Tel Aviv. Self-proclaimed as “The City That Never Sleeps”, it’s name is a combination of two words and two ideas. Tel, meaning ancient, and Aviv, meaning spring, combine the old and new. The Jews have returned to this ancient place, but the city is built on modern ideas and lifestyles. Tel Aviv is Israel’s center of entertainment, education, fashion, finance and politics. The apartments are small and overpriced. The streets are narrow, the traffic thick and close. This much I learn from my tour guide, Susan.
Tel Aviv is also the launching pad for bus load upon bus load of Holy Land tours. Pilgrims, as tourists to this place are often called, lay their heads on Tel Aviv hotel pillows for their first sleep in this awe-inspiring land. Most have been awake for far too many hours, or even days, and can’t be trusted with any responsibility or further information. Wake-up calls are pre-scheduled for every room according to tour request, and instruction is given to keep awake until at least 9 p.m. The body clock needs resetting, and early bed time will result in a long nap but not an overnight refueling. This much I learn from experience.
Of course, there is always confusion about time when jumping several hours ahead and losing a night of sleep. I heard tell, today, of one traveler who forgot about resetting her phone’s clock before setting the alarm. Unable to keep her eyes open until the suggested 9 p.m. bedtime, she had been happily dreaming for quite some time by then. When her dreams turned on her and told her the bus was leaving without her for the morning’s tour, she awoke with a start at 5:30. Relieved that it was thirty minutes before the wake-up call and thankful for the extra time to be prepared so as NOT to be left behind, she turned on lights, rummaged through her suitcase and showered. It was only after her preparations were nearly complete that I was able to ask my roommate if she realized it was only midnight. Oh, what a sinking feeling. Instead of all night, she had slept only two and a half hours. Deflated, she turned off the lights and put her head once more on the pillow. Apparently, this is an all too common phenomenon.
Tel Aviv may hope to leave a very different impression with their motto, but I have no doubt that it lives up to it’s reputation; and little wonder with so many weary and confused travelers from around the world. The City That Never Sleeps.
©Erika Rice 2014