Sunday, May 2, 2010


Finally off to Egypt!!!!!!!! We left on Friday April, 15th around 1AM. It took about two hours to get through security. I am not a terrorist Ben Gurion Airport! I know they are just doing their job, but man, it gets tiring. Katie had Jordan stamped on her Passport so that held us up for a bit, but Adie when right through with her Israeli passport. I had to empty my bad twice and they threw away my Proactiv. Bummer. When we got to Cairo, we got our visas, took money out and then look for our taxi. There was someone from the hostel waiting for us. The ride back was very interesting, there are lines on the roads to separate the lanes, but they don't care there. They would pass people in between the lines. It was pretty scary. There were a lot of men walking around at 2AM. Women were not to be found. When we got to the hostel I was a little nervous. It didn't look like the safest place, but hey, it was ten bucks a night! So we were just going to try it out. Two people from our plane were sitting in the living room, and they told us that they mixed up the nights and forgot to book that night, we had an extra bed in our room so we told them to stay with us. When we went to bed that night, I had a really bad bloody nose...the air was so dry. That morning, we had breakfast, but it was one hard boiled egg and a few pieces of bread. We then walked to the Egyptian museum. The streets were so dirty! There were no crosswalks and you just had to sprint to the other side and pray that you wouldn't get hit. The museum was great, the building itself was in pretty bad shape, but King Tut's exhibition was great. It was fascinating to see all of his jewels and all the tombs he was buried in. We also saw the Mummies exhibit where Ramses II was. We walked to find a place to eat, pretty touristy. After lunch we walked across the Nile and then went into the Al-Tahrir Gardens. It was beautiful and clean! There were a lot of couples and many families there. We took a nice nap and then headed back to the hostel.

The toilets were a bit of an issue because you had to pay to get toilet paper even though they had signs not to pay, but of course you needed to use it! There were a ton of men walking everywhere just staring at you. They made you feel so uncomfortable and we were dressed modestly. Most of the women were of course covered, but they even had their faces and hands covered, all you could see were their eyes. When we were walking through the streets women came up to us and started mocking us and started to pull on our clothes. Very very uncomfortable. It was really hard to be there without men travelling with you. We went to a restaurant for dinner called GAD. I had pizza, very slow service. I really don't think they liked serving us. It was just the weirdest thing walking into a restaurant and EVERYONE staring at you.

Saturday morning we woke up early and went to the pyramids! :) We first went to Sakara where the first pyramid was built. It is the step pyramid. We also were able to go into another pyramid and see a tomb. Then we went to Memphis which was a lot of statues that we say at the museum, so we then went on to Giza. We took a two hour camel ride to see all the pyramids and the sphinx. The camel ride was kind of painful. We definitely walked like Egyptians after we got off. My camel wasn't the best at going down the hills. We were able to go up to the pyramids and climb on them. We took a lot of pictures and we were being haggled by everyone. There was always someone trying to sell you something. The grounds of the pyramids were very crowded with many tourists. Our guide was okay, but he kept reminding us that we needed to tip him. Very annoying. We then had dinner back in Cairo at a local restaurant. We had kosheri... some pasta and lentils with tomato sauce. Very delicious! I went back to the hostel and rested for a bit while Adie and Katie walked around. I really didn't feel comfortable in Cairo. We went out for dinner and then I had rice pudding for dessert! They had it at all of the restaurants, so I wanted to give it a try! :)

On Sunday we slept in and went to Islamic Cairo...pretty much like the arts and crafts market of the city. We also went into a mosque! We had to wear dresses that covered us...we looked like elves. Ha. I was surprised that we were even able to go into the mens section of the mosque. It was very large and for once I didn't feel too out of place. We then walked around and I bought some earrings for Rosie. I bought about five pairs of silver earrings. The man was so grateful and kept telling us what good luck we were. I'm sure it takes him all day to sell that many. We kept walking down and then we reached the area where most tourists don't go. It is just so dirty, you were in a slum, it is just trash over dirty over trash. So disgusting. We were pretty bored so we walked to the Embassy to see if we could have a tour or something. It was quite humorous because they looked at us like we were aliens. It was crazy, we didn't know if we could even get in. But the Marine said if we knew someone then we could have had a tour. Oh well. We then walked to the Four Seasons for a drink. It was such a great feeling to be sitting on a clean couch and being able to relax without worrying about being dirty. We had a great time, and then we went downstairs for some dinner. I HAD GINGER ALE! Sounds pretty lame, but I can't get it in Israel, I was so excited. We then left around 9PM to wait at the hostel for our cab. The questioning in the airport was very intense. They didn't believe our story and questioned us for about an hour separately. At one point I started laughing because I knew I had nothing to hide. She just kept coming up with more questions and it was just getting to the point where it was ridiculous. They had Cinnabon and Starbucks!

Overall Egypt was a lot of fun, but it was just very culturally shocking. I had a great time at the pyramids, but Cairo was just too much for me. Too dirty and I didn't feel comfortable. It was scary walking around not knowing what was underneath the women's clothing and you can't recognize them. I really think it is a security risk when you can only see the eyes. If I ever visit again, I would want to explore more of the country. And, I would stay in a place where I could flush my toilet paper!

Catherine's Visit!

Catherine came to visit on Friday April, 9th. I picked her up at the airport at 4am and then we came back to Jerusalem. We took a nap for a few hours and then we headed down to the Old City. It was so nice to have someone from home here because I felt like I knew so much and I was able to show someone where I have been living for four months. In the Old City we did a lot of shopping and had a nice lunch. We took a ton of pictures and were talking with the locals for a while. We came back and had dinner and then watched American Idol with my roommates. Saturday morning we headed to Tel Aviv for the day. It was the first time I was going to Tel Aviv without someone from school. We had to take a sheruit there because the buses weren't running due to Shabbot. The beach was great. Very crowded, great sun. We went to Moses' for dinner where we had bacon cheeseburgers! Yum. Yum. Yum! On our way back to Jerusalem we were planning on going to this new club with a bunch of people, but then Effe and Aviva were going to the movies so we tagged along. We went and saw Alice and Wonderland in 3D. It was really different than the Disney version. Pretty violent actually. On Sunday we woke up early and went to the Dome of the Rock with Adie, Aviva and Dan. The Temple Mount is gorgeous. Being that close to the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque. We took a lot of pictures and I wore my Wagner shirt so I could send the photo in for my school's photo contest. When we came back to campus we were going to get falafel, but French Hill wasn't open! :( We went to the one next door instead. Not the same, not as good. I had to go to class because I was going to Cairo the following week. It was such a nice weekend. I was so happy seeing someone from home and I was so thankful that she was able to come. I didn't feel that well the next few days, so I slept a lot. I'm glad it only lasted a few days so I was healthy for Cairo.

Rhodes, Greece

Wednesday March, 31st we left for Greece for six nights. I went to the airport with Effe and her family, and it made the questioning process a lot easier as I was with an Israeli family. Our plane was an hour late so we just sat around...I tried a burger from McDonalds, but the interesting thing was it was during Passover, so it was a different kind of bun. Not appetizing. Once on the plane it was a short flight to Rhodes, I had a window seat and it was really fun to see all of the Islands when we were landing. Each island has such a different terrain. The travel agency was Israeli, so there were many on our plane and a few in our hotel. We were the last hotel stop on our bus. When we first got off, we thought the facade was nice but disappointed with how the beach was maintained. Beach wasn't ready for people, broken beach chairs, and the bars or cafes were not open. (I had a big problem with this trip as we wanted a beach vacation and they sent us to Rhodes a month and half before the peak season started. I will put in this post the letter I wrote to the travel company about how upset I was...that will explain more of why I didn't have the best time.) When we got to our first room, the bathroom was really dirty, so we asked for a new room. The second room was a little better, but the bathroom wasn't stocked for us and they had to bring in another bed because there were three of us. The pullout couch that we could have used was broken, there was no clock in the room, the television barely worked, and we had to screw the light-bulb's in manually for the lamps to work. We relaxed a little bit until dinner that night. The meal's were delicious and very ethnic. That evening we went down to the bar and we got a drink.

