We organise most of our items before we sleep – filling up the water pouches, getting tomorrow’s clothes out in a pile, cleaning and putting away the stove bits. All that we have to do in the morning is change, dismantal the tent and put everything in its place in the bags. The routine takes 20 minutes. As we were staying with trail angels, we didn’t use a tent, plus we woke with a mission this morning, so we were ready in 15. For the next 2 nights we were staying in a hostel in Tel Aviv and we we’re both looking forward to it and eager to get there asap.
We hiked out of the quiet Mazor town, everyone still asleep in their dark houses. 2 young guys on electric bikes offered us a lift to the entrance of the town but I declined thinking that the bikes didn’t look strong enough to hold 2 people and a heavy pack. No idea what they are doing up at 5am!
We rejoined the trail by the train underpass. It crossed a field and then went along a path by the side of a motorway. When I say a path I mean a ditch. Not the most pleasant walk to do by torchlight. I was happy when we turned left and into a wooded area away from the noisy passing lorries.
We had a bit of an incline, only about a 100 metre hill but, after 3 days of flat, it was a effort for my body. The terrain was flat and easy to follow so, once it had levelled out, we were walking fast. We crossed the industrial area of Shoham and then back on a dirt track and over another hill. We crossed another motorway through the longest tunnel I have ever seen. It was pitch black in the middle and, as I walked forward, the light at the end looked like it was getting further away. A freaky illusion!
For breakfast we finished off the end scraps of our food supply for the week. The last days are always the worst as the food is all broken and stale and I’m usually bored of eating the same stuff. I look forward to resupplying and picking some different snacks.
We completed the remaining miles, through a wooded area, in no time and found ourselves at the bus stop by 9.50am. My legs were tired as we hadn’t really taken any breaks but, knowing I had a rest day, I didn’t care. We only had to wait 10 minutes for our bus which took us from the treelined outskirts to the concrete centre of Tel Aviv. I had to laugh when I saw 2 police officers arresting someone on the street – it looked pretty awkward doing it from on top of a horse.
We checked into Abraham Hostel, feeling reassured by the welcome sign as our hiker scruffiness was really out of place so far from the trail.
The hostel has a nice vibe and I felt excited to be staying somewhere that was buzzing with energy. Our room is perfect and they have the coolest roof terrace.
I went to a nearby supermarket to stock up on food, did some laundry and finished my blog. With all my chores done there was nothing left to do but relax on the terrace with a book and watch a seriously cringe film, Miracle from Heaven. The name probably should have been warning enough!
We then went down to the kitchen (which was the best kitchen I’ve ever cooked in by the way – it was huge) to prepare some vegetables and salad. Then pitta, banana and Nutella for desert – amazing combo! Before going to bed, I enjoyed spending some time in the communal areas chatting with people and hearing the various reasons why they were visiting Israel. A lot of them were here for religious reasons. I’ve lost count on this trip how many times I’ve been asked if I’m Jewish!
I woke up at 7am, had a shower and headed down to the included breakfast where I had some muesli, milk and yogurt. So good. So cold. I’ve missed cold food.
We bumped into Bernard and his daughter, Aliyah, who we had met the night before, and decided we would all head to the beach together, just a 20minute walk from Abraham Hostel. One of my favourite things about Tel Aviv are the clean beaches that sit right next to the city centre. There’s also a long promenade which is great for a cycle ride, although today unfortunately is reserved for resting only.
The walk to the sea took us past the tree lined Rothschild Boulevard, a really popular area in the city with lots of good places to eat. Then through some side streets with galleries, grafitti and independent shops. Tel Aviv has quite an arty scene. When we reached the beach we all went straight into the sea. The waters were calm and I had a really good swim, except for the massive fish that kept getting really close and freaking me out.
Bernard had made aliyah (immigration of Jews to Israel) from South Africa and his daughter was here visiting. He was a character, but really funny and both of them were good company.
About midday we said goodbye and headed back to the hostel where I had a compulsory swing in their hammock chairs. We need more swinging chairs in the world! I had a shower and watched the Full Monty on the IPad, a much better choice than the previous days’ film.
While eating dinner, I met a girl called Nadia, here to visit family with her mum and carer. Despite having cerebral palsy and being profoundly deaf, she has done almost as much travelling as me. What an inspiration!
Back in the room I got the bag ready for tomorrow and went and sat on the roof terrace one final time with Gil to savour our last moments before bed. It’s been a short but fun visit to Tel Aviv and we both loved staying at the hostel. I don’t think I’m ready to go back to hiking. I do feel relaxed though. I think I needed this break.
(Special thanks to Barbara, Paul, Jackie and ‘Anonymous’ who sponsored us this week. Another £100 towards a great cause plus it put a massive smile on our faces!)
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!