It’s been a busy weekend. Saturday night we had a Brazilian BBQ to “send off” the Brothers. They’re leaving next week for a month to Brazil for a Chapter Meeting of all the Brothers of Sion. I’m learning to appreciate the importance of feasts – not just for the sake of eating, but to celebrate people and the work that God is doing. I think there’s enough to cry about in the world, we need to feast, to celebrate, to remember goodness.Feasting, a set on Flickr.
The next day I took the bus to Tel Aviv. Central Bus Stations are a little chaotic. There is always a line up through the security check to get in, and I’ve noticed that people here don’t like line ups. It’s the Canadian in me that has taught me to respect them. Perhaps Israeli’s need a Flying Pig. I was warned in a travel book that the new Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv is confusing….and they were right. There are six levels and two different bus companies. And I found out later that they had just changed the bus routes last Friday (except, thankfully, the one I needed).
I got to the center of town, and noticed immediately the difference in how people dressed. Shorts and tank tops for women are common place and I did not see any traditionally-dressed Orthodox Jews. But the buildings still looked tired and worn, like skin that has been tanned too often over many years. Tel Aviv was once called The White City for its Bauhaus architecture, but now it looks out of date and dirty (at least in the areas I was in).
After walking through the Carmel market, I headed west to the beach. Here, massive (newer) hotels lined the coast, and a pretty seaside walkway leads the way to Jaffa, the old port city. I took the 2.5 km walk to Jaffa in the humid heat, enjoying the fresh sea air and open skies. Old Jaffa reminded me a lot of Ein Kerem. Clean stone buildings, artist galleries, colorful flowers… and quiet. In some ways, it was how I was hoping the Old City would be like.. maybe not as pristine, but elegant.
On the way there I saw derelict-looking buildings as beach front properties. How many millions that would have sold for in Vancouver! Graffti is everywhere, some artistically-minded. Coming back, I noticed a park with swing sets without swings. And then walked by a hotel parkade with an electric car park sign. To me, Tel Aviv seems like it’s in a strange juxtaposition between the new and the decaying; a city striving to be modern yet unable to shed its former skin. I have read that the night life is fairly active… but I wasn’t hanging around to check it out. I was stopped twice by men asking where I was from. Oh the joys of traveling alone.
An interesting experience on the way back to the central bus station. A lady told me that I could take the #4 sherut (taxi-van) instead of the #4 bus. Surprisingly, it was cheaper than the bus, and more comfortable. And I learned, by observation, that when you get in the sherut you take your seat, then pass your fair up to the driver via other passengers. Change is also passed back. It was really rather neat. I’m impressed by the multi-tasking abilities of the bus drivers here… but that’s another post.
Tel Aviv & Jaffa, a set on Flickr.