So I went to Israel last week for some work training. Our head office is in Tel Aviv, see. Good hummous. It took about 36 hours to get there (SYD > BKK: 10 hours; 8 hour layover; BKK > AMM: 9 hours; 5 hour layover; 1.5 hour delay; AMM > TLV: 0.5 hour plus jerking about in airports before/after) which is a long arse time, then when I got off the plane I was randomly selected for immediate rapid fire grilling from a security guy (why are you here, where did you come from, why is your passport empty, where are you staying, how are you getting about etc). Immigration and customs were super quick and easy though, then it was out the front to confuse the cabbie (there is no street there!) before landing at the hotel. Nice hotel, walking distance to the office and close enough to the beach that once I found my co-worker we could saunter down to the beach for beers, sunset and deep fried goodness. A good way to drop into things.
The local brew is called Goldstar by the way, and it’s not bad at all. Many were consumed over the course of the week. We also on one night found a craft beer stall that had some great red ale. That was extensively sample for quality assurance purposes. This stall was in the old port of Jaffa (4000+ years old that is) that we’d had a tour about in earlier that night. Nice place, populated by artists and an orange tree that’s suspended in a clay blob. As you do.
Getting about Tel Aviv was pretty easy, we mostly walked places as we had a nice central location. There’s a lot of scooters there, we kept walking past a scooter parking strip that seemed to also be a place to strip mine scooters for parts. There were a few there that had been seriously lightened. The hotel we were at is in the Azraeli towers, which is across the road from the main IDF base. This means that the were a lot of young adults wandering about in uniform – everyone in Israel has to do national service, including the ladies. This has the upside of ensuring that the people are very fit – there were ladies there seriously rocking the baggy uniform look. Some were accessorising with an M16.
So one thing that everyone told me about Israel is that leaving is harder than entering, as the security process at the airport are rigid and extensive. It was made easier for me because I had a mokdan – basically work registered me as one of the good guys, so I had less scrutineering through the security checks. My colleague didn’t have this, so he was not so lucky. Basically once we had some light interrogation our check-in bags were scanned, then his was opened and physically searched to make sure he had all his socks with him. We then could check in and move on to the usual screening (x-ray the carry on, metal detector, like that) where he had another long chat with the security personel and showed off all the stuff he had with him. They were very curious. No-one won a free prostate exam this time around, but maybe next time we visit our luck will change.
So anyway, that was that. It was a fun trip, the training was good, and it was nice to meet people I’ve been emailing over the past year and a half. Also hummus. Not enough garlic in it, but otherwise tasty.