By popular request, more pictures!
I’ll start with the hotel room. It’s pretty standard.
The beds were originally together, European-style. We pushed them apart into two separate beds.
Toilets here are normal, which is a relief, after the wet-handed-wiping (twice! argh!) of the American-style toilets in Bangkok.
We went for a walk around a few blocks, down to the beach, and then back up along the beach to the hotel. We stopped for a bit at the beach directly below the hotel.
The beach directly down from the hotel is a swimming beach. We think the swimming beaches might be segregated, but we’re not entirely sure. You’ll notice the big sandstone wall on the right which denotes a swimming beach – behind where I’m standing are changing rooms. The lads crossed into a swimming beach on their walk and got in trouble because it was girls-only. We didn’t have that trouble, but there were a couple of women there in swimwear (of various sorts – one not unlike mine!). But as we were about to leave, an Orthodox family came into the area and the kids played on the playground – two little boys and a girl, a teenage boy and girl, a mother and a couple of men. So we’re not sure that area was segregated, since there were grown men there.
The beaches all have these wooden rotundas scattered here and there. I think it’s a brilliant idea – one which the beaches in Australia could learn from. Some rotundas are on the sand, others are paved. Some of the beaches we drove past had stacks of chairs and sun-chairs for general use, as well.
As we were leaving the swimming beach, we (my roommate and I) passed a group of old women who came up to us (or me, rather), clearly asking some sort of question. But in Hebrew. “I don’t understand,” I said, and my roommate added, “We only speak English.” Which isn’t strictly true in my case, and I might have tried French if the old lady in question hadn’t started moving away to rejoin her friends.
As far as I can work out (and from what Yuval has said), you pay a deposit on card to that green box you can see at the end, and it gives you a code which releases the bike. You then ride it and deposit it at any of the other bike-hire racks across the Tel Aviv – Joffa area (there seem to be bike-hire racks every other block in the public recreational areas), where you pay by card the relevant fee for however long you had the bike.
For brunch at the café, I got a long, thin, round pastry thing stuffed with apple. It was about 20cm long and 2cm in diameter. It wasn’t especially extraordinary – it tasted basically like pastry, apple and cinnamon – but was a good shape, particularly for a take-away snack, I think!
I also got diet iced tea (I’m not sure what made it diet) which claimed to be lemon and mint. I’m not sure it tasted like lemon or mint, but it was definitely citrusy and really quite good. Also, it came with this free itty-bitty bit of chocolate – about 4cm long and 1.5cm wide.
When my roommate and I got back from our walk, we found the lads talking to a young doorman who had just come off-duty – about distances, by the time we got there. Apparently it takes just six hours to drive from the north of Israel to the south – one of the lads in our group lives on a farm on the Eyre Peninsula, about nine hours’ drive from Adelaide, the port of arrival. And also barely an inch over on the map.
The doorman – let’s call him Obed, although that wasn’t his name – said that Israelis can get quite proud of themselves because they’ve been to so many countries (“Syria, Lebanon, Gaza…”) and so they say, “What’s a twenty-hour flight?” His brother recently bought a ticket to South America and a campervan and is travelling around. Obed reckons Israelis get a bit of a rude slap when they get off the plane and realise it’s going to take them twenty hours to drive to the edge of the country (or state).
As a final note, I’m a little cautious about taking photos when I’m out and about on the streets. For one, it looks weird. For another, it would be rude if I got people in it without their permission. I’ve been seeing a number of Orthodox Jews about and most travel guides warn against getting any religious people in the background of photographs.