It’s the Final Countdownnnnnnn

(The above title is meant to be sung “Europe” style.)

At this time next week I’ll be in Connecticut! Ahhhhh! Honestly, I have mixed emotions about the whole thing. I’m really excited to go home, be with my friends and family, and be in northeast once again. However, I’m also going to miss this place that I’ve called home for the last 5 months. I’m going to miss speaking Hebrew, shopping at the shuk, and walking 20 minutes to the Mediterranean Sea.

So, for my last week here I’m trying to do everything just one more time before I ship back stateside. Some of these things I’ve already done and some I still need to accomplish. So here is the official list:

1) Visit my grandfather’s former pension in Ramat Gan–AccomplishedWhen my grandfather’s family moved to Israel they bought a pension in Ramat Gan and started a bed and breakfast-esque business. My grandfather’s family also lived in the apartment right next door. A few days ago I took the bus to Ramat Gan (which is the city just east of Tel Aviv). My grandfather (it feels weird calling him my grandfather because to me he’s Opi!) emailed me very specific directions–the former pension was on Rehov Jabotinsky just a few feet north of Rehov Hertzl.

I walked up Jabontinsky from Hertzl and found (what I believe to be) the location of the pension! It’s now become an apartment complex/villa, but this is where it used to be:

Jabotinsky is a main roadway in Ramat Gan, but when I walked up the stairs towards the apartment complex it was actually very pretty with a nice garden. It was really meaningful to walk around in a place where my grandfather lived 70 years earlier. I spent a few minutes there just sitting on a park bench taking it all in.

2) Go to Jerusalem one last time–Accomplished! Leah, Allison, and I took off for Jeru on Monday for another holy-city adventure! I wanted to go to the Old City and take in the sights before going back to the U.S. I truly believe that there really is no place quite like Old City Jerusalem. We shopped around for a bit, explored a few hidden pathways, and went to the Kotel. 

It was a great trip albeit very very hot. The weather has been pretty oppressive lately, but I’m glad I got to go to Jeru one last time before I head home! This place will always be special to me.

3) Go watch the sunset on the beach–Accomplished! Today Allison, Evin, and I went to the beach to watch the sun set over this incredible city. Evin is leaving for the states on Saturday so she wanted the opportunity to watch the sunset one last time. We had a great time goofing around and taking pictures on the beach.

4) Eat at Benendict’s–Accomplished! Sorry, no pictures of this one. Probably because I was too enraptured with the delicious shakshuka in front of my face. Benedict’s is a 24-hour-a-day breakfast restaurant in Tel Aviv that has pancakes too sinful to actually be considered “diner food.” I went there with a bunch of people after our little trip to the “eco-farm” and we gorged ourselves on breakfast delights. The shakshuka (which you can find described in this post) was amazing and really hit the spot. A good “last taste” of Tel Aviv.

5) Go to Nachalat Benyamin, the artist’s market–Accomplished! I actually did this three times in the last week! I’m a tad artist’s market crazy. I looked at all of the beautiful wares and bought some souvenirs to take home to the U.S.

(Blogging secret: This photo actually came from my first trip to Nachalat Benyamin back in February. Trust me, if the lady in this photo was wearing boots and leggings right now, she would also have keeled over from heat exhaustion.)

6) Go to Shuk HaCarmel one last time…Accomplished! I actually do this pretty much weekly (that’s where I find my cheap veg!), but I wanted to go there one last time just to take it all in. I had no agenda, but rather just wandered around. It’s truly a balagan at Shuk HaCarmel, but it hit me as I was wandering that I would no longer be able to go to anything quite like this in Connecticut. Sure, I can wander a farmer’s market, but there’s something grungier and less staged about the shuk. People shout at each other in loud Hebrew and dirty brown water snakes its way down the street, yet oddly enough I kind of like it. Nowhere in the United States can I go and find a place quite like this. A place so smelly and hostile and raw that it’s actually kind of beautiful. I’m going to miss it.

7) Go to Shuk Hatikva. This shuk is not nearly as touristy as HaCarmel and therefore this is where I did the majority of my grocery shopping. I need to go one last time before I head out!

8) Bike down the tayelet (boardwalk) next to the beach–Accomplished! I took a lovely 15-mile ride down the beach boardwalk and soaked everything in. North Tel Aviv is so peaceful and so much less crowded than its southern counterpart–it’s great to ride up there when I get a chance. About halfway through my ride I sat down in the sand for a “quick break.”

This “short break” resulted in me falling fast asleep. I completely passed out and was totally surprised when I woke up 45 minutes later. Solid beach nap!

I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of views like this:

Much better than South Tel Aviv (tourist-central), which currently looks like this:

What happened to my quiet TLV beaches?? Summer in Tel Aviv is a whole different ballgame!

9) Buy some food to bring home. I have big plans involving the purchase and transport of shuk foods to the States. Dates, zatar, and other foods will most likely be involved. Maybe some fresh pita if I’m feeling super reckless (I know, I’m a badass). We’ll see!

10) Bike through Yafo. I’ve lived in this country for over 5 months and sadly I have never accomplished this goal. That will definitely change soon (I’m thinking Saturday). Yafo is beautiful and I’m sure biking through Tel Aviv’s neighbor city will be an amazing experience. There is also an ancient port park area, which I’m interested in exploring. I’m pumped, I just hope it’s not too hot!

11) Eat a blended froyo–Accomplished! Blended frozen yogurt is a delicious treat that I haven’t seen replicated anywhere else (not that I’ve travelled the world, but none of my friends have seen this before either). As far as I know Israel is the only country to have this delicacy and I am basically in love. Instead of your standard froyo with toppings, Israeli froyo shops take those toppings and blend them straight into the frozen yogurt. What you’re left with is an amazing concoction involving tiny chunks of fruit, chocolate, granola, or any other mix-in you can imagine! After watching Harry Potter today (people in Israel get to watch movies that come out on Fridays a day before everyone else because of Shabbat…so basically, everyone should move here) I decided it was time for some froyo delight. And man oh man, was it tasty.

Taim meod! (Very tasty!)

In other news, this week a few other events took place. I had to say goodbye to the Shapira Community Center. I love Didy and all of the kids and I nearly cried when I had my final tutoring day on Wednesday.

However, Didy will be in Boston on August 3rd (yesssss) and Josh and I plan on taking her out on the town. Didy might be 90, but she told us she’s totally up for the Boston pub scene. So pumped.

In addition, I also did my first “Tim Tam Slam.” I’m not going to go into too much detail, but it involves a chocolate bar called a Tim Tam, hot water, and a lot of slurping. You also happen to look super attractive doing it. I’m for sure a fan.

And finally, I met up with some of the kids from my birthright trip last night! One of the people from the trip randomly spotted me the other day in the market on Nachalat Benyamin. We chatted for a bit and I also found out that another girl from our trip was in TLV as well. The three of us all met up with one of the soldiers from our trip and we had a great time chatting. Even though we were only together for 10 days, it was an incredible transformative experience (I’m not sure I would have done this program without my amazing birthright experience!). We all hadn’t seen each other in over 4 years, but it was as if we went on the trip yesterday! I’m hoping to see them all again before I leave.

Anyways, I hope everyone has a great rest of the week! Lehitraot Kulom! (See you soon, everyone!)

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