It is 7:30am in Israel right now, over seven hours since we took off, but I honestly don’t remember anything since we sat down. With all of the driving and sightseeing we did today, I fell asleep moments after finding our seats on the plane. In reality, the only reason that I’m even up right now (Dina’s still sleeping), is that the pilot somehow found a patch of Atlantic clouds at 35,000 feet thick enough to literally shake me awake.
Our last day in Israel began with goodbyes with the Israeli Paikins as each of them headed out to their respective places of business. The only Israeli Paikin left was Nika, who had the day off from school because of Purim, a Halloween-type holiday that seemed to go on forever. We finished packing, woke up Nika, and headed to Jerusalem to stop by the places where Theodore Hertzl and Tuvia Bielski are buried.
Although we got to Jerusalem in good time (it took about an hour and a half), our offline-iPhone Google Maps directions (to the cemetery itself, instead of to an address which was no where to be found), combined with our slightly outdated GPS maps, completely confusing roadsigns and street names, and Sarah Palin’s poorly timed visit to the city center, only let us get as far as Theodore Hertzl’s military memorial to those Jewish soldiers who had died in the line of duty. Knowing that it would be impossible to get further into (and back out of) the city, I left the pebbles that I had brought from Newport Beach on the Hertzl memorial for Soviet Jews who died in World War II.
From there we drove to Tel Aviv where we had lunch, walked along the beautiful seashore, and met with Sasha’s cousin who hadn’t seen Dina in a long while. Afterwards, we drove to a small city called Holon on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, where we visited Vera and Arkady, old Paikin family friends whose daughter Dana grew up with Dina first in St. Petersburg and then in Israel. Before our visit, Sasha and Dina warned me that Vera and Arkady have a large dog, but Assya turned out to be very friendly, despite her almost 90lb frame (just slightly more than Pinkie’s).
With our flight times coming up, we drove from Holon to Ben Gurion airport, where security, despite being about 7 layers thick, was a relative breeze. In all honesty, sitting there at Ben Gurion, I was grateful for such an amazing trip, but was definitely looking forward to my shower, bed, and the comforts of home.