Food

We Almost Missed Our Train to Philly

2/20/14
You probably don’t know this about me but I’m either early or late. I’m rarely ever on time. My mother knows this about me and thus usually forces me to be anywhere from 1-2 hrs early for planes and trains.

I woke up at 7:30am and our train wasn’t leaving until 10:30am. In my mind that left 2 hrs to get ready, 30 mins to travel there, and 30 mins to wait. Somehow that didn’t work out. It was 9:45 and I was struggling to find a bag I needed. I found it and we ran out of the house to the subway. My mother was pissed at me. I kept mumbling I told you not to book an early train. I don’t do mornings. We run down the subway stairs and catch the packed train waiting to leave the station. We got on much to the annoyance of the people standing already. We waited and waited and waited and waited. The train wasn’t leaving the station. My mother kept shooting me dirty looks while I prayed for the doors to close. In my head I was picturing a repeat of my MET fiasco where it took 2 hrs to get uptown. I kept looking at my phone for the time. What the hell was going on? We were going to miss our train and it would be all my fault. The train doors finally closed at 10:05. The train ride should take 20-30 mins. We were screwed. By some miracle we got to Penn Station at 10:17. We had made it! I didn’t majorly screw us up.

Our train was on time and we took seats in the quiet car. The lady behind me spent the entire ride sneezing and coughing on me. To quote Jimmy Fallon’s character Sara, “ew!” I used the train ride to text, respond to work emails, and plan a video my friends and I will be filming next week.

We arrived in Philly around noon. We got out of 30th st station and we could immediately tell something was wrong. A street was blocked off with caution tape. There were police, fireman, and a huge crowd. There were more sirens in the distance. I took a picture because my friends and co-workers tease that I bring horrible events to places I go (war, revolution, bombings, natural disasters, etc). I sent it them and really figured it was just a bad fender bender, but no one was hurt because their was no ambulance, sense of urgency, flames, etc. We boarded Septa and headed to our hotel. A large transvestite fell on me when the train lurched. I smiled at the thought how normal that was when my non city friends would have freaked. I’m just glad I wasn’t crushed. They were the size of a football player.

We got off the train and were very confused. The entrance for our hotel was gone. We remembered a side entrance that was rarely used and headed there. That entrance was now the main entrance while they undergo restaurant renovation. We checked in and were happily surprised to find out that our room was ready despite being 4 hrs early and we had been upgraded due to my mom’s birthday. Our room was located on the 32nd floor, who is considered one of the club floors. The club lounge was located on 31. We headed to the lounge first only to find out it is only open on weekday mornings until 10:30am. It had a beautiful view though. Lots of different chairs to sit in. We headed back down to our room which was the exact same room as last time just 10 flights up. The room had two double beds, flat screen tv, desk, mini bar, Keurig, and a bathroom with a tub. The view is lovely from the room and it is very quiet.

We were hungry so we headed to Reading Terminal Market. We picked up a mini King Cake, a brioche roll, garlic crostinis, and an M&M cookie. I ate the roll in 10 seconds. I also got a christmas rubber ducky to add to my collection. We headed to an expensive thrift store so my mother could buy herself something nice as a birthday present to herself. Every time we go to this store they are closed. We arrive and they are closed again. However, this time there is a worker on his cell and he refuses to open up. Great work ethic! That annoyed my mom so we decided to move on. We did a lot of shopping. We went to Dollar General, Buffalo Exchange, Payless, H&M, Claire’s, and the shops at Liberty Place. We got free tea at Liberty Place from Tazo. We were going to go to Federal Doughnuts to see what the hype was about, but it looked like it was going to pour. We started to walk back to the area outside Reading Terminal. We did more shopping! I went to Burlington Coat Factory and Five Below.

At 4:45pm we headed back to Reading Terminal for discounted cookies. The problem was their dough wasn’t delivered on time so they didn’t have many cookies. My mom got a bunch, but I just got two. We headed across the street to Maggiano’s for dinner. We were so surprised that the place was almost empty. It’s usually swamped so much so that you face a 2 hour wait if you don’t make a reservation in advance. They sat us in a booth. We knew what we wanted to eat right away. We ordered fried zucchini and two margherita flatbreads (1/2 price for happy hour). They brought us out hot rolls. My mom ate most of the zucchini and some of the flatbread. I downed my food. All of a sudden the waiter, Edward, came out with cookies, a strawberry, and two candles for my mom. So sweet and awesome. I had put in my Open Table reservation that it was my mom’s birthday, but I totally doubted anything would be done. She was so surprised. I ordered an apple crostada and went in search of the waiter to sneakily give my credit card to so I could pay for dinner, but I couldn’t find him. Meanwhile, the couple in the booth next to us were having a bad night. The guy sat in cherries and the girl spent the whole time crying into her menu, then a tissue, and then her alfredo. We asked them to pack up the cookies and the remaining pieces of flatbread. We got matches for future candle lighting.

