Just Got HOME! (Last Pictures from Israel)

I just arrived home after a long flight.   I was fortunate (read that with sarcasm) to sit in the same row as two very large men.   I was by the window and every time someone would walk down the aisle, or bring the cart down the aisle, the two gentleman would have to squish into the row which crushed me into the side of the airplane.   This happened the entire flight…  twice while I was asleep… knocking the wind out of me.  Luckily the flight was only 11 hours (read that again with sarcasm).   I didn’t think that things could get worse but the very large man in the middle seat fell asleep on me.   When he finally woke up the left side of me was soaking wet with his sweat.  (wow I probably shouldn’t complain…   I am sure it could have been a little bit worse… you know like the plane going down and killing us all)

I want to share my last day with all of you.   I had hoped to have at least half of a day open to go visit somewhere cool… or even just somewhere other than work and the hotel.  Unfortunately I had too much work… or maybe it was not enough time… either way I was not able to go site seeing.   (I am going to just share my last day… next time I will make sure I have enough time… maybe even visit Petra)

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Here was my last breakfast…   yep… desert for breakfast.   I am going to have to go on a serious diet to make up for all of the eating I have done this past week.  I tried supplementing my meals with a little bit of healthy options.  (Enough to take away the guilt… )   I fell in love with the pears in the picture below.  I have no idea what kind of pear they are but they are “mini” sized.   I was able to eat one of these and not ruin my appetite for the real food… you know cheese cakes, fruit tartes, Belgium waffles and of course halva.

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After my breakfast feast I went on my last morning walk.   Here are some picture from that walk.

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This fish was on the walk way… being guarded by a cat.   I pulled out my camera and the cat ran off and hid.  I have never seen a camera shy cat before… imagine… scared enough to leave behind this prize (still got his picture of it… see below)

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I didn’t have much time for this walk otherwise I would have sat on this toilet… pretending to go…you know… just to watch other people’s reactions.   (Next time I really need to plan to have more time for the important things like toilet pranks)

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In Israel Sunday is the beginning day for work and Thursday is Israel’s “Friday”.  In our office Thursday you can count on two large challah loafs on every floor.   I am going to have to find a recipe for this brioche like bread… (am still working on my halva recipe… looking for help if you know how to make halva… please leave a comment)

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When I visit other countries I love visiting the grocery stores.  It is always fun to see what is the same and what is different.  Plus it is free to visit unlike  a lot of monuments and museums… you just have to put yourself in a “zoo visiting” state of mind.    Especially when looking at the people.  People watching is fantastic at the store since people are most like themselves while shopping. (you know… seeing them in their natural habitat… just don’t try to feed them… ).  I love seeing everything written in Hebrew…   I am still struggling to learn Hebrew and my mind keeps changing the Hebrew characters into English ones.  I didn’t realize that the store’s logo was English and Hebrew.   I thought it read “stop!  Open”.   I noticed that the second word was not English on the last day.

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Speaking of Hebrew… “Shin” is the first letter I learned… and it’s sound is “sh”.  (This was also the first letter in a word I learned during a meeting שתוק“shutup”) I remember this letter because you see it alone everywhere.  Many of you know what you are looking at… but I had no clue until I asked.   This was on my hotel door and you will find these little tubes with this letter on many doors.  (Every door at my office has one).  I learned that these are called mezuzah and have a small prayer written inside.

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Not all of the stores have Hebrew words… like this store…   “Gentleman It’s a Man’s World”…. what a long name for a store.  When I entered I was glad I had a beard… you know proving my manliness.  I wonder if they let women shop there?

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And then there are places with no English… (other than a coke advertisement).   This is where I had lunch on my last day.   I went with co-workers and they wanted to eat hummus.   I thought I didn’t like hummus, since I had only eaten the hummus you buy in the store… plus in my ignorance I thought hummus was just a chip dip.   They offered to go somewhere else but I wanted to see how you could make a meal out of this adult baby food.

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I practiced the name of what I wanted… which meant everything… and ordered it here.  (picture above and darn it… I have already forgotten how to say the name).   Watching this gentleman prepare my dish was like watching an artist.  He painted on tahini and hummus, plopped in onions, parsley, and courser ground chickpeas (not quit hummus), and swirled in sauces and oils.  I caught him before he plunged the egg… not sure I wanted hard boiled egg mixed with all of that stuff.  He signed the work of art with red spices… not sure what kind of spice but I imagine paprika.

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Here is my lunch and I was not sure how I was going to eat this…   But it was fantastic.  I was completely wrong about hummus and it is definitely “meal worthy”.   I think I only got about half of the bowl eaten.   I mentioned not being able to do any site seeing but this lunch on its own was an interesting view of this regions culture.   I think we often forget that a meal can be an exotic vacation alone in itself… plus the food doesn’t mind when you stare or take pictures.

The day quickly ended and I had a plane to catch… but had three hours to waste and I spent it on the beach.

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I got to spend the last night on the beach with a sunset… so romantic… made me really miss Isabelle.  (I am not sure I should say it was romantic without her… don’t want her to get any ideas.)

Thanks for taking the time to read this!

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Weekend Home – Wrap up for trip to Israel

I am finally home and enjoying time with my family… which includes boring them all to tears with my stories and pictures of Israel.   (I guess my trip story telling is not as exciting as actually being there…kids can be rough critics…)   I am going to rid myself of all of my desires to share my trip here… so in other words I will be boring all of you to tears!… (Sorry wished I could promise more… although there will be a weird picture or two)

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Ben loved the idea of a big “chess” game…  I showed this to him while video chatting.   I think he was more excited to see this than me.

