MAD – TLV

Dearest Readers and Ramblers,

Is there a better way to finish up in a country than in the company of old friends? I think not. My second-last day in Spain involved meeting up with the wonderful Ignasi (of India-travelling-companion fame), visiting the gorgeous parks of Montjuic, and brushing up on my Catalan (Com estas? Be! i tu?) over a fantastic lunch. Then I spent my last night in the country with the lovely Lydia, who happens to be movin’ and shakin’ in Madrid. We did what two young ladies do best — split a bottle of wine, terrorized the town, and ate our weight in pan-fried mushrooms with garlic.

You’ll be pleased to hear that my herculean willpower pulled through in the end, and I managed to resist flushing my passport. And it’s a good thing, too, or this blog would probably have soon devolved into a daily account of my siestas (their average length, sleep quality, etc.) and I can recognize that my sleep patterns — though thrilling to me, of course — might not be everybody’s cuppa tea. Also on the plus side, I now get to tell you a little bit about Israel.

Would you believe that my five-hour-long layover in Athens was actually a lovely thing? Surrounded by bottles of gourmet olive oil and herb-infused sea salts and chamomile teas, I had time to think about the trip to Greece I took with my high school more than five years ago. Remembering the heartbreaking beauty of Delphi at sunset, the way the ruins in Olympia were all toppled like dominoes and coated in barnacles from a long-ago flood, the stray dogs whose fur smelled like honey, and just the freedom and the joy of it all, I would really like to take a minute to thank Sam’s and my high school teacher, Steve Low, for likely being the one to incite the travel bug in us all those years ago.

Nostalgic reminisces aside, let’s get to the good stuff: Israel. What happens when you pull into Tel Aviv at three in the morning, half delusional and covered in airplane food crumbs? You sleep for  four hours, haul yourself out of bed, class yourself up a little bit with a shower, and hit the streets.

spring in full bloom.

knickknacks and gimcracks at the Antiques and Collectables Market

My first couple of days were a blur of crumbling old Bauhaus buildings, spectacular markets (of both the artisan and tchotchke variety), flowers in full bloom (especially the gargantuan heaps of bougainvillea, so thoroughly taking over whatever fences they had been planted on that it was actually a bit alarming), long walks by the water, many trips through the dilapidated magnificence of Old Jaffa, and several heaping platters of hummus and pita.

monstrous.

fruit & veg from the Carmel Market

helloooo, beach!

How do you top that? Hit up one of your best Toronto girlfriends for some quality time on her kibbutz, of course! The ever-lovely Jordan (a person, dear readers, not the country) has been in the Ulpan program here brushing up on her Hebrew in her quest for total global linguistic domination, and was kind enough to host me when I came a-calling.

my leading lady with the beautiful shutters of Akko.

Kibbutz Yagur is a very pretty place indeed, and nestled gorgeously beside Mount Carmel, near Haifa. The trees are all heavy with avocadoes and lemons, the roses of Sharon burst from every nook and cranny, families push their babies around in strollers that look suspiciously like shopping carts, dogs run amok completely unattended (perhaps explaining the general lack of squirrels here?), and everyone is fantastically relaxed and friendly. Jordan’s been a wonderful hostess, and we’ve had a blast being the ultimate tourists in Akko, bushwacking our way along the Israel Trail with our friend Adam, lounging in the sunshine, brushing up on our feminist discourse and just about everything else, and overall greeting every day with a smile (and, of course, hummus).

down by the ramparts

in Akko they know how to push up plants in style.

we may or may not have taken a terrifying ride on a pink boat. there were sparkles and klezmer music.

we’re pretty much mountain rangers.

I’m heading into Jerusalem tonight, and then I’ll be back in Europe in a week. Should give you plenty of opportunities in the meantime to do yourselves a favour, dear readers, and go get some olives, some crusty brown bread, some soft white cheese, some babaganoush, and go have yourselves a picnic. A little wine wouldn’t hurt either, but trust me on this one: no Manischewitz. Not even as a joke.

From Israel with love,

A

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One thought on “MAD – TLV

  1. Yehuda Meir Lipson says:

    And in even the small shops
    Israel’s beers can be found.
    And unsweetened, OUR grape drink —
    For our wineries abound.

    In front of the Kotel
    Our holiest spot
    Perhaps you’ll be moved there
    Or then, perhaps not.

    On top of Masada,
    All covered in ruins,
    You’ll see Herod’s palace,
    And date pits but no pruins.

    If you hike up the snake path
    Then gaze east before dawn,
    You’ll see a fast-moving
    Light/shadow phenom.

    The Dead Sea in the distance
    May soon float you aloft.
    For you cannot submerge there:
    That salt sea ain’t soft!

    Perhaps try its mud bath
    Mimicking Al Jolson
    A heck of a blackface
    On Al-anna Lipson.

    Ein Gedi’s oasis
    Just cannot be beat.
    You can chill in its pool
    And counter this heat.

    Some time for the Negev?
    Camp at Mitzpe Ramon.
    There’s Eilat’s great beach
    ‘Neath the last quarter moon.

    And up in the Golan
    Past the Galilee Sea
    There are rivers cascading
    And Mount Hermon to ski.

    You’re leaving WHEN???

    See you soon.

    Unk.

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