On Thursday it was very windy and barely sunny. It didn't put me in a good mood at all. We walked to the Old City and had a great lunch. There were a few things open, but not a lot. I didn't mind the bad weather, but I really didn't want to be walking around a city, I have it in Jerusalem, and I did a ton of walking in Prague. I really had my expectations set to be laying on the beach each day and it didn't happen. On the way to the Old City I was very quiet and just stayed to myself. I didn't want to keep complaining and ruin everyone else's trip. I called the travel agent to see if she could get me out of Greece, I was just so upset and couldn't bring myself to accept that I was spending $800.00 on this trip. The flights were booked and I refused to pay more money. For lunch we had baked feta, spanakpita, and an infused spicy cheese. The sun finally came out and it was so nice. We then walked and got orange chocolate gelato. We found a tiny spot on the beach and we took a nice nap. Mike and I walked back and we found a Church for mass on Friday and Saturday. We had dinner at the hotel that night (our meals were included for the trip) and then we went to the Pirate Bar. The Pirate Bar had been rented by an Israeli group, and had their own entertainment so we didn't get a typical night in Greece that night.

Friday we walked up to the Acropolis. The weather was pretty chilly and I was still frustrated. But it was fascinating to see ruins from a Greek temple. We stayed there for a bit and pretending to be in the Olympics and watching a play. We walked back down to the Old City for lunch, but not everyone could agree on what to eat so Mike and I went to a nice seafood place. We had baked feta and calamari. When we walked back to the hotel, we walked along the water and took pictures near the fortress. It was so windy that day. Once back at the hotel I called Dad as it was his birthday and then we went to Good Friday mass. It was a small church and it was interesting as the Priest held mass in many different languages. It was great that for a few minutes everyone felt at home. This was the first time that I had kissed the statue of Jesus and then we received the flowers from the statue. That evening I worked on my Hebrew homework and then we went down to the bar again.

Saturday was finally a beach day! Finally! We went down to Falaraki beach which is a out thirty minutes from Rhodes city. The beach was beautiful, the sad was so fine and the water was great. It was freezing, but unbelievable clear. This was my first time swimming in an ocean! It was so much fun to ride the waves! I would have to say it was a little better than Whale's Tale! For lunch there were only two places open. This was such a big beach town and there were a ton of shops, but nothing open. but we got Gyros...not bad actually! We headed back to Rhodes City and it felt great to shower off the salt water!

On Sunday Mike and I went to church and then I relaxed on the beach of the hotel for the rest of the day. Some people went back into the Old City to do some shopping, but I wanted to soak up the sun. It was such a clear day that you could see Turkey. Turkey was very close, but the mountains were so beautiful. It make me think about the Kurds and how they live so far deep into the mountains. Sunday night we went to the Old City to find a bar. Wow. Beyond dead. There were no young people, it was all 40 year olds and barely any of them! I still just don't understand what people do there when it is the off season!

On Monday we went to Lindos. Beautiful day. We rode donkey's up to the acropolis. I really liked looking out into the water and seeing the different colors of the water. The beach of Lindos which was really a cove was so peaceful and untouched. We had a lot of fun taking pictures from the top. On our way down we stopped along all the little shops. We had a great lunch, and of course we had baked feta. After lunch, we walked down to the beach. There weren't a lot of people, and no water sports to rent. The water was pretty chilly so we just walked in the water. The sand bars all along the coast were great because you could see where you were walking and it was even all throughout. There were a lot of fish swimming around us, not a big fan, but it was so cool to see them glistening under water! I really can't explain how clear the water was. I never thought it would be like that. I took some shells with me from Lindos. On the way home I noticed many religious markings. There were Greek Orthodox, but randomly on the side of the rode there were mini shrines with a candle burning inside. They were very small, but then some were about the size of a shed. I couldn't figure out what they were.

On Tuesday our flight was leaving at 1:45AM. We had the whole day to lounge around. I went to the beach again while people went shopping. We had lunch near the hotel, then we tried to go to the Archaeological Museum. The concierge told us the wrong times, so we got there too late. What a bummer. We walked around the Old City some more and then went back to the hotel. We paid extra to have the hotel until 8pm. Around 8, we headed out for dinner. We walked forever trying to find a place to eat. What a cold night it was. We finally found a place that was mainly gyros. These were delicious! The sauce they used made the dish. I had ordered a coke to drink, but it was pretty flat. I asked the manager for another coke and he told said, "I just opened yesterday, what do you want from me?" That line pretty much sums up the entire trip.
After dinner we got crepes and I had a Ferrero Roche spread in mine. Heavenly good. We walked back to the hotel and waited for our bus in the lobby. We waited for about two hours . The airport was dead, we were the only flight at that time. The process they had was really funky, the people giving us our tickets were the ones at the security gate and then were the ones boarding us. It was just really screwy. Surprisingly there were a lot of Orthodox families, I was confused because it would be very difficult to keep Passover in Greece. We finally got back to Jerusalem at 6:30 am. I couldn't make it to class. Unfortunately I was woken up at 9:30 with construction men ripping up the tiles in the hallway because of our water damage. I went grocery shopping and made it to my night class. When I came back from friend Catherine from CT skyped me and told me that she was going to come visit for the weekend!!!!!

Below is the letter I wrote to the travel agency about how I was upset with what had happened.

To Whom it May Concern:

I recently purchased a package to Rhodes, Greece from Helena Davidovich who works for Issta. This was a package that was being sold by Flying Carpet for a six night stay at the Mediterranean Hotel for nearly $800.00. We left March, 31st and returned April, 6th. Prior to booking this trip, I had many conversations with Helena about this trip and our options. She researched many destination spots for our group, however, we specifically said that we wanted a beach vacation. There is no doubt in my mind that Rhodes is a beautiful destination, yet, perhaps during the peak season. I went to a travel agency, as I am not familiar with this area of the world and needed help. I am confused why someone would send me to a destination when things are not open. For every four shops, there was one open. There were no restaurants on the beach open, no water sports, essentially besides walking around in circles- nothing to do. We walked to the acropolis and the Old City, but that took nearly an entire day. We were told by Issta that we could take a ferry to Turkey for the day, which sold the trip for me. However, once in Rhodes, we went to buy tickets and they do not take daily trips as it is not peak season. This was such a disappointment as we had expectations which were set by Issta.

The stay at the Mediterranean Hotel was less than comfortable. We switched rooms twice as the first room had hair all over the bathroom, and then in the second, the pullout couch was broken. They had to bring in a new bed for us, and then finish stocking the bathroom. The room was clearly not ready for us. There was no clock in the room, the television was not consistent when turning on, we had to screw the bulbs into the lamps in order for them to work, the maids left the doors open after cleaning which drew mosquitoes into the room, and the entire hotel staff treated us as if we were simple college students that should not be there. The concierge gave us faulty information on when the Archaeological Museum would close, the wait staff was annoyed that we did not order drinks at night, and then were less than helpful when we asked where to go at night. The front desk specifically said that there was not much to do as it was not the peak season.

After speaking with a representative from Flying Carpet at the hotel, he said that our travel agent was a liar and this wasn’t a beach destination at this specific time period. The miscommunication from either the hotel to Flying Carpet or from Flying Carpet to Issta is not my responsibility. I paid for the travel agent to take on that responsibility, and unfortunately, with this trip, communication was lost. With Issta being the “middle-man” when selling these packages, the company should be more than confident in the trip, and also should not use this as an excuse for the inability to take responsibility when the customer is dissatisfied.

Regardless of whether other travel agents have visited Rhodes at the same time period, I was sold a beach vacation. I am very upset as I spent a lot of money on this trip, and I feel that I was lied to. In effect, Issta sold a faulty product. I’m confused to why someone would send me there if they knew it was not the peak season. I was clear in my expectations of what I wanted out of this trip, and my needs were not met. Compensation is rightfully in order as I was a paying customer whose expectations were not met. Answers are in order either from Flying Carpet or Issta as to why this would be recommended when we were repeatedly told from the hotel, Flying Carpet, owners or stores, and locals that it was the off season.

