So I guess it’s time to approach the mammoth post that is Tel Aviv.
I’ll start by saying that the only thing standing in my way was a test on Thursday. I didn’t understand a single word of it. In fact, I got an email from my teacher this morning stating that if I wanted “extra help” I should “feel free” to come in 30 minutes before class on Sunday for tutoring. xD Oy vey.
I’ll go…if only because they like it when I look like I’m “taking initiative” and they’re going to give me a second chance on the three sections that I “just need a little help on”.
ANYWHOS! I made plans with one of my roommates to carry my backpack home from campus so that I could leave straight from the bus station underneath…well…campus! I packed everything I would need for the school day and Tel Aviv and shoved my over-the-shoulder bag in as well. During the second break, I took everything for Tel Aviv out and threw it in my purse so that I could make a hand-off of my backpack to Jessica. Everything went according to plan.
Until I was on the bus and realized that I had left my camera in my backpack. *facepalm*
So these delightful pictures are brought to you by my
pieceofshit lovely Talk’N’Save phone.
I arrived at the Central Bus Station and ran into two Israeli teens who were standing around the ticket counter. I explained that I was after a haloch-chazor (round-trip) ticket to Tel Aviv and back. They explained to the ticket seller what I wanted and the total came to only 20 NIS! 20 NIS! That’s…less than $10! That’s like…$7! From Jerusalem to Tel Aviv and back to Jerusalem. Holy crap! Hahahah! (I might be visiting Tel Aviv MUCH MORE than originally anticipated!)
After I got my ticket, I had about 10 minutes before the bus showed up so I went on an epic quest for a bathroom. I guess I’m just an ignorant American who completely forgot that sometimes people charge for public bathroom usage…so after digging out a Shekel and waiting in line for the bathroom…I almost missed my bus. But no! I got on and opened up my Kindle and finished my book (Dangit! Whatever was I going to read on the way back!?). By the time I emerged from my Kindle, I was in a much more modern portion of Israel. (Please, ignore the blurry factor…I was on a bus…taking pictures with a phone!)
I got off the bus to find Meitar! =D We hopped onto the 5 bus and took it all the way to the most confusing mall I have every been to. It’s called Dizengoff Center and it’s HUGE. (These pictures were taken from Wikipedia…cause it’s just easier…xD)
The place is so huge that there is one book chain in it That has four locations within the mall itself. Naturally, I got distracted by the Harry Potter awesomeness. Let’s all take a moment to discover what it would look like if Albus Dumbledore signed his name in Hebrew. 😉I also saw the children’s play area. It happens to be one of the biggest jokes in the city. I’ll let you gauge why for yourselves.Yeeeah…I even found the authorized Apple retailer!We walked around for a little bit before deciding to branch out and explore outside. The first thing I saw after emerging from the mall was this movie poster. I don’t know. Looks kinda shifty to me.
Meitar and I walked around a LOT, through Tel Aviv’s shuk, around their outdoor shopping streets…we passed a couple of illegal DVD shops and some really cheap clothing stores. I was seriously tempted to buy a dress that was the equivalent of about $15…but I didn’t want to try it on. Looked GORGEOUS on the mannequin though….
We then walked through Meir Park and ended up in what I thought was a little back-alley. Little did I know. We walked up one flight of stairs and stumbled (well, I stumbled….she knew exactly where she was) upon the old City Circle. Here’s a picture of the old City Hall which is now a converted museum.
Funny story. When I was in Israel the first (and only) time in 2005 with NFTY, we weren’t allowed to come to Tel Aviv due to the high terrorist threat level. However, we were supposed to spend a day to two days there. So, while the tour guides planned what to do instead, we were released into an art museum for four hours. Well, I happened upon the museum today. Seven hours in the huge city that is Tel Aviv and I just HAPPEN across an art museum in a little back alley that is the only place I’ve been to in the entire city.I about cracked up. From there, Meitar explained to me (while walking to the beach) that crossing the street in Israel is a BIG. DEAL. On every corner they have the typical “Do Not Walk” sign that you see everywhere. However, if you cross the street while the little guy is red, you can get a ticket for about 100 NIS. She explained to me that it’s better to cross in the middle of the street and risk death than it is to cross on a crosswalk while the little man is red.For the rest of the day, our theme was “Crossing the street….like a boss!” Which, in turn, inspired me to take this picture.Either way…we finally successfully made it to the beach (without getting any tickets)!
