Last day in Israel, packed our bags and said our farewells to Michal. After a wonderful stay with them, John drove us to a local train station for the 20 minute trip to HaShalom Station. He was kind enough to come in with us and assist us with the luggage and in buying the correct ticket.
The train wasn’t very full as it was just after 9am and we got into the last carriage as John suggested and got the side section which saved us carrying our bags up or down stairs. When we got to HaShalom the lift was right in front of us so it was all perfect. Then we asked about lockers and found 2 large ones available for 30NIS each. Put the bags in and then went to the shopping centre (next door) where we just sat for a while having our morning coffee.
A very quick look around the centre before walking over to the Sarona area. This area was originally a German Templer colony (not to be confused with the Knights Templar) established in 1871 during the Ottoman Palestine era. When the Nazis came to power in Germany the British mandate interned the
Germans as they were considered Nazi sympathizers. Some were sent to Victoria, Australia. The homes here are now trendy shops and there is a museum and tour of the Templer tunnel which was built to connect the whiskey distillery with the cellar.
We just had the right amount of time to do all this and then meet Nathan & Daniel (sons of our good friends, Sue & Bob Worsley), who just happen to be in Israel setting up their start-up company. We’ve known them since they were born, and it was great to catch up with them. At first, we met up with Dan and their colleague Taylor (they didn’t think Nathan would make it), so we went to an all-day breakfast place called Benedicts which to my surprise had bacon and pork on the menu. So, it took me until the last day of this trip to taste Asian food and pork. It was like acclimatizing back to home cuisine after three weeks of Middle Eastern food. Food was great and to our pleasant surprise Nathan, his partner Bec and their son Mason turned up and it was great to see them as well before going back home.
They will likely now be staying in Israel for a few more months.
We said our farewells at 14:50 and made it back to the station in time to catch the 15:06 train to the Ben Gurion Airport after collecting our bags. The trip only took 15 minutes, so we had plenty of time to catch our 19:40 plane to Athens. In fact, we had to wait 20 minutes for the check-in counter to open (3 hours before flight). At the first security check they also interview you. Questions were, “When did you travel to Jordan?”,” Do you know anyone in Jordan?”, “Has anyone in Jordan given you something to carry?”, “Has your hand luggage always been with you?”. Again, at passport control they didn’t recognize me and I had to show another ID, my driver’s license which got me through. I said to Daisy I had better dye my hair black so I match the passport photo next time we travel. We then went on a shopping spree with our last remaining Israeli Shekels before boarding the plane.
Flight was only 2 hours and we had a 3-hour 45 minute wait at Athens but the time went
quickly. Only hassle this time was that the scanner wouldn’t accept our boarding passes and we had to wait a few minutes for them to check it out.
Flight to Doha was 4 hours 35 minutes, then a 3-hour 25 minute wait for the final leg home. Plan was to adjust to Sydney time which meant the strategy was to stay awake for the first half of the 14.5-hour flight. Landed a few minutes late but it also took longer than usual to disembark as they attended a passenger who required medical assistance (we didn’t find out what the problem was but trust they were OK). Turned my phone on and Mitch and Emily were already waiting for us near the airport. Unfortunately, it was very busy day and there were long queues through passport check, baggage claims and customs so it took about 75 minutes for us from landing to exiting. As usual we declared food and the fact that we had hiked in wilderness areas. They asked to look at our shoes which we were wearing and when we told them what we had they just allowed us through without even looking at the items. As it
turns out the spices which we bought in Jordan were fine. Some in our group were reluctant because they thought they wouldn’t be allowed.
Then met Mitch and Emily in the car park and finally home after a 29-hour journey, having left on Sunday night, arriving home Tuesday morning. First time we have joined a tour group and we thoroughly enjoyed it along with the great people we met, and it was great catching up with friends as well. Of course, there were a couple of places where we could have spent more time but that is something we expected. Overall the tours allowed us some free time and the small groups of 12 that Intrepid organize are a good number as, you get to know everyone quite well over the week you spend together.
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