Day 17

My hips have been bothering me pretty much from day 1. They are both sore and stiff but my left one especially feels like I might have pulled a muscle in the joint. I can cope with it while walking but, like last night, it wakes me up lots as I try to find a comfortable position to sleep.

We set our tent away from the others on the beach guessing, correctly, that they would play music. We still had lots of people going near us and talking loudly though (no comment). With the noise and my hips I didn’t sleep much at all. Maybe that was why I woke up feeling angry. My emotions are all over the place on this trip.

We walked away from Poleg beach, past a motorway and through a large field. The detour was annoying but necessary as this section of beach needs to be protected for nesting turtles. On the way back to the beach, Gil went into a gas station and brought me a giant bar of Milka to cheer me up. He knows me so well. The Milka didn’t taste the same as it does in Europe (my guess is they change the recipe for hot countries) but it still wasn’t bad as far as breakfasts go.

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We followed a beautiful section on the top of the seaside cliffs where hang gliders and runners were plentiful. Gil and I chatted a bit about life and what we might do after we finish our walk. The soft sand meant we were walking slow but I didn’t mind as the views were so good – elevated views of the sea are my favourite.

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We dropped back down to the beach for a long 14km stretch, mostly on the shoreline and then partly on the promenade. There were lots of fisherman and we saw lots of people doing weird things – one man was walking sideways, we passed a woman running in a way that made her look like she was doing salsa and, my favourite, I saw a man sniff his armpit and then walk with his arms raised above his head (I held my breath when he got near).

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I admired some luxury yachts at the port where we also stopped for my first ever Jachnun. I thought it looked better than it tasted. It was a bit bland and dense.

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When we reached the edge of Tel Aviv and the power plant I ran to the McDonalds when I spotted it. I don’t even like Maccy D’s but I really fancied a change from Israeli food. I ate chips, a chocolate sundae and then more chips. It was really expensive – 43NIS!! Israelis keep telling me that the UK is expensive but Israel is way pricier. The food here (restaurants and supermarkets) is about 3 times what I would pay back home.

We rested for quite a long time before heading to the Yarkon Park, Tel Aviv’s version of Hyde Park. I’ve never actually been before and it’s a great park and very big. There was a nice atmosphere.

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The highlight was stumbling across a swinging bench…amazing!!! I have an obsession with hammocks, swinging chairs and swings. Rocking gently is the best way to relax and appreciate life.

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Two friends of ours, Eran and Ines, had kindly offered to host us and they were just 3 minutes from the park. They also have 2 cats which are the funniest creatures I’ve ever seen.

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I had a long shower when I got there to get rid of 2 days worth of sand which really does get everywhere. They fed us the most amazing dinner and politely sat there watching us eat not only seconds but also thirds. As if that wasn’t enough, we had Ben and Jerry’s for desert. I love these guys! We tried to stay up for a film (Ghostbusters – the new one) but by 8.30pm I had to call it a night.

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Day 18

9 hours of solid sleep. Not even my hip woke me. I felt great and even woke up naturally a minute before the alarm went, which we had set for 5.30am, a bit later than usual. We packed our bags quietly and, on Eran and Ines’s request, made cheese sandwiches for the day. The cat came to see us off.

Although it was 6am on a weekend, the roads were packed and the park was full of super fit runners. It felt familiar being back in the hustle and bustle of a city. People tell me all the time that they could never live in London (where I live) but they don’t realise that the hectic atmosphere is something that you not only get used to but also becomes a source of calmness and comfort. I think just city people will know what I’m talking about!

We cut to a dirt track that meandered next to the Yarkon river, sometimes through cool bamboo tunnels. We would be following this for the next 18km. Spending time in the ‘real’ world of Tel Aviv made me think lots about life. I feel like I have some big decisions to make. I never did find the answers to my questions but I spent a long time today thinking about my options. I also had to remind myself to be grateful to even have the luxury of options.

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After seeing some beautiful peices of art, carefully crafted by someone of great intelligence….

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…we cut under a motorway underpass where we saw another person with questionable brain capacity.

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I plugged in my podcast to listen to another episode of Serial. I had made myself wait a day so I didn’t binge on the whole series too quickly.

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There was just 5km left on a long dirt road where we were detouring to stay with trail angels (people who help hikers) who had offered us a place to stay for the night in Mazor. They kindly came and picked us up to save us the walk into town and brought us to their Pilates studio where they said we could sleep on the floor. It was clean, comfortable, air coned and had a great shower – I was a happy girl. The Pearl family have been hosting hikes for over 12 years. I think it’s amazing what they do.

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The family left us to it and we ate spaghetti and stock for dinner (again). I used a mat to stretch properly for the first time. I’m so stiff and currently have the flexibility of a 90 year old! I think I’m going to sleep good tonight…although I feel a bit strange here, almost like I’ve broken into my local gym!

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I am walking 1000km the full length of Israel. Part of the reason I have taken on this challenge is to raise money for Africa’s Children in Education. Each time I receive a donation it is a HUGE morale boost…please donate!