WOW a lot has happened!
For starters – classes have been good. I am continuing on with Hebrew, am taking a class on the Arab/Israeli Conflict, a class on the essence of Judaism, a class on leisure and life and a class on the invention of culture in Israel. They’re all pretty interesting – a lot of papers and reading, but I’m getting through it.
2 weeks ago, Michelle came. It was so good to see her! She came on a Friday morning around 2:30AM. We slept in, got up and headed to Jerusalem where we walked around and stayed with her friend Aliza for Shabbat! It was a lovely weekend with a lot of good food, good conversation and fun times with Aliza’s kids (and Aliza!)
I want to mention that right before Michelle got here in rained in Tel Aviv every day for about a week. That is not common in Israel. Also, when I say rained I mean POURED! It was so cool to watch from inside but walking from the dorms to class in that weather was pretty awful (especially when I wasn’t prepared). Luckily, I had my raincoat… Unfortunately, it didn’t do much. On a more positive note, I bought a really great (very large) umbrella!
Back to Michelle’s stay….After Shabbat ended, Aliza, Michelle and I went into the Old City. We went to the Kotel (at night and in the rain). It was very cool. A lot of people had umbrellas and I thought it was so cool to see all of these people out praying in the rain with their umbrellas pressed up against the wall. After the Kotel, we went to this awesome little hole in the wall (very delicious) waffle place and then we went to some little café/book store where we sat and had drinks! Sunday, Michelle and I headed back to the dorms. I had to get some HW done and so Michelle went out for a walk in Ramat Aviv.
That afternoon, mom flew into Israel! Michelle and I trekked (and by trekked I mean, took a bus, ran through a lot of puddles and walked VERY far) to the hotel where we were meeting up with Mom. It was so good to see ema sheli! (That means, my mom in Hebrew.) It had been way too long since I had seen her! Once they settled in, we went out for dinner at this Turkish restaurant near the Shuk in Tel Aviv. It was nice to just relax with the fam. Well, some of the fam.
A few days went by – I couldn’t see Mom and Michelle every day because I had classes and a lot of work coming up. We were able to meet up for dinner a few times which was nice. Also, at this point in their trip they switched hotels. Long story short, the hotel they switched to was a much better deal and much nicer!
Wednesday night I met Mom and Michelle in Holon, at a museum called Dialog in the Dark. It is a museum in the dark, led by a blind tour guide. It was really eye opening (no pun intended) because it give you a better understanding as to how blind people really live. During the tour we walked through (with the poles that blind people use) and would have to find certain things and figure out what certain things were. At the end of the tour, we went to a cafeteria in the dark and ate snacks with our tour guide. We were able to ask her as many questions as we wanted which was really cool. We also got to see what our tour guide looked like at the end. It turns out she could actually see pretty well– she was totally blind as a child and as she gets older, her vision gets better (thank goodness!) This museum was awesome. These museums are all over the world – they just built one in NYC at the South Street Seaport!
Thursday night I headed over to the hotel to stay over with Mom and Michelle because we were embarking on an adventure to Masada, the Dead Sea, Jerusalem and Eilat the next day. (Michelle headed home as Mom and I headed to Eilat) While I was on the bus to the hotel, my mom called me and told me that I technically couldn’t sleep at the hotel and to just walk in confidently and say 1317 Lehrman. I got through just fine :) We didn’t do much that night, just hung out. I did practice my French braid on Michelle. I can do it now! Wahoo! The trick is that you have to keep the braid extremely tight and that is where my skills are lacking. The three of us squished into a king (that doesn’t sound too hard) but when each of us sleeps in the fetal position and wrap the blanket around ourselves, it gets tricky. Overall we all slept very well.
We got up early the next day and headed to breakfast in the hotel, which was delicious. It was buffet style. There were fresh salads of all kinds, fresh fish, fresh shakshuka, fresh bread, yogurts, and juices… mmm. I had a little bit of everything. It was amazing. I mixed OJ and grapefruit juice together as well. Mom thought it was so cool that I could ask the waiter where I could find cold water for my water bottle in Hebrew.
After breakfast we headed downstairs – we had to check out of the hotel and wait for our tour guide to get there (for Masada and the Dead Sea). The bus was small. There were 12 people on it – I was definitely the youngest person on it. I was hoping to sit in the front of the bus because I wanted my mom to get a window seat and I know she gets car sick in the back, but all of the people ran ahead of us so we got stuck towards the back. NBD – it all worked out. There was one lady though… she was old and a piece of work. I took a picture of her. I also saw her BUTT naked, but that’s another story. The bus driver’s name was Michael. As we drove around he told us things about places we passed – it was very cool. Unfortunately I missed half of it because I passed out. Oops.
After some time, I woke up and we were 100% in the middle of the desert at the Ahava factory (lotions, soaps, bath salts, etc.) Michelle got some nice stuff – I took one of her samples. Thanks Michelle!
