Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Terrance Aviv

Getting up at 4am this morning was a trial. Luton Airport love their shit o’clock flights, which is unfortunate because trains don’t go through the night to the airport, so, in order to get a 7am flight, you have to go by car. Thank God for Nathan who offered to drive, but ended up staying up the whole night because he got stranded on a train returning from Brighton last night and only got home at 2am. Sometimes it’s better to have no sleep than to fall into a deep sleep and get woken up with a terrible start.

We got stuck in a terrible traffic jam entering the airport. That’s what happens when driving is the only way to reach a place.

I met Michael at the airport, but, as we arrived at the gate, a grumpy woman rushed over with green tags, which I instantly knew meant that our carefully packed hand luggage was going into the hold. Boring.

The flight was okay. I wasn’t as nervous taking off as I normally am and we managed to get all the way to Israel without any turbulence. The landing was a bit like a roller coaster, however. The lads sitting behind me decided that the pilot was drunk. That didn’t help!

It’s hot in Tel Aviv, but nothing like as hot and humid as it was when I was here last year. The white tarmac in the airport was utterly blinding in the sun.

I’ve not been hugely well of late. I’m working myself into the ground and have trashed my immune system with too many late nights and early starts. I’m hoping the slower pace out here will be good for me, and once we’ve recorded the orchestra tomorrow, I can relax a little. I’d also love my sense of smell to return!

We took a bus from the airport to the centre of town. I made two observations as we trundled along. Firstly, that Israeli graffiti is more likely to be written in English than in Hebrew. And secondly, that the Israeli’s love to show people pulling really hammy faces on their hoardings!

We went down to the beach this evening as the sun set. It’s obviously much closer to the horizon down here, so it’s sudden lights out at 8pm. We’re two hours ahead of the UK, so it was strange to think that, back home, people were still basking in sunshine.

There was a huge billboard on the side of the British Embassy with an advert for the UK on it. I was surprised, and somewhat charmed, to see that Britain is being billed over here as the best place in the world for gay couples to tie the knot. Two gay men were pictured holding hands under Big Ben, with the slogan “love is Great.” Yes it is. #LoveIsEveryone

Tel Aviv is, of course, the gayest city in the Middle East - and one of the most gay-friendly in the world. There’s one reason why Israel always does well at Eurovision - and that’s Tel Aviv (which I’ve decided is short for Terrance Aviv.) Anyway, because gay marriage still isn’t legal here, I guess there are lots of gay men in this city who want to tie the knot, so the poster is probably rather spot on.

As we reached the beach, another giant billboard read “twenty years of Pride.”

The gay beach here is next to the ultra-orthodox beach, which is entirely fenced off (for modesty.) They alternate the beach for use by men and women. Today it was the turn of the women. A big sign outside informs people which gender is allowed in on which day and reminds those going in to behave in a proper manner. 

The beach at night assaults one’s senses with a riot of music. Jazz sax drifts down from the fancy hotel on the cliff top. Weird Arabic pop pumps away in one of the bars. In another, Mr Blue Sky suddenly dances its way into the sonic melee.

Segways and motorised scooters are the fashion du jour in Tel Aviv. I saw one man zooming down the middle of Dizengoff Street with a bouncing dog in tow...

We had ice cream before heading back to the hotel. I ate a raspberry and cherry sorbet served with a rich, creamy dark chocolate. It was absolutely delicious. We heard roars and cheers coming from a nearby bar where they were playing the England/Columbia match. I thought we’d lost. I now think we might have won. 

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