1 year later: Los Angeles

It was roughly a year ago that I fell off the blogging bandwagon, simply because I couldn’t adequately put something together that could do justice to our trip. And here I am a year later, and all I can think about each day is every moment of our trip. So while TimeHop is helping me, I thought I’d put something small together.

Wednesday-Thursday 11-12 June 2014

Freezing in Joburg. Flying for 9hrs. 8hr layover in Abu Dahbi. 14 hour flight to NYC. Arriving in NYC. Freshening up in the bathroom. Buying the wrong “ice coffee”. Breaking the wire from my braces as we land. 6 hour flight to LA. Free (kosher) food on Jet Blue. Finally reunited with old friends! Eggplant parmesan. Incredible hospitality. Snacks for days. Packing our own groceries. Ben & Jerry’s. BEDTIME.

Friday 13 June 2014

Jetlag. Universal studios. Minion photos. Simpsons ride. Studio tour. Jurassic Park dinosaurs. The Mummy. Orthodontists. Rest time – shabbat!

Saturday 14 June 2014

Sleeping late. Visiting the shul. Chabad next to aerobics studio. Lunch at the Machbubis. Planning for Disneyland. Afternoon naps. Third street promenade.  No indoor smoking. Slushy margaritas.

Sunday 15 June 2014

Hiking to the Hollywood sign. Avenue of the Stars. Shopping. Jeff’s Gourmet Burger. Magic Castle.

Monday 16 June 2014.

Disneyland. Indiana Jones. Almost losing our sunglasses. Thunder Mountain Railroad. Splash Mountain. The Haunted Mansion. Peter Pan’s flight. The Disneyland parade. Matterhorn. Roger Rabbit. Toon-Town. Disney Princesses. Mickey Mouse. Fast pass. All the snacks. Fireworks. Sound and lights show. Too many emotions.

Tuesday 17 June

Venice Beach. Vegan restaurants. Target. Outdoor malls. Takeout sushi. The dreaded red-eye flight…

And then… we headed to New York!

I’m up each night reminiscing about the details of this trip, yet when it comes to writing it down – words fail me. Going through pictures I feel I never took enough, as the scenes in my head I don’t have evidence of. It  was a busy week, and I can’t put into words the experiences we had and how eternally grateful I am to our friend Rocky who hosted us, fed us, drove us around, and was all round incredible to us.

We left a piece of our hearts there. LA – we’ll be back!

Israel Part 3: What else did we get up to?

Aside for the Bar-Mitzvah and eating, we managed to do lots of little odds and ends in our 9 day stay. Most of it included shopping and seeing long lost friends: and it’s meeting up with friends you haven’t seen in years that really is the greatest treat. Naturally we also did a small amount of travelling and touring to some common tourist hot spots.

We were based in Raanana, a city rather North-ish, which is where I used to live as a kid. We managed to visit the metropolitan city of Tel Aviv and checked out those markets I was so super excited about. I took a whole bunch of money, and naturally hardly spent a thing. I met up with a friend currently on her gap year and we also met up with Greg’s friend from his gap year. The last time we were in Israel Greg actually landed up going to their wedding, so for me it was really great to meet Simon. Truth is, it was a lot of walking and crazy humidity. We also didn’t have a cellphone (well, sim card or wireless) which made it difficult to split from my family. It was also our first day, and managing public transport was a bit of a frustration. So we had a great time in Tel Aviv, but I was glad to go home back to our air-conditioned apartment.

A note about the heat and humidity: you wake up in the morning hot and sticky and go take a shower. You come back in the afternoon from whatever you’ve done – hot – and take a shower. And for good measure, you know to take another shower before bed just to cool off again. Cape Town summer heat is a treat in comparison!

The next couple of days we spent in Jerusalem (actually, we stayed there for half of our trip at a very good friend of ours. The last time I saw her was at our wedding, which she flew out for.) and we met up with plenty of people over that time. You see, various Jewish organisations send Israeli’s to different parts of the world every year so over the years we have made a fortune of friends who have come and gone from Cape Town. On top of that, there have also been so many of our friends who have “made Aliyah”, which means they’ve moved there.

I met my close friend from High School that I’d only seen once since graduating, Greg met with a friend/ex-colleague. We met up with my brother in the Shuk (market) and went out for supper the three of us, which was such a chilled, relaxed and different atmosphere than going with your entire family. Just siblings. My brother is currently in the Israeli army, doing a commanders course. It’s tough, but he loved it. And doesn’t he look great in uniform? 😉 I met up with a friend from my gap year – he’s originally from South Africa, moved to New Zealand as a kid, recently moved to Australia and was currently on a semester abroad in The States – where he was going on a tour to Israel. Our tradition on our gap year (among many) was to go for ice-cream on Ben Yehuda, so naturally that’s where we met up. Also met up with my friend Lisa who’s getting married in 5 short weeks.

