Part One: The Ibiza of the Middle East, Tel Aviv yo.

Ruddy-cheeked from the wind and dark whisky, feeling tipsy from the messy jig I am creating with an olive-skinned guy, I remember my manners and ask

‘Where are you from?’

As fireworks chime in another freezing New Year on Edinburgh’s Princes Street, he answers

‘Tel Aviv. It’s the Ibiza of the Middle East!’

I think nothing more of the conversation, until I am waiting for a flight from Luton half a year later.

A Hassidic Jewish invasion in WHSmith. Heavy men bundled under dusty coats in June whisk past. Their many sons rush to keep up; sidecurls turn them into sweet imitations of their fathers.
Their wives in wigs are wrapped up in baggy skirts and buttoned-up shirts, so plain I barely notice them.
I look at the departures screen to see where they are going.

Tel Aviv.

These guys? These guys are purveyors of free love and amphetamines?
Do wigs get tossed off mid-flight, revealing sun-bronzed Sienna Miller hair?
Does Easyjet pump out happy hardcore on board, for a gyrating mass of pot-bellied bodies?
I have never been so curious about a city.

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