I’ve realized that I have been a little lazy about updating my blog on a regular basis, so from now on I am going to make a stronger effort to write more regularly.
Last week my friends and I ventured to Tel Aviv for our 5 day mid-semester break. In the process of finding a place to stay, we toyed with the idea of staying in a hotel vs. renting an apartment.We decided to rent a small apartment near the beach instead of a larger apartment closer to the center of the city. This thing was TINY but super cheap, so for this weekend it served its purpose. In hindsight, however, I think we would have all been happier paying a little more to stay in a larger, nicer hotel/apartment.
We left for Tel-Aviv thursday morning bright and early. We wanted to maximize the amount of hours we would spend lounging in the sun on the beach. And lounge we did, we were all settled on our lounge chairs by 11:30, ready to take in the rays. The weather was beautiful and perfectly comfortable, not too hot and not too cold. We spent the entire day playing at the beach with a bunch of people from our program. We played all sorts of sports, took a walk and lounged. It was such a great day…until the sunburns set on. All of us got burned and we must have looked hilarious, we were all bright red.
Thursday night we went out to dinner to a restaurant in Jaffa called Dr. Shakshuka. I had the eggplant and it did not live up to my expectations. However, the multiple salads and pita they brought as appetizers hit the spot. Later that night, we had our first experience with the Tel-Aviv club scene. It is drastically different then the nightlife scene here in Jerusalem, which is much more relaxed. Emma and I, along with a bunch of our other friends, decided to go to a club called Galina on the Namal (the port, where most clubs are located). Normally, to get into a club/bar in the US you would wait in a semi-single file line until it was your turn to get in. Lines in Israel do not function that way. So we waited in a mass of people, until I thought of a great idea, why don’t I tell the bouncers that I was from Los Angeles, maybe that would help. And help it did, we went right in, to what we thought was the entrance to the club. We actually went into the area to pay. Usually the bars at school charge no cover or a $5 cover charge, not terrible. This club charged a 50 shekel( 50/3.7=$13.50) cover charge. We were outraged! What we learned over the next couple days is that 50 shekels to get into a club is not a bad deal at all. Anyways, we strolled around the namal for a little and then decided it would be a better idea to just go home.
We woke up on Friday morning and went to breakfast at a restaurant called Benedicts. There was a lot of hype surrounding this place and it was recommended to me by a ton of people and I was really excited because brunch is my favorite meal. It was really good, but kind of over priced in my opinion. The decor and vibe of the restaurant was very brunchy and they people there were definitely people who brunched. Anyways, we had a good time! After brunch( more like a late lunch) we walked to Nachalat Binyamin, an artisan craft/jewelery fair near Shuk HaCarmel. It was so fun seeing all of the different types of jewelery and pieces of artwork the different artisans had made. When I was in israel with camp in 2008, this was where I bought my favorite ring. The guy who I bought the ring from was still there, selling the same stuff. I was really excited when I came across the pieces pictured below. They looked exactly like the mesh pieces of art that Dindee ( my grandma) makes.
After walking through Nachalat Binyamin and the Shuk, Zussman, Emma and I decided to go check out the Purim Street Fair that was happening in Tel Aviv. It was nuts! There was a silent rave going on and tons of people dressed in costume. The holiday of Purim, and its observance(celebration), has been adopted by everyone in the country ( both the religious and secular). Usually, there is a split between the two groups which is why the universality of the holiday is amazing to see.
Friday night we went to a little Mexican Taqueria/Tequila Bar for dinner located in a neighborhood called Florentin, which is known for its many bars and small restaurants. I have been craving Mexican food since I arrived in Israel so I was so excited to be going. The restaurant was adorable, the drinks were delicious but the food was so-so. Regardless, we enjoyed ourselves. Rachel, Emma and I decided to meet up with some of our friends at a club called Seret. Oddly enough, it was located in a mall….classic Israel. So we got there, found the line or more like a mass of people waiting in line. We had exact instructions of who to talk to at the door and everything but it was nearly impossible to wait comfortably. Neither one of us were really intent on going after seeing the Jersey Shore/Pauly D-ness of the people around us. All in all it was a great night, we were all so exhausted from the day that it was probably a better idea that we didn’t go into the club.
On Saturday morning, we went to a really cute restaurant in Jaffa called Puah. It was very rustic and homey on the inside. They made everything in house, sounds like a good place to me. They brought us freshly sliced challah, which was delicious. I got a classic Israeli breakfast (Eggs, Israeli salad, cheese, etc) and loved it! We then walked around the Neve Tzedek neighborhood. The restaurants were packed with people but most of the stores were closed, which was a blessing in disguise because they looked like great stores.
Saturday night, Eri, Zussman, Maor and I went to sushi for dinner at a place called Moon Sushi. It was swanky and delicious. After dinner we met up with a bunch of our other friends who we came to Tel Aviv at Jeff Seidel’s infamous Tel Aviv Purim Party. It was a lot of fun!
Sunday morning woke up and decided to have breakfast on the beach. On the beaches in Tel Aviv there are many restaurants that have outside sitting areas with lounge chairs, tables, umbrellas, etc. We went to the place that we had been to on our thursday beach day. It was more like a feast than just a breakfast. We had eggs, bread, yogurt with fruit and granola, cheeses, israeli salad, coffee and juice all for 52 shekes($14). The food was great and so was the scenery. It was a great way to end a great weekend in Tel Aviv.
After breakfast we packed up and eventually made it home. One of mine and Zussman’s friends from Michigan,Noah, who is studying at the University of Haifa ( just north of Tel Aviv), met us at the bus station to come back to Jerusalem with us. This is his first time in Israel so for the short time we had with him that day, we wanted to give him a very Israeli experience so we took him to the shuk, got some gummies, some marzipan and lunch at Pasta Basta.
Sunday night we made dinner at home and then Rachel, Zusman and I met Yoav and his friend at a bar. Jerusalem celebrates Purim the day after the rest of the world on Shushan Purim. I am not sure why exactly, it has something to do with Jerusalem being a walled city in the olden days. But the streets were packed with people in costume. We didn’t stay out too late because we were so exhausted from our trip to Tel Aviv.
On Monday we walked to the old city ,and the purim celebration continued. Everyone was in costume and it was so busy. Monday night we went to a Balkan Beat Box Concert ( an israeli band). It was so much fun! We didn’t really know their music but their energy was amazing, I have never seen a band like them.
Tuesday morning school started for good. Real classes, a real schedule. But I am ready for it. I like being scheduled, with responsibilities and things to do. My classes seem really interesting and I am excited to get learning. On Tuesday I had my Arab Israeli Conflict class and Wednesday I had kabbalah.
My last thursday was spent getting my rav-kav(bus pass) and tiyuling around Jerusalem with Eri. We got the deal of the century at the shuk….6 cucumbers, a large zuchinni, 6 tomatoes and 7 persimons all for 10 shekels ( $2.70).
Well….that is all the news from the holy land.