We got back to the room and were shocked to see two cupcakes and a card by the TV for my mom. The hotel had signed the card. We put a candle in the cupcake and she quickly made a wish. We settled in to watch the Olympics. She ate her cupcakes and I noshed on the leftovers.

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Categories: Family Vacation, Food, Philadelphia, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vegetarian Meals on Planes

If you don’t already know this about me, I am a vegetarian. I don’t eat meat including seafood, but I eat things made from animals (ie cheese). Growing up I used to love economy plane food. I know, I am weird, but I did. That was when the airlines weren’t cheap you know what’s and you actually got a meal. My meals from JFK to Aruba usually consisted of a salad, roll, a box of two chocolates, and an entree. The entree was either a chicken dish or a vegetarian dish like pasta. Every time I have flown first class I have hated the meal. I’m not into fancy food and for some reason there isn’t a vegetarian option. On one flight they actually brought me the economy meal so I could eat something. I also dislike ice cream, again I’m weird, and that’s the only dessert option on all the first class flights. Yeah I know first world problems, but when it’s a long flight, you don’t sleep, and pay tons of money you definitely want to eat. They used to post the menus in advance so I could decide whether or not to order a vegetarian meal. They stopped doing that.

That special vegetarian meal used to be decent, but my recent experiences have been absolutely nasty. This is because United no longer offer lacto-ovo vegetarian meals. These were meals that contained cheese and eggs. So I got food like pasta, quiche, cheese sandwiches, french toast, etc. now they offer Asian Vegetarian meals, which is almost the exact same description as their vegan meals. Those meals consisted of rice coated in nasty unidentifiable sauce and 4 pathetic veggies. This brings me to my dilemma. I have an economy plus and businessfirst flights ahead of me this year. Do I order vegetarian meals and be struck with garbage or hope that there is a decent vegetarian option on board or pick at a non vegetarian meal?

Here are some of my recent plane meal experiences:

El Al to Tel Aviv-They forgot my veggie meal. No vegetarian option. I ate bread.

El Al to Tel Aviv-Again no veggie meal but their was a vegetarian sandwich option.

Delta to Amsterdam-Veggie meal was pasta with nuts (I’m allergic). This was also the vegetarian meal option on board. Food was good though (I picked off the nuts).

KLM to Egypt-Veggie meal was unidentifiable. Didn’t eat it. Roll could have broken a wall. I had a chocolate. A to go waffle was served for breakfast.

Air France to NYC-Veggie meal was unidentifiable. Didn’t eat it. Ate the bread.

United to Newark-Veggie meal was gross. I didn’t eat it. I wound up eating my mom’s ham and cheese sandwich minus the ham.

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Jerusalem to Tel Aviv

Jan 11 2009

Our last morning in Israel! We had breakfast, loaded the bus, and checked out. It was a pain in the butt to get the luggage down to the lobby, but we all managed. I think we were all glad to be done with Shalom Jerusalem’s horrible tiny elevators.

We drove to an environmental place in Jerusalem to listen to a PowerPoint. It wasn’t working and we were all dead tired and not in the mood. Eventually the lady just gave up with the computer and spoke to us. I don’t think anyone was listening.

We boarded the bus and were off to Tel Aviv. Our first stop was Rabin Square, named for the assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, which included a visit to the Rabin Memorial. Shabat spoke to us for a bit.

Then we went to Independence Hall, site of David Ben Gurion’s proclamation of the State of Israel in May 1948. We listened to a film and a guide talked to us. When we were standing outside the museum for a bit we were shooed a way because it was dangerous. We walked back to the bus and headed to the Carmel Market.

At the Carmel Market we were given free time to explore and get lunch. I skipped most of the market and explored the side streets. In the first store I went to I picked up some Tel Aviv postcards. I got a Jaffa one for Ms. Jaffe. After that I found some Sephardic bakeries where of course I bought my lunch. I met up with Deb and we browsed a bunch of stores. We bought some stuff to take home. In particular, I got more pop rock chocolate. Then we met up with Nora and Maddy in this park. They had made some new friends so we all chatted for a while. I left them after a bit to buy more Sephardic food to bring back to the states for my mom. I found Ali in the ice cream place where we used the restroom.

