Yesterday was one of those days that makes me feel really lucky for the opportunity to travel and be in Israel. We had a field trip in Ulpan in the morning, which was a much-needed break from the daily grunt of five hours in one classroom reviewing linguistic nuances. Our class bussed down to the Old City of Jerusalem for a tour of the Migdal David, or the Tower of David.
To be honest, I hardly caught a word of our tour due to the guide’s lightning-fast explanations, and I doubt perfect Hebrew would have helped. Also, I was busy taking in the unparalleled views of the entire city of Jerusalem from the top of the tower. Below me stood layers of antique stone houses incongruously spotted with satellite dishes and solar electricity panels. Church steeples and silver-domed mosques peered above the ubiquitous stone dwellings. And then there were the more famous sites, that one so rarely sees from a birds’ eye view — the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, The Dome of the Rock, al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Old City Walls. Beyond the walls rolling hills covered in Jerusalem stone houses with red roofs turn into the famous New City hotels, which in the distance, transition into taller almost skyscrapers and construction cranes. And to the North we could even see our Student Village, the Kfar.
An hour transit taxi ride later I spent my afternoon with some friends on the Tel Aviv beach. Although we missed the midday heat, the Mediterranean Coast was still drenched with beachgoers. School children, retirees and everyone in between take advantage of the miles of pleasant coastline into the fall.
At 9:00 my first professional soccer game kicked off: Israel versus Luxembourg. I had set out to experience the great global pastime I found somewhat foreign along with twelve other North Americans from Hebrew University. I’m pretty sure this game was anything but a good example of the international fanatic sporting event. The stadium was mostly empty. Scattered chants and cheers periodically picked up supporters. The crowd was about half made up of uncontrollable, grade school-aged children without parents. Unsettlingly, we even saw a boy that couldn’t have been much older than nine distributing a pack of cigarettes to his peers.
The most unusual part of the match was that Israel crushed Luxembourg, scoring seven goals. Unlike basketball or football fans, these fans seemed to get bored of cheering for goals. We actually got told to sit down by the fifth goal when we stood jumping and cheering. Despite the dispassionate and sparse fans, I had a blast and would eagerly watch more games.