No joke. I had my mom worried last Tuesday when I called home for a 3 hour conversation. 5 days of voluntary intensive learning in the Old City took its toll on me and my friend Sarah. The energy in this city can really start affecting a person especially when you are seeking it out. While I wasn’t really suffering from Jerusalem Syndrome (it is a real thing, check Wikipedia) I was feeling overwhelmed with the amount and kind of information. Luckily for me I was able to escape to Tel Aviv for the rest of the week and through the weekend.
Every mile the bus drove down the hills of Jerusalem meant an easier breath I could take. After the 40 minute route I arrived at the “New” Central Bus Station. They really should just call it the the Central Bus Station and save everyone the disappointment. Nothing felt new about this place besides that I had never been there before. 5:45pm. About and hour and a half before Rosh Hashana. My bus was the second to last bus out of Jerusalem. If you’ve ever seen the cult classic The Warriors you can imagine the scene I arrived to find. Absolutely empty. Well I’m exaggerating. There were heaps of trash and spills of goo throughout the terminal. Since everything had closed for the start of the holiday the place was practically deserted. Terrible signage to boot. Luckily I fumbled my way through some Hebrenglish and was guided outside to the pickup area by a nice Israeli woman. Jerusalem was feeling a little too far away at this point. Tel Aviv was feeling a little too close. When you live in Jerusalem you begin to think that the whole country is just the same. But it’s the exact opposite. For better or for worse.
A little while later I’m whisked off the streets on Tel Aviv by my wonderful cousins. The plan for the evening was dinner with their dad’s family for Rosh Hashana. Once again, a sea of Hebrew. It’s interesting to be surrounded by something foreign and feel at home. It was absolutely wonderful. Fantastic food. Beautiful and warm people. A great way to welcome the new year.
The rest of the week/weekend was used to relax and decompress. Rosh Hashana ran right into Shabbat this year. Double whammy. So everything was basically closed from Wednesday – Saturday. Except the beaches of course. But somehow we still didn’t make it there. I don’t feel guilty that I used the time to catch up on the new season of Mad Men. If you saw the home theater I had at my disposal, you would have done the same. I was in heaven with two Main Coon cats, Hobbs and Joanna. While there are cats all over Israel, it’s not an option to pet the ones you see on the street. Another great thing about being in Tel Aviv is the new restaurants to try. We were fortunate to find an amazing deli with homemade pastrami. It’s worth a second visit. And third.
A last minute extra ticket meant I could join the boys for the David Guetta concert. Never really thought about a DJ having a concert. More like a dance party in reality. Made for a fun Friday night!
I was lucky to spend so much time with family for the holiday. One week from now I will have even more family here. Cousin Rachel is starting university in Herzliya (coastal town) in October. I don’t think I could make it this long out here without the amazing family connections.
As far as needing to escape Jerusalem: As happy as I was to leave, I was even more happy to return.