Our next stop was old Jaffa. We had time to explore the flea market. Shabat gave the group a challenge, which was to find the most unique/unusual item at the flea market and buy it. I decided not to participate as did most people. I went with Ali, Lior, and Jen exploring. I bought a necklace for my grandma and a shirt for my dad. After that we got bored and kept walking. Suddenly, the neighborhood started to get really shady. We decided to turn around. As we were walking back I saw a guy behind us move closer to us and signal to a guy across the street. I watched both of them get closer, just as I was about to get Lior’s attention the two guys saw Lior. In particular, his gun. Suddenly, they both stopped and turned around. Oy that was close. After that incident we still had more time in Old Jaffa. So a bunch of us sat by the clock tower bored out of our minds. Little did we know that our trip mates were at the beach watching the sun go down.

Eventually we all met up and Shabat warned us it would be a while until the next bathroom. Ali and I went to a coffee shop and paid to use the restroom. Some of the other girls did the same thing. Shabat had us walk through some winding back streets to this area that had all the zodiac symbols. There was even a bridge with the symbols. The bridge was called the Wishing Bridge. We were supposed to touch our zodiac symbol and make a wish while looking out at the Mediterranean Sea. By the way, my wish came true.

After that we got back on the bus. The people who bought stuff for the contest showed off what they got. Then Shabat showed us what he got. It was this blue insect thing on a stick. He won. Then he told us one of his infamous jokes.

Then we drove to a farm to eat dinner. We were all a little worried and confused by this piece of information. We ate in an indoor tent. The food was actually very good. My table went around and said what we’ll remember about each other. Our table consisted of Jen, Lindsey, Ali, Kevin, Alan, and myself.

After that we drove to a school. We created a yarn web by taking turns throwing a ball of yarn and saying what we liked about each other. Sarah Dickey picked me and said how sweet I was. I picked Ali. Then we cut our individual strands so we could wear them as bracelets. Staci and Anna handed out our group pictures and t-shirts. A bunch of us used the bathroom which was super gross and sketchy.

Back on the bus we packed up our cell phones so we could give them back. Some how we got on the fact that we sucked at the bus countdown. So we started to challenge ourselves by counting down in 30 seconds then 15 seconds then 13 seconds. We also did our countdown backwards. We had a lot of fun!

We watched Tel Aviv slip away as we drove to the airport. Shabat started to give away things on the bus, such as our signs and our map. I wanted the map, but Zac got it. When we got to the airport Shabat left us. We all thanked him and he gave us his card. Anna went and joined another trip. Shabat will meet another tour tomorrow. I don’t know how he isn’t exhausted. We all were beyond exhausted and 75% of our group had colds.

We got on a super long line to check our bags and get our tickets. I was little bummed that I didn’t get an aisle seat. We went through security and had time to kill before our flight. I walked around looking for a place to spend my leftover coins. I bought a bottle of water and a huge thing of Baklava for my mom. We hung out in the waiting area for a bit. Everyone was comparing seat numbers to figure out who was sitting next to whom. I was getting very tired. It was almost midnight so it had been a long day. Not to mention a long 11 days. We finally got the signal to board and we were ready.

Categories: Asia, Food, History, Israel, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saddness, Shopping, and Laughter in Jerusalem

Jan 9 2009
Another early morning wake up call. Again, I was the first one to get ready. We had to dress conservatively today because we were headed to Yad Vashem. It was extremely cloudy out and was misting a bit. We stopped in front of the museum to take a group photo. We were just one of many tour groups there.

We got our tour guide who guided us through the museum. We had to listen to him on headsets. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the museum. I didn’t think the tour guide was very good and I didn’t feel the museum was comprehensive. Nor did I find it very moving. We got to see a room full of records from survivors, which was a bit interesting. The museum was very gray and dark. It opened out to a beautiful view of Jerusalem. To show the hope and renewal after the destruction. Morgan was in a wheelchair because of her Masada incident and her poor brother had to carry her up the stairs. For me the most moving thing was of a statue towards the exit of the museum complex. It was of a teacher who was given the option to be saved or die with his students. He chose to die with his students.

After that we went to the shuk. Ricky was my shopping buddy. First we hit the amazing bakeries and candy stores on the street outside of the shuk. Then he haggled for me in Hebrew so I could get a t-shirt. After that we got zatar from a spice merchant. We walked around the shuk for a while and looked at all the yummy food. The we wandered down a side street and found a Sephardic bakery that was cheap. We loaded up like nobody’s business. The food was amazing!
We headed back to Mehane Yehuda St., which was the meeting spot. We looked at what everyone bought. A lot of people were jealous when they saw the good looking items Ricky and I picked up. We met Shabat’s son. He was so shy. We had to leave because shabbat was about to start.
We got back to our hotel in time to hear the shabbat alarm.


We then did the candle lighting and had services. It was our 2nd shabbat Friday in Jerusalem. Let the shabbat elevator fun begin! We had dinner, which was yummy. I decided to get more adventurous with my food choices and was pleasantly surprised with everything I ate.

