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Tel Aviv

Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, Israel, long term travel, Tel Aviv, Travel

Winding Down in Tel Aviv

We were up early Monday morning to return the rental car – so early we got there before the office opened, so we popped across the street for a coffee while we waited. The office opened at 8:00 and we quickly learned we had done double the allowed mileage on the rental car. Oops! So after some negotiations, we paid a much smaller fee than originally quoted and we also made friends with Roiy, who invited us out for drinks that evening.

Our only plans for the day were to chill out and cafe hop, and we did just that, while enjoying some of the amenities that come with being in a capital city. We strolled through Tel Aviv’s sprawling food market, window shopped on Shenkin Street and drank coffee at cafes that rivaled the hipster joints on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
We dodged late afternoon rain showers and made our way to met up with Roiy for some beers. I always appreciate time with locals, as it gives you better insight into what life is really like in a place. After a couple of beers at a typical Irish pub, we got to talking about life in Israel. Roiy spoke of the high cost of living in Tel Aviv which is crippling for so many people. He wants to be a hang-gliding pilot, but because of the cost of courses, his rent, and the low wage he makes at his current job, his certification is taking longer than he would like.
He talked to us about his time in the army, and his disposition changed entirely. He said that his time serving in the army, “put his light out,” and he quickly changed the subject although we were so interested to hear more. After a few more drinks, we headed for what would be my last late-night falafel and made our way back to the hostel. I said goodbye to Dave, as he was leaving for a very early morning flight. It stormed hard all night, and I was relieved to wake up to clear skies. There’s nothing like schlepping in the rain with a 25lb backpack on.
I arrived at the airport more than 3 hours prior to my flight, as recommended by other travelers and Israelis alike. The security checks were like nothing else I have ever experienced. Both my checked and unchecked bags were unpacked and repacked, down to every coin being taken out of my purse. Luckily, the questioning about my time in Israel and what I had done was not as grueling as I had heard it would be.
I headed to the gate with mixed feelings. My time in Israel had been an education from start to finish. But I felt like I had carried a weight with me the entire time, not one of worry, but one of trying to figure out the dichotomy of this young country. Each city felt like being in a new country, and there was no “getting used” to it. Many places I leave feeling like I know I will return to, but I didn’t feel that way about Israel. I feel like it was a place I needed to go out of a desire to learn and understand, but for me it didn’t offer that draw or magic that I’ve experienced elsewhere. I boarded my flight back to Istanbul, excited for one more day in what had turned out to be such a surprisingly likeable city before departing for a totally different experience altogether…Nepal!