Tel Aviv, Israel
Today was a lazy day. I woke up some time after 09:00, got dressed, and joined the German guy in search of a breakfast; I also grabbed my giant bag of dirty laundry in hopes to turn it in and have it done before I had to leave to the airport on Sunday. We walked past the Tel Aviv Marathon right behind our hostel and watched the runners for a short time; I later discovered through the news that the marathon was canceled hallway through due to numerous (about 75) heat injuries caused by the unseasonably high temperatures – this surprised me because the temperature felt comfortably cool to me. Then we walked east to Ben Yehuda Street to try to find a decent bakery for food. We stopped at a French bakery and the German guy selected four different pastries which cost him 96 shekels (pretty expensive). When I realized the prices, I decided not have any food here. We then walked around for a while and stopped at two “express” laundry services; at both shops I was told that the laundry would not be done until Sunday afternoon (when I had to be at the airport to fly out of Israel) due to everything shutting down this evening and staying closed until tomorrow evening because of the Sabbath (you would think some enterprising Christians, Muslims, or others would take advantage of this and have their shops open and running on the Sabbath). Defeated, I had no choice but to wait until arriving in Tbilisi, Georgia to do my laundry. The German and I then returned to the hostel and – fearing everything would be closed if I waited too long – I walked back outside and to a supermarket to buy some goodies (three bottles of wine, cheddar cheese, almonds, pistachios, dark chocolate, grapes, and slices of salami). I returned to the hostel with my groceries and then changed in to my swim trunks. The German and I then left to go to the beach, but first he had to buy swim trunks for himself; so we walked along Herbert Samuel Street (right next to the beach), but found nothing (odd . . . not to have a swim suit store next to the beach). We then walked on Allenby Street to Hacarmel Market, but still found nothing. We walked further down Allenby until finally coming to a surf shop that sold swim trunks. The German then purchased a pair and we walked back to the beach (I bought some ice tea and beer along the way to enjoy while lounging in the sun). We then selected a nice spot in the sand, I laid down on my towel, and the German went back to the hostel to change and drop off his camera. In about twenty minutes he returned and we stayed on the beach for about two hours; I went in to the water twice (despite “Swimming Prohibited” signs planted everywhere – the receptionist at the hostel told us that this is the Middle East and no one pays attention to signs here and not to worry; the signs were posted because it is winter, there are no lifeguards on duty, and there is a danger of rip-tides; however it was very shallow for some distance and neither of us ventured out far enough to where the rip-tides could be any real danger (though I could feel them while walking back to the shore)). The water in the Mediterranean was cold this time of year, but my body quickly grew accustomed to it and after a short while it felt tolerable; also, luckily, the sun was out and once I came out of the water to dry off, the sun heated my body up and it felt quite nice. After enjoying the beach for two hours, I decided to head back to the hostel since my fair skin can’t handle too much ultraviolet exposure. Back at the hostel, I showered, dressed, and then enjoyed the bottle of Israeli Rosé wine I had purchased; it tasted of strawberries and roses; I also munched on the pistachios, almonds, and cheddar cheese I had purchased while drinking the wine and listening to Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories’ album. Then, after completing the bottle of Rosé, I decided to continue my blissful high and I opened the bottle of Israeli Syrah (produced near Galilee, from the same vintner that made the bottle of Rosé I had just finished); the Syrah tasted of cherries and raspberries and I drank the bottle while munching on the nuts, cheese, and dark chocolate. While at the hostel, I met one of our new roommates (a Canadian) and we talked for a while – he too is traveling around the world. Then, at about 19:00, the German decided to out in search of food and I decided to join him (having just finished drinking the wine). We walked out to Dizengoff Street, passed the fountain at Dizengoff Square, and walked up and down looking for a place to eat, passing by many bars that were open yesterday night and packed with patrons. Of course, due to the Sabbath, everything was pretty much shut down (most of the nation of Israel shuts down for the Sabbath – even buses and trains); we then walked back toward the hostel and stopped at the McDonalds nearby; I – even in my heavily inebriated state – remembered that it was Friday and we were in Lent; so I had a fish sandwich and French fries at McDonalds (no beef for me). After consuming our meals, we returned to the hostel and I soon went to bed, to sleep off all the wine I had drunk.