On our last day in Israel we met up with my ex-manager and friend Avinoam. Given the Gaza war Avinoam had helped us with advice on where to go and ensuring we’d be safe in the country. I had not met him in almost 10 years and was definitely looking forward to our meeting!

Avinoam arrived at 8 AM and picked us up from our hotel and took us to Cafe Nimrod. This place is special to him and it was opened in honour of Nimrod who was a soldier in the IDF and killed in action. The cafe is located in the Tel Aviv seaport and has beautiful views of the Mediterranean sea from our table We spent a couple of hours catching up and then he had to head to an appointment. We decided to stick around in the area and walked about a bit until we realized we were so engrossed in chatting with him that we completely forgot to eat breakfast. We went back to the cafe and got some breakfast which was absolutely delicious!

After breakfast, we went back to our room and packed our bags and checked out of the hotel and left our bags with the bellman. We had almost 6-7 hours to kill before we would head to the airport. We ventured out in the city and roughly followed the same path we had on Tuesday and walked through the Shuk HaCarmel and returned back to the hotel around 4:30 PM. It was Friday, which meant that a few places had started closing early; in fact, we could not find an open place to get a quick dinner! Luckily we found a cafe near the Dizengoff center, that was selling falafels and we got a falafel wrap each. It was delicious. We kept telling each other to savour each bite since it was the last one for this trip!

We walked back to our hotel, picked up our bags and took a taxi to the airport. It was 7:30 PM and the flight was at 11 PM but we wanted to be early enough since the security at Ben Gurion airport can sometimes take a while. The taxi driver was an avid supporter of Gilad Shalit’s release and had a flag on his car supporting his cause.

We arrived at the airport and all the soldiers were really friendly, most of them had been to India and were excited and happy to see us. We went through the numerous security checkpoints and settled into a seat near our gate and reflected on our trip: This trip had been such an eye opener to the world. We had traveled through ancient lands, rife with so much culture and history, visited so many UNESCO protected sites and learned so much about the world we live in.
Visiting Israel, was controversial from the start to many people, who we told about our trip. Some had reservations about the safety of the place, whilst most were passionate about Israeli and Palestinian politics. The politics are real, no one can deny that. Each side has its points and story and its a thorny and complex issue. Our goal was to get more in touch with the history and culture of the places we visited and we kept politics aside, as much as possible. What we did walk away with is that people around the globe are the same: Palestinians and Israeli’s alike both just want to make a living, have fun with their families and dream of a better future for their children.