Photo Credit: Jewish Press

“By the way,” my husband called over his shoulder as he hurried back into his study to deal with yet another yeshiva matter, “I don’t remember if I mentioned it yet – the boys are going to a mini boot camp next week, Monday through Wednesday. Please look for flights so we can get away a little.”

Wow! What a tantalizing and totally unexpected offer! Baruch Hashem, after 39 years of marriage and ten kids, not to mention my better half’s consistently challenging and demanding job, even a few hours of alone time is a rare treat. Wasting no time, I checked the calendar and set to work.


That’s when I encountered the first of what would soon be a series of glitches. I had a dentist appointment on Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. “It’s still enough in advance that I can always cancel,” I explained to my husband, “But I made that appointment several months ago, and will have to wait a few more for a new one.” “I can actually work it out to leave on Sunday instead,” he assured me. “See what you find.”

So I Googled Kayak Explore and plugged in the required information: dates (easy), budget (not much), and preferred travel time (up to four hours). Voilà! In a blink I was staring at a map featuring a tiny little speck (Israel) surrounded by blood-thirsty, hostile enemies. “We would have a lot more options if most of our closest neighbors were not sworn to our destruction!” I quipped. But I decided to hone in on the choices that did appear, complete with lowest current airfares.

Eventually I narrowed the selection down to a few interesting ones, with Barcelona, Budapest, and Venice being the top contenders. My husband opted for a trip to his ancestors’ “alter heim,” telling me, “I hear Budapest is really beautiful.” So I zeroed my search in on Hungary, seeking out recommended tourist sites and checking prices for flights, hotels, and car rentals. Finally, I was able to find what looked like a nice hotel or two that were semi-affordable.

But before I booked, we decided to call a cousin who travels often. “Budapest is nice, but Prague is nicer,” was his verdict. “And Venice trumps them both!” So it was back to the drawing board or, more accurately, computer screen, for me.

A look at the weather forecast immediately put a damper on that destination, both literally and figuratively. “Venice has a weather advisory,” I shared. “Showers and thunderstorms do not bode well for a city built on canals!” We agreed to shelve that idea for a future getaway. Prague was also expecting some rain, but that was not as significant a game-changer. What came next was.

“I just found out that I have to join the guys in boot camp on Monday. It’s over a two hour drive each way,” my husband lamented.

I returned to Kayak Explore and checked out closer (and cheaper) destinations such as Cyprus and the Greek Islands. Perhaps something could be salvaged of this mini vacation after all. The good news was that the weather was optimal: 70s and 80s, with no rain in the forecast. However, even with relatively low fares, once I added accommodations and a car, it didn’t seem worthwhile for such an abbreviated trip.

“I guess we’ll have to take a ‘rain check’ on this vacation,” we concurred. “Let’s just do day trips instead this time around.” We were both slightly disappointed by the turn of events, but thankfully we had not already booked flights and hotels.

My husband left to yeshiva Sunday morning, and I began my post-Shabbos laundry and clean-up routine. Then he phoned with an important message, sounding extremely harried. “I can’t talk now,” he managed to mumble. ”Dealing with some major issues…” From the uncharacteristically strained and rushed sound of his voice, I knew that this was far from the best time to press him for details. Sure enough, he phoned again a few hours later with the sorry tale.

“After that horrific incident in which nine Israeli teenagers were swept away by the current during a school hike, the government issued stricter guidelines,” he explained. “Now two separate bodies must approve all hikes and extra-curricular activities.” Bottom line: The hesder yeshiva where he works (more accurately, devotes his heart and soul) had somehow fallen between the cracks. An official at the Ministry of Education refused to grant them the necessary green light, and at the eleventh hour, the boot camp was canceled entirely.

“The boys are pretty upset,” he said. “Plus there’s no food or even hot water in the yeshiva, and all the rebbeim but me have the day off!” Needless to say, the army base that had spent weeks preparing for the arrival of the 50 expected guests was none-too-happy either. In short, a colossal mess all around. My husband scrambled to order in some food for the hungry, disappointed guys, and likewise to think up a fun activity for later in the week to help sweeten the blow.

As for our romantic vacation, that obviously did not materialize; even the “consolation prize” day trips were now stricken from the itinerary. However, in the scheme of things, I can’t help but think that we got off fairly easy. And we are arguably now a few steps closer to our next getaway!


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