I look forward to hearing from you and I appreciate you taking the time to help me in this matter.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


When I came back from Prague on Sunday, I was going to meet my friend from NH! She is studying in Greece and we lived together at St. Paul's our Junior year. She is Jewish and has family in Jerusalem. We met up for lunch and then walked around the city a bit. It was so nice to see her as I hadn't seen her in three years. It was pretty neat that we were meeting up in Israel of all places. We went and got pizza, but it was potato dough I think. Not the best, the food during Passover is definitely bland to say the least. But what can you do. That evening I went to Yoel's house for dinner with Sarah and Katie. We went to the synagogue and then had a lasting meal. We left our place around 5:30 and didn't get home until 1:30! It was neat to go to the synagogue as I had never been to one, and then the meal was more than eating. Before you could eat any portion, there was the story behind it of how and why we are eating such things. There were about 14 people there, and they had the best name tags! Yoel's daughter digs at the City of David and was able to take a piece of pottery from the first temple period! They then wrote our names in ancient Hebrew! It was a lot of fun trying to figure out what you name looked like, and then, we got to have something from first temple period!

It was such a nice night as Yoel had many of his close friends from the States with him. It was such an important evening and they really went all out for it. They have little toys that they would use to explain each story. The food was delicious, I really enjoyed this one dish with apples and matzah, it was almost like warm apple sauce! Yum! I'm happy that I chose to share the evening with Yoel and his family, he explained everything we were doing in such detail for us.

On Tuesday I started to pack and I hung around with Adie for most of the day. I had a ton of laundry to do, and then we went and got falafel from French Hill Falafel! Woot woot! I think I need to ask him if he will move to the States and open a shop there for me! Haha!


March 25th-28th. This was such a whim trip as I thought Uncle Eric was going to visit, but plans fell through and Aviva and I were able to get a package to Prague. Words cannot describe how much fun we had...but I'm going to try. We left Jerusalem around 2am and a sheruit picked us up. You could describe it as a super shuttle, but awful drivers and always late. When we got to the airport, there were no lines, it was really nice. We saw a group of men walking through, they defintely were a mens basketball team, just not sure what country. The questioning was a little nerve racking, but nothing to be scared of. It wasn't until we got to security where they forced Aviva and I to go in separate lines. I was in the "special" line. The line I was in took over an hour to get through. I had to empty my entire bag, they threw away my deodorant. I had a nice conversation with the guy inspecting my things about Prague, he had been there a few times and told me where to eat. I felt bad for these two Irishmen next to me. They were in Israel with another colleague travelling for JP Morgan. They just kept getting hammered by questions and they were so flustered. You could clearly tell they weren't the terrorists, but boy I felt bad for them. Once I got through security, Aviva was already at the gate, it was such a long process. The weird thing about travelling abroad is that in the airports they don't have the little stands to get a drink and your trashy magazine. It is all duty free shops and a small foodcourt. I got McDonald's, I was so hungry. But of course, it was only a hamburger :( And to make it worse, they gave me Diet Coke instead of Coke. The flight wasn't bad, we didn't realize how far north Prague actually was. We were both pretty tired and just wanted to sleep. But we had the Israeli Golden Girls behind us who kept yapping the entire time. I thought I was going to be getting away from Hebrew for a few days! But the company we booked with is of course Israeli, and so our flight was predominately Israelis. Once we got to Prague we had to wait for a bus to take us to our hotel. Our hotel was beyond what we thought. It was a five star hotel, and when we jumped onto the beds we just sank in. I think the bed just gobbled me up every night.

That morning, we rested for a few hours and then had lunch in the hotel. We then took another quick nap, showered, and finally went downtown! We walked around for a few hours and then walked down to the river for our dinner cruise. It was traditional food, had a nice band, and we treated ourselves to a bottle of champagne. High rollers. It was really neat to see everything lit up at night, the mini Eifel Tower and the Castle. There were a lot of other boats out on the river and we had a little traffic jam when we were trying to go through the canal. After our cruise was over, we walked through the Old City and saw the astronomical clock. It is really comical as people wait for the hour to see the clock change, but it maybe moves half and inch. We kept watching hour after hour each day to try and figure out what all the fuss was about. During the day though, they had someone come out and play the trumpet for the crowd. We then found then hole in the ground (literally) and had some hot chocolate. It seriously must have been an old bunker. They had a great jazz band who played a lot of American blues music. I could just picture BB King just chilling with Aviva and I. Haha! We then took the subway home, I wrote some postcards and enjoyed my bed!

On Friday we had a delicious breakfast in the hotel. They had bacon, sausage, ham! Oh my! It was great to have some bacon with my eggs finally. We got ready and then headed down to the Old City again. So here is where we had the biggest upset. When you buy your ticket for the metro in Prague, you don't have to physically move anything to get into the actual subway. You just need to scan your ticket and walk through. There is no barrier from stopping you unlike in New York where you have to push the turn thingy to get through. So Aviva and I saw so many people just keep walking through so we decide that we didn't want to waste money and we would just not buy a ticket. Well...when we got off, these men stopped us and asked for our tickets. After a few minutes of me trying to figure out who these men were and asking for their badges, we told them we threw the ticket out. They didn't fall for it. They charged us 700 karonas, about 40 USD. What a rip off, and we were just both so upset! That was a days worth of money just down the drain. It was so infuriating for the remainder for the time to watch people just not buy their tickets. After we calmed down a bit, we headed to Mala Strata which is on the Eastern side of the river. We walked over the Charles Bridge and headed up to the castle. We saw so many beautiful churches and cathedrals. For lunch we walked back to the Old City and had lunch on top of the U Prince Hotel. It was a great view of the astronomical clock and the town square. They had an Easter celebration, and so they had a lot of the traditional food everywhere. Almost like a medieval times party. After lunch we walked around for another hour and then headed back to the hotel. Without realizing, we both passed out and slept for three hours! We couldn't believe it, we were just so tired from walking around all day. The sun was shining and it was just beautiful. We went for a quick dip in the rooftop pool and then to a nearby restaurant. I had a pork chop but it could have definitely used some Stubbs.

Saturday morning I woke up with a bad migraine. We walked down to the Jewish Quarter, but of course, all the synagogues were closed because of Shabbot! Ugh, really starting to get on my nerves. The half marathon for Prague was that day and most of the streets were closed off. It was a relaxing day as we walked around most of the side streets and saw all the local spots. We stopped and had a hot chocolate and just people watched for about an hour. We had lunch at this brewery where the beer was good but the food wasn't so great. I wasn't pleased with my dish and I told the manager and he told me I still had to pay for it. I didn't even take two bites. There is no customer service outside the United States. Even though you are paying the people to serve you, you practically have to beg them for their help. Just unbelievable. When we went back to the hotel we tried to go for a swim but they told us we needed to pay for it, which they didn't the evening before so we just went back to our room for a little bit. We then went and had a nice Italian meal next to the astronomical clock. We walked across the Charles Bridge and then went back to the hotel. I really was so excited for this place. We had music playing in our bathroom, robes, great view, and of course, the beyond comfortable beds!

Sunday we came back to Jerusalem. It was such a great trip because I really enjoyed being in Eastern Europe. The buildings were not too high, very close together, and the architecture of the cathedrals was just mind blowing. I still can't wrap my head around how they were able to build such things which the little technology they had. I really enjoyed myself in Prague!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Why do some Jews spit on Christians in the Old City?"

Last Tuesday night I went with my friend Jennie down to the German Colony to hear a speech on "Why some Jews spit on Christians in the Old City." It was at a synagogue with the Arch Bishop of the Armenian Church, and a Catholic monk (could have been a friar). And then when I was being introduced to everyone (because my friend was the intern of the organization that was sponsoring the event), but when I was introduced to a man that was wearing a collar, I said nice to meet you Father, and he told me he was not a Father as he was a German Franciscan. It was a little uncomfortable. The entire event was very fascinating and intriguing. In a nutshell, it is mostly young yeshiva boys that are taught to spit on the ground or on anyone that is wearing a cross. A Jewish woman spoke on how the Jewish people should not be doing this as they were oppressed for years, and now this is what they are doing to another culture. It disgusts me as the Jewish people living in this land are so adamant about letting the world know how oppressed they are as a people during the Holocaust and even know, how they are oppressed by the Muslims and Arabs. It is very puzzling to me as to why someone would ever do that, especially a culture that has experienced something like this.

