On July 8, around 4 o’clock in the evening, I, as a participant of Israel Summer Business Academy with Washington University in St. Louis, arrived at Ben-Gurion airport with the rest of my program fellows. The flight was 9hr 44min, which was doable compared to the long flights I have to take to go back to HongKong from the U.S.
I was excited to move into the assigned apartment. It is a cozy little apartment on Ha Gilad street. We have a cute and colorful living room as well as an open kitchen with most of the cooking utensils. There are four of us in one apartment with one bathroom and two girls share one bedroom.
Anyways, before I start talking about what happened to me after I arrived at Tel Aviv, you should be informed that I barely made it to my connection flight to from JFK to Tel Aviv. My first flight departed from Fort Lauderdale, where it was delayed for around one hour. As our airplane got in the line of 20 airplanes to take off, a rain storm rolled in and we were stuck on the airplane for another 1 and half hours. Initially, I would have had two hours to lay-over time to make it to my second flight. While I was stuck on the airplane in Fort Lauderdale, I was convinced that I would have to change my flight. Miraculously, I landed at JFK as my second flight was still boarding. I was able to make it with my luggages transferred with me.
I thought my day was getting to an end after a long flight and the setting in. But oh was I wrong.
We had our first group dinner at 8pm at a restaurant by the beach. It is about 20-30 min walk from our apartment. Tel Aviv is a waling city so my roommate and I decided to walk. We left around 8 which was already a bit late. And it just so happens that both of us have no sense of direction and without any data on our phone, we were still convinced that we knew exactly how to get there with the help of our cellphone compass and a paper map.
The whole time we were convinced that we were supposed to go south and then EAST. We got the first part right and then make a very wrong turn at a critical intersection. The blue indicates the correct way we were supposed to follow and the red way shows you the way we convinced ourselves to adventure upon. So my roommate and I wandered around in the busy city of Tel Aviv at night for two hours. We were so confused because everybody speaks Hebrew. We didn’t have any shekel cash with us, which means we couldn’t take a taxi. Along the way, one local man was kind enough to stop by and offer help. He gave us 15 shekels and told us which bus to take so that we could find our way to the hotel. The problem is that WE COULDN’T FIND THE BUS OR THE BUS STATION . We also asked a policeman for direction. How could we not see it from the look of his face when we told him we intended to walk there that we were SO FAR away from where we wanted to be. And while we were standing in the middle of a intersection waiting for the light, I was holding my phone with the flash on for my roommate to read the paper map, our faces covered with dusts and our stomaches growling, a man in a white sedan waiting at the light hollered at us and asked us if we needed help. We told him we needed to go to the Herod Hotel but by the time he could answer, the light turned green and he had to go. At that point, I honestly didn’t even really care if he was trying to abduct us. Any English is helpful English.
Then, my genius (not being ironic) roommate finally realized that we were supposed to go WEST instead of east by imagining the entire world map in her head and pointing out the direction of Europe. I was just being me and being clueless.
Eventually, we had to retrace our way back to the intersection where we made the wrong turn. Along the whole journey, we had been contacting our supervisor. He didn’t realize we have strayed so far away either. Eventually, we decided to catch a cab and asked our supervisor to pay for us for now when we get there.
So you think the story is over? Oh no.
As we hopped into the cab, thinking finally our little feet can get some rest and our stomaches can get some filling, our cab took a turn and boom, a police car came out and blocked the street. We, just so happened, to be the first at front to witness and least possible to back out and reroute. You might suggest us to pay the cab and get another one, since we have 15 shekels with us. But at this time, the meter shows the cab is at 19 shekels. That means we were stuck in this cab until we saw our supervisor. AMAZING.
After about 20 minutes being stuck in traffic we finally made it to the hotel we were meeting for dinner. Of course by the time we got there, everyone was done eating. My roommate and I just sat there and waited for everyone to finish their checks. Then we walked back to the apartment. We managed to get some food at the grocery store and I passed out at around midnight.
In general, although pretty exhausting, the lost journey allowed us to get a good look at the city. Tel Aviv feels safe, as two English-speaking girls wandering around the city and no one came to bother but to help. The apartment, although not spacious and without elevator, is quite cozy and located in a great location. There are café and grocery stores right down stairs. I also quite enjoy the walking vibe of this city. It brings the city alive when you see men walking their dogs, women riding their little scooters, and children running around with their brothers.