Israel in 2013

Lately, I have been collecting old travel photos and assembling them into photo books. Back in 2010, my dad would meticulously gather all accumulated souvenirs (plane tickets, photos and the like) and put them in photo albums. It would usually take him months to finish it and because it has been tedious, all our vacation photos from 2013 to present have been scattered in boxes in our house. Knowing my dad is a collector at heart, you can imagine the memories stored in those packages – heaps!

Now that I am married, I have discovered a better way to organize and showcase our travels – photo books. Andre’s dad has been wisely doing it over the years and when I saw a memorabilia he made for Andre’s 30th birthday, I realized it was indeed a clever thing to do. BRILLIANT.

I went as far as 2013 to edit and create a home for our first batch of pictures. It brought me back to Israel. I thought I would share a few photos for they have been interesting, for me at the very least.

Israel is one of those bucket list places you would like to visit before you die. You will never run out of interesting things to do, eat, see and discover. AND I think I am very blessed since a part of my family resides in this country. I think I have mentioned in one of my posts (specifically the Tokyo 2016 blog) that my cousins Leora and Shira are Jews. So in 2013, dad and I flew over to their side of the earth to experience what it is like to be an Israeli.

International trips begin with the plane, and we decided to go all out on this one – we rode their flag carrier, El AL.

El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL),[2] trading as El Al (Hebrew: אל על, “To the Skies” or “Skywards”, Arabic: إل-عال‎), is the flag carrier of Israel.[3][4]Since its inaugural flight from Geneva to Tel Aviv in September 1948, the airline has grown to serve over 50 destinations, operating scheduled domestic and international services and cargo flights within Israel, and to Europe, Middle East, Americas, Africa, and the Far East, from its main base in Ben Gurion Airport.
taken from Wikipedia

Should you fly with them or not?

Personally, dad and I DID NOT HAVE PROBLEMS. Prior to the flight I would have to admit that I did have inhibitions and anxieties about the plane. Israel can be that one kid in school you refuse to sit with at the cafeteria.

Currently, there are thirty UN member states that do not recognize Israel as a nation, and in addition, eight of these countries (Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) do not allow entry to people with evidence travel to Israel and vice versa. With that in mind, I have heard rumors that flying with El AL could be dangerous, even fatal if you are unlucky.

BUT NO, we flew and we survived without a scratch. I think the only trouble we encountered was getting into Israel from our connecting flight in Hong Kong. THEY WERE KEEN WITH SECURITY as though their lives depended on it. First, ground personnel were in military uniform, second they wanted a thorough explanation of our itinerary and purpose of travel and third, they questioned our previous business trip from Indonesia (because it was a Muslim country). We actually thought we will not make it. Honestly, many might find it annoying and insulting, but I think (considering the state that they are in) they were only taking extra and necessary precautions. In my opinion, I feel even more safe to fly with them!

Apart from the airport experiences (arriving and departing from Israel) everything else was a breeze.

We arrived at midnight, if I am not mistaken. And from the moment we left Ben Gurion and rode a cab to our hotel, we had the privilege of having our own introduction to what we were getting ourselves into in the succeeding days. The cab driver was very friendly (that or he was just trying to stay awake during our hour and a half drive to the city) that he have us a quick history of the country.

Did I mention this was partly a business trip for my dad? Anyway, he was attending a meeting in Jerusalem, and since we were there we decided to stay for a few days to be with family.

So, business trip = luxury and boy was it one. The Mamilla Hotel where we were dropped off was a small piece of Mediterranean heaven.

The Mamilla Hotel was beautiful beyond belief. It had Jerusalem-stoned walls that exuded a very chic Euro-Mediterranean vibe. The rooms gave a view of the old city so looking out the window at any time of the day was a treat.

Breakfast at the hotel was also something to look forward to. Their complimentary buffet had all kinds of cheese, breads, greens, fruits which was definitely healthy but filling.

Out at the old city was everything I imagined it to be and more. Being at the center of it all seemed surreal. It was really intense! You could hear Israelis bust in merriment of sorts. They were really lively people and that might be an understatement. I also remember describing the scene as a mix of Europe and Middle East. It was surrounded by ancient walls and yet there were modern fixtures that popped out of nowhere. There was a train passing in the middle of the streets of Jerusalem. You could witness it gliding along its tracks as you sip your coffee at a nearby coffee shop.

This is family – my cousins, Shira and Leora with my Aunt Cielo. 🙂

This was the coffee shop I was describing on top – Sambooki. It has been baking breads and brewing coffee since 1944. Look at how my dad was feasting on those pastries! haha. LAND FLOWING WITH MILK AND HONEY is how I would recount it.

I loved our travels. Honestly. There is that constant tinge in my heart that keeps throbbing as I recall everything and writing about it. That tinge of nostalgia. I really miss everything.

We visited this quaint bookstore cafe during one of our early dinners. This was where I first saw my relatives upon arriving in Israel. I will definitely go back there if God wills that we visit again. I pray He does grant us another

I am sorry for all the weird filters these photos have! I mean that was 2013! haha we were all experimenting with the newest photo app, Instagram! There was no such thing as having one filter for all your photos!

I enjoyed my every bit of time spent in Tmol Shilshom Cafe. I loved how they dressed up the place – it was cozy and filled with all kinds of books.

The restaurant was located in a 150-year-old building and arranges readings by Israel’s best-known writers. Also, Tmol Shilshom was also named after Nobel laureate S.Y. Agnon’s novel (translated as “Those Were the Days”).

Dad and I had ice cream to cap off the evening! Look at our 2013 fashion!

My goodness, cringe-y fashion, Lica.

We went to all kinds of places and it got more interesting each day. I have met the animals of the bible! IT WAS EPIC!!

Tita Cielo, Leora, and Shira took dad and I to a spectacular trip to the zoo. I have always been fond of zoos ever since I was a kid, but this topped them all.

We went to the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens or publicly known as the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. It is a 62-acre zoo that houses 140 species of Afro-Asiantic collection of animals with two major themes: wildlife mentioned in the Bible and endangered species from around the world.

GIRLS DAY OUT was an adventure. It was a tale about a bomb threat on the bus, a two-hour ride to the dead sea, a swimming party with drinks and Bingo cards haha. Yup, only in Israel. It’s like going on a steep water slide and after zooming into the water, you’d jump out of the pool and scream, “let’s do that again!”

But, culture had to kick in and we had to explore the old city. The real reason why people visit in the first place. It was two days of going around the country. We went in and out of historical sights, witnessed a Bar Mitzvah parade on the street and had a bite off a Falafel in a pita bread. The next day, we went far north to Capernaum and the Galilean mountains.

Israelis love to pose for a photo! THEY ARE THAT FRIENDLY. Now that I am remembering everything, I could really say it was one of the best vacations I have had wherein I had an actual interaction with a local.

The famous St. Peter’s fish people were going crazy for. I recall they were building up the hype and when they finally served it on a plate, we realized it was only Tilapia haha. That was funny.

From Jerusalem, we took a bus to Tel Aviv! And what contrast it was. It was like we went from Europe to the sandy beaches of Miami. I also made a friend during our trip, her name was Giulia. She was the daughter of my dad’s colleague.

We also went to Jaffa for thrift shopping! I cannot think of a better place to best compare with Tel Aviv; indeed the most accurate is Miami – like this shirtless man riding a skateboard is enough said.

Israel is a charm on its own, I feel bittersweet as I end this. I really miss the place and hope that one day I can bring Andre here to witness the place that I can never do justice through words, and meet the family.

Till then, this is Israel 2013, how I remembered it, how I pictured it to be.

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