It was nice to be down in the German Colony that night, reminded me of Greenwich Village. It is hard being on Mount Scopus, there aren't any restaurants or anything around us, so we have to either take a bus or cab to go hang out in places. It was uplifting to see all the different restaurants and shops. :) Wednesday was St. Patrick's Day! I woke up late and forgot to wear green! Uh oh! But when we went out that night I was able to find something green to wear. Not a lot of people celebrate St. Patrick's Day, but there were a few leprechauns out! On Thursday I had to go and meet with one of my teachers from Ulpan as I needed to try and retake a test. Wagner only accepts a "C" or higher for a passing grade, and I received a "C-." I was lucky enough that I was only two points off from receiving a "C" so they just decided to change it for me. I am very thankful now that I wont have an F on my transcript. Later that afternoon I went to the grocery store as it was my night to cook. I made spaghetti with meat sauce and broccoli. It was just the guys as Effe and Aviva had other plans. It was weird that night because I thought Sarah (UCSB) was going to be in the apartment as Sarah, Aviva, and Adie were gone for the weekend, but she left a night early for Tel Aviv! So it was my first night alone in the apartment. A little scary. Katie came over and we watched a movie and then I went to bed.

Friday was a slow day. I tried to do some homework. Didn't happen. I watched two movies. I know I should be exploring, but allll of my friends were gone! Either visiting family or on a Shabbot trip! And it was really cold so I didn't want to go outside. Later that evening I went with Effe and her family to a friends house for dinner. It was delicious! There was salmon for the entree, which I'm not a fan of, but I ate a little out of respect. For desert we had a modified strawberry shortcake, and there was Ben and Jerry's ice cream! Yum! I miss the factory! Later that evening Effe and I watched a few episodes of the West Wing. Saturday I had a ton of work to do and I got it all done! Very proud of myself, later that evening we went downtown as Mike was turning 21! We went to a few bars, and I definitely stayed out too late. Ugh, I had to be in class at 8:30 on a Sunday! Usually I don't have class until 12:30, but I had to make up a class as we had to skip one for Purim. What a long day. I didn't feel too well once I came home on Sunday. Very crampy.

On Monday morning, I didn't go to Hebrew as I still wasn't feeling well. I think I had a fever on Sunday, I had the chills through the night. I did make it to my next class as we had a field trip to the Old City again. What a beautiful day out it was! It is just so interesting going down to the Old City and seeing something different each time. We saw about three Bat Mitzvah's. Watching the family's singing and dancing just shows how important this culture and religion really is. I don't think it hit me until I saw how happy the mother's and grandmother's were for the son. There is a true joy in the fact that their child is entering the world as an adult. We were down on the Southern part of the temple mount seeing the Babylonian and Umayan temples. When I sit on the stones, I'm always asking myself how on earth am I here in Israel doing something like this?It randomly hits me about how lucky I am to have an opportunity like this to study and travel in this country. That evening I was looking up information on the trip to Prague, I booked my ticket home, and had French Hill Falafel for lunch! Pretty good day :) Today Hebrew was a drag, but I am studying for a big quiz tomorrow in Hebrew. I'll pack a little later and look up more information. I'm just getting really excited about the trips over break! Next blog will be my trip about Prague! :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Current Israeli Politics

1.) Biden's visit: Vice President Joe Biden was in Israeli for the first time last week and he gave his speech at Tel Aviv University. Ironically, the Israeli's decided to announce their plans to build settlements in the West Bank. This clearly creates tension with the US and now Obama says he does not want be involved as the middle man. Which I can completely understand now. The United States is gaining nothing by being involved this these conflicts. From what I understand, the land that the Israeli's want to build is there land, which makes me confused as to why there is such fuss. But I guess it is on the green line and it is being debated. Anyways, this will be interesting to see what will happen within the next few months.

2.) Rock throwing: three weekends ago, after the services of the Muslims, the radicals decided to throw large stones down upon the Jews that were praying at the Western Wall. This happened again the next weekend, so this past weekend, the Israeli government closed down entry from the West Bank into Israel. They heightened security as 20 officers or soldiers had been injured the previous weekends. It gets tough because the government needs to do something when innocent people are being hurt, however, when the shut down entry, people that depend on income in Israel suffer. It then turns into more anger from the Palestinians to the Israeli's as their survival is being threatened. These issues go round and round and do not get clearer. They sent out a text message yesterday telling us not to go to the Old City for a few days. When I came back from class around 4 there were about 30 soldiers near the entrance to the student village. They were patrolling the entire night. You could also hear the jets and helicopters low to the ground last night. It was a little scary, as you didn't know what was going on.

3.) Class! In my Historical Geography of Jerusalem class we had a field trip planned to the Jewish Quarter today, I assumed it would be cancelled but we went! We had our usual security guard with us, but still how everyone made it out to be as if we were going into a war zone. It wasn't bad at all. It seemed like a normal day except you couldn't walk two feet without running into a soldier. The city was bustling with people. Tour group, after tour group, after tour group kept walking through the Jaffa gate. In 1967 the Arabs had destroyed one of the synagogues and since the Jews had been restoring it. Today was the re-opening of the synagogue and so that area had a lot of media attention. It is odd to think that there is an active, full of life, booming city, within another city.

Sea of Galilee

On Friday morning we left around 10:30 for our one night trip to the Sea of Galilee. We took the local bus down to the central bus station and then from there took a three hour bus ride to the North. Now, Israeli's have never heard of a line before, and just like Greyhound it is first come first serve on the buses. So if you don't get there early, you won't get a seat. Well, here, you have to wait in line, but then you have people come from other doors and cutting in front of you. You have to be very assertive and make sure no one gets in line ahead of you. Because then you have to wait another three hours for the next bus. And it is really hard if you were raised to let the elderly and pregnant step in front of you, but what are you supposed to do when the old women cut through the other door and push you aside? I stood firm and didn't let the woman on. And when I say, stand firm, I had to hold out my arms to touch the bus. It is just ridiculous. So we get on the bus, crowded and we couldn't find seats next to each other. Mike, Aviva, Morey and I were taking the bus as Effe and Jake were meeting us there. I found a seat next to a soldier and was quite lucky. there were two people that just sat in the aisles as they didn't want to wait for the next bus. The bus ride reminded me of the soccer bus rides in high school, where all of our bags were in the aisle and the freshmen had to sit there if there was no room.

It is not uncommon for you to sit next to a soldier as everyone has to go to the Army for two years. I think I was sitting next to one that was in the Air Force, he had a grey uniform on. He had his gun, and he had his clip hanging on the handle on the seat in front of him. The bus ride was alright, I enjoyed however, driving along the highway and seeing the villages in a distance. Specifically the Arab villages as you can see the minarets. Once we arrived a little north of Tiberius we had to walk about half a mile to our hostel. We were staying in the guest house of a was a regular hostel to me. Although there were six of us in the room, it wasn't too bad. We each had our own bed, bathroom was big and the food was excellent. So now I understood that the Sea of Galilee is not a Sea and is a fresh water lake, but I expected there to be some type of man made beach. No. There were rocks and swamp area that you walked through to get to the clear water. Boy, did it make me miss Echo Lake! We didn't stay in the water too long, but we saw many boats that were replicas of the ones Jesus would have sat in. This was the area where Jesus walked on water. After our adventures in the water we all got ready for dinner and headed downstairs. They had a wide variety of food (no dairy, as it was a meat meal), and then we went back outside. They had TVs in the room, but we all just sat around playing frisbee and what not. We were pretty far from a town, and you couldn't get there as it was Shabbot. Later that evening, we watched Mrs. Doubtfire on Jake's computer...I think it is better to watch it when you are older as the jokes are a lot funnier. It was a good time.

