Destination Israel

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Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv-Yafo 

Ben Gurion baggage claim for three extended hours. Black clad Hasidic Jews bedecked in white stockings, rumpled capes and broad brimmed hats. Touring families, laissez-faire backpackers, homecoming Israelis, Arabic nationals and exuberant blowins for upcoming Pride Week. While surprising, this cross-cultural exchange unfolds with a sense of seamless indifference. Israel is a land of variance.

 

Tel Aviv

A band of faded hotels from the 1980s set against a swampy, Mediterranean coastline. Heaving beaches with plastic sun chairs, gaudy umbrellas and cocktails on tap. Sandstone laneways that deliver the traveller, from the sun-stroked revelry of the coast, into winding Bauhaus neighbourhoods. Cobblestoned streets, flowering bougainvillea and cafes on every corner. Shaded market stalls proffer tubs of olives, freshly made hummus, filo fingers sticky with spiced syrup. The city churns with activity.

 

The Dead Sea

Hazy, sulphurous air that clouds the Jordanian shoreline. Parched land and clay-baked, orange ridges. Palm orchards with medjool dates hanging in golden-clumped profusion. A gravel road with coaches and cars heading for the bathing beach, where tourists and locals alike float in novel waters. Black mineral mud, skin smarting with it. A shallow swimming zone encircled by buoys, cameras flashing and go-pros in motion. Dusk falling and the heat lingering on.

 

Jerusalem

Limestone highlands, dipping valleys, a shimmering, biblical expanse. Broad avenues that make way for silent, gleaming trams and sloping alleyways that run down a network of hills. Quiet housing blocks, looming synagogues and streets replete with orthodoxy. Jerusalem, the walled city. The Wailing Wall. The wall dividing Palestine; a long, barbed structure that slices through the landscape. Watchtowers and military checkpoints. The surrounding highways choked with shiny cars and the odd, belted Peugeot bearing Palestinian number plates.

 

Akko

A fortress town, more limestone, occupying the northern extremity of Haifa Bay. Ramparts and Ottoman inns and in the Old City’s midst, a turquoise domed mosque. Stray cats sit in doorways and fan out in the shade. Halva ice-cream for sale and fezzed men offering watermelon juice. Palm trees and red tiled roofs. Kids doing bombies off ancient watchtowers into fizzing, deep blue depths. An ocean breeze that dies within Akko’s labyrinthine walkways.

 

 

Photography ~ James Whineray

Text ~ Lucy Byrnes

 



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