By Mehdy Ghannad
It was another sunny day in Tel Aviv, but it was a bit rough to get up and out after such a long night. We packed up the room and checked out of Hayarkon 48 at around 10AM and stored our bags in a locker while we went off filming for a couple hours before traveling east to Jerusalem.
We took the same walk down the beach to Jaffa to check out the flea market, a Sunday staple. An English girl, Becky, joined us for the morning, excited to see Jaffa for the first time and thrilled to be traveling in Israel. The flea market was packed and had all sorts of random goods available for purchase at bargaining prices. Mehdy met an older Persian man and his son who were selling rugs and chatted it up with them for a while in Farsi before we left the flea market.
We started walking north toward Tel Aviv along random streets running parallel to the beach. It was nice getting a bit lost on our walk, shooting footage of everyday life in Tel Aviv while also catching some rays. We had heard great things about the Carmel Market so decided that would be out next stop. The Carmel Market is sprawling, with fruits, vegetables, baked good, pastries, food, clothes and pretty much anything else you could possibly imagine buying in a market. It was as if they were giving stuff away; the masses continuously filed in and out of the stalls, toting bags and chewing on freshly baked goods.
We were booked to stay at the brand new Abraham Jerusalem Hostel just off of Jaffa Road, a place we had heard was a must-see spot in Jerusalem. We asked a gentleman outside the bus station the direction of the Old City and started walking that way, only to turn down a road with an obnoxiously similar name to that of the street where the hostel is located. Schlepping all of our gear only made it worse as we asked around, trying to get back on track. What should have only taken ten minutes or so took about forty minutes and we arrived nice and sweaty, ready to check in to our new digs.
The plan was to catch a bus to Jerusalem around two so we returned to Hayarkon 48 to pick up our things before going to the central bus station in Tel Aviv. Becky decided to come along for the journey, as she had yet to see Jerusalem and visiting Israel without visiting Jerusalem would be would be like going skydiving without a parachute… namely, a huge mistake. The ride was quick and easy and only cost about four dollars each. About an hour after pulling out of the station we were entering one of the holiest places on earth. We pressed our faces against the windows to take in all of the new surroundings and were thrilled to be there.
The Abraham Jerusalem Hostel is loaded with a sprawling common area with a pool table, bar, hammocks, a communal kitchen and a smaller private lounge area called the Damascus Room… and this was only the first part of our tour of our new temporary home. There is also a café in the reception area along with an information center offering all sorts of different day trips and activities at reasonable rates. The hostel just opened a few months before we arrived and they are currently working on putting together a patio on the reception level and transforming the roof into a the ultimate outdoor space for their guests that will include a BBQ pit, bar and plenty of space to lounge in the Jerusalem sun. To say the least, we were thrilled to be there.
One of the owners of the hostel, Yaron, who is an old friend of the crew, decided to take us on a quick walk around to give us the lay of the land. Located about ten minutes walking from the Jaffa Gate into the Old City, the Abraham Jerusalem Hostel is the perfect spot to pass your nights in Jerusalem. We stopped off for some sabih, an eggplant and egg concoction stuffed deep into a fresh pita, a dish that will make you forget your name it’s so good.
At 8:00PM we headed a bit south of Jerusalem to an Israeli settlement in the West Bank called Ma’ale Adumim where we had set up a lesson for Mehdy in Krav Maga. Krav Maga is a style of hand-to-hand combat that was developed in Israel for soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces. Focusing mainly on counterattacks, Krav Maga is a pretty hardcore way of defending oneself from armed attackers. Mehdy joined four other men for a ninety minute class of running, kicking and striking drills and then counterattack methods on knife- and gun-toting assailants. By the end of the class all of the men were drenched and drained and Mehdy immediately had some pretty intense pain in his wrists from the drills. We caught a cab back into Jerusalem and went to bed early, knowing we’d be getting up early to explore the Old City and the other amazing things Jerusalem has to offer its visitors.