This is Israel (Ep. 5 – December 2017)

The fifth installment of “This is Israel” is here!  A space where I share with you what I have experienced during my past month in Israel. In addition to my normal travel blogs, I want to use this space to give you a glimpse of what my life in Israel is really like.

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Week 1

Trying the best hot chocolate to-date
I like tea and I like coffee. But my love for hot chocolate transcends them both. Make me hot chocolate and my heart is yours (not even a slight exaggeration). So let me please explain to you my utter happiness when I ordered hot chocolate at a restaurant AND IT WAS LITERALLY MELTED CHOCOLATE AND HOT MILK WITH WHIPPED CREAM ON THE TOP. With a name like Chococcino, what else could you expect?

This may be normal to some (or many) of you – but I have never had hot chocolate that actually had real melted chocolate in it and you had to mix it around with the hot milk. And it was beyond delicious! And I probably got diabetes, but… worth it? I’ve only ever had the “packet” hot chocolate mixes, so this was quite a step up for my hot chocolate game.

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Week 2

A festival for the ages (and by “for the ages” I mean “mehh it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t that bad”)
From my understanding, every year during the month of December, there is a festival that takes places on the weekends to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah. The main road at the bottom of Mount Carmel is blocked off to allow the crowds of people to congregate there, go to restaurants, and see what street vendors are selling. On Saturday, however, this is when the festival truly takes place – in addition to the main road being blocked off, you can go to the Arab district of Haifa (the Wadi Nisnas) to see the multitude of vendors selling Christmas ornaments, toys, makeup, and (of course) food!

And since there are so many people out and about, there are, of course, cars parked everywhere. As you would expect, there are more cars than parking spaces, so as Israeli tradition goes that means that cars will be parked wherever they can find some room – so the sidewalks become secondary parking spaces…Processed with VSCO with a6 presetCan someone please tell me where I should walk? Because at the moment I still haven’t mastered the ability to teleport or fly (shocking, I know).


Dried goods extravaganza
My friend and I went to the mall and she introduced me to a store that has a plethora of herbs and dried goods. I think it’s brilliant how many dried goods Israel has! I think one day I’ll have to try the ones that I’m not familiar with and have never seen back home.

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Hibiscus – curious as to what this tastes like
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Watermelon – I’ve also never tried dried watermelon so it makes me wonder what the texture would be like

 

Witnessing a car accident
The driving here in Israel is pretty intense – drivers speed, brake quickly, take turns at light-speed, and text while they drive. So I shouldn’t be surprised when I witnessed a car accident. What did surprise me, however, was that I was in the bus when the car hit it! Here we are, driving along in a bus when all of a sudden there’s a bang and the sound of metal being ripped off. Next thing you know, all the passengers of the bus are looking out of the window and the bus driver begins speaking quite loudly (not in an angry-shouting kind of way,  but more like an “ugggghhh *eye roll*” kind of way).

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If this was in Canada, I’m pretty sure we would have been stuck for a while. If anything, we would have been told to get off the bus so that the bus driver and the other driver could figure out insurance, etc. for as long as it would take. But the interaction between the bus driver and the driver who hit the bus took a maximum of five minutes! Next thing you know, we’re back on the road and driving to the next stop. I’m curious whether any numbers were exchanged or anything with regards to insurance?

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Week 3

Getting letters
Feeling home sick has definitely been something that has kept coming and going for me while I’ve been here in Israel. There will be times when I will really miss Canada, my friends, and my family – and that feeling definitely came back during what would have been my “winter break” back home. During this time I usually would have seen my friends, spent more time with my family, and been able to relax. So, it was the most wonderful and special feeling to have my friends send me letters. It made my heart so so happy!

 

 

 

Early morning serenity
Sure it’s once in a blue moon that I get up to see the sunrise (because homegirl needs her sleep), but whenever I do I am always taken aback by the calmness, serenity, and absolute beauty that is the hours right before dawn. I wish you could all join me in seeing the sun peak out of the clouds (as if waving to say hello!). I don’t think I will ever get tired of it.

 

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Week 4

Showing a friend the Baha’i Gardens
It’s amazing how you can find your friends even when you’re on the other side of the world! I have a friend who is traveling the world at present (Hi Trina!) and she made a stop in Israel amidst her adventures. It was so nice to see a familiar face and to be able to show her around the Baha’i Gardens and some other parts of Haifa!

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The Baha’i Gardens in Haifa (a picture I took back in July)

 

The best kind of hummus
I. HAD. THE. BEST. HUMMUS.
Back home I wasn’t the biggest fan of hummus. I liked it, but not enough to want to have it on a constant basis. BUT BOY OH BOY the hummus here is out of this world! And I think I’ve found my favourite type of hummus that is offered in Haifa! (Granted, I haven’t tried all of the different kinds, so I wouldn’t be surprised if my favourite changes in the next year).

Wait for it:

Hummus with garlic, herbs, and mushrooms *dies*

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Hummus served at Fatoush (it comes with pita bread and a side of fresh vegetables)


Wadi Nisnas – Strawberries and mini pancakes!
This week I decided it was time to wander about through the Wadi Nisnas and see what goods I could find. Still in mourning because mango season had ended, I was hoping to find something to fill the hole now present in my heart.

Thankfully the lamenting was quite short-lived because to my happy surprise, strawberry season had arrived!! My stomach heart was so happy!

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But want to know what made my heart even happier? The fact that the pita bread store in the Wadi had made mini-pancakes and were selling them! Did I get some? …Is that even a question that you need to ask?

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I may have gotten a few…. like 20…

And so, this beauty was feasted upon the moment I arrived back to my flat:

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Strawberries and pears, peach yogurt, and mini pancakes (not pictured: delicious apricot jam!)

The mini pancakes lasted me a week so it was lovely having them in the morning before heading off to work (they also gave me the incentive to have a proper breakfast every morning).

 

New Year’s Eve fireworks
This year I worked the day after New Years and had to wake up at 6:00am, so I may or may not have (hypothetically speaking, of course) gone to bed at 10:00pm.

But that’s not to say that I didn’t jump 10 feet in the air and out of my bed at midnight thinking that someone was getting shot at – until my brain registered that it was New Year’s Eve and that fireworks were being shot out towards the night sky on the main street only two blocks down from my flat.

So of course I ran to the window and watched gleefully as the fireworks bloomed into flowers and whisked off into the cold night air.

 

6 months down, 24 more to go!
xxNAME

 

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