After that we went back to Jen, Lindsey, and Jordi’s room and hung out. Sarah, Sara, and both Jens were there in addition to Ricky, Ben, Marc, Jacob, Julie, Lindsey, Lior, Jordi, Emily, Rachel, Michelle, and myself. Jen flat-ironed Ben’s hair, while Ricky prank phone called Alan. It was hilarious! We were laughing so hard! Then we went up to Alan’s floor to continue the prank by knocking on his door. But when the elevator opened on his floor he was standing there. We let the elevator door shut and fell on each other laughing.

After that we went downstairs to hear what Hebrew names the soon to be Bar/Bat Mitzvahed people picked out for themselves. We then headed back to our rooms only for a fuse to go out. The hallways turned into a party. A couple of us eventually called it a night after an hour or so because we had to wake up for services in the morning.

Categories: Asia, Food, History, Israel, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Masada in the Morning

Jan 8 2009
The lights in the tent turned on and I heard movement. Wake up time. It was extremely early and still pitch black outside. I got dressed and ate some of the crackers they put out for us. We boarded the bus and waited. It turned out that Jordi was sick. We waited for her for a bit. Finally, we learned that we’ll have to leave her behind with Anna. Staci boards the bus and immediately gives us a lecture about staying hydrated. We each purchased a bottle of water from the bus driver.

We reach Masada National Park and Shabat and Staci rush us up the Roman Path. We can’t miss the sunrise! The Roman Path is the easier path, but a lot of us were having a hard time breathing. This was probably because it was steep, early in the morning, change in altitude, and we were rushing. Not to mention my 9/11 weird asthma thing didn’t help matters. Eventually we got to the top! All of us thought we missed the sunrise because the sky was light, but we were wrong. Shabat had us sit on the mountain and wait. We sat watching another mountain. Slowly, the sky went from red to yellow to orange. Then we slowly started to see the sun peek out from the mountain in front of us. We kept watching as it rose. It was magical!

Then Shabat made us sit in a circle and told us the story about Masada. All the Jews living on Masada killed themselves instead of letting the Romans take them. It was a very sad story and it impacted all of us. Next he took us over to the side of the mountain where we could hear an echo. We screamed a bunch of phrases and heard them come back to us.

We looked at some of the ruins including a synagogue and then we used the restroom. After that we started our long trek down the Snake Path. Where do I even begin with the Snake Path? It was super scary and super long! There were no handles most of the way, so if you slipped you could pretty much fall off the mountain. The walk down was narrow and took forever. Morgan slipped and hurt her ankle. When we got to the bottom I wanted to jump for joy!

We walked to an area with tables and we were given a boxed breakfast. I only ate the chocolate and the bread. I gave my food to whoever wanted it. Then we were given some time to shop in the gift shop. I bought a pair of earrings and some postcards. Then I spent a while debating about which expensive necklace to buy for my mom. I finally decided on a blue and white star. Alan bought a really cool shirt about climbing and conquering Masada.

While we were leaving Masada we found out that the northern part of Israel (where we were yesterday morning and the last time we had cellphone reception) had been hit with a missile. Pretty much none of us had spoken to our parents in 24 hrs and the last they knew we were in northern Israel. Needless to say a bunch of us called home.

We drove to the Ein Gedi Spa where we would spend some time by the Dead Sea. We each got a towel and we had to share lockers. I changed into my bathing suit. We had to wait and catch a shuttle to take us from the spa to the Dead Sea. This is because the Dead Sea has dried up and is no longer right next to the hotels and spas.

When we finally got to the Dead Sea, Lindsey, Jen, and I put our stuff on lounge chairs at the farthest end of the “beach” area. Then we all headed over to the mud pit. Everyone (but me) covered themselves in the mud. Ricky even swam in it. Since I didn’t go in the mud, I took all the pictures. I put a bit of mud on my screwed up thumb and that was it. A family even approached me to take pictures of them. Everyone’s pictures were hilarious.

Afterwards, we all went into the Dead Sea. I was a little scared since I hate water and swimming. It felt extremely strange to just lay back and float. The entire bottom of the sea was covered in hard sharp salt. I cut my toe open and the salt water burned so badly. After I got out of the water I felt nasty. The salt residue was gross. Before we went back to the hotel the girls took a group shot. Then we boarded the shuttle.

Back at the hotel some of the people went into the mineral pool, but I didn’t feel like smelling like sulfur. I already smelled like camel and salt. I went to the showers and rinsed the salt off. After that I walked around the shop for a bit. I got a couple of free samples for my mom.

