My first full day in Israel
16.09.2010 - 17.09.2010 0 °C
After landing in Israel, I was ready for bed. However, I was trying to combat jet lag, so I decided it was important to stay up until at least 10pm. I really didn't plan well and it was more difficult than it needed to be. The night before my flight my thought was to stay up late so I would sleep on the plane. I only got 2 hours sleep before the Super Shuttle picked me up at 4am. Unfortunately, my plan was foiled. I could barely get any sleep on the flight. So when I got to Israel at 8am the next day it was 2am in Tampa. Now I needed to stay up until 10pm here and 4pm in Tampa. I was fading throughout the day but Steve and Reut kept me going. Thankfully we have a Wii here. It helped keep me active and awake until after 10. I slept for about 12 hours and felt great the next day.
For my first full day in Israel, we started with breakfast. We went to a local place that is known for their shakshuka (shock-shoe-kah.) It was very different than a Dennys Grand Slam. It is a stew, for lack of a better word, of tomatoes and chopped veggies. Then they cook in a few eggs. There were no options for a western omelet or eggs and bacon. Plus who would get that anyway? Shakshuka it is! It was a great first meal and a very traditional way to start my trip.
After breakfast, Reut went to work to leave me and Steve sightseeing in Jaffa. Tel Aviv and Jaffa are in the same area (like Tampa and St Pete) but very different. Jaffa is an ancient city built approximately 7000 years ago. It has thick stone walls remaining from the old city and many tunnels and winding architecture. Tel Aviv however is only as old as Israel (63 years.) Also, Jaffa is very much an Arab/Muslim city and Tel Aviv is more modern and Jewish.
We walked around and saw the main sites: The old city, a wishing bridge, an open market, St Peter's Cathedral and Mahmoudia Mosque.
The old city was really a unique experience. In the past it was mostly residential. Now it has been converted into some business offices, but mostly a bunch of art galleries and jewelry shops.
It has a massive outer wall with a few gates of entry. Inside you weave around corridors and can imagine what it may have been like so long ago.
Also it is right on the Mediterranean Sea which adds to its flavor.
We walked up and down through the city, taking in all the history and scenery. I read about a few rocks in the ocean just off the coast that. We saw these right away. One of the rocks is called Andromeda Rock. Andromeda was a princess from Greek mythology who, as divine punishment for her mother's bragging, was chained to a rock as a sacrifice to a sea monster. She was saved from death by Perseus, who swept in on Pegasus and carried her to safety.
We also saw Mahmoudia Mosque, built in 1812 and in very good condition.
It is also about 100 feet from the beach. From anywhere within a few miles you can hear loudspeakers belt out the daily call of prayer to the Muslim community.
Nearby is St Peter’s Church.
It is a Franciscan church and hospice built in 1895 on the remains of a Crusaders fortress; I was surprised that it’s very close to the Mahmoudia Mosque. For a country with religious strife, it was interesting to see a mosque and a church within a few hundred feet of each other.
After our mini-tour of Jaffa, we needed to pick up food for the bbq. The plan was to make chicken kabobs. Easy right? You would think it takes 10 minutes in a grocery store to pick up some chicken, veggies and bread. Well, there really aren’t a lot of supermarkets, so we had a few extra stops.
First we stopped at the butcher. I was thinking it was odd to get the meat first since it would be a while until getting home. So, Steve says we want chicken for our shish kabobs. The butcher without asking us anything else says "20 minutes." That seemed a long time to get a few pounds of chicken. Apparently the butcher doesn’t just sell the chicken, he was cutting it into kabob sized bits and putting it on skewers at no extra charge. I guess kabobs are a common request. That might be tough to get at Publix or Safeway.
Next is the farmers market to get red peppers, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes.
Most things in Israel are very expensive, however they are known for great produce at reasonable prices. This makes sense…because when I think about a country that’s mostly desert…I think good produce.
Ya cant have an Israeli bbq without pita bread, right? On to the local bakery.
Steve, in relatively good Hebrew, orders 30 pitas. After a few minutes, Steve hands me a bag of pitas still warm from the oven. Again, tough to get at Publix or Safeway.
Finally we go to back to the butcher to pick up our chicken kabobs. After we get back and slice up the veggies, we have our kabobs ready for the grill. Steve invited a group of people over for dinner that are in his Hebrew class for significant others. It's a class full of people who moved here because of their boy/girlfriend. Interestingly, half of his class is also German. So at the house there were a lot of Hebrew and German conversations. One guy, however, was from the US. Before moving to Israel, he lived about 10 miles from me in St Petersburg, FL. Go figure.
We spent the rest of the night eating and playing games. Tomorrow evening is the beginning of Yom Kippur and the fast, so I will need to eat and rest well.