Monday, March 28, 2011

Tel Aviv

Yesterday we went to Tel Aviv and Im sorry to say that I didnt enjoy it all that much because the cold I've been trying to ignore for the past few days finally took me out. I was a sneezing miserable mess.

We went to the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora at the University. Its a museum that covers the history and culture of jewish people. Its nice but I wouldnt call it a must see like my guide book did. The helpful walkthrough speaker that people who speak English can get only told me everything I already learned in Jewish class so I can only see it being helpful for someone who doesnt know anything about being Jewish. The museum was mostly made up of dioramas and mini movies.

We tried to go to the market but I really wasnt feeling it so we drove home.

Maor went out with some friends and I sampled the local cold medicine. Good stuff.

Today we did some errands for Maors mom, got the car washed, cleaned our room, and bought his mom a GPS even though shes been screaming that she doesnt want one for two days. She likes to just roll down her window and ask random people on the street as she drives by. She said, "Why do I need this! My mouth is my GPS!"

While I was waiting for Maor to get the yearly car test done (the same kind of tests they do for cars in MA) I got a chance to do a little drawing.

An observation about pigeons...

I may invest in a sling shot while Im here. They are like loud gray flying alarm clocks that dont have snooze or off buttons.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rosh Ha-Niqra

Today we met up with Maors aunt, uncle, and cousin on his moms side, his cousin Ronny, her 7 (?) yr old Dream, and three other younger cousins to go to Rosh Ha-Niqra.

Its located right on the boarder of Lebanon. The only thing separating the boarder was a big fence and two guys kinda keeping an eye on people. I dont think they were too worried about people trying to jump the fence.

We took a cable car down to the grottos. The cable car is the steepest one is the world. It does look like they are just going to drop you off the cliff when it starts. It didnt help that the kids reacted by screaming and jumping up and down which wiggled the car.

We took at lot of pictures of the view then went to watch a short movie about the grottos and how they were made over time by the waves hitting the cliff. The kids dragged me up to the front seat with them. Its a really short movie in Hebrew with English subtitles. They try to make it more interesting for the little kids by blowing massive fans at you during certain points and changing the lighting to go with the movie. When we got up to leave  Maor and the two teenagers were soaked because they were sitting in the middle rows that get dowsed with water every time the waves hit the rocks in the movie.

After the movie we went through the grottos. It was really beautiful.

Later Maors mom had a small party for the season finally of Big Brother. Maors aunts asked me if I was going to be bored and were surprised to find out that I've been watching the whole season with Maor. Everyones favorite won.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Today is Friday so while we wanted to go out we couldnt go too far because just about the whole country closes at 4pm and doesnt open again till Sunday.

We went to the cemetery to visit Maors grandmas and one of his friends. Every grave has a place in the back of the stone where you put a memorial candle when you visit so we lit a candle at each one, said a few words, and each of us left a rock on the grave (so the person knows we were there). When we left Maor pointed out a funeral. There were about 7 men who were with the funeral group but didnt come into the cemetery. Maor explained that they are Kohen decedents so they cant go into a cemetery because its considered unholy. I cant remember the full story but basically if a Kohen decedent does anything unholy God wont ask them to do important stuff.
When you leave the cemetery there are large fountains right outside the gate that you need to wash your hands out to get the unholiness off. Actually you just put the water in a cup and then splash a little on each hand.

After we went to Akko and spent more time trying to find parking than actually driving there. Akko is well known for people concurring it. I think the only one that DIDNT take it over at one point was Napoleon. We hung out for a while in the area by the Pisen Harbor, took a lot of pictures, and went on a little boat ride that gives you a great view of area.
While we were walking around and Maor was reminiscing about how many times hes been to Akko and how he knows everything there is to see I noticed an open door and a sign that said "Templar Tunnel".  I said, "Hey, whats this?"
He and his mom both looked in and said, "I have no idea. Never seen it before."
Its a tunnel built by the Templars in the second half of the 12th century to sneak from one end of the harbor to the other. I looked to see if their was more information on it besides what I read on the entrance walls and apparently the place doesnt get much traffic because its so easy to miss and it isnt even mentioned in my tourist book.
We also went to the Bazaar so we could pick up Hummus from Hummus Said. That one little hole in the wall was filled and had a cluster of people waiting to get in that blocked the whole street. They have the best hummas in all of Israel and the line is always there. We didnt have to wait long because Maors mom knew about seperate take-out window in the back.

I want to go back again because there are two other places I want to visit that we didnt get a chance to, the Museum of Underground Prisoners and the Turkish Bath.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Im not dead

There was a bombing in Jerusalem today. Around 30 people were injured and one died.

I wasnt anywhere near it. Jerusalem is a 3 hour drive away so the bombing was kind of like hearing news in Madison WI that Chicago had a disaster.
Maor says its the first bombing in 3 years.

It doesnt change our trip. We arent going to leave early or completely avoid going to Jerusalem. We just might wait a week before we go there.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New observations

1) Here cookies are a must with coffee even if its 6AM. This needs to be adopted in the US.