Saturday morning we thought we had to be out by 10, but the gentleman at the front desk told us we could keep our things in the room until 5. Perfect! That way we wouldn't have to carry all of our things with us when we went for a hike. The hike ended up just being Mike and I as everyone else wasn't properly prepared and thought it was too hot. Mike and I walked probably two miles one way along the highway to the Mount of Beautudes, where Jesus gave his sermon on the mount. We had to cut through some thick grass and then walk along a farmers land. We saw a huge (!) black snake slither in front of us. Once we got to the top of the hill, they were closed for a few hours while the monks prayed, we walked down the hill to the Church of St. Peter, and the Fish and Loaves Church. There were a ton of tourists and many wanting to know where we were from. I wish I knew more about the Bible and Jesus' life to fully understand more of the things I am seeing. On our way back as we passed one of the bus stops ( and when I say bus stop, a wooden bench with roof on the side of the road, no taxi stand, no nothing. Middle of nowhere.) we walked in the shade and the smell of Camp Farnsworth camp back. Memories of being called Jellybean and living in Tall Timbers flashed before me. When we got back to the hostel I ran into the water. I was overheated. I floated for a while and thought about where I really was. The north is very quiet and picturesque. Many of the mountains reminded me of Northern France and a little bit of the White Mountains. On our way back to Jerusalem, the ride seemed to take forever. When we stopped at the rest stop, only one store was open as it was still Shabbot, I'm really starting to become irritated with so many things being closed...oh and the bathrooms at the rest stop! You had to pay a schekel and take your toilet paper in with you. Weird. Once we got home around 9 pm, I had a little reading to do for my class on Sunday.

Lo anglit!

Last Wednesday I went up to Pisgat Ze'ev to have lunch with Karen, I had to take a cab up there, and I spoke in Hebrew to him! I mean I only said "kenyon Pisgat Ze'ev" which is the mall there, but he turned the wrong way and then I told him where to Hebrew! I find that it is much easier to converse with people rather than taking my tests. Our teachers will randomly give us a word, and then throw it in the word bank. Meh. On the way back from having lunch with her I also spoke Hebrew to another cab driver. It feels satisfying :) On Thursday Aviva and I went to campus and booked out trip to Prague!!!!! Woot woot! So excited, we leave next Thursday! After booking the trip, I went and had lunch with Yoel at the Sports Center. (Fantastic egg sandwich!) I updated him on my classes, my trips and what Karen and I had spoke about. So my plans for Pisgat Ze'ev will now be to meet with people in the community, have lunch or dinner with them and then simply write about it. Karen was very clear that she does not want me volunteering my time for something that is not meaningful to me. I wanted her to know that I am very committed to keeping the relations between the college, and Staten Island alive with Pisgat Ze'ev. She said that there are more opportunities for me to come after Passover.

After lunch with Yoel, I spoke with Greg and Jeremy for a few hours. It was nice to talk with them and get updated with a few things. Jeremy and I talked about life in the Middle East and how he is adjusting to his situations in the Army. Aviva and I were planning on going down to the Old City to grab dinner, but she took a nap and we ended up getting Falafel at French Hill. French Hill falafel is so tasty. I like going there because they put enough hummus in, they have pickles, andddd it is 9 schek! People, that is 2 bucks for a whole falafel! After our falafel we weren't ready to just go back and sit in the apartment, so we went down to Ben Yahuda for a waffle! We had a falafel and waffle night! Haha. But this waffle place is the size of a bathroom and you can put any type of toppings on that you want. One humorous thing was that it was all Israelis working there, but they were listening to oldies and Elvis. And they loved it! What are they odds! After having our delicious and filling waffles, we stopped at a pharmacy and got a few random things. The odd thing here is that they have Clinique, Chanel, Estee Lauder, counters in the drug stores. It is convenient though as I needed something from Clinique and they don't have a Macy's or anything like that here. Once we came home, the rest of the girls were asleep and we needed to get to bed as we were leaving for the Galilee in the morning.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lazy Weekend

Last Wednesday night a few of us went to a smaller bar downtown. Nothing too special. The french fries were amazing! The music was great, mostly american, and enjoy going to places that have more than two selections for wines. On Thursday morning the plan was to go to the Tank Museum, but we didn't realize how far away it was so we went to the zoo instead!!! I was so excited. I haven't been to a zoo in a few years. People joke that since it is the biblical zoo that there are two of every animal. Ha! Jake, Jon, Morey and I spent about three hours there. There were some other kids from Rothberg that we ran into. My favorite were the monkeys. So adorable, also, there were little like groundhogs that I fell in love with. Too cute. Thursday was my night to cook, so I we had chicken sandwiches and a salad. Later that night I stayed in with both Sarah's and we watched I Love You Man. I was just so exhausted, I couldn't go out. Friday afternoon I finally started doing some reading. Had a lot to catch up on. I also watched the season finale of Burn Notice. Thank you Megavideo. Morey invited us down that night for Shabbot dinner. I made another kosher mistake when I set the Andes mints package down on the wrong side of the counter. Ugh, I'll never get used to all of this. I stayed in on Friday night with Hannah and Adie and we watched Love Actually. I really felt like I needed a weekend to recover from Tel Aviv. Being in Tel Aviv just wiped me out, I hadn't felt like myself all week. I think Saturday was another lounge day and then Saturday night we had a party for Robert's 21st Birthday. (Sarah-UCSB's boyfriend) We hung out and played typical college drinking games, it was his choice for everything. Didn't feel too well that night :(

Earlier on Saturday night Adie's mom came! It was so weird because Sarah (Bates) had a few friends from home staying with us and one of them knew Adie's mom! When her mom walked in she looked at him and was like I recognize you from somewhere and he told her mom that he dropped her Hebrew class at BU because it was too hard. What a small world! Freaky moment. On Sunday I had class and Adie's mom made us dinner. You would have thought the way we all ate was as if we hadn't eaten in six weeks. It was comforting for her mom to want to cook for us. The food was delicious. At the beginning of the week I was trying to plan to try and have Uncle Eric come with his girlfriend Faezah to come and visit. Too much confusion, miscommunication, and it ended up with him decided not to come. Howeverrrrrrr, that means that now I will be in Prague for three nights! :) I went to the travel agent and told them that I wanted to go somewhere that weekend, and it worked out! Anddddd, when I return from Prague two days later I will be leaving for Rhodes for six nights! I am so excited for Spring Break! I leave for Prague in exactly two weeks!

In my Historical Geography of Jerusalem class we went to the City of David on Monday. I enjoy having a small, intimate class as our professor can speak more to us rather than having to stop at designated areas for speeches. We spent about three hours walking around the City of David, which was the original city of Jerusalem. The Old City of what we know today was added on during the Second Temple period. Yesterday (Wed.) I had lunch in Pisgat Ze'ev with Karen to talk about my community service. It has basically turned into me going to different homes throughout the week of different community members and then writing about it. She really wants me to become integrated with Israeli life and see how connected the Jewish community is. Today I had lunch at the Sports Center with Yoel and updated him on the past few weeks. I will be spending the beginning of Passover- the Sadir, which is the first day of Passover with him and his family, and family friends. Tonight Aviva and I will be going down to the Old City for a little bit I think, I haven't been down in a while.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Beginning of Classes

Classes I am taking: Hebrew, Arab Israeli Conflict, Historical Geography of Jerusalem, and Peace Building and Conflict Resolution. Classes are going really well so far. Hebrew is a much slower pace and I feel that I am finally (!) catching on. I have only had the Arab Israeli Conflict class once, and so far it is really interesting, I haven't had an in depth class about the conflict, and this class focuses in on how documents play a role. Whether the documents created a disagreement, or the documents were created after. I enjoy reading the documents and then discussing the cause or effect. The Historical Geography of Jerusalem is the bombbb!!!!! haha. No seriously, it is great. I love how it is a geography class and I know all the answers....go fertile crescent :) (thanks dad!) So in this class we will have lecture one week and then the other week we will be going down to the Old City and also the City of David which was the originally city of Jerusalem. It is fascinating to learn why the gates are positioned they way they are in the Old City as that is how the five valley's run through the area. The first class was an introduction about the history of the city, and most of the lecture was based off of the Bible. My teacher was pulling versus left and right. I was a little skeptical at first as to how much of it I should believe. But the Bible was the only written document back then, so I'm just going with the flow. But I really really enjoy this class so far.

