“Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.”
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
March 4, 2018
It was time to say goodbye to the kid…again…crush…but we would be seeing her tomorrow in Tel Aviv to celebrate her 19th birthday a few days before our departure. This time I didn’t take any photos – I think I’m getting a little better at this separation anxiety thing…
Having heard so much about Tel Aviv, I desperately wanted to spend some time there and see what everyone was talking about. It took months to convince him, but the hubby reluctantly agreed to two nights…probably just to shut me up…
Me: “Look, it’s minutes away from the airport. Remember last time?
The hubby: (wincing with that if-I-don’t-say-yes-I’m-doomed-forever-face pause) “Fine…”
Last time was in November 2017 (Israel: Parts VII and VIII – So long, farewell)…nuff said…
He really had no argument…
Hiring a private sherut from our hotel in Jerusalem to our hotel in Tel Aviv, the hubby was plastered to his iPhone while I commented on the beautiful scenery he was most definitely missing along the way, “Dude…we’re in Israel…remember?!”
Upon our arrival, we were cordially welcomed by the hotel staff who paid attention to every detail of comfort. We were greeted at our vehicle by the concierge, who opened the door and led us to the hotel lobby, reassuring us that he would gather our luggage and stow it until our room was confirmed. Meanwhile, the front desk receptionist offered us free champagne while she checked us into the hotel. Notifying us that we would be on the 7th floor of the hotel with a view of the Mediterranean – thanks to a friend and neighbor, Jacob, who insisted that I request an upgrade and/or a room above a certain level in order to get a good view – I got the feeling that the hubby might be slightly impressed.
However, the view also overlooked Atarim Square with a perfect view of a strip club called Pussycat, a circular structure that sits on the overpass of a highway below…
And now there’s graffiti…
Having researched kosher restaurants in Tel Aviv, I informed the hubby that we would be checking out as many eateries as possible and suggested we try Pankina, a kosher dairy restaurant not far from the hotel.
Owned and run by Italian olim, we dined on homemade Italian delights for a mere pittance with exceptional service. As we ate our food, I remembered the kid mentioning a similar restaurant in Tel Aviv that she frequented. Texting her the restaurant sign and a copy of the menu, the kid responded with an affirmative – it was indeed the restaurant she was talking about and now we understood why – the kid is a complete and utter pasta snob.
One thing I love about Israel is that it feeds my ADHD nature. There’s always something going on to entertain yourself. So, while the hubby pooped out on me again, I walked the promenade alone, taking photos of scenes along the way.
I got a chuckle out of this one:
The sign says “Swimming Prohibited.” These signs are located every so many feet along the promenade, accompanied by loud speakers reiterating to everyone in seven different languages that swimming is prohibited. Meanwhile, hundreds of people were swimming all day every day…
I also passed by Mike’s Place but didn’t dare enter…
The best part of the day was finding a restaurant our tour guide had brought us to in 2016 called Maganda, a family owned Yemenite kosher meat place. They are best known for going out to IDF soldiers while in the field and feeding them home cooked meals.
Exhausted and our bellies full of love, the hubby and I landed back at the hotel. From our balcony we watched the people below, walking, running, skateboarding, cycling, windsurfing, boating, playing volleyball, frisbee, catch, paddle ball or just hanging out on the beach until the wee hours of the night. If I was an alien from another planet who just so happened to land in Tel Aviv, I would hypothesize that humans never work and have superhuman powers. It’s like one continuous Mountain Dew commercial…and they made me feel bad about myself…
March 5, 2018
This morning I briefed the hubby on today’s adventure – we were going to rent electric bikes and ride the promenade from Tel Aviv to Jaffo Port. Although I had never ridden an electric bike, I was obviously confident in my ability to manage one based on years of cycling. The hubby, on the other hand, kept reminding me that he hadn’t ridden a bike in over 45 years, his last ride being at the age of 10 when he flew top speed down a steep hill, lost control of his bike and landed face down in the road, breaking his front tooth. Advising the hubby to just suck it up (and not apprising him of the fact that Tel Avivians hate cyclists), we walked the half mile to Pole Position on Ben Yehuda Street.
Receiving a crash course on how to operate an electric bike, the hubby and I opted for the more expensive bike that didn’t require the removal of its battery in order to prevent theft of said battery; however, we were also instructed on how to remove the bicycle seat and lock it up with the bike. Apparently, despite locking up your bike, people will steal your seat…interesting…I was assured that these seats are a hot commodity on the electric bike black market. We were also advised not to ride on the sidewalk – it’s illegal in Tel Aviv. We’ll just have to see if that one gets enforced…
Two blocks later, after crossing several intersections of insane traffic (it’s true…Tel Avivians hate bicycles of any kind), the hubby stopped on the promenade and announced that he was taking the bike back to the shop and was refusing to go any further. Like a scolding mother, I informed the hubby that he, in any way, shape or form, was not going to give up…and he begrudgingly followed along. Such a trooper…
Carefully navigating the 3.5 miles to Jaffa Port, I allowed the hubby periodic breaks while I snapped some photos.
In the end, I was the one who fell off the bike after getting the Velcro of my sandal caught on a fishing net and was pulled off the bike as I attempted to drive away while the hubby rode without issue the entire trip. Good job Woobie…
On the way back to Tel Aviv, we came across a building we had noticed before but didn’t know it’s origins – the Dolphinarium.
