Posts Tagged With: Croissants

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.

 

 

 

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

Exploring Jerusalem

Jan 4 2009
One of the cell phone alarms went off at 6:15am. I let the other girls sleep until the 6:30am wake up call. We went to breakfast, which was yummy. I ate my bagel from last night and a lot of cake. I packed up croissants and cake for lunch. We then got on the bus for our ride into the heart of Jerusalem.

We stopped at the Haas Promenade where we listened to music, drank grape juice, ate challah, danced, took pictures, and listened to Shabat lecture. It was beautiful to see the Dome of the Rock in the distance. I was so glad to finally see it. The grape juice was really good and the challah was the best I have ever had. There was no bathroom so I was mindful of how much I ate and drank. I really enjoyed watching everyone dancing and the Israeli music was great. Shabat started to lecture us about the City of David. Staci stopped him to remind him that we had soldiers waiting for us. Shabat brushed her off and continued talking. There was a stray cat walking around that freaked Collin out. One thing I liked was that Leo called the cat over to him and was petting him. It was a strange contrast the gun and the petting of the cat. While we were at the promenade there was thick black smoke in the distance. It was scary and reminded us that they were in the middle of a war.

We then got back on the bus to head to the Old City. The Old City was interesting, but we went through it very fast. The buildings were amazing to look at. It really transports you back in time. We saw the room where the last supper took place. I honestly didn’t know it was located there. It was not how I imagined it. The room was empty, plain, and boring. If Shabat hadn’t told us that was the room I would not have been able to guess it. Shabat took us through a maze of side streets and then stopped us to tell us about the Kotel (Western Wall). Then we were able to take some pictures of the Kotel and the Dome of the Rock from a place adjacent to the wall.

We then went down to the Kotel. I was shocked that the men had so much more room than the women. There were barely any men there, but there were tons of women. There wasn’t any room to put our notes in the cracks of the wall. All the cracks were full. I touched the wall, but sadly did not feel a connection to it. A lot of the people took out their phones to call home and have their family members pray at the wall through the phone. I did the same thing and my mom answered the phone.

After we left the wall we all joined in a circle to talk about it, but a guard came over because we were all holding hands. Male and female students shouldn’t be touching. Most of us were disappointed by the wall. We then were given some time to eat lunch.

I chose to shop instead of eat lunch. I quickly shoved my breakfast leftovers in my mouth and started to wander in and out of the stores. In the 1st store I bought a Kippuh for my dad. I also bought bracelets for my mom and I. I also bought a charm for my grandma’s necklace. I went to another store where I bought some postcards and a pen. In the last store I got some more postcards and some keychains.

After we went shopping we went back to the bus to meet our soldiers. 4 of the soldiers were male and 3 were female. They were all in their uniforms. They were given role call #’s. The male soldiers are Roi, Idan, Guy, and Dror. The female soldiers are Karen, Sarit, and Hilla. All but Roi sat in the back of the bus. Roi told us that he teaches rookies and has about 3 months left in the army.

We then went to the military cemetery. The graves are different from what we are used to. They are all above ground and they are all the same. Shabat told us stories about some of the soldiers that had died. Roi told us about a soldier who jumped on a grenade to save everyone else. We also saw them starting to prepare the graves for the soldiers who had died in Gaza the night before. That was really emotional for me. Then we learned about some of the soldiers who were captured and mutilated. Shabat showed us pictures of other soldiers going through the sand looking for body parts to bury. That was so moving.

We got back on the bus and started our 2 hour drive to Tiberias. I fell asleep for a little bit. I woke up right before we got to a security check point. A man got on our bus with a gun at the check point, which was scary. I’m glad I woke up before he got on the bus.
Our hotel was Moriah Gardens and our room was 1206, which was another corner room. I was happy about that. I was also happy that we were on the 4th floor so we could walk if we wanted to. I was done with 16 flights of stairs or forever elevator rides. The room had a mini fridge, which I was thrilled about. I could finally have cold water and juice! The only problem was that there was one bed for 3 girls. I would need a bed. The door to our bathroom was broken, but the shower didn’t flood.

At dinner I found out our room was the only room not to have an extra bed, cot, or sleeper sofa. The dinner was disgusting!!!!! The rice was cold, the potatoes were spicy, the bread was hard as a rock, there was no dessert, and the carrots were nasty. I went back to the room and ate some of the cereal I packed. The tap water wasn’t bad. It tasted less salty than the bottled water and the tap water in Jerusalem.

