Israel @ 70 Ride
Sam Blumenstein  Tuesday, 10 April, 2018

Israel's 70th Birthday is an important milestone during our lifetime. Avi and Di, Ben, Sol and Pauline and I were priveliged to have been able to participate. Lauren from New York also a long time member of YOW Australia flew in from the U.S and rode with our group there along with the large Canadian contingent.

We packed the bikes into a 20 foot shipping container on the 19th January (a 42 degree C day). Mark's Kawasaki ZZR600 was the fourth in the container aside From Sol's Suzuki Vstrom, Avi's Yamaha FJR1300 and my Vmax. Mark's bike went for a holiday to Israel but Mark had to pull out of the trip in the last minute due to pressing family issues. The same applied to Josh who had to pull out at the last minute when family issues struck. Josh was not shipping his bike but was going to ride the tour bus which the Canadians had organised to take non riders and everyones luggage on the whole ride. The bus basically followed the bikes except where we encountered roads too narrow or dangerous for a large bus to navigate safely.

Ben actually rented a bike in Israel for the tour and Lauren was able to borrow a bike from a U.S friend who had moved to Israel several years ago.

The container arrived into the Port of Haifa on the 25th March and we were able to unload the bikes and go through the Customs Department drill on the 8th April just after Pesach. The Canadians arrived a few days later and we all eventually met at a large hotel in Haifa from where the journey began.

We rode north from Haifa, to Ghetto Fighters Museum and off to the Golan region. We were up north for Yom Hashoah and as is customary in Israel we pulled over when the sirens began as a reminder of the 6 million souls murdered by the nazis. From the north we headed to Jerusalem just before the weekend and spent several days there visiting Ammunition Hill, King Solomons Quarries and took in the famous sound and light show there.

Down south towards Eilat. Along the way, Masada and the Dead Sea. Several days in Eilat and were part of the Yom Haatzmaut celebrations there preceeded by Yom Hazikaron memorials. While in Eilat we visited an amazing bird/wildlife sanctuary. A stop off point for migrating birds from Africa and below on their journey to Europe. We visited Timna where King Solomons Copper mines were located. Some of the group took a tour of Petra on Yom Haatzmaut.

After leaving Eilat it was time to head back north to Tel Aviv for the last leg of the official 70th Ride. The Australian group still had some unfinished business to take care of after the Canadians were to pack their bikes back into containers in Haifa.

The Canadians went home. Avi and Di stayed with Avi's brother in law till the 25th when they left for a cruise to Italy and Greece. Ben left Israel on the 23rd as did Lauren. The 3 Stooges were left...Sol, Pauline and myself. We moved to Netanya where I caught up with Mary's cousin Fanny and her husband Moshe. We parked our bikes in our good friend Andee Goldman's underground parking lot only a ten minute walk from our apartments in Netanya.

Before Avi and Di left we all made it to Itzic Felafel in Yaffo for the best felafels in Israel. Sol, Pauline and I rode there from Netanya. Di and Avi had already returned their bike to the port with the Canadians and were shlepped there by wonderful brother inlaw Gidon.

The next day was the 25th April...ANZAC DAY. We were to attend the ANZAC Memorial Service at Mt.Scopus Jerusalem at the British War Cemetery the next morning at 10.00am We planned to ride out of Netanya very early that morning but the rain began falling and the forecast looked very bad. I called Sol at 6.30am and told him we are taking a cab to Jerusalem.

It was wet and miserable early in the morning but the weather fined up as we reached Mt.Scopus. The service was wonderful and thanks to Andee Goldman and partner Elcan who helped us communicate with the Australian Embassy announcing our participation in the service, we had a wonderful although emotional time there during the service. Prior to the service I insisted on my last visit to my favourite place in Israel, the Kotel for a last prayer session in that holy place.

After the service we taxi'd to Yad Vashem. Leaving another emotional place was OK till the heavans once again opened up and the rain poured down. We caught the light rail in Jerusalem to the central bus station and took a 3 hour ride home to Netanya.

On the final riding day the 26th, Amos Baram our local Israeli customs agent (a biker and great guy) came past our apartment block on his bike and we followed him to the Haifa port bonded warehouse to complete the loading of the four bikes into a container for the bikes trip home.

Sol and Pauline left the next day, I stayed a few more days in Netanya with Mary's cousin. The last man standing can say that Israel is a marvel and we are lucky to know that we have a safe, strong homelandto protect us always, no matter where we live.