When everyone was ready we headed to lunch. We each got a ticket that was good for certain items. We had to wait on a really long line for food. We were able to get a drink, desert, bread, and one item. I got baklava, a roll, and yummy french fries. The place was packed and it took us a while to find a table. Unfortunately, we were rushed through lunch because of our tight schedule.

We then drove to the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. I immediately spotted a press a penny machine and got a penny. Yeah! So did Alan. We walked through the reserve and there were so many animals. They got so close to us, which was freaky at times. Shabat had us sit down and talked to us about some of the animals. He had Noah taste poop. He also had Ricky, Zac, and Roi act out a mating ritual for us. It was hilarious.


We stopped at some waterfalls and some of the group went swimming. I spoke to Dror for a bit about his upcoming trip to the USA. The reserve was absolutely beautiful and very calming!
We drove to Jerusalem and dropped Guy off. Then we went back to the Shalom Jerusalem Hotel with its horrible elevators. Rachel, Sarah, and I got a room in the middle of the hallway. We were directly across from Lindsey, Jen, and Jordi’s room. Sarah took the cot. Our shower didn’t flood this time, which made us all happy. However, our toilet wasn’t acting right. We all put our clothes on the shower rod to dry and went down to leave for dinner.

We drove to Ben Yehuda St. for shopping and food. I walked in and out of shops with Jen and Lior. It was a little unsettling to see signs thanking the brave tourists for shopping. Someone, maybe Lior, told me that the street had been attacked before. I ate a bagel for dinner. I found a Sephardic bakery and loaded up on goodies. The bakery was on a small side street so I was so glad I found it. I bought a shirt, some postcards, and an evil eye bracelet. I didn’t want to buy too much because everything was a bit over priced. Josh got a shofar and kept blowing it. Ali and I went to McDonald’s to use the restroom before we boarded the bus again.

I went back to the hotel and immediately took a nice long hot shower. Bye bye camel salt sand smell. After I showered I hung out with a bunch of people in Lindsey, Jen, and Jordi’s room.

Categories: Asia, Food, History, Israel, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Romans and Roaming Camels

Jan 7 2009
Wake up was at 6:15am. It was awful! I went back to bed. I timed it close and ate my breakfast in the room. I only went downstairs for a glass of water. I dropped my bag off in the lobby and we all waited outside the hotel a while. We found out that something was wrong with our bus. We said bye to Hilla and took some pictures with her. I wish she could have stayed longer so I could have gotten to know her better. I went back to our room one more time to make sure we had everything and then I handed our key in.

We found out that we were going to be delayed in Tiberias for awhile because of the bus situation. Shabat had us walk back in to the hotel and use the 2nd floor bridge to cross over to the area by the water. We sat on the rocks as Shabat talked to use about the Sea of Galilee. After a while Anna took out her banjo and started playing and singing. When I was looking around I noticed a sign that said “Go in Peace” and next to it were our two armed guards. Nice contrast. I wasn’t really paying attention to the other members in our group, but all of a sudden I saw Sarit was bent over with her hands on her face. Then she started crying. Anna screamed for Lior, but he didn’t hear her. I screamed for him as well and he finally looked up. It turns out Sarit got hit in the face with a rock. Staci, Lior, Keren, and Guy took her to the hotel.

Not too long after that Shabat told us the bus was fixed and it was time to leave. Ali and I ran to the bus and threw our stuff in. We also reserved seats. We ran to the 2nd floor to use the restroom before our long ride. It took awhile to load the bus and other people had the same restroom idea. Plus others went to the “restaurant” in the hotel to get some eggs to snack on. I was upset we got up at the crack of dawn only to leave at 11:30am. I could have slept another 3 hours.

I enjoyed looking at Tiberias as we left. It made me wish that we could have had more of an opportunity to walk around.

We drove for a bit and then came to a pit stop. Shabat gave us no warning as to what we were about to see. The sign said Bet Shean National Park. Once we got through the gates I was amazed at what I was seeing. It was like stepping back in time and it reminded me of my trip to Athens. Needless to say I was on cloud 9! I noticed an awesome gift shop, but I had a feeling Shabat wouldn’t let us stop there.

As we followed Shabat all I saw were rows of columns. We finally turned a corner and entered into an intact amphitheater. It honestly took my breath away. It was 10 times better than the one I saw in Athens. How did I not know this place existed? Shabat had us sit in the theater and took out his map. He draped it across Anna’s head and body, which was hilarious. He explained that the Romans had left this place after they had taken over Judea. So it wasn’t Greek, but then again the Romans stole their architecture from the Greeks, so of course it looked extremely similar. Shabat gave us a history lesson and I had to jump in at a point. How could I resist not talking about the ancient civilizations? We then forced Julie to go down to the stage and test the acoustics. They worked!!!

