Departures/Arrivals: Who took off from and landed at Ben Gurion Airport this week?
Two London boys return from a wedding in Petah Tikva, while a soccer player-model couple arrive home from New York.
Tom Shaw, 33, makeup artist and performer; Ryan Ormond, 30, employed in a movie theater. Returning to London.
Why were you in Israel?
Tom: A friend of ours from London got married, so we came for the wedding and a week-long visit.
Is he Israeli?
Tom: They are English, but the bride’s grandmother lives here and they visited here a few times.
What was the bride like?
Tom: The bride was stunning. She is a quite successful actor and she does stand-up. Her name is Sarah Solemani.
Ryan: She is also very beautiful.
Where was the wedding?
Tom: In Peth Katwia.
And where did you stay?
Tom: In Jaffa, in the Old Jaffa Hostel.
Ryan: It’s lovely.
Did you get to do any sightseeing?
Tom: We didn’t really travel much. We had intended to go to Jerusalem, to the Old City and the Western Wall.
Ryan: But in the end, as expected...
Tom: ...it didn’t work out. We stayed in the city. We really enjoyed ourselves in Jaffa, and the wedding was also three days of parties, so we had plenty to do.
Ryan: And plenty to drink.
Where did you hang out?
Tom: We were at Kalimera, a restaurant in Jaffa Port, which was superb, and of course the hummus and falafel were amazing.
Ryan: The hummus in London isn’t so good. And besides that, the truth is that we didn’t really go out. Our hotel had a roof and at night we sat there with our drinks and looked at the city, the lights and the moon.
Tom: And I have to say that the drinks here are a lot more expensive than in London.
Ryan: A lot more.
Tom: Maybe it’s time to say to the Israelis: Why don’t you do something about that?
The photographer: Just so you know that historically it’s all because of the British, who raised the price of single malt and bourbon here. In short, it’s your fault.
Tom: Yeah, that’s always the way.
Ryan: We’ve heard that in the past when we traveled.
Tom: In all kinds of places. It looks like the British are to blame for most things in the world.
Would you have visited Israel even without the wedding?
Tom: I’ve always wanted to, and this was just an excuse.
What’s your impression of the place?
Tom: What’s going on here is a lot more complex than I thought. There were a lot of Muslims and Jews and Europeans in our hostel, and we were all into interaction and integration. I suppose it’s not like that everywhere, but anyway I liked it.
What did you think was going on here?
Tom: It’s hard to explain.
Ryan: Look, when you live in London all you know about Israel comes from the news, and it’s always war and chaos. There is no sense of what everyday life looks like here.
Tom: Tel Aviv is a relatively calm city.
Ryan: And it has a very European feel. There is a mix of people, like in big cities.
Tom: I didn’t think the Middle East was like this.
What will you do on the flight?
Tom: I will read James Baldwin’s “Another Country,” a book about race relations and about bohemians in 1960s New York.
Ryan: I like listening to music on the flight.
What do you think about Israeli music?
Ryan: I listened to Israeli music in the taxi and on the radio. I don’t really understand the language, so it’s a bit strange to listen to it and it’s also hard to remember what I heard. It’s hard for any song without [recognizable] words to stick, but I really liked the Hebrew version of [R.E.M. song] “Everybody Hurts.”
Tom: And also the klezmer at the wedding.
Shir Elmaliach, 22, model; Elroy Cohen, 23, soccer player for Hapoel Tel Aviv. Arriving from the United States.
Where did you just come from?
Elroy: We were in the United States for the first time. Two and a half weeks. You have to travel during the break between seasons. That’s the way with soccer players. We spent a little time in New York and [Las] Vegas and a lot in Hawaii.
Shir: I would have skipped New York altogether.
You didn’t find the city nice?
Elroy: She’s more into beaches.
Shir: I like places where there is more freedom and less city.
Elroy: And in New York we were in a place at Times Square and Broadway, in the middle of the chaos.
What about the skyscrapers, the Statue of Liberty, the shopping?
Shir: You know how they say that the most gorgeous things are in Israel? It’s true.
Elroy: That doesn’t mean she didn’t go shopping. She went. Dresses, shoes.
Shir: The best was Victoria’s Secret.
Elroy: She bought a million bathing suits − blue, yellow, the whole collection.
And you carried the bags?
Shir: He is really supportive. But I don’t support him in shopping.
Does he need support?
Shir: Absolutely. I see something beautiful, I take it and keep going. I don’t need to try it on, I know my body and I know what it will look like on me, exactly what’s right and good. But him? He tries on every item and goes into the fitting room with 20 items and thinks it over.
How was Vegas?
Elroy: The hotels are absolutely incredible, they really are a tourist attraction. But besides that...
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?
Shir: There wasn’t so much. A little blackjack and roulette, but I’m not crazy about it. That wasn’t the thing.
So, where did you have the best time?
Shir: Hawaii has the most stunning sea in history − that turquoise − and the views. We met there with Gilad Janklowicz, the guy from the fitness show, and we worked out with him.
Elroy: She also did a shoot for a local American magazine. At night Gilad took us out to dance and to all kinds of local restaurants.
What is there to eat in Hawaii that’s tasty?
Elroy: When you eat kosher abroad it’s a problem, you are very limited.
Shir: I didn’t eat anything. It was disgusting, and the most revolting was the coffee. I didn’t have one good cup of coffee.
What did you do on the flight?
Elroy: It was a terrible flight! Six hours from Hawaii to the United States, an eight-hour wait in the airport and then 14 hours from Los Angeles. And I didn’t sleep a wink.
You didn’t fall asleep?
Shir: They put only babies around us: two in front and one behind. They cried the whole time. A symphony. But we watched a movie.
Elroy: The same movie.
Shir: Four times: “The Notebook.” It’s the most romantic movie there is. About a couple who part because the man goes to war and then he comes back years later and she is engaged to someone else.
Who did you miss most?
Shir: Louie, my dog, who was holidaying with Kobi here.
Kobi: And it was very nice, too. As far as I am concerned, they can go back.
How many times did you speak with Mom?
Elroy: Me, every day; her, once.
Shir: But only because my parents don’t have an iPhone. So his parents spoke with mine and updated them.
Where will you go for the next break?
Shir: Bora Bora!