Posts Tagged With: Sephardic

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.

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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

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

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.

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

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