Jessica and Ayal were waiting for us once we got out of customs- what a good feeling! Jet lagged and we didn't have to figure anything out. We got in the car and were on our way into Tel Aviv- the airport is about 30 minutes away from the middle of the city
. I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting for Israel - but it didn't feel like much of a culture shock. Tel Aviv is a large, international city, where everyone speaks English. The only thing that is shockingly different is the Jewish religion that has an influence on everything. There are private beaches among regular beaches where Orthodox Jews can choose to go for privacy and there are separate days in which men and women go. We also arrived during Passover (two week Jewish holiday) in which everything must be kosher.. meaning very few stores in Israel sell bread, beer, or any products made from wheat flour- unless the stores are owned by Russians or Liberal Jews. Another example, today is Holocaust day starting tonight around 5PM and ending tomorrow evening. All of the programming on TV tonight is directed toward the Holocaust and remembering. All the restaurants and bars are closed- and if you are seen at the beach or doing something "fun" you will be looked down upon. A big football match, Barcelona v Chelsea is on tonight- and Ayal trying to figure out a way to watch it on the internet, as it will not be shown on TV. The government in Israel is made up of Orthodox Jews that enforce these laws and rules. It's different but it seems to work, it's just the way of life here.
So since we have been here, we haven't done too much out of Tel Aviv. Our two big days were Saturday and Monday
. Monday happened to be Ayal's 29th birthday, so Saturday, his family threw him a birthday/ engagement party at his parent's house, about 20 minutes outside of Tel Aviv. Monday, we all went out and had a really nice dinner for Ayal's birthday. Other than that we haven't really been doing much except for hanging out and walking around Tel Aviv. Jessica and I have been to both of the big malls here- didn't really feel like shopping either time, surprising- I know.. But I did find some really nice gold plated jewelry at a stand close to the mall which I bought a few things from. I also bought Keith a pair of red polka-dotted swim trunks, European style, so they are a bit shorter than normal swim trunks.. haha he was really unsure about them- but says he will wear them so.. En ma la sot! I think tomorrow morning we are going to go check out the artisan craft market - where I know I will find good stuff to buy and I can practice my bargaining skills. So for today, we are going to relax and remember all the Jews that perished in Holocaust- it is also disgusting outside, a sand storm blew in and it's very warm today. Friday we are going to the Dead Sea and Monday we are going to Jerusalem. Will post more next week. xx
Finally, I have been putting off writing since we got here. I guess I got out of the habit.. Anyway- I suppose we have been in Tel Aviv for a week now. We had a nice time in Austin, especially, after our harrowing trek back to San Jose from the undeveloped side of Nicaragua. It was interesting-- So we got on our plane to Tel Aviv last Wednesday.. Austin to JFK; JFK to Heathrow; Heathrow to Tel Aviv- it was really long, especially once we got to Heathrow- the sun was coming in from the East through this wall of windows that they have in the Heathrow airport and it's really bright- it was awful. We finally boarded our flight and we both slept on the five hour ride.