We had an incredible Shabbat spent with past shlichim (those guys who come to Cape Town for a year). We hadn’t seem some of them in 3 years, and they’d gone from having 1.5 children to 3. It was crazy to see how their youngest had grown. It was so natural being with them, and so sad saying goodbye (as it was with every old friend we saw) because at one point in your life, they were with you all the time for a full year. It was always so natural to say “cheers, see you tomorrow!” and again it just had to be “cheers, see you next time.” With Israel, there’s always almost a “next time”, except now I tell people it’ll be when my brother gets married one day.

We did plenty of shopping while we were in Jerusalem (aside for eating and buying food stuffs of course). We literally took a bus into town in the morning, and back to where we were staying later that night. So it would usually be about 9+ hrs of walking the streets in the heat. At least it wasn’t humid like Tel Aviv! Anyway, my main shopping mission was to buy new headscarves and a couple of accessories I wanted to keep an eye out for, as you can’t get most of what’s available in Israel, here in SA. Greg was looking for a Shofar, which is a ram’s horn that gets blown in shul services during the High Holy Days (practically the whole of September this year).

We spent a lot of time walking up and down Mea Shearim, a really religious area (I mean, if you think I’m religious by reading this blog – that’s nothing in comparison to these guys) looking for this Shofar and trying to decide if Greg oculd afford it (very pricey). As an example of how frum (that’s Jew speak for “religious”) these Chariedim are (the Ultra-Orthodox who live in Mea Shearim) let me tell you a little story. We’d gone to Shofar man’s shop 3 times (including the time Greg had to run all the way back because he’d left his wallet, iPod & debit card just lying in his shop). Anyway, in trying to convince Greg to buy said animal horn, the man said to him “Your wife, her sleeves are a bit short (I was wearing a tshirt). Now, it doesn’t offend me, but you don’t want her to come again in case some people throw things at her. Like tomatoes.” See, so considerate? I did a lot of observing of the Ultra Orthodox as we took a lot of bus lines running through their areas, it’s interesting how it’s just such a different world (and if it’s a different world to me, I can only imagine how foreign it is to you.)

Anyway, I am happy to say that I was very successful on my hunt for new scarves. I’ve come back with a great new collection and it’s really made my day-to-day dressing up a lot more fun 🙂

We did go on one epic day trip with our friend Liat. She took us all the way up north to the ruins of Caesarea. This port town was built by King Herod and later destroyed (as it is with ancient ruins). I think what was so beautiful about these particular ones, is that is right by the sea. We watched a short clip about the history, we walked the old ruins and took many, many photos! I mean, could an ancient city even be in a more beautiful location. We popped to a beach nearby which showed the ancient aqueducts which brought water into the city. We also went to Zichron Ya’akov, a beautiful little town known for it’s wineries (where of course we stopped and bought a bottle to bring home with us).

The only last bit of touring we did was go back to Tel Aviv to see the old city of Yafo. As far as my memory serves me (from grade 10 Jewish History – because that was a class we took at school) it was the first port city in Israel. It’s really old and beautiful. Kind of like the Old City in Jerusalem, but less charming I guess.

It was a great trip with all the important elements: family and special times, friends, food, shopping and some sight seeing along the way. As much as I’m dying to travel to other places in the world (yet if I struggle being in a country with a language I understand, I don’t know how cope with a language completely foreign to me) there’s something so comforting and familiar about being in Israel. You almost always bump into people you know on the streets. It’s kinda great.

And just like that it was home time. A trip we had waited and looked forward to for a whole year, 9 days just passed by so quickly. I guess that’s the thing with travelling, you plan and prepare and save and wait, and then it goes by so fast. The great thing of course, is that the memories always last. You seem to be able to make so many morewhen time is short, and the memories are mostly what you bring back. Don’t you agree

Luggage anyone? #homewardbound #hometime #byebyeisrael

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Our Israel Trip: Part 1. This is why we went in the first place.