Then we walked around the rest of the ruins, which was mainly bath houses and columns. Then Shabat said we had a couple of minutes to use the restrooms before getting back on the bus. My plan was to use the restroom and shop in the amount of time given. So I ran to the restrooms and was first. Then I went straight into the gift shop. It was so big and there was so much to see. I wound up buying a mini replica of the Dead Sea Scrolls, some pens, and some postcards. While I was paying Shabat walked in to rush us to the bus. We got back on our bus and continued our drive to the Bedouin area.

Then we started Bus 804 Karaoke. It was very entertaining. Dror and Roi sang a lot. Then it switched to funny jokes. Ricky told a great one and Lior did as well. I don’t remember the whole thing, but it had something to do with stepping on bunnies, being ugly, and being chained to someone. Shabat told a sexual joke, which surprised a lot of people. He even had this guy sitting on a toilet picture and you had to use your fingers to make him a butt. Then he talked to us about the Judea Desert and the Dead Sea Scrolls. I took a lot of desert shots as we drove.

We stopped for lunch at Beit Haarava, which is the lowest place in the world. It’s 394 meters below sea level. The two options for lunch didn’t look very good or very clean. They were fast foody. Jen didn’t want to buy anything, but Lior convinced her to buy a falafel. I ate my own food and took a bite of Jen’s when she didn’t want anymore. I had promised my NYC falafel guy that I would try some in Israel and compare. The Israeli guys in NYC have better. I liked watching the strange contrasts as we sat there. There were camels, our big tour bus, and a military vehicle.

We got back on our bus and continued our drive. We had to stop at a military/police checkpoint. We drove through lots of desert before we spotted a group of trees in the distance. The trees were where our Bedouin tents were. I was excited and nervous. We really were in the middle of nowhere.

We got our day packs off the bus and went into the giant tent we were directed towards. It was extremely hard to get into the tent. You had to lift this heavy carpet material off the ground and then scoot in under it. For tall people this was a problem especially with having a bag. I placed my stuff near one of the metal poles.

Then we were given an opportunity to shop at the little Bedouin store. A lot of the girls bought hand knit scarves. Ben bought a shirt/jacket/hoodie thing that officially made him look like Moses. I bought a bag for Gayla. We dropped off our purchases and then went to the camel area.

There weren’t enough camels for everyone. So a little less than half the group could ride into the desert on a camel. The rest would have to be on donkeys. I didn’t want to ride on a donkey so I walked along with a couple of others. I’m glad I didn’t choose a donkey because they were low to the ground so the feet of the people riding them hit a lot of rocks and donkey poop. We got halfway into the desert and it was time to switch. I walked over to the 1st camel and waited for a partner. Ricky joined me. I was in the front of the camel and Ricky was in the back. It was a lot of fun!! Who would have ever thought that I would be riding a camel through the desert as the sun was setting?! The camels had extreme personalities. They made this loud screaming kind of noise and one even tried to eat Jordi’s hair.

After the camels we went to a tent all the way in the back of the village. They made the vegetarians and the meat eaters divide up. I was of course in the veggie group. They gave us this huge elevated tray for our group. It contained rice, bread, water, and vegetable skewers. I stuck to bread, rice, and the water. I had some cookies that I brought for dessert and I gave some to Anna as well.

After that we went into the main tent to listen to some music. It was a lot of fun and very entertaining. It was called a drum circle and pretty much was one big exotic jam session.

After the drum circle we went back to our sleeping tent. The Israelis were in a group talking. They all had dark sunglasses on. We knew something was up. Then they yelled at us to stand in straight lines in rows. They taught us how to salute properly and how to respond to commands/orders. Anyone who laughed or messed up had to do push-up’s. They were showing us what it was like to be in the IDF.

Afterwards we went for a walk in the desert. We sat and laid back in the sand while looking up at the sky. We talked for a while. When we went back to the tents a couple of us hung out at the bonfire outside our tent. I stayed only for a little bit. I preferred to get some sleep.

I waited on a long line for the bathroom area to change and wash. Then I went to bed. There were only a couple of us that chose to go to bed “early.” I slept on the mat and blanket they gave us. I used my coat and scarf for a pillow. Surprisingly, I slept.

Categories: Asia, Food, History, Israel, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

4,000 Years of Awesome Energy in Tzefat

Jan 5 2009
The alarm went off at 6:15am even though our wake up calls were for 6:30am and 6:45am. I wanted my 15 minutes of sleep back! The breakfast was good. I loaded up on chocolate croissants and pound cake. I didn’t really like the bagel I got from Bonkers Bagels so Kevin ate it.

