Part II of my trip to Israel! Ramon Crater, The Negev, Tel Aviv, Jaffa and more! (Check out Part 1: Jerusalem here!)
Next up, we went to the Sorek Stalactite Caves! Dudes, these caves were crazy. You can’t even tell how big they are in this photo, but you can tell how pumped I am! Nature is cool. Group photo by Marc! That’s tour guide Eli, second from the right. I have to tell you a little about Eli. His lovable nickname for all of us was “pisher“. He joked that he had a Jewish farmers tan (aka kippah tan). We asked where we were going next. “We’ll be where we need to be” was the answer. How are we getting there? “Bus number 11” was the answer! (That’s your feet, friends.) Even when he took us to Sderot against our will, I have to look back and smile when I think of Eli. Total character.
Oh hello, love. We literally stopped at a small gas station strip mall in the desert for lunch and I got this shawarma pita. Y’all. It was so good. I swear I meant to eat only half…
Even my hair looks jazzed for shawarma! (Hook ’em!)
Since this is a food blog, I have to tell you about this foodie thing that we were all super impressed with. This vending machine that dispenses Israeli Frappucchinos! And yet we still can’t teleport. Things that make you go hmmm.
Not bad at all!
No biggie. Only the 40km long Makhtesh Ramon crater. (Careful, boys!)I’m all sorts of rebellious. (Don’t tell Bubbe!)
Local beers in the Negev. The next day, we got a tour of the Ramon Crater by Jeep!
1 selfie, 2 selfies, 3 selfies, shalom!Our guide showed us all sorts of fossils. And he even took this adorbs jumping shot! A technique he claims he invented (everyone’s a comedian).
Next and sadly last stop: Tel Aviv! I wish we had more time in Tel Aviv; it fast became one of my favorite cities in the world. Beaches, amazing food, gorgeous people, charming architecture. Can I go back now!? There is also free WIFI everywhere. Why don’t we have that??
I have to talk a little about the food scene in Israel. The restaurants are legit, they rival any major city and are way more than falafel and hummus (though I want more of that too). I need to go back, especially to Tel Aviv, and eat all the food. Also, Israelis were doing local and sustainable before it was cool. You may think you eat seasonally (Amy, it’s October and I just had a Pumpkin Spice Latte! I’m seasonal!), but in Israel if lemons are not in season, you don’t get lemons. (But Amy, we can always get lemons!) We were also there during the Shmita year, or a rest year for crops. Which further limits what’s available. That doesn’t mean you don’t get delicious food. On the contrary, everything is fresh and flavorful.
Anyhoo, back to Tel Aviv. It’s even gay friendly! Why aren’t all buildings painted rainbow ombre??
Classiest scooter around. We spent the morning walking around Jaffa, which is totally adorable and very European looking.
Local artists doing their thing.
Is this art?We ate figs right off trees, y’all. Right off the tree! One must have stop in Tel Aviv- Abulafia Bakery! This za’atar bread is everything. All the bagels. Who doesn’t like a babka?!
My fave shakshuka at Puaa! And since I can’t eat anything anymore without hot sauce (I blame you, Texas!) Israeli hot sauce! I went with extra hot. We meandered all day, stopping in the market to gawk at food and haggle. This site made me stop for a second. Dim sum?? I asked the vendor about it and he remarked, as if it was obvious, that not everyone can sell falafel and hummus. Touché. And yes it is totally kosher- it’s even made on a kibbutz!
Hookah by the beach!
A lot of people asked me if I felt unsafe at all in Israel and I have to tell you not at all. One of my trip mates remarked that the only thing she feared was getting hit by a speeding driver (kidding, mostly). And speaking of my fellow travelers, they totally made this trip amazing. We talked about everything from political issues to religious differences to celebrity gossip and formed a real bond and friendship by the end. The thing that makes Israel feel like home to me isn’t the landscape or amazing food (huummmmuuusss) but the familiar people. From Nina, the Holcaust survivor with a New York accent we met in a graveyard (true story) who started our conversation with “I hope you’re wearing sunscreen” and ended it with “Don’t eat falafel, it’s crap.” To the waitress at a bar who told us in a thick Hebrew accent not to get too hammered when we asked if we could sit at a table and not order food. (Just drinks.) Everyone is a comedian! Not surprising for a country full of Jews. But considering most of the news you read about Israel is very serious, a nice reminder how similar we all are.
I was invited to visit Israel with Go Israel! but was not required to blog about it and all opinions are my own.