Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Arrive (10 days later)

I am currently sitting in a bunker at an Israeli outpost on the Syrian border. There has been a constant barrage of rockets being fired at us throughout the night.....

No, I'm really at my cousin Shimie's house in Yuvalim, Israel. Never heard of it? Me neither. The closest city is Akko. Never heard of it? Me neither. Its somewhere up in northern Israel in the Galilee.

I have been on my trip now for over 10 days, but haven't really had consistent access to a computer. So, today I start this blog. We'll see how much I actually keep up with it.

First, a summary of what I have been doing:

Aug 6: I went to the airport and met the 40 other people I would be going to Israel with for my birthright trip. Played "fun" ice breaking games, blah, blah blah. Leave USA.

Somewhere between Aug 6 and Aug 7: Arrive in Madrid. Two hour lay over...boring.

Aug 7: Arrive at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. Meet our tour guide, Yariv (Cool dude). Meet this guy Momo who runs Oranim (the birthright group I am with). He's crazy!

Aug 8: Go on some nature hike. Go to Zfat (Some city with some kind of religious significance. Go read the Bible to find out). Go to Tiberius (More religious significance. Jesus was baptized here? Read the Bible). Do some Jewish stuff. Get hammered since we don't have to wake up early.

Aug 9: Since it is Saturday, we are not allowed to use the bus (Jews have this thing on Saturday call Shabbat where no work is supposed to be done, and apparently driving is work). Instead we walk to the Beach on the Sea of Galilee or the Kinnereth for all you Israelis. It is hot. My white skin burns.

Aug 10: Go to the Golan Heights at the Syrian/Lebanon border (watch out for land mines). Visit an Israeli outpost where this dude shows us some sweet machine guns, etc. We slowly Kayak down the Jordan River, which is really more like a stream.

Aug 11: Meet up with 8 Israeli Soldiers who will spend the rest of the time with us. Go to Tel Aviv. Blah blah blah. Go out to the desert somewhere to some Bedouin tents. Ride a camel (watch out, they spit). Don't sleep.

Aug 12: Get up at 3AM to hike up Massada and watch the sunrise. Cool, but I'm too tired to care. Go float in the dead sea. Yes, you really float. I recommend checking it out. Go to Eilat, which is like the spring break spot of Israel. It is sooooooo hot. It is the southern tip of Israel. Go to some incredibly overpriced night club and get jiggy wit it.

Aug 13: Chillin in the hot Eilat sun. Long drive to Jerusalem

Aug 14: Check out the old city of Jerusalem and hit up the Western Wall (its just a wall....am I going to hell now?).
Aug 15: Go to Yad Vashem (Holocaust museum)....depressing. Go to the Western Wall for Shabbat. There are thousands of people all dressed up in their Jewish clothing praying and dancing and singing. It is Jew heaven. Leave the holiest Jewish site on earth and go straight to a bar. Praying ensues.
Aug 16: Another Saturday so we can't do much. Go to Tel Aviv for closing session with crazy Momo guy. I extended my trip so I need to find a place to sleep in Tel Aviv. Unfortunately it is the crazy busy season and it happens to be the Hebrew Valentines day. I walk hotel to hotel, hostel to hostel until I find a hotel with a room for the night. Its 500 Shekels (~$140) but I can only stay from 1:30 - 10:00 because they also rent to the rooms by the hour....sketchy. There are mirrors on the ceiling. Say good bye to all the peoples on my trip (very sad).

Aug 17: Split my day between getting lost in Tel Aviv, taking naps, and talking to random tourists at the bar. Go to some club at night and meet a nice Israeli girl who's name I can't pronounce. I think there is potential for a Jewish marriage.....nah. Sleep at a low end hostel, but it still an upgrade from the night before.

Aug 18: Take a train to Akko where my cousin picks me up. Go to dinner in Haifa with my other cousin Aviva.

Aug 19: Go to Akko and check out Templar ruins from 1000 years ago. Go and see Mummy 3 (I can't believe I just admitted that). For those wondering, dragons appear in the movie for approximately 45 seconds. Unfortunately, Brendan Frasier appears for 90+ minutes.

That's up to date now. I can't believe you just read that whole thing. More details to come tomorrow.


Ron said...

Great blog Matt. Have you checked out JDate.com? If you're having trouble meeting Jewish girls, I think they have some listed there

Anonymous said...

WOW, I love you kid......keep on truckin.

sid's list said...

Het Matt,
Are there any cool dogs in Israel?

Marcia said...

Hey Matt - it's Band Camp week here at AB! sweet memories. Today the percussionists dress was "foreign hats" so your buddy Mario (aka Matt Epstein) brought in a bunch of yamulkes!!! Keeping in the spirit of your blog!
Ciao bello uomo. Marcia Cece