ISRAEL! (Part 2)
It’s that time, friends. Israel recap, part 2! I tried to keep it brief, but I’m bad at that. So, it’s actually kind of long. But there are LOTS of pictures of food, though. So, sorry, and you’re welcome?
Days 4-6: Jerusalem
Today we began our bus ride to Jerusalem, and started it off at Givat Haviva, where we attended a wonderful seminar on coexistence. When we arrived in the city of Jerusalem, we started off at Shuk Machane Yehuda, the market in the center of town. There were people EV-E-RY-WHERE, but even though my self-diagnosed claustrophobia was at an all-time high, I secretly loved it – I mean, we were literally surrounded by food. Here, I sampled different types of halva, bought an INCREDIBLE fresh mango, discovered new types of fruit I didn’t know existed, and ate a honey-soaked-donut thing that I claimed was way too sweet, but of course, finished anyway. Life is short people – eat things soaked in honey.
Between trips to the market, we had a cooking workshop where we learned to make hawaij (Yemenese spice mix), different types of hummus, and zhoug (a spicy herb and chile pepper sauce). We mopped it all up with fresh breads from the market, and I accidentally scratched my face after preparing the zhoug. OOPS.
Our first full day in Jerusalem started with trips to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and Mount Herzl. This was a hugely emotional day, but it put a lot of things into perspective. That night was Shabbat, which we spent exploring the Old City of Jerusalem. I’m a “spiritual Jew” at best, but when I touched the Western Wall, I got CRAZY chills. Then we ate Shabbat dinner with a local family, where I ate a loooot of challah (because there is no such thing as too much challah, contrary to my finding that there is such a thing as too much hummus).
Day 7: The Negev
Our first stop along the way was The Salad Trail, an organic farm where we ate fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, passion fruit, and herbs straight from the source. Here, we also made fresh pitas and had a “MasterChef” Challenge, where we used produce and herbs we picked ourselves. I’m 100% biased, but I think our team did a bang-up job. We made tomato and herb dumplings, cucumber boats filled with tomato salad that we dressed in a tahini, za’atar, passionfruit vinaigrette, and grilled mango with tahini, honey, and herb glaze. TAHINI IN AND ON EVERYTHING FOREVER AND I AIN’T EVEN SORRY ‘BOUT IT.
Super random anecdote, but it was on this day and on this day only (in the desert) that I decided it was necessary to wear the water sandals I had been required to bring. I guess getting sand in my sneakers was worse than just wearing the sandals (which were actually kind of cute) when I was SUPPOSED to wear them. I know, none of this logic makes sense, and only furthers all my friends’ arguments that I’m super high maintenance and girly. Whatever, I wore the sandals and they were really comfy and I don’t care.
After the farm, we drove to our Bedouin tents, where we given the warmest greeting – and rode CAMELS! It was kind of scary and my legs had some kind of reaction to the metal handle on the saddle (that was fun in the Dead Sea), BUT I regret nothing. My friend and I named our camel “Duchess Two Lumps (of Sugar).” She was super chill… but then she bit someone’s arm.¯\_(ツ)_/¯
We ate dinner that night sitting in small circles around heaping platters of whole roast chickens, rice, potatoes, and veggies. After dinner, we all took a walk into the desert where we sat in a circle and talked. I quietly complained the whole way there, but it was mostly because I was seriously afraid of scorpions biting my butt. In actuality though, this was one of the most profound experiences I think I’ve ever had. Ever. Can you say that you’ve walked out into the desert in complete darkness in a whole other country without a flashlight, looked up at the stars, and suddenly realized how EXTREMELY huge and astounding the universe is? Oh, you have? Well, fine then, don’t ruin this for me.
Day 8: The Dead Sea
Everything along the shores of the dead sea (rocks, twigs, sand) is coated in a frosty, sparkling coating of salt. It’s BEAUTIFUL. I slathered mud onto my legs and arms and into my hair, and went for a float. The feeling of weightlessness was a little surreal. Also, who knew that mud and salt together made SUCH a good combination for curly hair? After that, we took a short hike to the Ein Gedi oasis, where we sat amongst crystal clear pools and waterfalls.
Days 9-10 (Last Stop!): Tel Aviv
Our first night out was spent exploring the food scene and enjoying the nightlife. We checked out an amazing tapas place and then made a stop for ice cream. I got chocolate halva ice cream on top of biscuit ice cream (which was basically cookie butter ice cream). SO GOOD. Until the heat made it drip completely down my arm and I had to throw it away 🙁
The next day, we went to Independence Hall, and then for a walk through the markets of Tel Aviv and Jaffa where I got to marvel at all of the beautiful produce one last time. In Jaffa, we ate one of the best shakshukas I’ve ever had (for me, it beat the one in Haifa), and in Tel Aviv, I also ate one of my favorite meals of the trip: burekas. They’re basically dumplings made with very thin dough, and this one was filled with mashed potato/herbs and a raw egg before it was fried. The egg was perfectly soft. Oh, and then it was stuffed into a pita with veggies and spreads. Caaarbs <3
That’s it! Your survived 1000 words about carbs and camels!! If you read all of them – I like you a lot.
I am already thinking about my next trip to Israel, but for now, I’ll just keep eating salad for breakfast and pretending I’m still there. Given, next time I go probably won’t be with 40 of the coolest cats ever. But I’ll just pretend 😉