Originally a dolphin aquarium likened to that of Sea World in Florida, the Dolphinarium lost its investors and closed its doors in 1985 until becoming the Dolphinarium Discotheque/Night Club…
Getting myself together enough to move on and, being the pushy broad that I am, I informed the hubby that we would be riding to the Tel Aviv Port past our drop-off point…and promised him a milkshake…
Stopping at Café Café, we struggled to remove our bike seats, becoming frustrated with our attempts to lock them up with the bike. A waiter on break agreed to help us out, introducing himself as Shai and asked us where we rented the bikes. After a brief conversation, Shai informed us that the owner of the bike shop was his girlfriend’s brother and requested we say, “Hi” upon our return. Small world…
Although he couldn’t figure it out either, we managed to remove the seats and kept them safe at our sides as we sat down to order.
Finishing up our milkshakes, we quickly made our way back to the bike shop so that we could meet up with the kid at the hotel. This afternoon’s kid choice – Palmach Museum.
Closing down the museum, we headed to dinner at Pankina for the kid’s pre-birthday celebration where we were plied with free shots and wine with the traditional Doherty tradition of singing Happy Birthday off key. I think the Italian olim thought I was out of my mind, but I did get a standing ovation. Nowhere else have I sat in an Italian bistro where the chef is smoking while cooking my food and the bartender did shots with a man on roller skates carrying a flag with a picture of the Rebbe on it. How can you not love this place?!
Not wanting to say goodbye to the kid until next time, the hubby and I headed back to the hotel. I would later find out, once in the states, that the kid’s U.S. friends in Israel would stand her up on her birthday motzei Shabbat, but her program friends would book Pankina just for her to make up for it…heart swell…
Back at the hotel, our last night in Israel, we sat in the lobby and listened to the pianist croon English-speaking songs…and then I found myself singing along to a familiar tune that seemed out of place…
“Ex’s and the oh, oh, oh’s they haunt me
Like ghosts they want me to make ’em all
They won’t let go
Ex’s and oh’s”
Ex’s & Oh’s – Elle King
March 6, 2018
For our last day in Israel I let the hubby know that we were taking the train to Haifa to tour the Bahai Gardens, one of the most famous sites in Israel.
Arriving in Haifa less than an hour after leaving Tel Aviv, we took a taxi to the Bahai Gardens with a view of Haifa that can’t be beat.
Missing the English-speaking noon tour by five minutes, we were advised to walk to each of the three garden levels on our own ”just around the bend a couple of kilometers.“
Finally finding the second level, we took a much-needed break from walking the steep decline to the magnificent gardens that can only be experienced in person to appreciate.
The third level was a much longer walk with steep hills and no signs pointing the way – somehow we managed to find it though…
Completely famished, the hubby and I strolled down the main avenue in search of a kosher restaurant. Checking in with Mr. Google, we finally found the Jewish neighborhood in Haifa and discovered a GREAT little hole in the wall called chicho.
With Google Maps telling us the walk was a solid 45 minutes, we contacted the restaurant via Facebook before starting the trek to make sure they were kosher. Getting an immediate response with a follow-up photo of their teudah (certificate of being kosher), we quickly found ourselves in front of the restaurant – boy, Google Maps you disappoint this time. While preparing us an assortment of Moroccan meats with various sauces on homemade bread and sided with the daily salad, the Ethiopian cook told us about his summer escapade to Atlantic City years before.
Next stop was the hubby’s choice – Elijah’s Cave.
Afterwards, we walked across the street (not exactly that simple) to the Haifa Cable Cars to take in the breathtaking view of Haifa on the Mediterranean.
As the sun quickly set, we took a taxi to the train station and headed back to Tel Aviv where we ate dinner at the hotel and waited for our taxi to the airport while I obsessed about the weather back home. Oh…did I mention the Nor’easter heading for New Jersey…the third one since we left…the one that was supposed to hit landfall upon our arrival at Newark Airport? Yeah…
The one thing I’ve been told numerous times by acquaintances when traveling to Israel is that with each visit you don’t want to leave. This being my fourth visit, I finally got what they meant – I truly did not want to go home. Needless to say, it was time to leave. Our taxi driver was a very friendly man with a great sense of humor, pointing out the pomelo groves along the road leading to the airport.
On the plane ride back, I was seated next to an older gentleman with dementia whose daughter sat behind us next to a young couple with a two-month-old baby. In hindsight I realized that I should’ve given my seat up to the daughter, having dealt with a demented father myself. If it had been me, I would’ve wished for me to exchange seats, but my head just wasn’t in that place at the time, the daughter repeatedly assuring me that all was okay. Throughout the flight, I comforted that old man like he was my father until he finally fell into a calm sleep that lasted the night. And I, as usual, schmoozed with the crew and obsessed with them on the impending storm that lay ahead.
As a people watcher, I noticed an older woman talking to a young yeshiva man in the galley, the social arena of any given El Al flight. It dawned on me that it was the woman whose belongings I had guarded in Newark Airport to protect her from the wrath of Manic Mutt (Israel – Part Deux: Returning to the originally-planned-before-the-kid -decided-to-make-Aliyah-last-year trip, Wednesday, February 21, 2018) and suddenly she was on the floor. Later discovering that she was dehydrated and exhausted from traveling, another middle-aged woman having a heart attack was brought to the same galley and attended to by the crew and two different doctors on board. Meanwhile, the rest of the passengers went about their business like nothing was going on…geez Louise people!
Landing in Newark with no Nor’easter in sight, two different flight attendants assisted us in removing our Israeli SIM cards, one with the post of her earing and the other removing the wire from the opening of a puke bag, and we reluctantly made our way through customs.
On the way home, we stopped off at the local Shop Rite where I found a bin full of pomelos and promptly placed one in the shopping cart. Pulling into the driveway of our home as the snow began to fall, I immediately looked up a video on YouTube explaining how to eat a pomelo…and it was the yummiest piece of fruit I’ve had in a long time…
“Oh, the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we’ve no place to go
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow”
Let it Snow – Dean Martin
“I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours.” – Forrest Gump