2) Bourekas is awesome. I couldnt get anyone to actually describe it to me, all they said was, "Its awesome! You must try it!" Its a pastry you can fill with anything and it is my new favorite food.

3) Shuwowma is also awesome and should be adopted by the US immediately.

4) Taking a shower requires preparation.  You have to push a button outside the bathroom that turns on the water heater on top of the house and let it warm up before you can jump in. I did not know that yesterday which explains why the water was so cold.

5) When Maors mom told me soldiers have to take their guns everywhere with them she wasnt just using a figure of speech, they really do. Maors cousin came over to visit with his gun which isnt small.

6) Its obvious to tourists that Israel promotes recycling. There are huge cages where people can throw their used bottles. What isnt as obvious is that the purpose of cages instead of bins is to protect the recycling from gangs that like to take it and profit off it.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Ok, now that Im awake I can tell where we are.

The area is called Kriyot and there are little suburbs with different names, like I think where we are now is called Kiryat Tatta (sp?)

Its 6:30am now. Maor and I went to bed super early last night.

Today we are going to wonder around the area. I looked up what the guide book what there is to do around here and it actually says, "Nothing."

Jet lag

We are in Israel!

The flight to Israel from Newark was 10 hours long. We planned on sleeping through most of the flight but it didnt work out that way. Every seat had its own TV that you could watch movies and play video games on so at least we were entertained.
Our seats were right behind a famous Israeli singer. Maor has his music on his Ipod so he geeked out a little when he saw him writing lyrics during the flight.

When we got off the plane we went through customs and met our welcome party. Maors mom came running at us crying, his moms sister was there, and his best friend.
We took a train from the airport to Maors city, which is a little past Haifa. I cant remember the name of it because its long and everyone says it so fast I dont really understand how to pronounce it.
The train was interesting. We had so many bags that we had to leave them in the isles and move them as people got on and off the train. Maors mom pointed out to me all the soldiers getting on and off the train and I was really surprised that they carried around their guns the same way I carry my purse.

When we got off the plane we met up with Maors sister Reut, who cried, and drove to Maors grandpas apartment. Reut told me that he lives in a really bad neighborhood but wont consider moving to a better apartment because he has been there for so long. He was very excited to see us. I have no idea what he said but he took me around his apartment showing me his collections of stuff, TVs, clocks, pictures.

After we went to Maors moms apartment and had a huge lunch. So many people came to the house to say hi. Reut keeps warning me that this isnt even the beginning of all the people and family Im going to meet.

Besides getting use to everyone speaking Hebrew there are a couple of little things that got me really confused today.
Light switches for rooms are in the hallways. Maor just told me that it isnt the same everywhere, just here because thats how they had to do the wiring but it still confused me to walk into the bathroom and feel around for the switch forever.
The toilet has two buttons. Now I know its to conserve water but at first I was a little scared to press either one not knowing what was going to happen if I maybe picked the wrong one.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pack Mules

I decided to start my blog of my trip to Israel early to include preparing to leave for the big trip.

Maor is obviously very excited to go because he hasnt seen his family in 2 and a half years. We will be there for Purim (a big party holiday, like Halloween in the US), Passover, and his birthday so not only does he get to show me his country and family for the first time but he gets 2 holidays where he can stop saying "you should see how we do it in Isreal" and of course his birthday with all his family and friends for the first time in years.

Im excited and nervous. This will be my first trip out of the country without someone in my family and I wont be following a tour. I get to experience not only the touristy "must see" places but the real Israel as a local because we will be living there for a month and a half.

In preparation for our departure Maor has been shopping for his mom and sisters. There are certain brands in the US that Israel doesnt carry (Victoria Secret, Adidas, Hollister, ect.) so Maor was asked to bring back shoes, perfumes, cloths, and bathing suits.
I havent been much help with this because I hate shopping for myself so I cant see myself shopping for someone else and coming up with items they would like. Im a minimalist. I dont do fashion forward.

Today Maors cousin reached out to me on facebook and asked me to find something I can actually shop for, a very specific brand of organic air fresheners. She asked her brother to get them for her (hes in the US, and lives about a block away from us right now) but he doesnt want to bother with it. Im more than happy to get these things for her mostly because it will prove that Im not totally useless on the shopping front and hopefully score me some brownie points in my new family.

After agreeing to bring her 3 of each of this specific brand I started going over what I want to bring, what Maor will probably want to bring, and extra bag fees.
....we are definitely going to have to do some rethinking of what to take with us on this trip or we will end up looking like we are moving instead of visiting.

My goal this week is to separate our things into piles of "taking to Israel" and "leaving behind" because on the way back up to catch our flight we will be doing so much driving and visiting so many people that I think our stress would be down sized if we could just drop the extra baggage and go instead of sorting through it last minute.

Just 12 more days till our flight takes off!

Side note: I named this blog Yafeh Israel because yafeh is Hebrew for beautiful. Every time I ever mention to someone that has been to Israel that we are going the first thing they say is, "Its so beautiful! You will fall in love with it!"