Been a long time. Lots to do; little time to write.

The overiding theme that has been repeated in myriad fashion throughout this voyage is the way that creativity, combined with desperation, has allowed the state of Israel to survive and thrive against the type of odds that would make a casino operator salivate. The extraordinary mingles with the ordinary to produce a unique society, awash in contradiction, that continues to manifest itself. Often the little things don’t go as planned, but through an inexplicable force, everything works out. This is not a new phenomenon that can only be traced back to 1948, but rather a transcendental element that coloured the history of this magical part of the world. No huge diatribe on the amazingness of this country, rather it permeates the narrative.


A prison constructed by the British to incarcerate the Jewish resistance forces back in the 30’s and 40’s was based in Acco. For additional entertainment, they would hang the occasional prisoner. After independence, Israeli archaeologists excavated the jail unearthing a Crusader fort built in the 11th century as a stronghold against naval invasions.

The notion of any ship being able to secure a berth near the fortified city walls seems remote when viewing the action of the surf. The milky white froth of the Mediterranean cascades against the walls, raising 10 meter high flows of spume, seems discouraging enough.

The fortress has had half a millenium’s worth of debris cleaned out and is now a showpiece of medieval history. The ghosts of eras past and present mingle to present an insight as to what occurred on sight before Columbus got his yachting license.
Our hotel was accessible only via an alleyway, inhabited by cats, Arab labourers and piles of garbage. We did not get a warm and fuzzy feeling until entering the lobby of the newly established venue comprised of two palaces, each five centuries old, joined together to present one of the finest retreats we’ve seen. The common areas were right out of Scheherazade

and, although we were only there for three, we would have been happy to spend another 998 Arabian nights in its luxurious confines. In addition, the hotel owner was primarily a restauranteur. He was the chef and creative sprit behind one of Israel’s finest eateries, known as Uri Buri. 

Situated a mere sixty steps from our Effendi hotel, the quality and preparation of the victuals were supposedly without peer. Unfortunately pier was required since all of the produce had spent the earlier part of the day swimming. Needless to say, we did not indulge since the net result would have been Bruce Buri.

Tel Aviv

Our subsequent touring hub, the sleepy little town called Tel Aviv (Spring Hill), is situated beside the 6,000 year old bustling metropolis of Jaffa,

or as it is known by the locals, Yaffo m’od. From sand dunes to a modern city of 2 million, in less than a century, Tel Aviv is one of those magnificent miracles that define modern Israel. Lori and I are not big on the nighclub scene, nor the beaches, which is the calling card of Tel Aviv. There are geographical, cultural and historical elements that segregate this party city from the Rios of this world. 

The first correct move we made was selecting the right hotel. Lori picked out the Alma, a small, new boutique hotel,centrally  located, beautifully renovated, exquisitely upholstered, and run by a staff who all seemed to share in the pride of ownership.

Whether it was Libby, bringing us breakfast and showing us pictures of her little boy Adam, or Ivnan sharing little ins and outs of the area, the Alma was the perfect foil for the potentially overwhelming hustle and bustle of TA. For further info on a hotel that we would prefer to keep to ourselves, check out my review on Trip Advisor. It will be entitled Alma Loving (can’t help myself).

Last time I was in Israel was 1977-8. My cousin Cliff was living here and he introduced me to his friend, Ron. 

Ron became my base of operations in Jerusalem. We have stayed in touch since. He’s made a few temporary reverse aliyahs to Montreal, staying with us and meeting my family. This past summer Trevor was in Israel, met up with Ron and hit it off. Not surprising since they are both kindred poetic spirits. Trev spent much time dodging rockets under the auspices of my good friend. It is a warm and wonderful feeling to witness inter-generational connectivity. The link was further strengthened with Lori and I spending time at Ron’s. One of those magical moments. You never know if, where, or when you will catch up with old friends. The hope is always in the heart and when the moment actualizes, it’s a wonderful thing.

As if Israel is not home to enough religions. The Ba’hai faith set up shop here a while ago. They manage to stay below the religion radar; more credit to them. Perhaps it is because one of their main tenets is repect for beauty. Mutilated, burned bodies and blown up buildings don’t suit their aesthetic.The  temple and its gardens are a sight to behold.

Aside from hosting the Technion, one of the world’s finest universities, and being an early destination of the Templers – group of Germans who decided to settle in Israel in the early 20th century to get ring side seats for the second coming, and having a bunch of industry, not much to report.

Lunch was had at Maximes,

a small quaint restaurant like a thousand others in this country with the tragic and unenviable distinction of being the target of a female suicide bomber who turned out the lights of two entire families, most of a third as well as random customers enjoying a peaceful Shabbat lunch about eleven years ago. I felt a need to eat there (food was so-so) as a symbolic gesture of solidarity and a physical statement of refusing to be cowed by those attempting to modify my behaviour. It was a meal that brought agonizingly close the randomness and inexplicability of life and horror in this unique nation.

Little known fact – during one of the skirmishes between the Arabs and the Jews in 1948, during an Arab surge the Jewish storekeepers were forced to abandon their shops without warning, leaving all of their goods in place. The marauding Arabs entering the vacated stores helping themselves to the contents; jewelery, high fashion clothing, shoe, luggage, etc. They then wore their spoils and paraded them around town shamelessly. This is the origin of the term Haifa Lootin’.
Maresha Beit G’virin
Between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem there exists a hive of over 1,000 caves. They date back two thousand years just prior to the Hasmonean Period, or the time of the Maccabean Revolt. We had the opportunity to participate in an archeological dig, unearthing remnants of a former society. After descending 10 meters into a cave,

we sifted and dug through rocks and dirt, uncovering shards of pottery, charred wood and small animal bones.

Gathered together and analyzed, the archeologists have put forth a comprehensive history of a past civilization.They were traders in olive oil, had sophisticated water systems and, based on how cleanly the bones we found were picked, Mrs. Maccabee must have made quite a Friday night chicken dinner.

Evening in Tel Aviv.
That evening, we were supposed to attend a long running play entitled Not By Bread Alone. The actors are blind deaf-mutes and perform a unique, touching piece of theater. The cabbie, who was called to the hotel, managed, despite numerous explanations from the concierge and our tour guide, to prove to be incapable of getting us to the theater. We missed the show. It turns out that the driver was from the north of the country, took a fare to Tel Aviv, and figured he could moonlight as a local taxi. Instead of being behind the wheel of a cab, he would have been more suited to being on stage with the rest of the cast.
  • Cookieman
    Posted at 20:05h, 07 January Reply

    But you still insist on using Uber. When will you learn?

  • tina
    Posted at 19:06h, 08 January Reply

    And the adventures continue – when will you learn that seaside towns usually specialize in tapping the local waters for everything they can? Gotta stick to the playing fields for ribs & chicken!
    Oh the adventures of Lori & Bruce – as usual wish I was there – although coats, hats and the like are not necessary here –
    Miss you!

  • Ron
    Posted at 06:39h, 11 January Reply

    Dear Bruce and Lori, I am saving your pictures and scripts for recommending to future visitors to the Holy Land. I am deeply touched by your professional blog and more Power to you. Love Ron

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