Saturday, April 14, 2007


On Sunday morning I left the Kibbutz early with Richard as we had decided to travel up North together. We took the bus to Beer Sheva and from there the train to Tel Aviv, this was my first time in Israel and much to my horror it was just as slow as it is in England. I arrived in Tel Aviv at lunch time, Richard had gone to Herzelia, and I made my way towards the center of town, as this was the wonderful location of the flat of those in our group doing Magen David Adom (the ambulance service), their flat is a five minute walk away from Dizengoff Square right at the bustlng heart of Tel Aviv. Having visited the flat, which is very small (two of them sleep in the kitchen) but brand new, I went to the Dizengoff center to do some much needed shopping). In the evening I went out for dinner with Richard and Danny a friend from school, and it was very nice to hear tales of the old country again. After dinner I collected my things and left Tel Aviv for Caesarea.

The train from Tel Aviv to Caesarea was a double decker one, and the journey was only about forty minutes. However, I did not arrive at the train station until about eleven. Now I had assumed that the train station would be relatively close to the area and so the lateness of the hour could be solved by a short walk to the hotel. However, the Caesarea Pardes Hanna station is in the middle of an industrial estate about 10 kilometers outside Caesarea, and of course there were no taxis. I waited for a considerable amount of time, called two taxi companies and even tried cab sharing but to no avail. About half an hour later my aunt Katy whom I was to be stayiny with called to ask where I was. When I informed her of my predicament she immediately asked the hotel to send a taxi, and so after another twenty minute wait a taxi finally arrived. It of course without saying that so did a couple of other taxis, but thats life.

My Pesach (Passover, Jewish holiday with the crap food) was to be spent with my family in the Dan Hotel in Caesarea. Caesarea is one of the most desirable areas in Israel, site of an ancient Roman city and now Israel's only golf course. It is not actually a town but an area with several built up yet unconnected (except by road) blocks. This is why that there is actually nothing to do in the area, except for playing golf, which I dont.

I was staying with my family, by family I mean everyone apart from by parents and siblings. I was sharing a room with my 15 year old cousin Michael, and on my arrival he and his sisters Tammy 13 and Eliana 10 (I'm sure I've got those completely wrong, the ages is that is not the names, I'm fairly certain of those), updated me on all the jokes they had learnt since I had been gone. Following this undeserved torture I had a bath, and went to bed, a comfortable bed (one that was so comfortable when I got back to my bed on Kibbutz my back was hurting all night as it was so hard in comparrison).

The following day was pretty much the same as the rest of the week i.e. time was spent reading, chatting to relativies who I had not the privelege of seeing since my departure, and general sunbathing or lounging around by the pool. That evening was seder night, that long and boring service which begins each and every pesach (see link for fuller explanation We had our own room with several family friends making it about twenty of us who were sat down to dinner. I would like to thank my uncle Maurice for deciding to do most of the meal in English and not forcing upon all that were gathered the same seder in two languages.

It is customary during the course of the seder to drink four cups of wine at designated point in the meal. Michael decided to drink these four cups in earnest and then several others whilst no-one was watching, thus drinking around six or seven glasses of strong red wine during the night. What I found particulalry amusing was that he claimed he was pretending and that he was stone cold sober, and what was even funnier was his sister's saying he was putting it on, right up until he collapsed on the balcony in our room. I was up till two listening to the sounds of druken vomiting as Michael emptied his stomach in and around the toilet. I suppose its a right of passage that all self-respecting teenagers must pass through, but it sort of looses its all coolness when you do it in front of your mother.

I had intended to keep shtum (quiet) about it the following day but as everyone knew by breakfast anyway I thought why bother, and so if you are reading this Michael may this be the final nail in the coffin of the belief that you can with any dignity hold your alcohol. That day was spent like all the others just described and so I shall not bore you with the minutiae of the week. Highlights included smashing Michael at table tennis (and then suffering the same fate at the hands of Maurice), deciding to take part in the big game of football in which the young compete with the middle and old aged men in a battle of pure catharcic testorone competition (oh dear God I've become a feminist), and an awful lot of eating.

On one day I cant remember which, Michael and I cycled down to the old city of Caesarea where an ancient Roman city once stood and where the ruins indeed still stand. Having spent the first half an hour there getting frustrated over what to do with the bikes (we ditched them with a security guard), we went to see one of those films which the Israeli's love so much. After that we went to look at the old city, of particular interest was the ampitheatre and the hippodrome both with parts well preserved. It was around this time that I came down with a cold and so my activities became far more limited, not that I was doing much to start with.

I had prepared for a week of abject boredom but luckily I was able to keep myself entertained for the duration of my week there, thanks in part down to my grandparents who are always wonderful to talk to, and the fact that Michael had brought a portable DVD player with several films and TV series and so the evenings were never dull. I was glad to return to Kibbutz but it was sad to say goodbye especially after such a pleasant and relaxing week.


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