We broke off into two groups to have a discussion about faith. All the soldiers aren’t religious except for Hilla. Guy’s comment about the Israeli Army protecting any Jew anywhere really struck me. The soldiers seemed upset that American Jews don’t give them more help. They were also very shocked to hear our stories about what it is like to be a Jew in America. They’ve never been in the minority. Then we played some games in the basement of the hotel.
Then Ricky, Kevin, Alan, and I continued the faith discussion in my room. It was nice to have an intellectual conversation. Then we went to hang out in Jacob’s room. Julie, Lindsey, Jordi, Jen, and Jacob were already in there. Marc, Leo, Rachel, Roi, and Josh floated in and out. We watched football, listened to music, and gossiped. Then Deb came and told us that she had an extra bed. I wanted it! I gathered the whole crew and we went to Deb’s room at the other end of the hall. Alan orchestrated the movement of the mattress, frame, and bedding down the hall. All the guys and I had the frame. A couple people had the mattress and someone else had the bedding. It was a team effort and it was a lot of fun. I wound up going to bed around 2am. However, most of our tour mates were drunk and passed out much later.

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

Going to War

Jan 3 2009
I woke up at 6am and couldn’t fall back asleep. The girls’ alarms went off at 9am and 9:15am for breakfast, which they decided not to attend. I got out of bed and got dressed. I went to breakfast where I ate a lot of chocolate croissants and cake. I then watched everyone while they did yoga. The roof had beautiful views. Yoga looked like a lot of fun. I then went back to my room, but it was locked because the girls were still sleeping.

I went to 1612 to hangout with Jordi, Lindsey, and Jen. We talked for a while and I discovered that one of the memory cards I bought didn’t work. That was a waste of $20. We then went to lunch where I had rice, potatoes, carrots, and cake. I also took chicken and eggs for Ricky in my purse. It was kind of funny.

Lindsey, Jen, Jordy, Emily, Sarah, Chloe, and I got on the shabbat elevator. A guard from another group got on. We got stuck on 17 and the guard was scared. We were teasing him that for being a military guy with a giant gun he was a chicken. He wound up getting off the elevator. Then we had a guy from bus 803 join us. We chatted with him for a while. Then some Israeli girls got on the elevator and started flirting with the 803 guy in Hebrew. However, he doesn’t speak a word of Hebrew. They took his hat. As we stopped on every floor we got more and more annoyed. We wound up being late to the meeting.

At the meeting Shabat went over the rules for the Migash, our schedule, and we got our role call #’s. I’m #8. We went out for a short walk near the hotel. We got to the top of this street that had an amazing view. Then Shabat had us stand in a circle and throw our right shoe in the middle of our circle. Then we each had to pick a shoe and listen to a story from that person. I picked Sara and Collin picked me. The stories were all interesting. Then we walked back. I spoke to my mom when I got back to the room.

Then we drove to a street in Jerusalem for dinner. Everyone got falafel which looked and smelled amazing. I went to the market and spent 50 shekels on chocolate bars, a water, and mints. Leo suggested a chocolate bar so I added it to the bunch. Alan bought postcards, but I didn’t see an open store to get some. I decided to buy a bagel from Holy Bagel because they had just opened so the bagels were right out of the oven. I also bought one for tomorrow’s breakfast. Jen also got one.

Afterwards, we went to Ammunition Hill. We saw an old tank, pics, and a movie. I was so tired that I didn’t really pay much attention. Then we walked around a bunker. I happened to stand near Staci and Anna when Shabat called them over to tell them that Israel had invaded Gaza. That freaked me out! Anna and Staci said, “Thank G-d we are in a bunker!” We then went out to explore a tunnel and I had to turn on my flashlight because it was so dark out. I called my mom to inform her about what was going on.

When I got back to the hotel I packed my bag and we all watched the news. Then we put MTV on and then Pirates of the Caribbean. We wound up going to bed at 1am.

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

Au Revoir Paris

July 30 2012

So sad that today is our last day in Paris. I really could have used another day or two.

We had breakfast in the hotel. I realized that I was seriously going to miss waking up and having a buffet of bread, cheese, and sweets. I took some bread for the plane. We checked out and began our search for the bus to the airport. We didn’t know if it was going to pick us up exactly where we were dropped off. We would up walking in a circle around the opera house. I saw the bus at the stop and picked up my suitcase and ran like the wind. With one bus an hour I was not missing it. My mom followed me and thankfully we wound up catching the bus. It was extremely crowded and somewhat stuffy. We both felt car sick.

We arrived at CDG and spent the next hour or so going through security. When I was at this airport the previous year they broke my suitcase and I had a 5 hour layover that turned into 7. I was in a part of the airport that was like a mall. There were probably 20 or more stores. That was not the case this time. There were only 2 stores and they were horrible. There were a couple of “cafes.” I spent some of the change I had and bought some macaroons and cookies for my students. My mom did the same (minus the student part). We were bored! We tried to get ourselves upgraded and the people working in the airport didn’t speak enough English to help us. O well. I used the restroom before we got on the plane and apparently my door didn’t lock correctly because a women walked in on me. Hopefully, I’ll never see her again.

