Welcome to Israel

The day of our departure, August 31st, our plane had already been delayed an hour so we stopped at what appeared to be a restaurant on the way to our gate.  Restaurant prices but definitely fast food.  We paid forty dollars for some soggy pretzels and two microwaved pizzas! Yum.

We were flying from JFK to Tel Aviv, Israel via Istanbul,Turkey.  I was pleased with myself for remembering to request a vegetarian meal but I ended up with rice and vegetables, two side salads dry with no dressing. Fruit for dessert.  

I was able to get a bit of sleep on the plane and was feeling good about that.  We were getting ready for breakfast and Jeff pointed out that we were probably going to miss our connecting flight.  Stress started kicking in.

Then a message from a flight attendant came over the loudspeaker requesting doctors.  Jeff went to the next cabin. From where I was sitting I could see him and some nurses performing CPR on a woman.  People around me were videotaping and taking pictures on their iphones.  I found it repulsive.

When Jeff came back he told me that by the time the doctors were called the woman was already dead.  An emergency landing was made in Switzerland. We found out she was only 32.

This was day one of our trip.  

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We made it to Turkey eventually and when we got there the airlines had already printed us boarding passes for a later flight to Israel.  We landed at the Tel Aviv airport much later in the day than we expected and it was a Friday.  We still had to take an hour taxi ride to Jerusalem, drop off our stuff, and buy food for the weekend before everything closed at sunset for Shabbat.  

We got to our airbnb apartment rental, dropped off our bags, and took a quick look around.  The pictures on airbnb were quite deceptive but we have plenty of space and its in a great location.

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You can see from the floor plan there is a living room with an extra bed but I haven't photographed it yet.

The kitchen is quite skinny. 

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Below is part of what I call the weird hall that starts at the front door and leads to the bathroom.

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It's no NYC, luxury, waterfront, high rise.  

We hurried to the store and got some water, milk, and cereal.  Then settled in for Shabbat. Jeff even taught me the prayer for the Shabbat candles.

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Saturday morning we finished unpacking our stuff and then met our friends Abe and Agata for coffee.  They took us and their daughter to Independence Park.  After Shabbat was over we took a walk and got some falafel for dinner.  

 *There were many dogs at the park, and one was feeling especially frisky.

*There were many dogs at the park, and one was feeling especially frisky.

Sunday we explored Israel's biggest open air marketplace Machane Yehuda.  It is filled with little shops selling fresh produce, salads, breads, dried fruits, nuts, and even housewares for some of the best prices.  

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They have even begun to add some great restaurants.  But, eating out is very expensive in Israel so I will be doing most of the cooking.  That night we did go to a kosher burger place.  The food was excellent and an old man came in off the street just to serenade us with his horn.  Great!

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Monday we went back to the market place and loaded up on staples and ingredients to make ful medames and shakshuka. I'll tell you more about that next week.

We then took a walk through the Old City.  

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The Old City is what was considered Jerusalem in biblical times.  It is divided into four quarters. There is the Jewish quarter, the Christian quarter, the Muslim quarter, and the Armenien quarter. That day we visited the Muslim quarter for some of the best knafeh.  Knafeh is a middle eastern cheese pastry soaked in syrup and topped with pistachios. 

It looks like this.

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When we got back to our place Jeff realized that the gas stove in our apartment doesn't have a vent! We ended up going out again and buying a portable, two burner, electric stove from a small appliance shop down the road.  

This morning we were looking at some of the pots pans and other kitchen appliances our hosts left us with and they were not in great condition. Something weird growing in the tea kettle we could not remove.  So we went back to visit our friend at the appliance store and bought a kettle and some cooking pans.  We have been giving this guy so much business, he gave us a free wooden spoon and a discount on the stove. And since we have been spending so much time with him I felt I needed this picture!

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Today was supposed to be a work day for us but not a lot was accomplished. When we got back from the appliance store Jeff had a stain on his pants and went to open the washer. Turns out the washer was filled with sulphur-smelling water that had been sitting there for who knows how long. And buckets of the stuff came pouring out. 

Its been an adventure so far. Thanks for reading! More next week.