If you want to go to heaven firstly you have to make an appointment at the hell-airport with the doctor devil himself. I’m feeling flames burning my skin. This girl is on fire! Well it’s a shellfire and I voluntarily came under it. Questions like bullets – how, why, where etc. Concentrate, convince them you are who you really are (why the hell I have to prove my innocence!?) coz from now on everyone is suspected. Welcome to El Al. Your flight to Israel will be shorter than your airport interrogation (so-called check-in).
It starts with some routine questions I was well prepared for. Where do you work, why do you want to go to Israel, for how long etc. Small talk finishes faster than I thought. It doesn’t mean I’m allowed to walk away. They try to dig deeper. Questions about my work, type of contract, salary – why it is so low (!!!) and who bought me the ticket. I’m shocked when they ask me to show them my online bank account to prove I’m not lying. Although I have nothing to hide, I’m sweating and I wonder if they see it (or smell it?).
I bet my name is being checked now in every secret service database around the world. All eyes on me!
I’m in the middle of the game. There is a lot at stake – I’ll fly today or not. El Al is the only airline which can refuse to board you without any explanation. This is insane. After one hour of such interrogation I don’t know who am I nor where I’m flying to. When I’m on the verge and about to scream “f*ck you, I go back home!” I finally get that precious sticker in my passport telling to the world she’s not an enemy! and they wish me a good flight. Oh! If you go to visit a friend, make them aware they will call them from the airport to confirm your identity. I’m glad it’s over. Only 4 hours more in purgatory and I land at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv.
Israel is a rebel teenager among all countries (considering latest conflicts with its neighbours). They say the country isn’t the safest but the devil is not so black as he is painted.
Safety is an obsession in Tel Aviv.
Check-in points are everywhere – at the airport, at railway stations even at the entrance to your local supermarket. Tel Aviv’s streets are full of soldiers with guns. Military service is obligatory for both girls and boys. You can be in the combat section or even secret service. Reality in this country looks like a good action movie and the moment you land, you become a part of it!
Israel dominates in 3 sectors – technology, military equipment and.. diamonds. Visit The Diamond Exchange District in Ramat Gan as well as the tallest building in the Middle East – Moshe Aviv Tower (to be precise: The tallest building in the Middle East is Burj Khalifa in Dubai, however Israelis don’t accept it for obvious reasons).
I skip all the must-see attractions. I like to visit them in Europe, I’d rather walk around and observe people. I want to spend some time at the beach where I get by a special mini-bus.
You may think it’s a regular boring minibus, but don’t forget we’re in an action movie. It basically never fully stops so you have to jump out of it facing your fears and not breaking your legs if you are lucky.
I reach the beach where I stroll towards Jaffa. With it’s Middle Easter vibe it’s my fave part of the city. I crash into a Muslim wedding where I cam admire the bride wearing a white dress covered with glitter (?) in the darkness she looks like a huge Christmas Tree. In Jaffa, I wander with no direction. Small streets take me to the Clock Tower, flea market and the famous bridge with zodiac signs. If you rub yours, you will definitely come back to Israel one day. Tel Aviv by night is beautiful. Beach bar, hummus in pita and the sea. I could live here.
I’m visiting the local market where I buy fresh pomegranate juice. And pita… again. Jewish cuisine – how does it taste like? In Tel Aviv it’s hard to find a place serving traditional Jewish dishes, maybe only in the orthodox district. Israel cuisine is a mix of Arabic and Sefardi’s flavours. I’m a huge fan of hummus so you can’t get me out of here! If you aren’t into it you can always visit Mc Donald’s. Did you know that the one with the blue “M” is kosher? Oh, and it was in Israel when I (for the very first time in my life) tried sweet potatoes. They are delicious.
On the Dizengoff Boulevard, you can find Icchak Rabin square where in 1995 Israeli prime minister Rabin was killed. Nearby this place there is a memorial wall with graffiti made when the country was in mourning. Today you can find a lot of hay sheds around. It’s Sukkot – Hebrew holiday commemorating Jews escaping from Egypt through desert to the Promised Land. Tel Aviv is very European. It’s very LGBT friendly, people clean after their dogs (maybe it’s so surprising for polish people coz we never do it?), night life is awesome. After a week I’m able to say 10 words in Hebrew!
If you are dying to see some Jewish tradition alive, the answer is – Bnei Brak. It’s a city like Ramat Gan, in fact a part of Tel Aviv, a place where all orthodox live and where.. you’d better don’t show up with your camera. People don’t like being photographed here. Think camouflage. Hide your body and hair. In Bnei Brak you can find kosher shops, people on the streets are wearing traditional clothes. It’s a place where all the old Jewish families, Rabbis and Hassidic Leaders live. Their lifestyle is controversial to young and modern Israelis claiming that they get paid goof money only for reading “wise” books all days.
Tel Aviv doesn’t make plans. Who knows if tomorrow comes? When you hear the bomb siren you only have a few seconds to go to your shelter. Worse if your house doesn’t have one. People from Israel got used to live with fear. Foreigners didn’t. I still remember when I was so worried about my friend during the last riots. It’s a shame coz it does affect tourism and Israel is a country to visit, no matter if you are a Catholic, a Jew or a Muslim.