randomness...: October 2006

My opinions, updates on my life, all sorts of "randomness"...

Monday, October 30, 2006

Friday, October 27th
Met up with Jo, and we went for lunch at this awesome vegetarian place, Organic. She showed me around a bit, we got my pack from the train station and went back to her place. She has this amazing apartment with a couple other people from her program. We packed up dinner and our siddurim and headed down to the beach (2 minutes from her place). The two of us, right on the beach, lots of singing, waves crashing, perfect.

Saturday, October 28th
Lots and lots of walking. Jo & I, along with a couple of her roommates. Went to the "Spanish Village" with all these artists, just an interesting space. Attempted to go to this free jazz concert outside a cathedral, but in typical Spanish fashion, even though the concert was called for 6, at 7 it still hadn't started. But there was a jazz marching band that passed through the area, so we got some music...

For dinner we attempted to go this restaurant in Jo's guide book, and ended up walking down the sketchiest street ever, and then the restaurant wasn't even there. Go figure. But we ended up at this cute little place, Attic.

Okay, it's time for bed, so that's all for now. I'm totally wiped out, but in a good way--lots of hiking today. Tomorrow I take a ferry to Rome, so no idea when I'll have internet again. Not crazy thrilled about 20 hours on a boat, but Mom called it a mini-cruise, which is probably the best way to think about it. All for now...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Well, I'm in Barcelona. The train wasn't bad at all, the bed was more comfortable than my bed in the hostel was! Finished my Tom Clancy book ('The Teeth of the Tiger'), and slept the rest of the way. Too dark to see anything out the window, but at least I didn't have to waste a whole day on travel. Got in at about 8:30, stuck my pack in a locker at the train station, and just set off walking, my only map being the little one in my Let's Go. The weather's beautiful, so it's been great. I'm meeting Jo in about an hour, so I have until then to chill. My only complaint so far about Barcelona, is that for some reason they seem to have an aversion to toilet seats...

Tuesday, October 24th
In the morning I went to Musee de Orsay with one of my roommates from the hostel, Roomie (no joke, that was her name...she's from Japan...). Amazing museum. The building itself is gorgeous, this old train station converted to a museum. It also makes for a great layout--all these little nooks with amazing painting and sculptures...makes you feel like you're "discovering" something new every time you turn a corner! Plus I love impressionists, so that obviously added to me loving the museum. Spent about 3 hours there, which is pretty much my limit for how long I can stay in a museum and still enjoy it.

After Musee de Orsay, I walked along the Seine to the Eiffel Tower. Decent walk, but not bad. Paris is such a walking city, I love it. Chilled at the bottom for awhile, then decided it was completely worth 11 euros to go to the top, so waited in the line for that. Ended up in line behind Americans, and at one point I laughed at something they said, clearly giving up the fact that I could understand them, so we ended up talking and hanging out for the rest of the day. Nice guys, in Paris on business. So anyways, the view from the top? Wow is all I can say. I obviously took tons of pictures, so I'll try and put those up soon. The Renault team was filming some type of commercial thing by the fountain at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower, so that was cool to watch. Then we walked to Notre Dame.

Now, I know I said it was a decent walk from Orsay to the Eiffel Tower, but this is even further. Such a long walk. Nice, but long. Took some pictures from the outside, but we got there at closing so we couldn't go in. Ate dinner is the great little neighborhood nearby. After dinner Kyle (one of the guys) & I walked over to the Louvre, got to see it all lit up. Gorgeous. Then we just walked around for hours, enjoying the city. Tons of fun.

Wednesday, October 25th
Went to the Louvre in the morning. The Louvre is crazy overwhelming. I was actually really glad I had already seen the building the night before with Kyle, because otherwise I think it might have been a bit too much. But at least that way I was prepared. It was obviously incredible, but the part I like the best was actually the building itself. Every room is different, many with gorgeous paintings or carvings in the ceiling. Impressive stuff. Started off with the French & Italian paintings, and of course the Mona Lisa. While in the Mona Lisa room, I ran into this Australian couple I had met on the train from the airport to the city, Billy and Jen. They were with a girl from their hostel, Lauren. The four of us spent the rest of the day together. After the Louvre, we had lunch, then headed over to Notre Dame. This time I actually went inside, pretty cool.

