Within Striking Range
Nahariya, Israel and the Palestinian Territories
It was a pretty hard goodbye to our Tel Aviv hosts (Lee and Nir) this afternoon. I don't think we've ever had such a difficult time bringing up the subject of our onward travel as we have with them. So calm, so intelligent, so easygoing, generous and outgoing… They've been so amazingly sweet that you almost want to take their essence and spread it over warm toast for breakfast. The two have easily been one of the loveliest hosting experiences that I've had in over eight months of continuous CouchSurfing.
But, after a total of 13 nights together, we'd pretty run our course in Tel Aviv. It was time for some new cities, and to start wrapping up our time in the country.
Out of several that confirmed initially, I've got just three hosts in three different cities remaining that are now available/interested in having us over: A couple in Nahariya (Israel's northernmost coastal city); a family in Tzoran-Kadima (between Haifa and Tel Aviv); and a young married couple in Jerusalem. Originally we were to head up to Tzoran first, but the family we'll be staying with there observes a fairly strict Sabbath protocol, and we're not in the mood to deal with the nonsense that entails.
I've scheduled two nights in Nahariya, three with the family, and left our duration in Jerusalem open-ended (but certainly less than a week). So, I imagine we're starting out on our final 10-day stretch for Israel.
The final stop on the rail line, the train ride from Tel Aviv cost about US$10/person and was quite comfortable (though certainly crowded with both civilians and military personnel).
This is the first time we've ever carried a stroller with us (a total absurdity for our mode of travel), but I asked Tatiana to bring this $15 Walmart model from the U.S. because we're going to be doing a lot of walking, and Israel is simply the most pedestrian-friendly country that I've been in outside of the United States. But it will not be leaving Jerusalem with us.
One again we find ourselves sleeping on a pretty comfortable futon inside of a chemical/biological shelter called a mamad (previously: Sleeping in an Israeli Mamad), though our host's massive apartment is quite stunning—certainly up there as one of the more luxurious places I've CouchSurfed. Unfortunately, the home is so pristinely clean and tidy that we're constantly afraid that Aidric's going to damage something.
Only 6 miles down the coast from Israel's border with Lebanon, Nahariya has been a frequent target both of direct cross-border terrorist attacks, as well as of indirect mortar and Katyusha rocket fire. As recently as in July–August 2006, Nahariya sustained a barrage of several hundreds of Katyusha rockets launched by Hezbollah from southern Lebanon. As a result, the city suffered multiple civilian casualties—with 5 fatalities. Significant damage was also inflicted on property and physical infrastructure. Furthermore, Nahariya's economy suffered a major blow, as two thirds of the city's population had to evacuate, with the rest spending weeks in bomb shelters, while the tourist season—a main driving force of local economic activity—was badly crippled.