We drove to Tzefat (Zefat). While we were waiting to go to our first place, Sarah D. got sick. She continued to be sick and was taken back to the hotel. We continued to this area where we sat with the other buses and listened to this hip Rabbi talk about Tzefat and describe what we were going to do. He had people come and play music for us. People danced around them. Then our group got our community service assignment, which was to help an after school community center. We drove to the center and were divided into 3 groups based on the image that was in the bag Staci and Anna gave us.

My group was sent to the kitchen. We had to put on rubber gloves and plastic aprons. We were given boxes of bread, tubs of chocolate frosting/paste, knives, plastic baggies, plastic bags, and boxes. We had to cut the bread, spread chocolate on the bread, put it in a baggie, close it, put 10 baggies in a big plastic bag, and then put those bags in boxes. We had so much fun!!!!!! Our team consisted of Alan (bagger), Kevin (counter), Ben (bag holder), Deb (bagger), Ricky (spreader), Karen (cutter), Dror (cutter), Jen (spreader), Lindsey (spreader), Marc (cutter), Margaret (bagger), and me (spreader). The sandwiches looked so good. We worked hard and fast. We cracked a lot of jokes and sang the most inappropriate songs including La Vie Boheme. Ricky stuffed his sandwiches with lots of chocolate and we teased him about that. He said the kids would love him more. We made 260 sandwiches. Afterwards we went outside where Lior was making coffee and the other group was planting flowers.

We drove to a small street to have lunch. Jen and I got toasted bagels. Then we walked around the street, which was boring. I bought a marzipan challah for my mom. Then Guy told us to buy the giant creme balls, which were great. We met the rest of the group at the top of the street.
Shabat sat us down and gave us a history lesson. I actually knew some of the answers because they were about Kaballah and Sephardim. We visited a synagogue that is no longer in use. It had a hole in the bema from where an explosive hit it. We then went to a candle factory. Shabat showed us how to make candles. He gave Chloe the one he made. The candles were beautiful but were very expensive, so I didn’t buy any. Then we went shopping on this tiny street outside of the factory. Everything was really reasonable. I bought a necklace for $20. The bathroom lady made us pay to use it even though I had my own paper.We then went to a beautiful Sephardic Synagogue. It was blue and white. This one is still in use. I bought two red strings. I wish I had more change on me because I would have bought more. It was 2 for 5 Sheklim.

Then Shabat gave us time in the Artists’ Quarter to go shopping. I didn’t buy anything. I walked around with Ricky. Then Ricky ordered some strange bread wrap thing. We watched the guy make it. He asked us where we were from and we told him. He told us that we were wrong and that we were from Israel. I thought that really cool.

I thought we were going back to the bus to leave, but Shabat said we had to go to an art gallery. We were all pissed. We had enough art and walking around. In the end I’m glad Shabat forced us to go. It was so much fun because the guy was hilarious. He was originally from America and he was definitely high on something. He belonged in the 1960’s. He kept saying the word awesome, but he dragged it out. So it was like awwweeesommee. He also kept repeating 4,000 years of energy. His art was strange, but cool. His bathroom was super tiny and he had pink toilet paper.

We went back to the hotel and hung out in Jacob’s room before dinner. We watched Thriller on Jacob’s laptop and some little kids’ show. Guy and Roi joined us. Dinner was awful again so I ate my own food. After dinner we went to the basement and we each picked someone to talk to. I was with Idan, but then we joined Marc, Noah, Ricky, and Guy. We discussed marriage and religion. The discussion was interesting.

Next Shabat brought us to the building next door for a lecture. It was sooooooo boring! I was actually falling asleep. I have never done that before. We all felt like we were being tortured. We got back to the room and I organized my stuff. I went to bed at 12:15am.

 

 

 

Categories: Asia, Food, History, Israel, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shalom Jerusalem

Jan 2 2009
Our landing was pretty rough and security took forever. Josh got my bag for me and Collin put it on the bus. We met our guard/medic (Leo/Lior), our tour guide (Shabat), and our bus driver (Moishe). We drove to Jerusalem. We were in a rush because of Shabbat.

The scenery we passed looked like Greece. There were signs welcoming us, which was very cool. We saw the new bridge and a lot of Hebrew graffiti.

We got to our hotel, Shalom Jerusalem, and I found out my roommates were Rachel and Sarah from Lehigh. Jordi was with Lindsey and Jen. Our room is 1624. The elevator took forever! We changed and went to shabbat dinner. I sat with all the Lehigh kids plus Noah, Ben, Travis, and Daryl. The wine was awful. I ate rice, potatoes, and carrots. The bread was stale. The pumpkin pie was way too spicy and the chocolate mousse was awful. However, the vanilla cake was great.

We then had a meeting about the size of Israel, our schedule, the rules, etc. Then we played a name game where we went around in a circle saying our name, an adjective that starts with the letter of our name, and an action. We had to remember everyone’s. I picked Jolly Jackie.

