Monday, June 7, 2010

Beach Day and Tel Aviv

Due to the rearranging of our itinerary we had a free day today, which we spent playing in the Mediterranean and walking around Tel Aviv. Our bus dropped us off near Caesarina, an ancient port city built by Herod which was to be the "pagan capital" that was the counterpart to the "religious capital" of Jerusalem. The beach was beautiful (except for the excessive tar deposits that ruined many a pair of socks) and the water warm and relaxing. It was just the sort of rejuvination we needed.

After the beach, we were fortunate enough to take a walking tour of Jaffa and see the old Arab city. It's architecture was fascinating and its antiquity stood in starch contrast to the bustling metropolis of Tel Aviv whose skyline was always visible.

However, as the saying goes, the best is saved for last. After Jaffa our professor told us that he had just received word that a peace protest had been scheduled in Tel Aviv and we could go and see it, if we promised not to participate. The scene in downtown Tel Aviv was incredible and unlike anything I had witnessed before. Throngs of people, estimated to be around 1000 waved flags, chanted slogans, and marched in support of peace and to show solidarity with those who have recently suffered because of Israel's policies. Equally fervent was the counter demonstration held a block away by citizens who support Israel's tough stance against the Freedom Flotilla. It was an exhilirating feeling to see such a peaceful expression of politics, when history has shown how violent such things can become. After a few minutes, we jumped back on the bus and went to Tel Aviv's port for some dinner before returning to Jerusalem. Following the professor (he knows all the secret spots) we came to a restaurant with tables and lights strewn across the beach. Here, facing the sea, I enjoyed a mojito with my feet buried in the sand as the Mediterranean's waves gently rolled onto the beach before me. After the intensity of the seminar, this day on the coast was sublime

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