Lauren had the Lonely Planet Paris guide, so we did this walking tour from it. Chilled on the bank of the Seine for awhile, walked through the Louvre area at sunset, up Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe, ending at the Eiffel Tower. After that 7 mile walk (not counting all the walking we had done before that, and my walking the day before) we were spent. So we treated ourselves to the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower at night. Yup, I went back up. And once again, it was amazing. Billy & Jen are basically doing the same countries I am in Europe, but the opposite way (they should be in Amsterdam now, ending in Spain). So we exchanged e-mails so we can give each other advice. Everyone I've met has been so awesome...

Thursday, October 26th

Made my reservation for the night train, then headed over the Jewish Quarter. Had lunch at this fabulous falafel place, where I heard more Hebrew then French, then went to the Museum of Jewish History & Art. The Jewish Quarter was great, fun to see, but I don't recommend the museum. Poorly laid out, super confusing, not such interesting pieces, and only sporadic translations, even with the audio tour. I was disappointed, but oh well. After that had a little more time to chill and explore Paris, sipped my Irish Coffee at an outside table with some great people watching, then headed out to catch my train.

So that ended up being the longest post ever, so I'll leave it at that. Later, kids!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Paris was amazing! In the past few days I must've have walked literally 30 miles, so my legs/feet are a little angry with me, but it was totally worth it. This is a great city, with lots to see/do. Met some awesome people, too.

In about an hour I take the night train to Barcelona. Jo will be at work when I get there, so I should have some time to give you more Paris details before I meet up with her, and hopefully some pictures--as usual I've taken more then I know what to do with!

Monday, October 23, 2006

In Paris, staying at the Young & Happy Youth Hostel. I've met most of the people in my room so far, they seem nice, the other people in the hostel all seem nice, it's in this cute little area... Didn't get in until this evening so I haven't had much of a chance to eplore Paris so far, but did have this delicious dinner down the street from here. An amazing salad, and this insane little goat cheese pastry thing with honey...wow.

I wasn't really prepared for how lost I would feel being here without knowing any French. I mean, sure in Israel sometimes I get a little lost, but I've never had to pantomine eating to eplain to a waiter that I want the food menu and not just the drinks menu. It'll all work out, just can be a bit overwhelming. I'll start really exploring in the morning...

Saturday, October 21, 2006

So far England has been a blast. To be honest, I've spent a lot of time just chilling, hanging out, but that's to be expected when you're seeing friends. Mostly been in Oxford, hanging out with Ian and his friends, but went into London for a bit. Met up with Sam Rollinger, whose at school in London now, which was really nice. Saw the typical touristy things: Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, London Eye, Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station...

Sorting out my phone has been somewhat of a nightmare, but I think I have it worked out. Got a SIM card from SIM4Travel. Costs a fortune to make calls or send txts, but free to receive them And I can't really add minutes seeing as I don't have a UK debit card, but at least I'll have the same number for the whole trip. Soooo don't expect to hear from me, but if you want to get in touch with me, my number is: 423 663/180898. For some random reason it's a Liechtenstein number, hence the 423 country code, so to call from the States add 011 before that.

Worst experience of the trip so far? Sleeping off a fun, long, evening at a club, I feel something on my neck and try and brush it off. A sharp sting completely wakes me up, and wincing I open my eyes to see a bee crawling away. Then I look around the room, and see his friends. Literally at least 40 bees, swarming the room!!! They had probably been sprayed with something, and were flying like they were drunk, crashing into things, some dying on their own, the rest easy to kill (relatively easy, given that this was at 7 am after a long night of drinking). Not fun, but not a tragedy. Although I am a huge wimp so this sting on my neck is not fun.

Leave for Paris Monday afternoon, so only a little more time here first, but I come back to England at the end of the trip so it's all good.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Made it safely to England, but my bag decided it wasn't ready to leave Israel yet. Go figure...

Chillin' with Ian in Oxford, about to go pass out. I'll sort out my phone in the morning, and then pass on that info.

All for now...

Monday, October 16, 2006

My sherut to the airport leaves from Julie & Josh's at 3:50 am. I'm heading downtown for dinner and some last minute stuff, then to the Kotel. I'm so sad at the thought of leaving that I want to cry...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I know it's been awhile since I posted, but honestly I've just been enjoying myself too much to take the time... So here are the updates (finally) from the past week, complete with pics (which is quite an achievement, since this is the slowest connection ever).

