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Posts Tagged ‘Tel Aviv Boulevard’

A Blend of New Worlds

image from spirit_elements-www-josephinewall-co.uk

Apart from my trip from England to Australia, which I admit is quite a trip, I hadn’t traveled overseas much. I had been to Tasmania, which is considered part of Australia, just not attached to it, and to Fiji, which was my one overseas trip.  This however, was my one REAL overseas trip since I was doing it alone. So, everything I saw and experienced was with the eyes of a novice. It was fresh and unknown.

As my driver pulled up to the Sheraton (Yes, I really went all out on my first big trip), one doorman rushed over to get my door and another went around to get my bags. Luxury was the name of the game. I didn’t want to stand and gawk but I tried to look everywhere at once, I wanted to savour the idyllic splendour of this incredible place….. until a loud voice in my head yelled “Get it together girl! You don’t want to look like a country yokel, wet behind the ears, a little more aplomb please!”

A New World

image from http://www.colourbox.com“Never been anywhere before”.

Alright, I was back on track and my image not too tarnished. I signed in and was taken up to my luxurious room. I had traveled in Australia and seen my fair share of hotels and motels, but this was something else. A huge king sized suite – just for me. For the first time ever, I had this huge bedroom for my own personal use. No-one coming to me for anything, no-one to share it with, it was just for me. It was totally surreal.

A New World

Room to move and then some

I started to unpack but the lure of the sunshine through the window, and wondering what was there drew me, so I threw on a pair of joggers and decided to go for a quick walk. I was never one to ask for directions, I always managed to get lost anyway, so deciding to throw caution to the winds I took my rough bearings, crossed the driveway and away I went. The traffic! I couldn’t believe how much traffic came flying down the road. Everyone jaywalks in Australia- at least we used to.  Taking a long look and gauging the traffic, how fast it was flowing, I dashed across the road.

The esplanade was amazing. It was so wide and the paving in geometric designs as far as I could see. It seemed as though there were seats arranged in nooks and booths everywhere and people were sitting, talking, reading or walking, jogging, running, cycling along, on roller blades or skate boards. It was a hive of activity and at the same time an oasis of calm. The sand was a refined golden carpet and the ocean, the Mediterranean, was the most amazing blue imaginable.

A New World

Tel Aviv Boulevard       This open air exercise area was used nearly the entire day and night.

Mesmerised I didn’t get too far that afternoon. The beach seemed to stretch for ever and the different architecture, from the ultra-modern to ancient almost next to each other. It was a glimpse of the Old world and new side by side. In the distance I could see the old town of Jaffa. It was to be my destination the following morning.  Retracing my steps I once again took my life in my hands as I charged across the street to get back to the hotel. I decided if I was to stay in Israel for any length of time I had to work out how to cross the roads, or at least where to cross them.

For someone who was not a great breakfast eater, the temptation to go into the dining room and simply watch the world go by was too enticing. Once in there I had to have a look around and with freshly squeezed orange juice in hand I could hardly leave without trying a few dishes, could I? I cannot remember the names of the dishes I decided to try, but, a tasty tomato, cucumber and parsley salad with a tuna, mayo and onion dish and I felt my batteries charged. So, fortified with some traditional Israeli breakfast I set out.

A New World

Breakfast salad, a new idea

I rounded the corner from the hotel and, not dashing across the road walked along the footpath towards where I could see a crossing. Five minutes later I found myself surrounded by six giant, well-armed American soldiers. The funny side of the situation hit me and I started to smile, then giggle and I was not making the soldiers any happier. After all, I was a mere 5’7″ and these fellows were all giants, at least 7’ tall, or so they appeared to me.

Demanding to know what I was doing did not help. I really tried to explain I was just walking up to the crossing, but it appeared I was committing some serious crime, and I couldn’t work out what it was. The tension mounted and I simply could not stop the chuckles. Eventually someone asked me where I was from. Once I said Australia I heard a grumbled “Bloody Aussies” and there was an immediate release of tension. Apparently I had transgressed onto the US Embassy grounds. Apart from three foot high bollards there was nothing to say I had moved onto a prohibited area. One of the giants pointed a finger skyward so I craned my neck and saw a US flag on the top of the building. With a stern warning to “watch where I was going” I was allowed to leave, still holding in the chuckles until I made my escape.

That morning was the first time I walked from my hotel into the old town of Jaffa. There was a great view from the top of the area around the marina and along the boulevard to the high rise buildings along the foreshore. After breakfast and around midnight each day I would make this walk to Jaffa, listening to my iPod and watching the whirlpool of people passing by. There was a constant flow of people, walking, running, on roller skates, skate boards or little scooters. People walked their dogs and groups of people would be sitting and chatting until the early hours of the morning.

I’m not certain what the hotel staff made of my nocturnal jaunts but I received a smile each time I returned. I still wasn’t sleeping very well or for very long but these nightly walks were soothing. During the day I explored the city. Being geographically challenged (I got lost easily) I saw a few areas more than once, but it was fun, almost as much as my first excursion to a shopping centre.

My map was great, my sense of direction not so good and my Hebrew non-existent, so the fact that I found the shopping centre was amazing. As I walked towards the doors I was surprised when a man, not much taller than I, suddenly popped out of the corner of the entrance,  dressed all in black and carrying – a machine gun. (I’m no expert so I’m not guessing and he didn’t tell me exactly what it was). At that time all people not recognised by the guard were stopped and had their bags checked. Okay, it wasn’t that long since the Gaza problems so I could understand it, but it did make me stop and think. Since my natural reaction would have been to resist someone grabbing at me it could have been a different outcome. It appears I had my guardian angel sitting on my shoulder each time I ran into an armed and dangerous person. It was good to know.

A  New World

image from http://www.reuters.com     Israeli soldiers, a fact of life.

This strange new world still felt like home and I was excited about exploring more of it.

Next week…….. History comes alive and a new friend.

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