One of the nicest things about getting a round-the-world ticket is that it gives you the chance to get to places you’d normally not be visiting. Granted, I visit Israel quite often, my family living there and all, but it was not a part of our original travel plan. However, the bizarro world of Round-The-World tickets came into play once again. Here’s how it worked (take a deep breath and try to stay with me): first we (well, I) wanted to drop by Novosibirsk, where I was born and raised. Since Novosibirsk is not really a world-class hub, getting in and out was a bit tricky. So we swapped it for Ukraine, enjoying excellent fruit, sunny beaches and Chernobyl.
From Ukraine the next stop was supposed to be India, but there were no direct flights available. Given the choice of flying via Helsinki or Amman, we’ve opted for a Amman, so we could do a side-trip to Petra, as long as we’re at it. Added bonus of flying with Royal Jordanian – one of the channels of the in-flight entertainment system was reading sutras from the Koran. Quite meditative and relaxing, even though I didn’t understand a word.
Amman is where things get complicated. According to the rules of round-the-world tickets, you’re allowed 2 stops on the continent where you’ve started, ours being Europe. However, the airlines count the Middle East as a part of Europe, so Amman was supposed to be our second and final stop in “Europe”. But a stop of less than 24 hours doesn’t count as a stop, and since we’ve had a few more miles in our ticket allowance, we were able to catch a connecting flight from Amman to Tel Aviv. To make things more complicated – flying back to Amman would violate the rules since it would add an extra stop. Fortunately, we weren’t planning to fly anyway as we’ve crossed the land border between Israel and Jordan from Eilat. Apparently, a land “segment” is not counted as a stopover, so we were all set. To summarize it all – we were able to drop by in Jordan as and Israel without paying more than the airport taxes. Nice!
And then we were in Tel Aviv. This is where The Doctor comes in. Not the doctor as in a physiologist, but The Doctor. Every time I’m in Israel I have a sort of “mandatory program” and “free exercise”, just like the Olympic gymnasts. There are some things I do every time I’m around, like seeing friends and family and going to the Western Wall, and there’s the other stuff, like going to the Dead Sea, which I do occasionally. Visiting The Doctor is definitely part of the “mandatory program”. You see, The Doctor is Dr. Saadya, the best falafel place in Tel Aviv and a spot I cannot praise enough. Back in the old days, I spent a very enjoyable half a year working there. Now, going for a falafel at Dr. Saadya not only provides me with an excellent meal, be it breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack (yes, I can eat falafel on every occasion, at least, if its The Doctor’s). It also reminds me of the time spent doing one the most enjoyable jobs I’ve had. I mean, who else knows a falafel joint that plays The Smiths, or The Sex Pistols on a regular basis? And the falafel is really, really good. So working there provided me with an instant reward of seeing hungry, anxious people coming in and thanks to me (and, of course, The Doctor) becoming well fed and happy people. Sometimes going to see a doctor is a good thing. Provided its the right doctor, that is. So if you’re in Tel Aviv – go see The Doctor, at number 45 King George street. Tell Avi or Yehuda, whichever Doctor is on duty, that Michael says hi. And do yourself a favour – have a falafel. Instant satisfaction guaranteed.