So far this semester, I have only been to Tel Aviv once, only for a weekend. Many of the international students have gone several times to experience Tel Aviv’s vibrant night life, but that aspect of the city doesn’t have that much appeal to me. So I hadn’t been aching to go, but when my friend Eva asked if I wanted to join her, I didn’t refuse.
A little background on Eva: She was born in Hong Kong, lived part of her life in Texas, returned to Hong Kong, and now goes to college in the States. Last semester, she did a Semester at Sea program, where she lived on a ship that traveled literally all the way around the world. So, needless to say, she is a seasoned traveler. We chose a hostel with no problem, and planned our bus and train times for the trip. When we arrived in Tel Aviv on Thursday, we spent the day hanging out and touring Old Yafo with a couple other international students who were there for the day. When we woke up Friday morning, I expected to carefully plan our day so that we would be able to visit all the museums and such that would be closed on Saturday. So I started making suggestions of possible plans.
Me: “So, what do you think of checking out this Bible Museum, or going to the Art Museum to find the street festival the lady at the tourist counter mentioned yesterday?”
Eva: “Meh. We’ll see what happens.”
Taken aback, I tried a couple more times to suggest plans, but each time, she refused to discuss them with me. I was rather frustrated. So we set out walking, really in no particular direction at all. I wasn’t sure how to handle it at first, and the controlling side of me was rebelling at the thought of aimlessly wandering the city with no plan or goal in mind. Finally I made up my mind to try my best to forget about a plan, and just go with the flow. I guess really that was my only option anyway, as Eva had pretty much taken control of the situation.
So we continued wandering, and entirely by accident, we bumped into this really neat crafts market, with some really amazing handcrafted items made by the vendors. There was a lady who made baskets with rolled up, painted newspaper, there were painters, jewelry makers, you name it. It was really fun, and we ended up spending a couple hours just wandering around. Eva also was determined to practice her basic phrases of Hebrew with every shop owner that would give her the time of day, and hilarity ensued.
After the market and a stop for some freshly made carrot juice, we continued our wandering and ended up at the beach, where we ended up hanging out and playing a strange form of tableless beach ping pong that is really popular on the Tel Aviv beach. Then we explored a little more and met a couple friends for dinner that we had run into the day before.
That is how our weekend progressed, and once I was able to leave my comfort zone of carefully planning every step of the day, it turned out to be one of the most relaxed, enjoyable weekends of touring I have ever had. The weather was beautiful, and the Tel Avivians were extremely helpful when we were standing on a street corner trying to figure out our map; on multiple occasions people even stopped to ask us if we needed help. I think if we had minutely planned the day, I would have been focused on our next destination in my mind, and I would not have noticed all the life going on around me.