We boarded our plane and the seat next to my mom was empty. We were praying it would stay that way. No such luck. A young girl (around my age) took the seat. The lunch/dinner was awful and I tried to entertain myself with movies. The pre-landing snack was actually pretty good for my mother, but not for me. Stupid nasty vegetarian meal. My mom basically had a grilled cheese sandwich. One thing that cracked me up on the plane was the kid diagonal from us stuffed their baby doll in a weird position into the seat pocket (see the picture below). Back to NYC and back to work 😦

Categories: Europe, Family Vacation, Food, France, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Raunchy and Sacred in Paris

July 29 2012

My mom and I are very strange, we don’t always like the ritzy neighborhoods. We are often attracted to some strange and sometimes dangerous neighborhoods. This was the case for Montmartre. We had heard horrible things about it. We were told not to visit at night or when it is dark out. That there is nothing but sex shops and pick pocketers. We got off the train prepared for the worse and wound up having a great time despite the fact we visited at night and while it was very dark (due to the rain).

We got out of the metro and immediately saw the Moulin Rouge. I was so excited! I posed for a picture in the rain. It was so colorful in neighborhood without much color. My mom and I then debated about getting back on the metro to go back to the hotel. However, I really wanted to see Sacre Coeur. We stopped outside if a sex shop that had an awning and covered ourselves up from the rain. We made sure all our belongings were hard to get to and then started our walk to Sacre Coeur. We quickly realized that the neighborhood was fine. It was like most of NYC just with more sex shops.

As we walked we found a lot of great souvenir stores. They were so cheap and had so much variety. We purchased a lot if items and browsed. We passed a lot of yummy looking bakeries and finally stopped at one (see below). Everything looked incredible. There were all different kinds of breads and desserts. I wanted everything. There was a lot of Sephardic pastries as well. We settled on chocolate and caramel beignets. I also got a chocolate cheese croissant. My 3 favorite things: chocolate, cheese, and bread. The prices were very reasonable for Paris. We finally found Sacre Coeur. There was a street of restaurants and shops leading up to it. We did more souvenir shopping, purchased a bag of cookies from the same company my mom bought from two days ago, and just browsed. Sacre Coeur is breathtaking. I loved seeing it from a distance over the last couple of days, but up close was something else. I used the restroom in a fried chicken place. I had to pay 1E but it was the cleanest restroom. We hopped on the metro and headed back to our hotel. Sadly, we were leaving for NYC the next morning.

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Let Them Eat Cake and Walk 4 Miles

July 29 2012

We had breakfast at the hotel again. It was so delicious. I had my fill of croissants, mini baguettes, brioche, sugar rolls, and cheese. I asked them for ice this morning because I was getting sick of room temperature water. What a difference! Paris needs to learn about air conditioning and ice.

We took the metro to the Invalides stop where we purchased tickets for a train to Versailles. We didn’t have to wait long before the train arrived. The train wound up being packed! Unfortunately we chose seats that were facing the wrong direction. So we rode backwards. The train was stuffy and riding backwards was making me sick. We passed Paris’ copy/version of the Statue of Liberty. I took a really bad picture of it because I wasn’t expecting to see it. The train ride to Versailles was about an hour long.

My mom and I crossed the street and she stopped at a Starbucks to use the ladies room. Then we walked about four blocks to the chateau. I knew it was huge but a new word needs to be invented for how big Versailles really is. It was an incredible sight to see. We passed a guy dressed as King Tut which was super random and funny. We saw two enormous lines. I knew one was for ticket holders and one was for people with tickets. I got on line and sent my mom to make sure we got on the right line. We had. I had purchased an all access pass online for a lot of money (either 25E or 50E a piece-I think). The line moved very slowly. I was glad we already had tickets or we would have had to wait on two lines. About an hour later we were in. At that point I needed to use the ladies room. Time to wait on another line. There was no paper in the bathroom and I only knew this because I overheard the ladies speaking in Spanish ahead of me. However, they had their own. When they were done and told me to go in next. In Spanish I turned to them and said but isn’t there no paper. Then they bust out laughing. I waited for a stall with paper. While I waited I watched several women walk into a mirror at the bottom of the stairs.

I met up with my mom who was not happy that an art exhibit was being displayed in some of the rooms in Versailles. The art was loud and ostentatious and took away from the beauty of Versailles. We waited for our headsets that were included in the price. The headset was like a walkie talkie and I didn’t like holding it up to my ear so I took out my headphones and plugged them in. They were worked beautifully. Versailles was packed, but the beauty and architecture of the place was incredible. The audio was very informative. I just couldn’t believe that I was walking around in Versailles. I had seen these rooms in movies, documentaries, and in books. I could feel the history around me. I easily could have closed my eyes and pictured King Louis XVI and his contemporaries around me. The Hall of Mirrors was exquisite. There was a random pair of giant high heels in the room. Another room contained a pink helicopter. It seriously was a strange art exhibit.

