After a very late night, I opened my sludgy eye sockets and staggered downstairs. I overheard Alex, an American girl staying here, say she was off for a plodge through Hezekiah’s Tunnel at the City of David, part of the Jerusalem Walls National Park. We went with Fedi, one of the guys who works at the hostel.
Entry was 23 Shekels, which seemed a bit steep but I suppose archaeological works are expensive to maintain. It’s a very popular spot for tourists so expect queuing. A lot of it. The signs say that the walk takes 45 minutes and this includes waiting time. For our trip, that time was doubled.
The waterway was hewn out of the rock around 700BC and stretched for over half a kilometer. Apparently the section you can walk down is nearer 120m, though it seemed longer. It’s not very claustrophobic, though you will find the ceiling a little low at points, and your own torch is a necessity. The water doesn’t get much higher than “lower thigh” but it’s a good idea to make sure your footwear is up to it. And be prepared to get stuck in a line for ages as too many tourists stop to take pictures mid-tunnel. And kids will insist on screaming in the echoey chamber. And your eardrums will split.
Still, it was a cool thing to do even if it did slightly dent my thoughts of having kids, or becoming a teacher. Mind, I’d not have let them continue the way the schoolteacher behind us did. Sadly with the tunnel plodge taking so long we didn’t have much time to see the rest of the Park. Maybe next time.
Then the day got… weirder. Noa picked me up in the afternoon and dropped me off again on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. I located the right bus to get me onto the main road and wandered around the shops for a while before locating my hostel.
Tel Aviv to someone of my generation is another Israeli city hit by bombs and huge problems. The current day image is vastly different. It’s a bustling modern city with impressive tower blocks, a lovely beach and a buzzing night life. Fast food restaurants are everywhere, as are designer clothes shops and a gazillion souvenir shops.
At the hostel, I got talking to a gay Croatian guy who’d ended up Israel instead of Japan when he broke up with his boyfriend. There’s enough material there for a series of novels. He and an American were talking to each other in fluent Hebrew when I arrived, despite both also speaking English. While in Israel…
With their help, I located a KFC on the beachfront and continued with my tradition of a meal in each country. I opted for a 2-Twister meal at a stupid price approximating £5. Ouch. And I couldn’t finish it, so I left one of the Twisters in my rucksack for “later”. Back at the hostel, I had a shower, a snooze and woke up before my alarm went off at midnight.
Noa and two of her friends were outside to pick me up and take me to the Dungeon Club. This was like going back to a good old metal club – underground, cheap beer, expensive entry fee and everyone clad in black. Of course, the women looked far better than the men! In my opinion, anyway.
Tonight was a special performance by a guy from England, though he spoke perfect Hebrew. There was an annual festival taking place promoting all kinds of body modification thingies – tattoos, piercings and the like. Our mad chap was a bit of what the Indians would call a fakir – he did very painful looking things and made them seem easy. To whit: stapling balloons to his back and having people pop them by throwing darts at him; lying on a bed of nails with someone stood on his back; standing on broken glass, then lying on it with another buxom woman treading on him; poking a kebab skewer through his abdomen; and hanging himself from the ceiling via hooks poked through the flesh of his shoulderblades.
And I just found out he may well be on my flight on Wednesday. That’ll be interesting. I just hope he doesn’t go for an altitude body suspension record off one of the wings.
I got talking to quite a few people at the club, including another typically lovely Israeli girl called Hen who invited me to see her parents’ kibbutz. Well, how often do you get the chance to see a genuine Israeli kibbutz? As a result, I ended up crashing at Hen’s flat to make the journey easier in the morning. Unfortunately, all my stuff was in Noa’s car as we got split up and couldn’t find each other at the end of the night!
Note that this “stuff” included my spare Twister and I had the munchies. Nnooooooooo!
I never made it back to the hostel, making it quite expensive on a “per hour” basis.