So the Peace Building class- it got off to a chaotic start because there were more than 25 students signed up for the class. The teacher wanted us to tell her why we want to be in the class and then she chose 25 students. I was chosen (I also went up and told her that Yoel said hello, so that might have had a little pull- :)) and class went as planned last week. Then yesterday many students who were not in the class were upset and went to the director. So there are more than 25 students, and she was just very flustered yesterday. Class was cancelled today, and it just seems a little awkward. The class itself is off to a slow start but there is a lot of ground to cover. I am truly excited to see where this class leads as I want to see how this can relate to Human Rights and Genocides.

I don't get how we can fit all this course material into such a short period! Spring Break is three weeks away! :) But so far, I'm enjoying the classroom environment and just need to stay focused to keep up with the amount of reading I have.

Purim Weekend!

Last Wednesday was the start of my Purim weekend, my roommate Sarah(CA) went out with a bunch of people to this bar where a few kids from Rothberg were DJing. It was a fantastic night, a ton of people from school and great music. Thursday was a lazy day, Aviva, Jon and I walked up to campus to buy tickets for the Purim part on Sunday night. Aviva bought a few things for her costume (she was going as Scar from the Lion King). We came home and watched that Zohan movie. It was hilarious, very stereotypical of what people in Israel are like. I was able to catch onto all the little jokes after been here for a month and a half. That Thursday night I packed for Tel Aviv and did a little homework so I wouldn't have to worry about it all weekend. On Friday morning we left for Tel Aviv. Aviva, Maggie, Morey, Jon, Mike and I took a sheruit (large cab) to Tel Aviv and met Effe at the apartment. We rented out an apartment for two nights and it was two blocks from the beach. It was a great location. We fit seven people in an apartment for four, we were a tenement family for the weekend, ha! The weather was not so great, but there were breaks in the rain and we were able to walk along the beach and such. I really enjoyed Tel Aviv as it reminded me of New York, it was more modern, things were shut down on Shabbot, there were dogs instead of cats, (!!!) and it had much more of a young city vibe. On Friday night Morey went with some family to have Shabbos dinner while the rest of us walked to the Port and had dinner at Moses'. The best dinner ever. I had a cheeseburger....with bacon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot tell you how excited I was, I called Mom and Dad right away and told them that I had one. I would go back to Tel Aviv right now just for the burger. After dinner we went back and got ready to go out. We went to a few clubs and walked around different parts of the city. It was a fun night and it was my first trip to a gay bar. Interesting.

Saturday morning we got up and walked along the beach to the old city of Jaffa. It was a stretch, but it was nice to be able to walk in the water, the sun was coming in and out all day. We had a nice lunch at a small restaurant and then headed back. A few people took naps but I was all over watching the Olympics. I was really excited to have a TV as we watched a lot of different events, skiing, bobsledding, ice skating! It was very relaxing. Effe and I walked around to find a place to eat and see what was beginning to open as Shabbot was ending. We ended up going to this Italian restaurant right across the street from our apartment. I had lasagna with meat!!!! I swear Tel Aviv had been waiting for me for a month. I inhaled the lasagna. When we got back and were getting ready we were watching the news as the earthquake in Chile had just hit and they had the warning about the tsunami hitting Hawaii. We all went back to the Port to find a club to go to. Now Purim is a holiday where everyone dresses up as it is Halloween back in the States. We didn't dress up in Tel Aviv, but wow, the amount of people that were out and their costumes. It was madness. There were so many different clubs, but we ended up at one called Old something. We chilled there for a bit and then headed back.

On Sunday we had to check out and we headed back to Jerusalem. Taking the bus is really easy to do and it isn't a long ride at all. When we got back I unpacked and my clothes wreaked of cigarettes. I'm really getting tired of how everyone smokes everywhere. I took a quick nap and then started getting ready for the Purim Party in Jerusalem. My costume was a toga, it turned out really well to my surprise as I didn't know what I was doing that morning. We had a few people over before we headed out, it was fun to get ready with everyone and see all the different costumes. One of Sarah's friends was a cat in a trashbag. Ha! It was great, the costume wasn't the best, buttttt the idea was great. (Little cat story, so I was taking the trash out and I started to throw the bags in the dumpster and I heard rumbling so I knew it was a cat so I stopped for a second and out of no where this cat flies out of the dumpster right next to me, I started screaming and whipping around the trashbags. Traumatizing. :) ) Once we arrived at the Jerusalem theater, it was a stampede to get in. People in Israel have never heard of a line or wait your turn! I'm really starting to get annoyed with this. There were thousands of people there waiting to get in. I have never in my life been to a party this big, nor even see pictures. There were multiple dance floors and you just kept walking around and around just seeing all the people and their costumes. The music was great and the played YMCA! I was with a group of kids from school and so we knew the song and got really excited and this guy next to us looked at us with five heads as he thought we were crazy because we were so excited! Haha. Aviva and I headed back kinda early, around 2 I think. I was so tired, I'm not used to three nights in a row of partying. I was pooped. (We had Sunday and Monday off from school, so I had a five day weekend.) On Monday I got up and immediately did some laundry. I couldn't take the smell, I had a ton to do, about four loads. The rest of the day was lounging, did a little reading. Overall, Purim in Israel was outstanding.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Negev Desert Trip

Last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday. After class I tried to go down to the Old City to be blessed with the ashes. Didn't happen, services weren't for another three hours and I had my final for Hebrew the following day. It was a disappointment, but I did try. I find it exciting that I can experience certain religious days while in Jerusalem. Makes me proud of what I do believe in, and the fact I'm walking the same streets as Jesus was. Last Thursday we had our final. Didn't go so well, but I'm working on it...I'm really going to miss our Ulpan class. There are a few kids that are in my Hebrew class now, but there were two people that came to Jerusalem just for the four weeks. Stephen is a neurologist in Philly-his wife is here doing her masters. I'll miss him interrupting class if he couldn't hear, or something was blocking his vision of the board. Ha. Then there was Joseph who was from Romania, he is working on his masters. He liked to tell you the answers before you even had a chance to think about it...ugh. But we had a great time for the four weeks.

We left early Friday morning for the Negev. It is in the Southern part of Israel in towards the Dead Sea. We were on the bus for about three hours maybe. I had a horrible headache as the night before we had a huge party celebrating the end of Ulpan. We made chocolate covered strawberries, pretzels, apricots, and bananas. A lot of champagne too. Opps. I totally felt like Ina Garten heating up the chocolate getting it to the right consistency. It was a lot of fun. So while on the bus I tried to sleep. When we finally got to the beginning of our hike we all got of the bus and were like where are the bathrooms? (Efo ha sherutem- in Hebrew) The counselors looked as us and laughed and then pointed to the mountains. Boy that was fun. So we started hiking and we had a great guide. Very knowledgeable, made us stop and drink water every five minutes practically. It was so amazing though as we were walking and you could see all the layers from hundreds of years ago. We then started to begin the walk down in the river beds. You were walking in what used to be a river which I think ran into the Dead Sea, or I'm assuming, as that is where our hike ended. The mountains were huge on either side, I'd say five story buildings at some points.

There was a ton of limestone, both soft and hard, and a ton of flint. I took some small rocks. Once we would climb up to the top of the mountain, and we did climb, praying for dear life the person in front didn't slip, or the rocks didn't move. Seeing from above what you climbed was so amazing. The mountains went on for miles and the physical characteristics of each range was different. Some would be very dry and rocky, with a peak, and others were more rolling with a plateau. You just looked to the next person asking them if this was really happening. I'm so glad that I've been able to see so much of Israel, not just the cities. I enjoy exploring the entire country.

