Sailing the Wine Dark Sea (part 5)

Being an ex-pat American living in Israel, I generally leave it to others to pontificate about the merits and demerits of Brexit, as in England leaving the European Union. I don’t pay much attention to the European Union period, at least most of the time. However, having an ‘open border’ does come in handy once in a while.

Day 8 of our cruise brought us to the very top of the Adriatic to the venerable city of Trieste, our next scheduled stop. However (a big ‘however’), the Golden Iris did not dock in Trieste, but in Koper, which is a half an hour bus ride away AND is in Slovenia (which is not the same as Slovakia). If you ask me why our ship couldn’t or didn’t dock in the port city of Trieste, I don’t know; it never occurred to me to ask, nobody else thought to ask, and nobody bothered to explain why. We just did, and that meant crossing the border between two countries, which at some time pre-E.U. might have meant the usual bureaucratic border control folderol. These days? You just keep going on the highway, and nobody thinks twice about it. Even the fact that we were using a Slovenian guide to show us around an Italian city didn’t seem at all out-of-the-ordinary. Continue reading

Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea (part 4)

Lest you be concerned: having returned to Ma’ale Adumim on Dec. 12 from our Study Trip, my venturous wife and I had just enough time to get back on board the virtual helicopter. It took off from the parking lot next to our building and landed on the Golden Iris’s heliport, bringing us back in time to Oct. 28, enabling us to join our ship mates the afternoon before we reached Venice. I should have had time to get in a nap before we left the ship in the late afternoon, but I’ll get to that shortly.

Venice has always been high on Barbara’s “while and before” list of places to visit, the “while,” in general, being while she is still physically able to handle the journey. In this case, the “before” meant before the city sinks into the sea. (No joke.) My wife had broached the possibility of going on a trip there in the summer of 2018, but I had strongly objected to that idea. You do not want to go there during peak tourist season. (Between twenty and thirty million visitors come every year, and it becomes standing room only in the center of town.) There’ll be another cruise next year, I said, and maybe it won’t be at peak season. Continue reading

Sderot Redux (Part 4)

On trips of this kind, it’s almost always we, the AACI-ers, who board the bus and head off to where the people we are going to meet happen to be. Except in the evening after dinner, when our featured speakers come to where we are staying to delight us with their well-chosen words. With one slight wrinkle. I mentioned that on this trip we had two busloads of folks, and we were staying at different hotels. Our group had to get back on the bus to go the few minutes to the Harlington Hotel, more of a ‘business hotel,’ which has conference rooms that could accommodate all 80+ of us. Each night we heard a different speaker, each from a very different background, but who wound up doing very similar things, under the radar that the media use to decide who is important and who is not. Neither of them had much to say about themselves and a lot of about what they were doing. (Maybe that’s why they remain under the radar.) Continue reading

Sderot Redux (Part 3)

Should you find yourself on a future AACI Study Trip, be forewarned that you will be asked (and reminded, but in a nice way) to fill out the evaluation form and rate 1) how well the trip was run; 2) all about the accommodations –the service, the food; 3) how good was the guide; 4) every place on the itinerary. No surprise, people don’t always agree. But to get a division of the house, yea or nay, that’s rare.

We had started out the next day (that’s Wed., if you’re keeping track) and made our first stop at the Sderot Media Center, a place that engendered opposing feelings by those of us on the trip. To be fair, its director and guiding light, Noam Bedein, was not around, and the task of explaining what is going on there was left to another young man. Maybe he just wasn’t up to the task. Dov did tell us about his own experiences: how the rocket attacks in recent years put a complete kibosh on his plans to do graduate work at the university in Beersheva, as well as wreaked havoc on his bronchial system. His take on the current situation was markedly different from what we heard from many of the other folks we talked with. Continue reading