Visiting friends have landed me in cities I’d never dreamed I’d see. From deep in Waco, Texas to the suburbs of Nashville, and a new trip to see a college buddy took me further than ever: Tel Aviv, Israel.
As a middle school teacher in New York City enjoying my school’s mid-winter break, I was delirious and excited to escape my students for a short time but I was apprehensive. Ignorantly, I had no real expectations of my weeklong trip to the Middle East. I just hoped it didn’t involve any war prison — yes, because out of all the people in the world an Israeli soldier would find me and hold me captive for no reason.
I’ve flown abroad before but during the last hour of my flight to Israel, I began to get very nervous about all of the possible headaches traveling out of the country brings. Would my bags get lost? I don’t speak Hebrew, how would I communicate? Should I have just gone home to California instead?
And after all of that back and forth, would you believe me if I told you that Tel Aviv is now one of my top three favorite places?
From the moment I stepped off the plane, every person I encountered showed me nothing but kindness. I would be such a typical American to say that I was so happy that the majority of the Israeli people I met spoke English but it was such a relief to ask someone for help and not have to worry about the language barrier. In addition, when I tried to practice my bits and pieces of learned Hebrew, everyone was so patient and helpful that I couldn’t help but fall in love with the spirit of Israel.
When I’m abroad I’m all about trying out the local food but dining can be tricky as a vegetarian. I’ve heard so many horror stories but eating out in Tel Aviv was one of my favorite parts of my stay. From the pasta restaurant we visited to the Los Angeles-like Japanese restaurant called Soho, the food was absolutely amazing. Each night I was thoroughly impressed with the my meal and the service. We ate and partied hard.
My friend, who I was visiting, plays professional basketball in Israel and had been in Tel Aviv for about four months so she was very acclimated with the city. When I say that every single night, except for the day I arrived, we went out and had an absolute ball. The clubs we checked out played Top 40 music and boasted Americans as well as locals partying hand-in-hand like it was a Tuesday night in New York’s Meat Packing neighborhood. Because there are so many professional American basketball players employed by foreign teams chauffeuring around their own visiting family and friends in Tel Aviv, I almost forgot that I was in the Middle East when I looked around the room. And then just like that a beautiful Israeli man would approach me with his own version of the Catdaddy dance and I remembered I was in the Israel.
Besides the incredibly live party scene, Tel Aviv is a stone’s throw from some of the most historical places in the world and the Bible. Jerusalem, home to the Dead Sea, the Wailing Wall and the Mount of Olives, is just a 45-minute drive away from the city and Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus isn’t too far either. Unfortunately for me, all my partying and eating did not give me any time for sight seeing this trip — I know I should repent immediately — but I’ve promised myself another trip soon. Thanks to my partying, I’ve made enough friends to skip out on any hotel bills.
- Frances Harris