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.
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.
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.
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).
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,