I was really lucky to go to Israel (again) for a short break with the family. We did, saw, walked and ate (and sweated – thanks Israeli summer) so much I can’t even begin to tell you. I’m going to split it all into 3 simple posts: The Barmitzvah, the food (it really does deserve it’s own post), and “everything else” 😉

The purpose for going was my brother’s Bar-Mitzvah – if you’re not Jewish, I don’t if you know what that is beside for what you see/hear in movies or on TV. It’s a coming of age thing, when a boy turns 13 and is considered a “man” with all sorts of obligations and such. My family decided it would be more fitting (and meaningful) to take the 5 of us up to Israel and celebrate in an intimate do as opposed to the lavish functions/almost-weddings that are done these days. We also have family (including my brother who moved there last year and now serves in the Israeli army) and family friends up in Israel, especially because we lived there for a while when I was little. Despite that, it was my little brother’s first time, and my mom’s first time since we left the country. I feel terribly spoilt that this was my 5th trip to Israel, excluding living there.

My parents decided that my brother would have his ceremony at the Western Wall, the Kotel. This wall is the last remaining wall of the temple in Jerusalem, housed within the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. I (not-so-secretly) love the Old City, it has so much charm and personality of an era gone by with all the Jerusalem stone everywhere, old buildings and so much history.

Picture 037

I won’t go into too much detail about mine and Greg’s transport drama to make it to the Kotel on time. We were staying at my friend, walked the wrong way to the train, and basically were never going to make it. 60 shekels and a taxi later, we made it with about – 5 minutes to go. While I find taxi’s a waste of money in Israel, when time is not on your side – you just gotta do what you gotta do. It did help that the taxi driver was really friendly and chatty – he told us we need to make Aliyah (move to Israel. Obviously. This happened numerous times on our trip), asked how long we’d been married, told us we should wait to have kids (not like he did – he married his wife when he was 19 and had kids soon after) and about how expensive property is in Jerusalem. It kinda put me at ease after the freaking out before.

The ceremony itself was really great. Now, the plaza at the Western Wall is a busy one with an area each for the men and women. Having been there many times before (note: 5 Israel trips) I was worried the women wouldn’t be able to hear anything, but was pleasantly surprised. We had a station right up against the wall, which was pretty awesome (and made for some great pictures – read, instagrams) and there were chairs on the women’s side for us to stand on and peer over the mechitzah (the partition that separate the men and the women).

It was normal Thursday morning davening (prayer service), which includes taking out the Torah, which Ryan then read from. It’s really quite a feat: firstly, it’s in Hebrew. Secondly, the words actually need to be sung to a tune, and the markings that tell you the tune aren’t in the Torah itself – you have to learn it all yourself by heart beforehand. Greg does this often for different communities on a Saturday morning, but for a 13 year old, it’s a big deal! The boy read so well, we were all so proud! To celebrate afterwards, we went for a small lunch at a restaurant in the Old City called Holy Bagels (true story. And Greg and I ate there 3 times during our 9 day trip).

I had my reservations about doing such a milestone this way, but I think it went so well and we all had such a great and special time spent with our closest family. And for milestones, I guess that’s kind of what’s important.

Oh look, I’m back.

I kind of forgot to make any big mention of the fact I’d be away for two weeks and off the blogging-radar for that period. We went on a family trip to Israel, which was all sorts of wonderful. There was much fun, eating, family, shopping and seeing of friends. I do plan to blog about it properly, but for now I’m just getting all the pictures together etc. If you really want to see what went down, feel free to check out my instagram feed!

Luggage anyone? #homewardbound #hometime #byebyeisrael

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Happy weekend, everyone!

Have you ever really thought about flying?

I flew last night to Joburg, to celerate a friend’s wedding this weekend. I havent flown in over 2 years, so I was a little nerrvous (for no reason, of course). Its funny because when I was in High School I used to ome up to Joburg a couple times a year to visit friends, now – who does that?

Anyway, for some reason the concept of flying just really baffled me. A HUGE piece of metal, flying through the air. A couple hours later, you’re in a different city and if left for a while longer you can be in a completely different part of the world! I sound like someone whos never flown overseas, and I’m lucky enough that I have had my fair share of overseas flights, but last night these thoughts got the better of me.

You think your 20kg suitcase was heavy? Now multiply that by, well, we were row 18 last night, there were at least 10 more – so multiply that by 30? That alone is 600kg, maybe not so much. Add to that the combined weight of the passengers, and then still the mass of a freaking aeroplane. iI mean, I cant even imagine the weight of a car. Come on now science, go home, you’re drunk. Driving to jhb can take a day. But from Cape  Town you fly in just two hours. How fast is that plane going?? This makes me want to do High School science equations just to work it all out (its making me kinda miss science, I loved it even though I didnt do that well).

Well now, here I am. In jhb for the weekend, without my other half. It’s weird because usually he’s the one that leaves me home alone (on school trips, in January he took a group of matrics to Israel for two weeks!). I’m lying in my best friends bed while she’s at work, and have plans to see friends up until the wedding. I’m super excited about that 🙂

Have a great weekend everyone!