We saw a sign for Angelina. We have been trying to get to the one on Rue di Rivoli but kept missing it because they close early. So I was like lets do this! We don’t normally eat at places that are part of historical sites because of the cost, but you only live once. There was a short line. You had to tell them whether you wanted to go to the restaurant portion or the quick take out area. We chose the take out bakery area. My mom grabbed a table and I waited on the line for food. About 15 minutes later I emerged with a water bottle, their famous Mont Blanc, and a chocolate macalon (which is basically a long chocolate macaroon). Our deserts were delicious! Now we could say we ate at Versailles. The bathroom had the cutest sign (see the picture below). There was no toilet paper again.

Next we finished up the top level and went downstairs to the children’s bedrooms. Then we did the gift shop. I got postcards and a book. We returned our headsets and went out to the entrance of the gardens. We showed our tickets to prove that we had paid the gardens entrance fee. We went on a day where the fountains were on and music was playing. I wanted to take a hop on hop off tram to see all the sites, but my mom felt 10E a person was too much (even though I was going to pay for it). Hours later my feet would regret listening to her. THE GARDENS ARE MASSIVE! They are also beautiful. You are definitely transported to another time. We posed for pictures with the fountains and statues. Then we started our long walk to the Grand Trianon. About 30 minutes later we still weren’t there so we sat on the side of the road and ate some food from breakfast. We kept going and finally saw it.

The building has a pink hue to it. We showed our all inclusive ticket again. The interior looks a lot like the interior of the chateau, but with a little less gold. They had a lot of portraits out for us to see. It was commissioned by King Louis XIV and was residence to mistresses and many of the royal maidens. Next we walked to the restrooms which weren’t the best but they got the job done. There were bees so I was seriously freaked out. We walked further down the road and saw a sign for another Angelina. That sign made us completely miss the sign for the entrance to the Petit Trianon. So we never went in there, which meant I missed seeing the theater Marie had built. We kept walking to the Hamlet (about 3.5 miles from the beginning). We were beyond exhausted at this point. I felt I could collapse right there and then. We showed our tickets again and spent about 5 minutes walking around. It felt like a zoo and we were too tired to pay attention at this point. We walked back to the area outside of the Petit Trianon (again not realizing it). We waited for the tram and paid 5E to get back to the entrance of the gardens. As we started to drive away it started to rain. We walked back to the train in the pouring rain. We decided to stop at the McDonald’s to get out of the rain and to use the restroom. This was not your average McDonald’s. It was clean and modern looking. They also had a bakery. We bought a box of reasonably priced macaroons.

We boarded the train back into Paris and it was packed. My mom and I took a seat on the floor. We didn’t want to stand for an hour. We got off at Gare d’Austerlitz. Then we took two trains to get to the Moulin Rouge.

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Spending Time with the Prisoners of the French Revolution

July 28 2012

We woke up early and had breakfast at the hotel since it was included in the price. The buffet was great! There was some hot food, but I ate my weight in different breads and cheeses. They had all these sweet breads with sugar, chocolate, and jam. Bread and cheese, my kind of heaven. I took some food to eat later in the day.

We took the metro and walked a couple of blocks to Place du Chatelet. There were sphinxes. So I posed for a couple of pictures. It gave us a great view of the Conciergerie. We walked along the seine. There was a fake beach set up. We walked to Hotel del Ville. The architecture was absolutely incredible. There was a HUGE tv with bean bag chairs set up so people could watch the Olympics.

Next we walked to Sainte Chapelle. We passed the Conciergerie and Palais de Justice. We were coming back to Conciergerie since it is not a popular attraction. We took pictures from the outside of the Palais de Justice. We joined the line for Sainte Chapelle. The line moved very quickly. Then there was a second line for tickets. We got to skip that line because of the Paris Museum Pass. The bottom level is pretty much the gift shop. We bought some pens for people. We took the winding stairs (very claustrophobic) to the room with all the stained glass. I was expecting to be amazed, but I wasn’t. It was just pretty. They were doing some construction work which took away from it. People hyped the windows up so much so I had high expectations. I couldn’t believe it was just one room. We exited by the Palace de Justice and headed next door to the Conciergerie.

We used the Paris Museum Pass again. The Conciergerie is where they held Marie Antoinette before they beheaded her. We got to see her cell and what the other cells looked like. We also got to see items from the revolution. I enjoyed it. They had picnic tables so we sat down and ate our leftovers from breakfast for lunch. Then we used the ladies room and left.

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