As you’ll recall, come Day 5 we were due to transfer from Tel Aviv to Ein Gedi for the weekend… but we’d had to make a hasty change to our plans for transit, thanks to the Shabbat. We had sojourned across the city to the airport – risking life and limb – to rent a car for a Dead Sea road trip (given the lack of public transport options). Rentalcars.com was our true saviour here – we got an amazing deal on the perfect vehicle, despite the totally last-minute booking.
As we prepared to depart, checking out of our accommodation, the hotel manager dropped a delightful little knowledge bomb on us: apparently, there are car rental services in Tel Aviv city, rendering our entire little drama-filled expedition to the airport earlier that week completely unnecessary. We tried to explain that we had looked online and couldn’t see any places closer than the airport, to which she replied (seeming somewhat, and most understandably, miffed) that we “could have asked her”. Bloody Aussie tourists…
Still, we weren’t going to let it get us down. After all, here we were! Road tripping our way to a luxurious resort at the Dead Sea. This is living!
As this blog series draws to a close, we thought we’d share our favourite memories from our honeymoon in Israel.
Stations of the Cross (Station V) in Jerusalem
We were lucky enough to receive a tour of Old Jerusalem as a wedding gift. Our tour guide, Hava, guided us through the Stations of the Cross – the path that Jesus walked to his crucifixion (the Via Dolorosa). Just past Station V, you can see the indentation on the wall where Jesus leaned against it. We had to elbow our way through quite a crowd, but we got a (crap quality) amazing photo of our hands in the marking with our wedding rings.
And here we are, folks – the very last installment of the Our Honeymoon in Israel Travel Diary. Hold back your tears! 😉
Where we last we left off, we had arrived at Ben Gurion airport. After a meal (served with an alarmingly large lemonade) and an aborted game of Travel Scrabble, we boarded our flight to Hong Kong.
Bored in Ben Gurion. Isn’t my new husband adorable when he’s sleeping?
Alright, folks: Night 2 is when our honeymoon adventure in Tel Aviv really kicked off, so the next couple Travel Diary entries will be monsters. Grab yourselves a glass of wine, and strap in!
Last we left off, we were headed back out into Tel Aviv after a bit of a nap. We retraced our steps to find a couple more second-hand bookstores we’d passed earlier in the day. The first two were a bit of a bust (one stocked only books written in Russian, for instance), so we stopped at a bar – Port Said – to fortify ourselves with a drink and a snack. This was our first opportunity to try our luck with a couple of local beverages: an Almond Arak and a Spritz Said. (Now, Arak is a whole other thing, one with which you should definitely be familiar before venturing into Israel – see my guide to drinking in the Holy Land here.)
After months of planning, and a detour via Brisbane for a family BBQ post-ceremony, we were finally there: embarking on our honeymoon! We were in for a heck of an outbound journey (two flights and one stopover) flying Australia to Israel.
Flight CX156 was due to depart Brisbane Airport at 12:55AM, so the journey up to Queensland before departing was worth it in that regard alone (as the Sydney Airport Curfew Act restricts any departures/landings after 11:00PM, effectively canning your night-flight options). My parents very thoughtfully dropped us at the international terminal around 10:00PM, and away we went.
We strode in: determined, strong, prepared. We knew that this was probably our best shot at attaining that ever-elusive dream of the Honeymooner Perk. It was late at night, after all. We looked tired, and happy. Our rings were only marginally more sparkly than our smiles. Who could resist our charm?
So, the day of our pre-booked tour of Jerusalem finally arrived! This conspicuously coincided with the day that our body clocks seemed to finally adjust to Israeli time – we had to set an alarm to make sure we were up-and-at-em for the 7:15AM pick-up.
We were collected from the door by an older Jewish man who could best be described as “crotchety”. He explained that he was just there to pick us up, and he would take us to a central depot to hand us over to our tour guide. In my usual (hilarious) form, I quipped: “So, you get all the good jobs, yeah?”. He waited a beat, looked at me rather seriously, and said: “No,”.
On we went!
At the depot, the tourists were corralled into buses with typical Israeli efficiency (see: none). It was about 9AM when we finally got on the road.
Getting To Jerusalem: The Bus (and the Elvis Cafe)
The tour guide was Hava, and she was great! She gave us quite the geography lesson, and covered quite a bit of Israeli history as well. It turns out, Israel is bloody tiny – 196km from north to south on the west side, and 490km on the east side, so you can basically drive around it in a day. Blew our little Aussie minds.
Our first pit stop was an Elvis cafe (of course!) plonked into the middle of the desert. You really do get ’em everywhere. We milled around, checking out the memorabilia, side-stepping the dozens of roaming cats, and paid a shekel each to use the bathroom before we got back on the road.