I apologize for going AWOL, but I’ve had an insanely busy past few weeks. I had the absolute best time with my family, my cousin, and my friends. I can’t believe the three week stretch of fun that I’ve been looking forward to since the beginning has happened and is now over. I will try my best to give you a Sparknotes version of the greatest weeks ever…
First, my Mom, brother, sister, Grandma, and Aunt came to visit. They stayed in Old Jaffa in a beautiful penthouse apartment. It was lovely sleeping at their place. I had a big bed and a clean shower. We had such a wonderful time together. I missed them dearly, especially my Mom! She really is the best Mother in the world. I am so lucky to have her in my life and I am beyond grateful. She is a superhero.
Highlights from the fam’s visit are the food, our trip up north, and my birthday. Let’s start with the food. Boy was I wined and dined. We went to terrific restaurants each night. Some of my favorites include: Goshen (a Kosher steakhouse), Cafe Nimrod (a delicious Israeli breakfast spread), and Manta Ray (an excellent seafood restaurant overlooking the sea). Dobs definitely ate their way through Israel – I’m looking at you Alex! Besides our amazing dinners, we also had gelato almost every night. The gelato in Israel seriously rivals that in Italy. This week was definitely a week to indulge my sweet tooth. While I was at work one day, they did a day trip to Jerusalem and picked up the #1 chocolate rugelahs in Israel. They were doughy and so yummy. Mmmmmm!!!! We also bought lots of pastries from the pastry corner at the Shuk and a French patisserie in Jaffa. I’m still dreaming of those chocolate croissants. Another example of our edible Israel experience was the food tour. On my birthday (yess I turned 22 on March 22), we did a food tour through Delicious Israel. Our fabulous guide took us on a tour of my street – Levinsky! Who would have known there would be such hidden gems next door. I have now befriended this man who makes fruity fizzy drinks (called Gazos) and I have become a regular customer at the cheese store right by my apartment! This day was super special, not just because it was my day of birth, but because I got to discover new places on my street, eat fantastic cuisine, and be with my family.
Okay, I’m going to stop talking about food for now because I have way more on that later on….Anyway, the family and I also travelled up North. It was good to get out of Tel Aviv for a bit and get a change of scenery. I loved Tzvat and I especially loved our Chocolate Factory tour (obviously).
Saying goodbye to Alex, Sydnie, and my Mom was especially difficult. We are such a close family and I am so happy when I’m around them. I already miss them terribly and I can’t wait to go home!
Leaving them was made a tad easier because my cousin, Hanna, came the next day. She was on a field trip in Cyprus and extended her trip to see me in Tel Aviv. I had work during the days, but our nights were spent going out to eat and hanging with my roommates. Thanks to my fabulous Mom, we got to spend our last day at the Sheraton hotel relaxing by the pool. We also got to celebrate the Passover seder together. I was invited to one of my coworker’s house for the seder. It was nice, but I definitely miss the famous Dobkin seder. I actually found myself wanting to sing the ballad of the four sons and dip mini hot dogs in ketchup… There’s always next year (although it was cool to be in the Israel).
We got home from the Seder at 11:30 and had to wake up for the airport at 3 am. Both of us had early morning flights to catch. Hanna was going back to Chicago and I was going to Europe for our Passover break!
WOW – My European Extravanganza was incredible. It definitely made returning back to Israel more difficult. First, I went to London. There, I reunited with one of my best friends, Courtney. Way back in October, I had purchased two tickets to see my favorite DJ, Above & Beyond, perform there. I knew my program was off that week and I was hoping someone would come with me. Turns out, Courtney was willing to fly all the way to London for 36 hours just for this. Sounds crazy, but it was so worth it. We both arrived Saturday morning and spent the day visiting all the classic touristy spots like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, The London Eye, and the Aquarium. We went to a pub at night to get some fish & chips and cider and then we got ready for our concert at the O2 Academy in Brixton.
It was the best show I’ve ever seen. They played literally all of the songs I wanted to hear. It was wonderful. The next morning, Courtney found out her flight was cancelled. After hours spent on the phone with the airline, we decided to look at the silver lining of all of it. She ended up being able to spend not just Sunday with me, but practically all of Monday, too. On Sunday, my other friend from school, Amanda, flew to London to join the adventure. She is going on a 5-week backpacking through Europe trip and decided to start her trip early to see me. All three of us visited Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross and the British Museum. After Courtney left, Amanda and I continued in London. We saw CATS on the West End, went to Afternoon Tea, and went to the National Portrait Gallery. We also had about one million servings of chips (fries).
On Wednesday, we took a quick plane ride to Amsterdam. Amsterdam has been my dream city for years. I am so happy I got to go there. It is truly magnificent. I’d love to go back in the near future. It is such a strange and cool place. The culture is so laid back and chill. The town is so quaint and beautiful. All of colored buildings, tiny streets, bikes, and canals…it is a picture out of a painting. In Amsterdam, we stayed at a hostel, which is something very new to me. I’m definitely more of a hotel gal, but the hostel was in a great location and had such friendly staff.
On Thursday, we went to the Van Gogh museum. Impressionism/ post-impressionism is one of my favorite forms of art. It was an awesome museum, although it was missing his entire blue period and Starry Night. I wonder why? On Friday, we got to go to the Anne Frank haus. Every day there is a 4-hour winding line to buy tickets. However, thanks to the super powers of my mom, she was able to score us tickets ahead of time. We skipped the line and toured the house. It was so powerful and immensely interesting. I can’t believe they hid up there for all those years. We weren’t allowed to take pictures so it is definitely something you all need to see in person.
Some other things we did in Amsterdam was go to the Diamond Museum (Amsterdam is one of the leading cities for diamond production), the Sex Museum (I told you, Amsterdam is strange), walk through the Red Light District (we only peaked in because it looked sketchy), and I went on a lovely morning run in Vondelpark. We had excellent weather in both London and Amsterdam. It was like 65 and sunny!!! Oh, but the very best part of Amsterdam is the food. WAFFLES AND PANCAKES!! These waffles are unreal. They use sticky donut dough perhaps and put it in a waffle iron. Then you can eat with soft serve ice cream, whipped cream, bananas, nutella, and so much more. I need more of this in my life. The Dutch pancakes were also on point. They were thin crepe-like pancakes and you can choose an endless of toppings. Another reason why I need to go back to Amsterdam is because I want to try so many more places to eat! There were tons of cafes selling mouth-watering pastries, deep dish apple pies, cream puffs, and more. I’m getting hungry just thinking about this.
So that’s a wrap. I’m now back in Israel trying to get back into the swing of things. I’m excited for Independence Day (there is an outdoor festival with legendary DJ Carl Cox), Holocaust Remembrance Day (we are going to Jerusalem to hear speakers and visit Yad Vashem), and I’m ready for it to get warmer. It is still quite cold in Tel Aviv. I’m waiting for the unbearable heat that everyone has promised me. Right now we just get 60s-70s.
From my screen to yours,