I stayed at Herods in the city of Herzliya.  (I finally know how to say the name of the place) I want to share some pictures of my hotel… ya… I know… if you are like my children you are rolling your eyes. You can look at them quickly if this bores you too much.

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This is the garden in between the two buildings that make up the hotel. I love this hotel!!!  The first time I stayed in the one on the right and this time I stayed in the one on the left.   On the other side of both buildings you can watch the sail boats come in and out of the harbor.   (The water is on both sides of the building and also directly in front of this picture)

Umm… I know that I shared breakfast pictures last time I stayed but in keeping with my “bore you to tears” theme here it is again. This time I will share just a small subset of the amazing breakfast buffet. (Click here Trip to Israel (part 2) to see a more comprehensive view)

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I had fish every morning.   On the far left you will see the smoked salmon with a sign stating that it was salmon.   This is one of the only fish that I could recognize with certainty.   What I found interesting is that the rest of the fish didn’t have signs. I never knew exactly what I was eating.  I wonder if there were no signs because the cooks didn’t know what they were serving.

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I also ate some of the nuts and dried fruits but to be honest I mostly ate bread with the honey. There is something special about getting it from the honey comb and this made me want to eat it every day. (you can see the honey comb upright near the nuts and small jars of jam)

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And yes… I gave into the temptation offered by this part of the breakfast buffet. I do not think I have ever eaten so much desserts for breakfast in all of my life.   This might be my new favorite breakfast… pound cake, cheesecake, and halva!

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Near the hotel there are great beaches. I had only visited the one south of the hotel not realizing that there was a much larger/nicer beach to the north.  I had a goal to walk along the beach south all the way to Tel Aviv (16 km round trip.. here is a map) but I didn’t get the chance to do this… maybe next time.

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The harbor also has many restaurants and stores and is a fantastic place to wander around aimlessly.  I love watching the cats, people and boats (millions of stray cats everywhere… ummm millions might be a slight exaggeration) .  The food was fantastic as well.  Here are some pictures taken near my hotel at the harbor.

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If you look closely you will see some cats. One up by the orange sign was the only stray that looked… well like a stray… it’s face was mangled.   I avoided it.  The rest I had no problem being near and if you were eating they had not problem rubbing up to you under the table… eww just thought about the mangled one rubbing up against my leg. Even with pants it would be disgusting.  I would probably have to throw those pants away.

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My first night there we ate at the harbor at Benny HaDayag (the fisherman).  I was not really hungry but thought that I would get a light fish dish.  I ordered a Moroccan fish dish… I know… not very light but it sounded good.  I had no idea that the order included a bunch of other stuff.

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We had no idea that this was going to come.  I just wanted a small plate of fish.
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Here is my fish… it was delicious!

Ok… I am going to stop boring you… well not really…  I want to share some more random pictures… hopefully more entertaining.   I often speak of creating a “coffee table” book.(yes I am all talk no action).   Here is another coffee table book idea.  “Art crap you see by or in the road”… maybe too long of a title. I know, I could just call the book – “Roadside Crap”.

Here are some pictures for that book!

Ocean themed roadside crap!

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The happy blue whale!  This could only be improved by adding a “whale -spout” fountain
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Sea snail… kind of nice… well at least in the sunrise it looks kind of nice.

Military themed roadside crap:

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Old canon… umm… probably something historic?
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Dual function… art and protection!   They also added a fountain how beautifully scary.

Intimidating or unrecognizable roadside crap:

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Reminds me of my father when he would find out that I had done something wrong.
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umm… just don’t know…
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Big green thing?… um maybe an anchor?

Ok, enough of that… sorry if the pictures were blurred.  I took most of these through a car window while riding in a car. (that was redundant… I can’t imagine a case where I would take a picture through a car window without being in the car)  I have just a couple more pictures to share.

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This was the most confusing bathroom I have ever visited.  The outer signs showed that the entrance was for both men and women.  Once you enter the door you have a women right and a man right set of signs.   I am sorry I didn’t take any pictures inside but from there it got more confusing.

Herzliya 26There were two doors and in between the doors a “man | woman” sign.   I figured that the door on the left would be the man’s door and the door on the right would be for women… but I wasn’t sure.   I was relieved when I saw urinals and started to do my business.  I looked up and then noticed the same “man | woman” sign above my urinal.  What did that mean?  Was this a “unisex” bathroom?  and my biggest question… Can women use a urinal?

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I am not sure what this sign meant… does it mean I should run down the stairs?.  On the other hand I knew exactly what the following sign meant.   “Danger of Death”… much better warning than “Danger of Electrocution”.

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For those wondering, A colleague of mine asked if McDonald’s was the same in Israel.(This would be very important to Ben) My colleague was told that it is exactly the same. You never want to just blindly trust what people say…and luckily we didn’t have to eat there to validate this since I was able to find absolute confirmation!

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I discovered a new candy bar…   CORNY BIG…   (I have been called worse)
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This is one of Ben’s favorite.  Not only did he like the big chess game, he loved what he called “EGG CHAIRS”

For the end, I want to share with you a statue I saw at a park in Ra’anana.  I was not able to get a picture so I borrowed one from the internet… (I usually don’t do that…  on this blog the photos are always mine).

I post this not just because it is fun to look at but it also serves as a public service warning.   For those of you who have not enough reasons for avoiding the accordion here is one big reason that should dissuade you from playing this awful musical instrument.

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Thanks for taking the time to read me again.