Then Shabat gave us a book, schedule, emergency card, and a scarf. I really liked the scarf. I picked black with blue lettering.

The room is ehh. It’s a fair size with a nice view. The bathroom is a nice size. However, the hair dryer barely works and the shower floods. Also, the toilet takes forever to fill. The sheets are very dirty. O well.

Sarah and I took the beds and Rachel took the cot. We went to bed at midnight.

Categories: Asia, Food, Israel, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My NYC Food To Do List

The other day I wrote about the fact that I ignore my NYC to do list and instead focus on my to do lists for other parts of the country or the world. I want to hopefully change that. If you have eaten at any of these places please let me know about your experience. If you are a friend of mine and have been wanting to try one of these places please let me know. So here is my food to do list for NYC:

1) Max for their Gnocchi

2) The Harrison for their ice cream brownie sandwich and birthday cake

3) Bubby’s Pie Company for their mac n cheese

4) Atlantic Chip Shop for all their deep fried goodness

5) Brown for their mac n cheese

6) Panade Cafe for their cupcakes and cream puffs

7) Macbar for their mac n cheese

8) Shopsin’s for their ebelskivers, mac n cheese pancakes, s’mores french toast

9) Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop for their grilled cheese

10) Beauty and Essex for their doughnuts and grilled cheese dumplings

11) Little Muenster for their grilled cheese

12) Jane  for their vanilla bean french toast and gnocchi

13) Caffe Dante for their cannoli

14) Clinton St Baking Company for their brunch

15) Cucina Di Pesce for their pasta

16) Murray’s Cheese Bar for their grilled cheese

17) PDT for their speakeasy experience

18) Cake Man Raven for their red velvet cake

19) Veselka for their pierogi

20) Chat n Chew for their mac n cheese

21) The Green Table for their grilled cheese

22) Milk Truck for their grilled cheese

23) Melt Shop for their grilled cheese

24) Brooklyn Bowl for their chocolate chip bread pudding, cheese fries, and mac n cheese

25) Morris Grilled Cheese Truck for their grilled cheese

26) Artisanal Fromagerie and Bistro for their grilled cheese and mac n cheese

27) Comfort Diner for their grilled cheese, sweet potato fries, french toast and mac n cheese balls

28) Schmackary’s for their cookies

29) Donna Bell’s Bakeshop

30) The Smith Restaurant for their gnocchi and smores in a jar

31) Gazala Place for their burekas

32) Papa Perrone’s Food Truck for their rice balls

33) Eatery for their mac n cheese

34) Bouchon Bakery for their grilled cheese

35) UVA Wine Bar and Restaurant for their gnocchi

36) RUB for their deep fried oreos

37) Laurentino’s Pasticceria

Categories: Food, NYC, To Do List, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breads Bakery

Since I love to travel I make a to do list of all the places I want to see and eat in the world. Slowly my surely I am checking them off one country at a time. I also have a to do list for my own city, NYC. The funny thing is I rarely work on accomplishing that list. I feel like the places won’t go anywhere so I can always come back to them at another time. However, that’s not true. The economy has forced a lot of places to close so by the time I go to do them I can’t. My friends and I wanted to go to lunch during our break. I decided I should cross a place off of my list. So I decided we should go to Breads Bakery on east 16th.

The place is a bit pricey, but then again it is NYC. I arrived an hour early (long story). I wanted to buy everything. I had just gone to the bank and my new twenty was itching to be spent. I wound up ordering 3 potato burekas (it’s a Sephardic savory pastry), 2 feta burekas, and 3 spinach burekas. I also ordered 4 chocolate rugelach. The guy teased with me that I was ordering for a party. It came out to $15. I got back to my table and 2 rugelach were missing. I went back to the counter and apologized. They gave me one for free. While I waited for my friends the place got packed. People were buying and eating the most delicious breads and pastries. They were also giving out samples. I decided to eat my potato burekas and I was in heaven. Yummmmmmmmm. I knew I needed to buy more.

My friends came and we chatted for a while. Flora ordered a tuna sandwich, hot chocolate, and two rugelach. The rugelach wound up being too sweet for her. They are made Israeli style so lots of chocolate and some honey. Passcell ordered an espresso looking drink and burekas. I ordered 3 more potato and 2 poppy seed rolls (they looked amazing). The rolls were so soft and yummy. I enjoyed the rugelach they transported me back to my breakfasts in Israel. The feta burekas were beyond delicious and I regret not buying more. The spinach were great as well.

I’m so glad I got to cross this place off my list. Time to cross another one off soon. I can’t wait to come back and buy more burekas from here.

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Categories: Food, NYC, To Do List, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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