Tuesday, 5 February 2013

My Journey in The Promised Land

I wish I had known more about the Israeli-Gaza-Westbank conflict and history of this young country in general before I visited, but anyway, I went there blissfully, slightly unaware that it's a country full of deep rooted conflicts. When mentioning to our Muslim friends where we were going, one funnily said 'enjoy my land'. The good thing is that I learnt a lot while I was there.

We were told that when we get to Israel to ask the immigration officer not to stamp us into the country, as having an Israel stamp in your passport meant that you would not be allowed to enter other middle eastern or Islamic countries such as Dubai. Oh hhhell no, I love Dubai and I definitely want to go back, so on our flight over to Tel Aviv Andreea and I practiced our crucial line to ask the immigration officer. The more we practiced the more scared we got that they would refuse entry all together. So I switched to thinking about humus instead.

View form our apartment

Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is full of life and energy. People are so beautiful, so happy, and looks so healthy. They love to party and have a good time, we went out every single night we were in Tel Aviv. The city is buzzy, the people are so laid back, reminds me of LA in a way but way more chilled. I felt very safe walking at night just with my two girls. You wouldn't even think that it is right smack bang in the middle of a huge conflict.

Shabbat Candles at the Hilton

Topsy Beach Bar 
Sunset on Hilton Beach
Andreea by The Hilton Pool

We wasted no time and headed to The Dead Sea on our second day. It was by sheer luck we found a very nice taxi driver who agreed to take us there with a reasonable rate, plus he had a huge Mercedes which made the journey that much more comfortable (a lot of taxis in Tel Aviv aren't in their best conditions). I remember being 8 years old begging my dad for so long to take me but it never happened and now I am finally going to get a chance. I've done a lot of things but swimming in The Dead Sea is possibly my top three memorable moments in life. The sensation of unsinkable takes you a few minutes to adjust to but once you get the hang of it, you begin to have the real relaxation. We stayed till late afternoon and then drove back to Tel Aviv with pride of our new baby soft skin.

3 hour drive to Dead Sea


The Dead Sea 

Aaahh Jerusalem. "Girls, you have to be very careful in Jerusalem. Do not speak to anyone you do not know, and just call me when you feel like something is not right. I will be near by here. Do not speak to anyone." our taxi driver told us as he dropped us off at the Old Town. Despite being destroyed in history I can see how beautiful this city is, weather you are a religion person or not (which I am not) I can really feel the holiness of it.

Arriving to Jerusalem

Theresa and Andreea walking into Old Town

Andreea's maxi dress is from Sandro, I've seen Khloe K rocking one too


Olive Tree I think

We walked around admiring the sites and went to The Wailing Wall in the Jewish Quarter. Now, I am not trying to be disrespectful but when you are faced with a serious situation where it would be extremely inappropriate to laugh, one wants to laugh even more. I tried to get in their shoes, how sad they must be that this is the last standing wall that used to surround the Jewish Temple's courtyard. But the giggles are coming, I can feel it, and I am standing right in the middle of this weeping crowd, right in front of the wall. The women to my right is in hysteria cries. 'This is the last wall. This is very sad' I kept trying to tell myself, but I found that even more funny! If my laughter comes out now, it will be a  big burst belly laugh, the worse for this occasion. What if I get arrested? I had to make a run for it. I ran as fast as I could away from the wall and the tears and when I felt I was far enough I let out a nice long laugh to myself. Five minutes later Andreea came and joined me. 'How was it?' I asked her. 'I tried really hard to cry and I did cry a little bit' she said. What! Andreea always says things that crack me up. I love that she tried so hard.

The Wailing Wall & Al-Aqsa Mosque

Male side of the Wailing Wall

Standing on the female side of the wall
Andreea after her attempt at crying 
After the wall we decided to go to the Muslim Quarter. Now, this was a whole different experience. Walking along the alleyway men would shout out vulgar things at us: 'What colour is your underwear? Can I see your p**sy?' to give you an example. Since we had missed the visiting hour of the golden top dome 'Al-Aqsa Mosque' and didn't particularly enjoy the verbal abuse we decided it was time we went back into the market and meet our driver. We got back to our driver and loved him even more because he managed to book us a table for a restaurant that normally had a 2 month waiting list. He somehow knew a girl that was working there. The food was ridiculously good but I won't go into details here. See my next blog about food in Israel. 

To kill time before dinner we walked around the nearby market. 

Over looking Jerusalem

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