t anything specific to see in Jaffa, it was more like you went there, wandered around and soaked up the atmosphere.
I found a nice spot, had some coffee by the ocean and then wandered back in to central Tel Aviv to to see what I could find.
I found the statue to commemorate Yitzhak Rabin.
Its on the spot where he was assassinated in 1995 by a right wing extremist unhappy at the Oslo accords.
From his early days in the Irgun, he had been a soldier at every level for 28 years of his life yet he’d chosen to embrace peace .
He was awarded the Nobel Peace prize along with Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat,
The inscription on the statue says “His legacy will be peace”.
Starting to feel hungry, I head for Macdonalds.
I frequently eat at Macdonalds while travelling, and some people seem surprised.
Thing is, I’m on the move and want to explore and see things. Macdonalds is reasonably cheap, usually quick and you know what your going to get. I use the wifi to check my email and I’m on my way in 15 minutes.
After walking around the busy city centre, I take some time out and head for Hayarkon park.
I find a nice spot of grass and just sit and enjoy the sunshine.
Heading over to the bus station, to go to Jerusalem, I realise this isn’t going to be easy, its chaos in there.