After that, we drove to Masada. When we got off of the bus, we went into the place where the tramcar was to get to the top of Masada.. Michelle really wanted to climb Masada but the tour we took didn’t include the climb – you had to take the tramcar up. The ride up was awesome. It was windy (the windows are open on the car) and you can see all around. It was also really cool to see the people climbing. As we got to the top of Masada, I realized we were on a Jews for Jesus tour. HA! I could just tell by the questions people were asking and by the type of people on our tour. No one tried to get me to find Jesus as my savior though.
As soon as we got to the top my mom went camera nuts. Shocked? The tour guide (same guy as the bus driver) was very informative and told us every detail about Masada. I kept getting distracted by the stunning view and the lovely breeze. Also, I had to keep my mom up with the group – she kept getting behind to take pictures… OF EVERYTHING. If you didn’t know, my mother has a sand collection. I don’t know how it started but she has always collected sand and all of our friends and family bring her sand from wherever they go. So of course, Mom and I started scooping the ground for some sand/gravel/rocks. We got really lost after that and it took us a while to find the group. Oops again!
Random thing: There was a cat at the top of Masada. Couldn’t believe it. How did it get up there?!!
There were these three flight attendants on our tour (they were on a layover and had a few days so were traveling around which I think is so cool). One of them was the crazy lady and there was this fairly young woman – she and I were walking next to each other and all of the sudden she pulled out a Flat Stanley! If you don’t know that story, please Google it. It is one of my favorite stories. So of course, Mom, Michelle and I took a picture with him. She was traveling with Stanley for her nephew. (You take pictures with Stanley wherever you go and you write about your travels with him.)
On the top of Masada there was this Temple (I think that’s what it was) and inside of it was a man inscribing a Torah. You could watch him inscribe it through glass.
As soon as we got to the Dead Sea we changed into our bathing suits. The three of us went into bathroom stalls to change and as I walkout out to put our stuff in our locker one of the flight attendants (the annoying, very large, old lady) was BUTT naked. I was not expecting to see what I saw. I may or may not have vomited everywhere. LOL.
By the sea, there were these big blue buckets full of mud – I covered myself with it from head to toe! Michelle and my mom were shy with the mud so I helped Michelle out by putting the mud on her! Mom wouldn’t let me go near her with it. After we were as mudded up as we were going to get, we had someone to take a few pictures of us in the water floating. We thought it was going to be cold out (and in the water) but it wasn’t – the weather (and water) was perfect! The mud was even warm! After we got out of the sea, my skin felt so smooth! Michelle and I put more mud on and floated in the sea more. After the second time, we rinsed off and went into this natural hot sulfur spring, which was incredible and very relaxing. After an hour and a half at the Dead Sea we had to leave. The time went by really quickly.
The tour guide drove to Jerusalem where Mom, Michelle and I had to switch cabs to get to our hotel. All in all, the tour itself was great – the tour guide was awesome as well. We had an awesome day.
We stayed at the Jerusalem Inn – a very cute inn right near Yaffo Street. We are on the 2nd floor. There were 3 separate beds. Two were pushed together (Mom and I stayed on those two) and Michelle stayed on the other. As soon as we got settled in, each of us showered and then we went to some yummy restaurant for dinner. Michelle got a tuna sandwich, Mom got some sweet potato thing and I got an Israeli breakfast and we all split this delicious pizza. It was divine. Not to mention the cinnamon tea. YUM.
We walked a round for a while after dinner. We went in and out of stores on Ben Yehuda Street and on some side streets too. A lot was already closed because it was late but it was still fun. Mom loved it! Ben Yehuda Street was so busy and there were people singing and walking and eating. There was also a harp band playing in the middle of the street. It was very cool to watch Mom see it all for the first time. There was this adorable man blowing through a big seashell, as if he was playing the sax. He was so cute.He used the shell as an instrument! After walking around we got dessert at Café Hillel. We all got a bit giddy from some wine- good times! After we got back we skyped the family because they were all together (forgot to mention that it was Thanksgiving). They kept showing us all of the food on the table – it was so cruel but very funny.
The next morning we woke up, had breakfast and went to the shuk to go to the bakery, Marzipan. After that, we ran to the Kotel because we had an underground tunnel tour below the wall. After the tour, we went outside to the Kotel and went up to the wall. It was very overwhelming and emotional for Mom – this was also cool to watch. After spending some time there, we got Mom her first falafel, and went back to the hotel. We were exhausted and all passed out. Once we woke up, we got dressed for Shabbat and walked back to the Kotel. Mom wanted to see it and all of the people there as Shabbat started. I was so glad we went because it was an awesome sight. It was crazy busy and there were so many Jews gathering for all of the same purpose! Everyone was singing and dancing and enjoying themselves. There were also a lot of men in the army singing in a big circle. Mom was seeing a whole new world!