Saturday, October 7
Went to the Kotel in the morning when Heritage House closed, along with one of the other girls who was staying there, Marina (I’m pretty sure that was her name…). It was ridiculously hot out, and the minyan was right against the mechitza (ie right in the sun) so I didn't stay with them the whole time, finished up on my own. Afterwards Marina & I headed over to Ezra's for lunch. Not quite as massive as dinner had been, so there was a little more room to spread out. Spent the rest of the day chilling there, through seudah shlishit ("Third Meal"--dinner on Saturday afternoon), went back to Heritage House for a few minutes after Shabbas to check e-mail and grab my cell, then back to the succah until my "curfew." amazing. Different groups coming and going, great conversations, music, everything...

Sunday, October 8
Heritage House closes from 9am-5pm on weekdays, so when I left in the morning I needed to take my bags with me so I could meet Julie at 11 to give her back her bag. The problem, was I wanted to go to Ezra's minyan at the Kotel, and clearly I couldn't really bring two massive bags with me through security, so I brought my bags over to Ezra's at 8am. Minyan was awesome, tons of singing and everything, but again, super hot, standing in the sun. I ended up standing in back, hiding in the shade of the back barrier to the Kotel. Worked well, except for the Israelis climbing over me to take pictures, but all's good... Anyways, the real problem was that minyan didn't end until 11:45...and I was supposed to meet Julie at 11...and she didn't have a phone...and my bags were locked in Ezra's apartment... by the time I got to the pizza place I was supposed to meet Julie at, it was 12:30! It all worked out though, just knocked on doors until I found the right apartment...

Hung out with Julie and Sam (who just turned 10 weeks a few days ago) that afternoon. Went to Caffit on Emek Refaim for lunch, grocery shopping at Mister Zool...a fun day. Turns out i know tons of people studying with Josh at JTS, from my year as an undergrad at JTS, who are all here for the year. So that night I went out for dinner with Julie, Josh & Sam, and Rebecca & Ari (JTS peeps). Really nice to see them. Then back to the Old City to chill in the succah without having to worry about a curfew!

Monday, October 9
Monday morning was the massive Birkat Cohanim at the Kotel. Oh man was it a scene. As you can see from the pictures, it was mamish wall-to-wall people. I only caught the tail end of the actual Birkat Cohanim, but it was still amazing to be there. Worked my way as far up as I could (which wasn't really so far), and actually ended up getting some great shots of people.

I was supposed to meet Eve for lunch in town, so I headed in that direction to spend some time at the baguette/internet place I used to always go to when I was at Pardes. They didn't seem to have baguettes anymore, but drinks, tons of computers and pretty cheap too...

Cafe Hillel for lunch with Eve, then back to the Old City since Eve hadn't been to the Kotel on Succot yet. Then I took her to Ezra's to chill in the Succah...

Tuesday, October 10

Went to Tel Aviv with a massive group of JTS peeps, including Ari & Rebecca, Jeremy & Rebecca, Raffi, & Eytan. It was really such deja vu to see them all again.. Awesome, though. Went to this art fair at Nachlat Binyamin, fun to walk around, then down to the beach to chill. It was sunny out, the water felt amazing, it really was great. Then I got to see Michal & Gilad, and spent the night at their apartment in Ramat Gan. Such a great neighborhood, and amazing to see them again. Felt a little out of of contect, though, to not be in Chicago. Weird, right?

Wednesday, October 11
Woke up early and caught a bus back to Yerushalyim. Bought a skirt in the Tachanat Merkazit (Central Bus Station), then caught a bus to the Kotel. I think I packed right for Europe, but it's been way too hot here for the clothes I have... Got to the Kotel in time for the end of Minyan. The holes in the mechitza keeps getting larger, so it's getting easier to see through (and take pictures through) it.

Back to the Succah for brunch and to chill... Ezra's sister came over with her adorable one year old son, cute kid.

Went back to Julie & Josh's, did laundry, "babysat" for Sam for a bit while Julie went grocery shopping (how cute is he sleeping on my lap?), then Julie made dinner... Eytan & Raffi came over afterwards, then I went to the Old City for Ezra's party. The party was awesome, kinda a different vibe than has been in the succah the rest of the week, but still really chill, good people...

Hysterical cab ride home super late at night with this driver, Uri, hitting on me the whole time. Let me tell you, Israelis are persistent!

Thursday, October 12
Happy Birthday, PA!