At that point, we had both begun contemplating food. We walked all the way back up to the park (we did a LOT of walking!) and found a small little Italian restaurant. I ordered the closest thing I’m going to find to Chinese food while I’m here. Penne pasta with beef, mushrooms, and soy sauce. It was delicious. Here’s a crappy picture of it.Hahah! Looks gross in that photo. But it really was good. I finished the whole thing! 🙂 After that, we started walking back towards the main part of town. The entire city is branched off of one long main road called Rothschild. On the way back to Rothschild, I ran into Professor McGonagall just chilling on a trashcan. No big deal.But seriously though. The cats here are a problem. They’re worse than the squirrels back home. They are EVERYWHERE! And there’s even an idiot in the student dorms (K’far HaStudentim) who is feeding them…so they don’t go away. They just fight. And make babies. And whine/cry when they get hurt….and hide in trash cans so that they can jump out and scare the crap out of you when you go to throw something away.
Back out on Rothschild, we continued walking until we happened upon Max Brenner. Now…Max Brenner was a prize, gifted to the Israelites for just being plain awesome. Apparently it’s an international chain with stores in Australia, the Philippines, Singapore, and the US…but I’ve yet to find one in Dallas. xD Getting back on topic, Max Brenner is a chocolateer who makes Willy Wonka look like a kids store.I had made it my goal in life to get a me-version of this picture: Everyone say hello to cousin Zack.This heavenly chocolate treat is something that will get me through the next four months on a complete and total sugar hi. =D
Following Max Brenner, Meitar and I finally met up with Robert and Rachel who were determined to find a cheap hostel in Tel Aviv for the weekend. So, with Meitar as our unofficial tour guide, we headed off to where we figured some cheap hostels would be…..right back on the beach.
As it started getting later and later, I was more and more worried about catching my bus back. Rob and Rachel were determined to find a hostel anyway, so we split forces and I headed back to catch the bus to Jerusalem. I managed to be the last person on and it pulled out not 2 minutes later. Phew!
While on the way back, I read the first 17 pages of The Game of Thrones. Rather good. Slightly confusing. I will NOT watch the TV show before I finish the book. I must keep repeating this to myself. Moving on.
I got back to Jerusalem by about 11:15. This had ALWAYS been the plan because I had read a website that said the Light Rail that would take me back to campus ran until 11:30. Haha, that was a LIE! The Light Rail had stopped running at about 10:15. WHAT?! Well, how was I supposed to get back?! I didn’t even know which bus to take! I ended up asking a taxi driver which one he suggested. He told me to hop on the 45. So, I walked up the road a wee bit to the 45 bus stop and waited about 5 minutes till it showed up. As it did, a mad rush of people jumped on before me. Well, here I am, 11:20 at night, trying to ask a bus driver who doesn’t speak English if the bus would take me back to Mount Scopus/Student Village/Har Hatzofim/K’far HaStudentim/any of the other 80 names it has…he finally heard me over the hoard and told me that he wouldn’t take me back…and that I was on the wrong bus. I’d have to wait for the 68 or the 26. Well…I could do that. So I walk up a little further to the NEXT bus stop! Well, I’m standing there listening to my ipod when WHO should walk up…but Rob and Rachel!
Turns out, they had given up and taken a taxi back to the Tel Aviv bus station, hopped on a bus to Jerusalem, and gotten there not 10 minutes after I had. What a bust for them!
So, we waited at that bus stop for about 20 minutes before finally giving up and declaring that the bus had stopped running for the night. It took us an additional 5 minutes to ACTUALLY give in and hail a taxi instead. When we finally got in, the front door was locked, so all three of us struggled and squeezed into the back seat of his tiny car.
Poor guy probably thought we were all drunk because at that point, I was so deliriously tired that EVERYTHING seemed funny and we didn’t stop laughing all the way back to campus.
I got back, started torrenting five episodes of Castle, and fell asleep the second I turned an episode on. Oy VEY I was exhausted.
This morning I woke up without the sound of an alarm. It was delightful!!! The plan was to get Grace and Jessica and go to the Old City. Grace wanted to walk around in the Muslim Quarter which I’ve been to thrice now (and since I know it like the back of my hand, I offered to be the tour guide). However, by 12:45, I still hadn’t heard from Grace. So, as plans frequently do in Israel, we changed them and decided just to go to the Shuk instead.
As we were heading out, Grace called. xD So she came to the Shuk with us where we happened upon a pleasant lady on a ukulele singing Edelweiss. I was forced to stop and donate to her Shabbat fund. I LOVE that song! 🙂I then came home and took three hours to type up this blog. Rob is coming over in a little bit to eat dinner and watch Castle with me, even though he’s never seen an episode. He said he didn’t mind not knowing the backstory. I told him that it would be awesome, none-the-less.
And that’s my plan for today and tomorrow. Castle. And lots of it. Castle Castle Castle…oh how I’ve missed you in my life, you funny hunk of man-flesh!
And now, dear readers, I must bid you adieu and depart to prepare a solo meal before Rob gets here.
P.S. How’s THAT for pictures, Laura? xD