We stayed at this nice hostel, very secure. The food was fantastic! We had a TV, watched Lizzy McGuire before bed which I haven't seen in years and also Dancing with Wolves. What are the odds. Ha. But I kinda made a kosher slip though :( So for breakfast they don't usually serve the typically eggs and pancakes. It was more salads, bread, some fish, and cheeses. There was cereal though, phew. But they also had some puddings. So I had one at breakfast and wanted to take another back to the room for later. So when dinner came around, I decided I would have the pudding for desert. So we sit down for dinner and my friend Morey asked me to take it off of the table. I understood that you can't have meat and dairy in the same meal, so out of respect I took it off the table, but I still was going to eat it as I'm not Jewish. So after dinner, I open the pudding and start to eat. Then I hear Morey and Jake start talking and then Jake told me that I need to stop eating or not to let them see me eating it as I was using a meat utensil for a dairy product. He then tells me that they could lose their Kosher license if they catch me. I immediately stop and just go and throw the fork and pudding out. I know right, what a slip up. I felt really bad, but it didn't even occur to me that I was using a different utensil for the meat. Whoops.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Weekend in Tzfat!

Well, what an interesting weekend. So it started off on Friday morning as we left Jerusalem at 5:30 am. The bus ride was okay for the first part, but once we got up into the mountains it was like a snake road that kept winding allllll the way up the mountains. Northern Israel is beautiful. I could spend an entire day just sitting on a ledge and staring. It is really weird as one mountain is olive trees, one is spruce trees, one is rocks, one is grass, one is grass with rocks sticking out, and then in between you will find random houses. And these houses have no electricity or water running to them. It was so different to see that there were a few houses living in a cluster in the middle or on the sides of these mountains. Around 8am we stopped at this tiny park to have breakfast. There were two other schools that met us there, Ben Gurion University and Tel Aviv University were in the buses behind us. So we get off, have an orange, "shocko" (really good chocolate milk, but nothing can beat Wicked Good Chocolate Milk) and some rogalah. Rogalah is pretty much mini chocolate croissants. But don't say that to an Israeli. So we are all standing around and talking to people and a lot of people are excited to see their friends from the other schools. And you know how I said that I would never see anyone in Israel that I knew?!?! Well guess who was standing right in front of me! This girl that I went to St. Paul's with...her name was Samara and she was really good friends with Sarah. No joke, we just looked at each other and were like OH MY GOD what on earth are you doing here?! Like, words couldn't come out of my mouth as I was in such shock that I knew someone, but that it was someone from St. Paul's. Even more creepy, I was wearing my St. Paul's sweatpants. Ha! So after we talked for a few minutes, we got back on the buses, and we saw each other for the rest of the night and stuff, we headed to go ATV-ing. We had to pass this little test to see which kind of ATV we could drive. I got a check dash (orrrr as the guys told me it was a check minus) ha. Anyways, I wasn't the best at the ATV's but I was still good enough. So my parter was a grad student from Ben Gurion. He has his own bike at home and was a good driver. We went through mud puddles, up rocks, on the roads, it was insane. I sat on the back just taking a ton of pictures. The rocks were so sharp that I was surprised the tires didn't pop. Once the rest of the group was at the top of this mountain we were there and took a lot of pictures. The tour guide was showing us where Syria and Lebanon were. We were about two miles south of Lebanon.

On the way back down, I got to drive! The tour guide kept looking back and telling me to slow down. Opps :) It was so cool though just be on a dirt road swerving everywhere. After we returned, we had lunch and then headed to the caves. So these though the lemon squeeze at the Flume was bad?!?! So we had to first climb down about three stories just to get to the entrance of the cave we would be climbing in. It was so moist that the rocks were really slippery that I just sat and slid down. You really had to hold on tight to these rocks as it was so dark you couldn't see. The flashlight I had was running on half a battery. Oy. Once we were in the caves the guide told us stories about how people had died in there and blah blah blah. But they entire time we were listening we had to have our lights off and I was clinging onto the ten year old next to me because I was so scared. Ha. It was really creepy though. After we finally made it back alive, we then got to swing from the top of the cave into the entrance. It was so much fun! I was really scared before, I kept telling the guy to make sure my harness was strapped on correctly and then everything was sealed tight, and I just stood there shaking as he then just pushed me off and I went flying. Boy did I scream. It was so cool just go be flying towards the cave, and then getting so close to the rocks above you. It is really hard to explain, but it was just great. When I got back on the ground I just stood there for a second holding onto the guy because my legs were jello.

So we had to rush back to the bus as the sun was almost setting and we needed to be ready for dinner as Shabbot was starting. So this was my first Shabbot weekend and it was very interesting. I had a great time doing all the activities but the religious aspect was too spiritual/mystical/Kaballah for me. Tzfat is one of the holiest cities in Judaism and it is a strictly Jewish town. It is more like an artists colony. But we make it back to the hotel and I am staying with three other girls who are Jewish. Some more orthodox than the others. But they all wanted to be showered in ready within a half hour as you are not supposed to be doing work once the sun has set. So they got ready and then I got ready last. We kept the bathroom light on and shut everything else off and it would stay like that all day on Saturday. You couldn't turn on or off switches. When they weren't in the room, I turned the TV on and watched some of the olympics. Once we were ready we went down to dinner. Before dinner there was about 45 minutes of prayers out on the deck. I sat in the back and just observed. Then once we ate there were more songs and prayers that went along with the whole ceremony. And Friday night dinners are different than all the other dinners, but this was big as it was the beginning of Shabbot.

After dinner, we stayed up for a little, had snacks, and most of the people just sat around and sang songs. I only knew one of them. They were all in Hebrew and everyone knew that from going to camp. I'm pretty sure that out of the 100 students that were there, I might have been the only non-Jew. Don't get me wrong, I am very glad I experienced a Shabbot weekend, but it wasn't the most exciting thing. I felt uncomfortable during some of the prayers/song singing as it is completely different from going to Sunday school and Church. Saturday morning comes and the other girls get up to go to morning services, I slept in and it was fantastic. This was when I watched TV as they were out of the room. We then had a tour of the town, but I wasn't allowed to bring my camera as you can't use electronics on Saturday. It was almost pointless to have a tour as nothing was open. It was worse that Jerusalem. However, for those Jewish people that are more Orthodox and do believe in all the spirituality, this town was the place to be. After experiencing this past weekend, I can see how those that have been raised in a household without religion would think that most religions are some sort of cult. It was just a confusing weekend as you don't find just a Jewish person that fits into this category. I realized that Judaism is more of a way of life, more than a religion. These people fit their lives according to what the Torah or Talmud says. Each person I encountered had different beliefs and traditions that they were raised with. It is very confusing and I still question it. I did enjoy the weekend, but I wish I had experienced a Shabbot weekend before experiencing an Orthodox Shabbot weekend. And when I throw all these terms around, Orthodox and conservative and reformed mean different things to different Jews. It's weird and hard to explain. Once Shabbot ended we packed up and headed back to Jerusalem. I tried to do some homework, but got a little sick. We followed the Sea of Galilee for a while and then finally made it back to the Student Village. I was very excited.

I didn't make it to class on Sunday, I hadn't done my homework, I was really tired, just needed an extra day. It was fine, we are given two days to miss if we want. I was nervous that I would miss a lot of Hebrew, but I was fine. Today being Monday I made it to class and we were learning about the infinitives. Ugh. Ulpan ends on Thursday and we need to start getting ready for our final. It was gorgeous today, about 90 degrees Fahrenheit! :) So the week ahead looks like a lot of studying and then on Friday we have a trip to the Negev desert. Wish me luck on my final!

Old City Tour

Last Wednesday (the 10th) I went on an organized tour of the Old City through my school. We left after Ulpan and had a delicious lunch in the Muslim Quarter. We had a security guard with us who had two guns with him. I think the larger one is called an ouzo? Not really sure, looked like an M-16 to me. But we walked around for about five hours going to each quarter. And what I learned about the Armenian quarter is that it is closed off to people for most of the day except for the daily mass. So if I want to check out that area then I'll head to mass one of these days. I really enjoyed this trip to the Old City because our tour guide knew of all the small streets that took us up onto the roofs so we could have a better view. He explained to us that near the Wailing Wall they were excavating an area of land that was from the Roman period. They had found coins from the Romans just a few years ago. Then as we were walking through the Jewish quarter we saw the remains of the original Old City wall, which means that I saw the oldest wall in the world. (So he said) We also saw columns from the Roman period where they had their main road and their "mall." Each time we went to a new section or different street I was asking the tour guide how old the stones we were walking on were. They ranged from 1,500 years old, to about 500 years old. I find the stones that are still there and supporting so many of the buildings to be the most fascinating thing about the Old City.