Today's been a chill day... Slept in, tried to help Josh set up Vonage, went to Coffee Shop on Emek for lunch, met Raffi for coffee at Aroma...So I was sitting on a wall outside Aroma on Emek Refaim, saw a man wearing a Michigan hat walk by with his wife. "Go Blue," was obviously my greeting to them. "Did I hear you right?" asked his surprised wife. When I grinned and nodded she continued, "they're having a great season." I love Michigan connections....

It really feels so great just being here. I know there's obviously tough things about living in Israel, but it really just feels so right...I really want to stay...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Israel is absolutely amazing. You have no idea how perfect it is being here, loving every second of it. It's going to be so hard to leave...

Friday, October 6th
Left Tel Aviv around one, took the bus to Yerushalayim (Jerusalem). Once I got to the tachanat merkazit (central bus station) in Yerushalayim, I set about attempting to buy a charger for my cell. The problem? I bought my cell a couple years ago, and it was old then. In other words, they don't make it anymore, so they don't sell chargers anymore. So the end of all this cell phone drama? Ended up having to buy a new phone for 300 NIS. So frusterating...but at least my new phone is cute, right?

Took a cab the old city, and carrying my massive pack and Julie's suitcase, I made my way to Heritage House. Let me tell you, that place is a trip... It's the free hostel, right inside the Old City. There's a seperate women's hostel and men's hostel, strict hours when the're open (when they're closed you can't be there at all). Crazy mix of girls, basically 18-early 30s. I slept on a mattress of the floor downstairs, surrounding by girls who clearly never went to summer camp and didn't really understand the whole communal living deal (20 minute showers when there's a long line of girls waiting and Shabbas/Yuntiv was sarting type of deal). I thought it was hysterical, loved it.

Went to the Kotel for services amd joined Ezra's minyan. They were right next to the mechitza (partition) so the women could actually be part of it. Amazing, so much ruach, great songs... Afterwards went to dinner at Ezra's. This succah is totally amazing. I'll have to take a picture so you guys can see. It's on his roof, right in the Old City (actually only a couple doors down from Heritage House which was super convinient), so there are tons of other succot around, a great vibe. The walls are tapestries, palm fronds on top for schach, mattersses on the floor, no shoes allowed, everyone crowds in... Amazing people, hated to leave early but didn't want to get locked out of Heritage House (a little odd having a curfew, let me tell you!)

Well, I'd love to write more, but I'm going to lunch with Eve Posen & she's waiting for me. So, more later!

Friday, October 06, 2006

I'm here!! My arrival was a big hectic, especially since I didn't have a phone & didn't know where I was staying, but it all worked out, and now I'm in Tel Aviv at Michael & Maya's (so nice of them to let me stay here, especially since I didn't get here until about 1 am.

Remind me never to loan my stuff out again... I had lent someone my Israeli cell, and they returned it months & months later with the battery totally drained and without the charger. And of course Ben Gurion doesn't have an Orange store so I couldn't buy a new one, besides the fact that the phone is somewhat ancient so they might not sell chargers for it anymore... But I tested out the SIM card in another phone, and it works, so in theory, assuming I get my phone to work, my number should be 054-209-3076.

I haven't really slept in about 35 hours and I feel myself starting to get my second (or twenty third) wind, so I'm going to head to bed before that happens.

Shabbat Shalom, Chag Sameach!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Well, it's official. My "adventure" has begun. Right now I'm in the Paris airport, waiting for my flight to Israel. I've been here for almost 6 hours already, so let me tell you I am super excited to board the plane and just fall asleep. I slept for a bit on the floor by my gate, hugging my bag, then decided that was a little too sketchy for this early in my trip so I forced myself to wake up. Everyone here has been super confused by my e-ticket boarding pass ("I've never seen this before" has been repeated to me a few times) and yet after being confused, they still accept it....not sure what that says about security... Speaking of security, they tried to take away my carabiner that was holding my hiking boots onto my backpack, claiming it could be used as brass knuckles. Now, forgetting about whether or not that's a valid point, why didn't American security care, but French did? This came when I was already super flustered by not understanding anything anyone was saying to me, and practically falling asleep standing up while simultaneously being jumpy from caffeine, so I wasn't too thrilled. I don't know if it was the fact that I was on the verge of tears, or my "but it's expensive" or just the fact that I was a girl, but the security guy ended up subtly sticking the 'biner inside my bag and letting me go. I'm gonna go with sometimes it's great to be a girl...

Well, I'm gonna go try and board my flight, next stop The Holy Land!


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