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February 26th 2017
Published: December 30th 2017
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Well this brief stopover certainly doesn’t feel like a pilgrimage. I am on my way to Tiberias in Galilee, but now find myself in the swanky Ultra Hotel in Tel Aviv. The interior of the hotel and the room just ooze a kind of slick vibe. This is the type of room that I would have described as “pimp” in my crazier younger days. The giant shower is right in the middle of the room. Its walls are frosted clear and if you were lying in bed you could easily make out the figure of the person in the shower. As I said it’s not quite the right kind of room for a solitary pilgrim.

After finally finding my way out of the beyond confusing Tel Aviv Central bus station and getting overcharged by a sketchy taxi driver I arrived here to a friendly welcome and a cool lemon beverage. Then affter taking a shower, in the middle of the room of course, I settled into watch some TV. Can you believe that St. John’s vs Georgetown was on? Big East basketball by the Mediterranean!

Eventually, I went out exploring. Pulled along by the scent of sea breezes I found myself walking along the beachfront boardwalk and taking in the carefree scene. After the desert, it was reinvigorating to be back by the sea. It was the weekend and the beach was relatively crowded. I walked all the way to the end of the beach where a barrier of rocks blocked any further progress. I sat down to soak in the atmosphere. Within a few minutes a skinny woman wearing a bikini and combat boots began posing by the sea for pictures taken by her friend. This definitely was not the religious side of Israel.

On the way back, I stopped by McDonald’s to grab some dinner for my room. Inside I found no servers, only futuristic touch screens where I could place my order. This was a McDonald’s first for me.

Back in my room I gaze across the street and what do I see but the United States embassy. It is the very same one that our new president, Donald Trump, is considering moving to Jerusalem. Current events too? Yes, a strange stopover for this Holy Land pilgrim indeed.


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