Well, folks, I packed it up from Jerusalem, said goodbye to the city and to my friend Jonathan, who’s kindness has left me wondering how I can repay him. He’s really one of the kindest, most generous folks I’ve had the pleasure to know.
Before departing, Jonathan gave me a tour of Bridges for Peace, a Christian organization he volunteers for in Jerusalem. They’re dedicated to helping the Jewish poor in Israel and encouraging support for Israel among the Christian community.
I snapped a few photos of Jonathan and myself before departing Jerusalem:
We walked through the Old City one last time, stopped and grabbed a tasty Israeli falafel:
Surprisingly good, actually.
We headed over the central bus station in Jerusalem, I said goodbye to Jonathan, and found my bus to Netanya:
The drive out of Jerusalem to Israel’s north was beautiful. There’s a lot of open area, surprisingly. Open fields of grass, expansive mountains, valleys. As the sun set over Mevasseret Tzion, I had to snap this beautiful shot to preserve the memory:
It was something like 11pm when I arrived in Netanya. I hiked about a mile from the bus stop to the hotel and was relieved when I saw it in the distance (I’m thoroughly tired of hiking in the Israeli heat!)
Put my luggage in my room, and I was ready to unwind. The beach was within walking distance, they told me. Oh yeah!
It was almost midnight now, but the Mediterranean was calling:
The beach in Netanya is beautiful! Huge cliffs -- illuminated at night with purple and green pulsating ambient lights from the ground -- separate the street from the beach, and a small trail traverses the cliffs and brings you to a fine grained, white sand beach.
When I reached the bottom well past midnight, the beach was nearly abandoned. I smiled, ditched my sandals, lost the shirt, and unsprawled right there on the Meditteranean, the waves washing my tired feet:
As the warm waters of the Mediterranean massaged me, I looked straight up into the black star-speckled sky. Man, what an unwind. How can you get any better than that? Solitary silence on a Israeli white sand beach on a starry night sky, warm Mediterranean waves crashing over your feet.
Heaven and earth blurred a little bit.
Per usual Israeli food, lots of fresh vegetables, cold fruits, juices.
Then off it was to the software training. My taxi driver overcharged me by about 30 shekels. (“Oh no, meter not required, I drive you to a different city, so we charge 110 shekels.” – nice story, turns outs the meter must *always* be running, and taxi drivers regularly take advantage of tourists.)
The conference was a blast. Gained a lot of knowledge, which I’ll be applying to some of my own projects. I’ll be giving a few talks on RavenDB in the next few months.
The Israeli developers treated me really fantastic. They took me out to dinner the first night:
That’s the world-famous Ayende on the top left. His brother, Alon, far right. And this really quirky, funny guy (I forget his name now) on the left. We had a great time, talked about software, Egypt-Israel relations, IDF military service, contrasted US and Israeli driving. They explained to me how I ate like a tourist, and then showed me the proper way to eat the flatbread and hummus.
As we finished the meal, the waitress, who barely spoke a lick of English, brought me this tasty delight:
How cool is that?! Misspelling and all, it made me smile.
The last day at the hotel was unique: I went down to the beach again, but this time saw a group of Israelis playing volleyball, and I couldn’t resist. I walked over, and in a few minutes, I was using all 6’6” of myself to dominate those Israelis on the court – oh yeah! So much fun. We played for 4 hours – until midnight!
As we wrapped it up, they said,
“Judah, you play with us every Wednesday.”
I responded, “I wish! But I must go back to the States this weekend.”
“No, no, we not let you leave. You are Judah Maccabee.”
Ah, folks. So many memories here, fine Kineti readers. It has been such a joyful time seeing the land, visiting friends, experiencing Israel.
The trip comes to an end this weekend, and it’s bittersweet; I could stay here forever. But I miss my wife and I’m looking forward to seeing my kids again. So maybe it’s right for the trip to wrap up.
Shalom from Holon, northern Israel. Still got a solid full day before I say goodbye to Israel. Chat with you fine folks then.