Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Beginning

Hello World,

So I have been in Israel for 4 days now (crazy!) and I have sooo much to tell you about. This is the first day I have been able to get access to the internet since I don't have any in my apt yet.

As I previously mentioned, I had a really roundabout flight to Israel. I traveled for 26 hours and it was exhausting. The first flight was from Boston to Paris which felt surprisingly short. In Paris I had an 11 hour layover so I decided to go out and see some of the sights. In the airport there was a little tourism desk so I went there and then armed with an unlimited metro/RER ticket and a map I hit the streets. The Paris subways system is super confusing at first, I definitely almost took the wrong train a bunch of times because things are not clearly labelled. Thankfully I looked lost enough that people would come up and help me.

First I went to the eiffel tower (what a surprising choice right?!). I didn't realize how big it was, it's friggin HUGE. It was cool to see it in person, even though it looked the same as in all the pictures there is something special about seeing something for yourself. Kind of like how people get excited when they see celebrities in person. This also reminds me of the hindu concept of Darsan (woo religion major) where the act of seeing something is very important and you can get holiness/power from seeing the representation of a god or seeing something special, it's all about sight (I'm explaining that horribly). Seeing is a powerful thing.

Anyways not to get too sidetracked after I went to the eiffel tower I walked to the arc du triumphe. The one thing that really struck me was how killer that rotary was around the arc. Damn, 4 lanes, how do you not get stuck in that/ why would anyone go into the innermost lane, that just seems like you are asking for trouble.

After that I got on a bunch of trains and travelled out to Versailles. That place was pimp. It was very ornate, you could definitely tell that someone had put a LOT of money into that. Obviously there were a lot of tourists there, and a lot of them were American. Right by the palace there was a starbucks and a McDonalds and I noticed that all the Americans seemed to be eating at those places. Almost every person I saw carrying around a starbucks cup was speaking English, way to try new things Americans...oy.

After Versailles my back and feet were really hurting from walking/ carrying all my carry-on stuff around Paris, including a guitar So I decided to head back to the airport. Let me just say I HATE that airport, its SOO stupid. I'm not going to go into what happened, but I left feeling very frustrated and I hope I never have to deal with that airport again. (I did have a good cheese sandwich there though)

Then I flew to budapest, and then to Tel Aviv. Both flights were malev hungarian air. I had never heard hungarian before, but what a language!! It sounded really funny to me, but yeah I didn't understand ANYTHING there wasn't one word I could pick out. Good times kinda

I finally got to Israel at 4am (Israel time) July 1st. The airport in Israel is in Tel Aviv and I needed to get to Jerusalem so I took a sheirut which is this minibus thing that fits 10 people. So I find the place to wait and I tell the guy where I want to go, and I wait, and three sheiruts fill up with people who got there after me, so I get kinda pissed. Then I remember that I'm in Israel which means I have to fight for myself. So instead of dealing with the man who is running the operation I approach the driver of one of the sheiruts and tell him where I want to go, and he lets me in. Israel is all about being assertive, and I have to remember that.

This sheirut ride was ridiculous. There are somethings that happen in Israel that would never happen in America or probably most other places in the world, and when these happen I think "only in Israel." So a bunch of these happened on the ride. One of the most ridiculous ones was when the sheirut got stuck behind a garbage truck on a rather narrow street so he couldn't pass it. Instead of waiting for the truck to get to the end of the street the driver took a turn down a one way street that was one way the OTHER way. Then when he got to the end of that one way street he DID IT AGAIN. Oyyyy

So I wait around for a while for my landlord to come give me a key. Let me just say my apartment is soo kickass. There is a lot of space, including closet space, but the crown jewel is the mirpeset (balcony thing). The mirpeset wraps around the entire apartment and I have incredible views of Jerusalem and gan ha'atsmaut (a park). I like to leave the doors to the mirpeset open and there is an awesome cross-breeze. It's been hot here but I haven't had to turn on the a/c yet thanks to the breeze.

The first day here I wandered around in a daze. I got a tour of HUC (beautiful campus!!!) and met some people at a small gathering. I also went to the shuk at machaneh yehuda. What a great place. The shuk is a market place that sells lots of fruits and vegetables, but also meat and fish and spices. I went a little overboard with the fruit, but the produce is amazing here. My favorite thing to get in Israel are the white peaches mmmmmmm.

I stayed up til 6pm when I could not stay awake any longer and went to bed. I was so tired I manage to sleep until 10am with only a short break where I watched the sunrise from my mirpeset. It faces east so it was perfect!! Pictures to come.

Ok I'm gonna end here and start a new post because there is just too much. But yeah first day in Israel was good.


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