A friend of mine recently visited Israel for the first time and I loved reading what he posted on Facebook during his visit. He was acting like a teenage girl (or sensitive boy) in love and it all reminded me of how I felt when I first fell in love with Israel during my first visit back in 2008.
I decided to start a new section on Israelism.se, entitled My First Time, and I am myself kicking it all off by sharing my thoughts, feelings and experiences from that very first time.
Come back tomorrow, as I will be publishing a very nice piece about someone else’s first time (and if you would like to send in a contribution of your own – please do so. admin [at] israelism.se )
It was in September 2008 that I first set foot in the Holy Land. How that all happened I’ve written about before; check my post on Times of Israel.
Before I stepped out of the airplane and into the Israeli sunshine, however, there were a little obstacle. Called security check.
At Stockholm Arlanda Airport I was questioned by some Israeli security men and women for two hours. They were very friendly and polite while asking me all sorts of questions and going through every tiny little thing in my luggage (I even had to open my mobile phone and take out the battery and I had to play some music with my iPod to prove that it was a real music player).
A few hours later I stepped out of the plane and soon I was in a cab heading for Tel Aviv.
I didn’t know quite what to expect as I was staring at the many waving Israeli flags outside the window, but I knew I immediately had a homey feeling in my body, and yes, a few tears were blurring my sight.
The cab driver dropped me off at my hotel, I had a shower and then I met an online friend who picked me up outside the hotel. We went for a beer, a stroll on the beach and then we met up a couple of other online friends.
It was a fun night out in the vibrant, liberal city of Tel Aviv.
The next morning I experienced the delicious Israeli breakfast for the first time; it’s been a favourite ever since…
From these first days in Tel Aviv I remember thinking that there were a lot of cats everywhere, and a lot of well behaved dogs and of course – the people were stunningly beautiful!
I went for walks around the city, sat by the beach, went to some bars and bought some souvenirs and a lot of Israeli music.
I enjoyed the Nahalat Binyamin Market and Shuk Ha’Carmel of course, as well as Shenkin Street and Dizengoff Center.
I was astounded by how peaceful Tel Aviv was. (Peaceful yet chaotic.) The city felt very crime free and people were kind and welcoming.
In fact the kindness of people made the biggest impression. These, according to Swedish and world media, brutal and evil Israelis were the nicest and kindest group of people I’d ever met.
One of the last nights of this trip was spent at the Evita bar, as it was Eurovision Sunday and I, as well as my friends, were all huge Eurovision fans. The singalong part was adoring: spunky Tel Avivians singing along to Swedish Eurovision Songs – in Swedish. Wow!
I didn’t care much about touring the country that time – I stayed in Tel Aviv and didn’t even visit Jerusalem – as I knew I would soon be back…
So, this was my first time.
Maybe some time I’ll tell you about all the other times.
If YOU would like to share with the readers your first time in Israel, please send your story and photos to admin [at] israelism.se.
Kim MilrellConnect with me on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter.