Tel Aviv Weekend

Trip Start Jan 12, 2008
Trip End Oct 01, 2008

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ahhh, the sleep was amazing... I woke up after a solid 9 hours, had breakfast and went back to take a 2 hour nap.  I finally got my act together and started walking around mid-day.  The city is more lively than I recall from just a week ago.  Maybe It's because I'm not on any schedule and I'm around the city on my own?  Either way, I like it a lot and have a great time sitting in an outdoor café off Ben Yahuda street talking to some random people and updating this bad boy.
The group meets up for sushis at a restaurant called Kyoto, which provides for good sake drinking and great times with good friends but just an average sushi experience.  Tal Assif (Miki and Shifi from Eilat's son) shows up briefly and we set up breakfast as he seems extremely busy between school, work, the army, his dog and his girlfriend, in no particular order!  Yael, our Israeli guide, leaves after dinner and I propose (half-jokingly) in a last effort to make her stay but she just says, "thank you", which tells me she has also learned a little something from me in our time together.  The group heads out to a few local bars before calling it an early night.

Another good night of sleep and I find myself making to the lobby just as Tal shows up.  We enjoy a nice breakfast and the weather as we stroll down the boardwalk talking about life in Israel.  It is very good to get another point of view from someone who is out of the army (for the most part as he is still active 3 months a year because he was a Navy Seal!!!).  He is still busy and has to go to the hospital for work but we arrange for me to stay at his place for the weekend.
Avihay picks up Melissa, Beverlyn and I from the hotel to take us to his house for a traditional Shabbat dinner in Rishon Le Zion just outside of Tel Aviv.  His family is extremely nice (a trend here so far) and I get to meet his little brother (with spiked hair) and older sister (in school to be a dietician) as well as his wonderful parents.  I can't say no at the dinner table and so I wind up with a mountain of food before learning that this is just the first course. 
This happens twice more and I fall into a deep food coma for 2 hours before rallying with some really strong coffee his mother makes!  I wonder if there isn't something 'special' in the coffee because I feel wide awake as we head back into Tel Aviv.  The experience is exactly what I was looking for as it gave me a glimpse into family life here as well as showing me another face of Judaism.  I tell his mother "Ze haya Metzuyan!" which means it was amazing, but it was better than that!
With no central meeting point and a logistical nightmare of trying to get to Tal's later on at night I make the executive decision to get another hotel room and we have a small hotel room party before venturing out into the night.  The bouncers at the bars are jerks and won't let the male soldiers with our group in, even though they are the coolest of the bunch, and we get this at several places before deciding to head back to the hotel for more debauchery. 
I put my thumb out for a taxi and wind up hailing a car full of girls within 5 seconds... I graciously ACCEPT (haha, you think I'd pass that up?), and beat the rest of the crew back to the hotel while having a great road trip with 3 random Israeli girls who seem really nice!  The hotel party runs until early morning at which point I focus on the fact that three people have already fallen asleep on my bed.  When the last of the visitors leave, I find a comfy little spot on the floor to crash on. 
I briefly contemplated diving head first onto my bed, but I'm still working on that whole too nice thing!
Avihay takes us to Herzilya (sp?) on Saturday morning.  We head into a mall from the harbor as it is rainy and realize the mall is just like back in the States, absolutely packed!  Make it back to Tel Aviv just in time to show up to the Hoepel Tel Aviv soccer game ten minutes late...  It's still raining but that isn't slowing any of the die hard fans down, who don't stop singing the entire game!  The soccer is good but sloppy as the conditions are wet to say the least.  Hoepel loses to Sakhnin unfortunately, but the experience is still well worth the 2 hours standing in the rain.
-          One trip to Israel: Free
-          One taxi ride to the game: 40 shmeckles
-          One ticket to the game: 50 shmeckles
-          Standing in the rain for 2 hours to support the local fan favorite team fall short 1-0: PRICELESS!

I finally make it to Tal's house and fall asleep within 10 minutes of getting mauled/hugged by his beautiful yellow lab.  I wake up 11 hours later and realize that I am leaving Israel today.  I am sad to leave, but can't wait for South Africa and think I will be back here before too long!

Tal takes me to lunch via scooter and this is my first two wheel motorized vehicle experience of my life!  He's a good driver so I enjoy the view from the back of the moped and devour yet another fabulous meal.  The few days on my own have more than made up for the 10 days of mediocre food we had on the trip.  I head to the market where I bump into a bunch of kids from the Birthright trip and we walk around the city together for a bit before Tal picks me up to take me to the train station.  I get off the train and make it through customs in record time only to realize that my leatherman is going to be taken.  The security guy says it will take me at least an hour to go back and send it ahead in a package (I need my leatherman to defend myself against the lions and tigers and sharks to come), so I flash a smile at a cute security guard and she escorts me there and back in under 10 minutes!  Now I'll be able to defend myself on my bush walk... riiight!

Sweet dreams from Tel Aviv... and good morning from South Africa!
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