After the Kotel we headed over to Rifky and Shmuel’s. A few of my friends met us there. It was a really nice and a very delicious dinner. I ate so much that I actually passed out on the couch. Pre-pass out, we laughed a lot that night. As most of you probably know, my family always has very interesting dinner conversations so there was never a dull moment at the dinner table! After diner we walked back to the hotel – it was the longest/worst walk of my life. My stomach was killing me. But, I made it. I didn’t have to pull a Bridesmaids moment. BARUCH HASHEM.
The next morning we got up early, ate breakfast and decided to go on a tour around Jerusalem. The first thing we saw was Mt. Scopus. From Mt. Scopus, you can see most of Jerusalem. The tour guide pointed out all of the things we were looking out, which was great! The guide took us to the Kotel and luckily we got some free time there. As my mom, Michelle and I were walking out of the women’s side, these two men (looked Russian), walked into the woman’s side and walked SO close to the wall. It was so awkward. I just stood there in amazement that they were on the women’s side and as I was about to run over to them they shouldn’t be there, this old woman started screaming at them and they ran out. I couldn’t believe it – they definitely knew they were not supposed to be there. After that, we walked a lot through the Christian quarter and we went to the Holy Sepulchre. It was overall another great tour. We were glad we did it because nothing was open since it was Shabbat.
After the tour was over, we walked back to the hotel, packed our stuff, took a nap and then went to the airport. Michelle was leaving to go back to the states and mom and I were flying to Eilat.
The plane to Eilat was huge- the size of my original flight to Israel. I was expecting a really tiny plane. The flight to Eilat was quick and easy – about a 35-minute flight. When we got there, we took a cab to the hotel. The cab driver was a lady – my first lady cab driver… Ever! The hotel was really nice. We settled in and walked to two restaurants for dinner that the lady at the front desk told us to go to – they were both closed so we decided eat the muffins we got earlier that day and call it a night.
The next morning, we woke up and went to breakfast. (Another amazing breakfast) I was proud of Mom because she was starting to get used to the whole salad-for-breakfast thing. After breakfast we went to the Underwater Observatory, which was awesome. It was this big park that had all kinds of tanks with fish and sharks and turtles in them. I thought I loved to people watch – I love to fish watch as well!! I could sit in front of a tank of fish for hours. Part of the park is underneath the water – you can see the natural fish swimming around. Above this, you can walk up 90 steps to see a panoramic view of the 4 nearby countries. (Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Syria). After I went up the steps and looked around, I came down and Mom and I went and watched the people who work there feed the fish in the tanks, including the sharks. We saw a movie about some man’s love for the ocean and for fish and walked around more. We shopped a bit at the observatory and got some gifts for the family. There I got a beautiful gold ring!
After we got back from the observatory, mom and I walked ten minutes to the Red Sea. We sat on the sand for a bit and put our feet in the water and enjoyed the view. If the water weren’t so cold, I probably would have gone in. I was envious of an old lady in the water but I didn’t have the guts to go in. It was getting dark so Mom and I decided to walk back to the hotel. We changed and went to dinner and called it a night.
The next morning, we rode some camels! This was probably my favorite part of the trip! We were right in the middle of the desert. Our tour guide was awesome. He loves his life. When he was 7 he moved to the desert from Tel Aviv because he had bad asthma - he hasn’t had it since. He lives on the camel ranch and loves what he does. He is in charge of all of the animals but mostly takes care of the camels. He also does therapy riding (using the camels) for young children with special needs. He said, “It is good for my soul.” After we rode for an hour and a half we ate in a Bedouin tent. He made us mint tea and also made us pita bread and gave us some cheesy dip and olives. He didn’t fill our glasses full of tea because he said that it shows that you are welcomed to have as much as you want, whereas if someone fills it to the top then you should drink it and leave. I thought that was really interesting. He was so knowledgeable about the camels. He said that the camels walk left, left, right, right and they step in the exact spot that their other food previously stepped in because they know that they wont get hurt. He mentioned that they can see about 320 degrees around them so they don’t ever have to turn around and that they only have to eat and drink once a week – if they are on a long trip that is. He also mentioned that to cool down, they pee on their legs because that is where a lot of their arteries are. Very interesting stuff!
After the camels, we headed back to the hotel to grab our stuff and head out of Eilat, back to Tel Aviv. I had a lot of HW to catch up on. The next day, Mom went back to Jerusalem (all by herself). She went to the museum Yad Vashem and she went shopping for some more gifts. I was and still am very proud that she went all by herself. She had a great time!
That Tuesday night, Mom came to the dorms to hang out and see where I lived! I gave her a lovely walking tour of the campus (see her FB pictures). For the next few days’ Mom and I met up for dinner and what not and then sadly, she left Israel.
I was so glad Mom and Michelle were able to come! Ashley too! I can’t wait for my dad to travel to Israel one day! Hopefully my family will take a big trip to Israel in the near future.
Just got my visa for Jordan –> going next weekend!
Home in 5 weeks!!