Sunday April 3 : Brussels-Bierset-Tel Aviv-Jerusalem

Thursday 8 March 2012
popularity : 7%

This morning, we are leaving to Palestine. We, that is to say: Natalia, Laurie, Paul, Sébastian, Margot, Marie-Gaëlle and Caroline, together with our dear teacher Tanguy and former teacher Anne-Claire. We meet at Brussels North Station. Everything looks OK, nobody is late, everybody has got their identity cards and passports. The only thing we need now is the shuttle that is supposed to take us to Bierset airport... It will never come. The company in charge finally sends taxis that drive us all to the airport.

In Liege, we queue up for registration in the middle of quite a number of Orthodox Jews who, like us, are on their way to Jerusalem. Once at the check-desk, we are told that our backpacks must be left at another counter. OK, as you wish. Another queue, then a third and last one for the security check. No weapons, no sharp object, no liquid… But! We have guitarists with us, which means guitars and guitar strings... Items that are prohibited in the cabin. Tanguy is furious. His strings are new ones. Leaving them here is out of the question for him. He goes with these weapons of mass destruction in search of a competent person who can understand the spirit of the law ... Clever people can always work things out among themselves.

Arrival in Jerusalem.

After a quiet flight, we land in Tel Aviv, pass through the customs without a problem: we are asked few questions actually, though squite intrusive ones (First visit in Israel? Why you come here? How long for? Where you staying? Have you the hotel registration form? Have you friends here?). As we had agreed on before leaving, Anne-Claire and Tanguy answer them in English for the whole group. It must be said that we look like really good boys and girls with our school sweatshirts on and our angel-like faces: taking part in a nice little holiday camp...

We have now to retrieve our bags... The luggage conveyor belt passes before our eyes once, twice… Ok, everyone has found their bag back... Except Paul. Tanguy takes the steps necessary to recover the missing bag, which, the officer promises, will be sent to the hostel as soon as possible... Paul doesn’t look unduly stressed: he loves travelling light. The fact is he is the epitome of the good pilgrim travelling to the "Holy Land": barefoot in his leather sandals, even though it is raining outside... But he shaved his black beard before the trip, in case people here would take him for a fundamentalist...

Outside the airport, a sherout (sort of mini-bus that starts only once it is full) picks us up. We go through the Israeli night without being able to make out much of it. On the way, the sherout drops off passengers here and there on demand. We are the last ones to leave. The taxivan stops us in front of Jaffa Gate, one of the entrances to the Old City of Jerusalem. Anne-Claire and Tanguy, who are now on familiar territory, lead us through the sleeping souk to the Youth Hostel situated on St Mark Street, in the Armenian district.

The hostel has changed in 2 years. There used to be two mini-kitchens, but one has been turned into a dormitory. The terraces of the different floors no longer adjoin each other and are now used as dormitories too. We guess it is the price of success… Where the Taayoush 2009 group had freely slept under the stars, there are now numbers indicating where to put the mattresses in case you want to sleep outside. Consequently, the large table on which they had breakfast, facing the roofs of the old town, has disappeared... Too bad! But, since it is raining, we won’t miss too much...

Nobody feels like unpacking their stuff for the two and a half days we will spend in Jerusalem. The fact is we are all dying to go to Al-Arroub, settle down "home", even though we don’t have the slightest idea of what is awaiting us there…

Read on about the trip