After the Old City tour we returned around 5 pm and I went to Yoel's house for a party. Little did he tell me that it was his birthday that he had invited me over for! Ugh, I wish he had have told me because then I would have brought a bottle of wine for him. I really enjoy spending time with him and his family as it's nice to break away from the people I'm seeing everyday and experience what life is really like in Israel. There were about twenty of his friends, all English speak, most from the States and had gone on the same program I am on now and decided to stay. But something really funny was this big snow storm we just had, I guess there was a snowball fight in Dupont Circle in DC and one of the guys sons was the one that organized it! I guess he was on the front page of the Times, Journal, and Post. I keep forgetting to mention it to Papa to see if he saw it in the paper. The food was great, it was really nice to meet his children, his daughter is a few years older than me. I probably should have stayed in as I had a test the next day, but whatever. The frustrating part about Ulpan is that is so intense after class you have a lot of homework to do that it leaves no time to explore the city as much as I'd like. I hope once classes start next week that it will be better.

That Thursday (the 11th) after Ulpan I met Yoel and his wife for lunch downtown. We went to this place that had a great view of the Old City walls and was probably a block and half away. It was a gorgeous day and the food was fantastic. I talked with Yoel a lot about the classes I'm taking and the internships. I got an e-mail from one of the Professor's that I would like to do research for this past weekend. I have an interview on Thursday. I'm crossing my fingers. But we also talked about other opportunities in case this doesn't go through. After lunch he dropped me off at the Student Village and then I actually went back down to the Old City with my friends for some dinner. It was great to walk around at night, most of the prices are dropped as the owners just want to close shop. I bought two scarves, a t-shirt, and some batteries. We had great falafel at this small restaurant and just took our time. It's really funny how most of my friends here are always running into someone they know. When we were there, Jake ran into two people that he had known. I'll never run into someone I know in Israel!!!!!

Later that night, I had a horrible migraine. I think just being out all day, then being around the cigarette and hookah smoke made it worse. I wanted to sleep but I had to pack for my trip to Tzfat for the weekend. We were going to be leaving at 5:30 am. Ugh. I packed a lot of things I knew would get dirty as we were going to be going ATV-ing, cave climbing, and then rope swinging. I also had to pack a 'conservative' outfit for Shabbot services on Saturday. So that meant, skirt below the knees, legs covered, elbows covered, and color bones covered. I wanted to make sure I look appropriate as I didn't want to offend anyone while I was there.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Not sure for a title

So on Sunday I had my meeting with my advisor about my classes. She has approved me for them, but I'm still not sure what I want to take as I don't know if I got the internship or not. I should be finding out later this week. After class I did some homework and then a group of us went to the shook (the open air market) and we got a lot of fresh veggies and such. It is incredible how fresh everything is and how cheap it is. I got a kilo of strawberries for two bucks! It's weird though, I'm not a fan of these strawberries, the ones from the grocery store that are injected with preservatives taste much better. I got some celery, hummus :), and carrots. Now the truth comes out that the grocery store that I have been shopping at for two and a half weeks is the most expensive. Every time I would leave and be spending eighty dollars I would look and be like what did I buy, so there is another store down a few blocks more. I'll check it out this week probably. Also on Sunday I finally watched tv online! It wasn't even my trash shows either! I got to watch an episode of Burn Notice. A lot of my friends are always watching it, but I can never figure it out on my own, I need helping knowing which links to click so it will let me watch it internationally.

We had a quiz last week that I didn't do so well on. It is just really hard to see a "letter" in block, then switch it into script, then try and figure out the sound, then try and figure out what the word sounds like and then have to know the Hebrew word! All in about two seconds. It is slowly coming, but it is just so discouraging to be in a class with other kids that have had Hebrew before and then they yell out answers before you have any idea what the question is. I just feel like someone that has a learning disorder in this class. And it's not like there is just one letter that makes the sound "a", there are three, so then when you are writing the word, you have to guess which one it is. Seriously, this language is just memorization and the shrugging your shoulders just assuming you got it right. Ulpan ends next Thursday, which I'm excited about, but then once the semester starts I have ten hours a week of Hebrew spread out over three days. I'm just really hoping that I'll be in a class that has more people that have never spoken this language, or even been exposed to it. Man oh man do I have a lot to say once they give us the reviews.

Yesterday was pretty low key. I took a nice nap after class and then we went to my friend Jonathan's for dinner. We have a rotation down where each night someone cooks at their place and then we switch. Aviva and I are Tuesdays as of right now. Tonight we are making beef stew! I'm really excited, I just got done cleaning the kitchen to make sure we have enough stuff to use. That's another thing that stinks about the apartments, you really have to keep up on the dishes because everyone needs something all the time. I have no problem doing the dishes at all because I know that I will really wash them in hot water. I just don't like the idea that four people are just using the same utensils over and over again if someone didn't wash them properly. I tell everyone I have no problem doing it because we are all switching weeks of being sick. Maybe this whole "I don't mind cleaning" thing will fade soon. Ha! Oh! I made my decision about where I'm going this weekend, I'll be going up to Haifa to go skiing! Woo hoo!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

One is the loneliest number...

I lost a sock in the wash today :( (hence the title of the blog) I really liked that pair too. Darn. So yesterday was lazy. Had a great shabbot dinner though. Aviva cooked this chicken. So good. I did the clean up! We have a great system! Ha! Today we walked around campus and took some pictures. Just chilled and watched Jerusalem. It was really neat because we heard the bells of the churches and then after that we heard the call of the prayer from the mosques. When I first heard it I was in class and though it was a lawnmower, and then the next time I thought they were cows. It is very interesting to hear. It is weird to see everyone's statuses on Facebook talk about how they are excited for Saturday night...but here, we are just getting ready to start class at 9:30am tomorrow. It's hard to adjust to having class on Sundays. I did laundry tonight, pretty expensive...I think like three bucks a load. Ugh. The washers smelled like cats! So gross, I moved my stuff. I swear I attract cats and cigarette smoke. My clothes are always smelling.

Dandruff situation is getting better with the head and shoulders. Haha. So all the dairy products here are very weird. The milk, cheese, yogurt, it's all very runny. And that would be great for me, not to have any lumps in my yogurt but its even worse I think! I know hard to believe. But it tastes very funny. And then the lumps are very tiny, but in a weird way. Not really a fan of it. And I am dying for some extra sharp Cabot cheddar cheese. The cheddar here is so weak. I have my meeting with my advisor tomorrow afternoon to discuss my classes. I'm still trying to figure out how I can get photos up here. Maybe a few more days.

Oh! So today when Aviva and I were walking on the outskirts of campus, we were on the east side looking into the West Bank. It was so beautiful today. Its justs mountains everyone. Desert mountains, but more rocky. Not sandy at all. They go on forever, I know Jordan is in the distance...not too sure how far out though. But it is so incredible to see the mountains and then a small town in the middle, and then miles down, another town. And you can tell they are all Muslim as you can see the towers for the mosques. It is crazy to just sit there and watch the West Bank. I mean I'm in the center of the world. For everything, religion, politics. And it really just looks so peaceful and serene. The view will never get old, something new is always popping up. I just can't wrap my head around how people are living in this area and there is so much controversy. They are truly just living their lives. It is just so different than what I thought before coming out here. It is weird to think that it looks peaceful in a way. Hmm.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


So there was snow/hail today! I know, in Jerusalem! They cancelled all the activities for today and tomorrow because they were so freaked out. Which means the Old City tour is next week along with the Dead Sea trip....buttttt i signed up for a ski trip up in Haifa, and I don't know where I want to go! I think I'll do Haifa as it is an organized trip and I can do a trip to the Dead Sea with anyone. I had a great revelation yesterday: there are no squirrels in Israel! Seriously! It is so weird to be walking around and not seeing them! squirrels! lol. So the water here is obviously different but its making my hair just really weird texture. Really sucks, so dry. Random. I know.

Israel in the news: The other day I guess Hamas fisherman put barrels out into the sea that were full with explosives. Many theories as to what they were used for, some say it was to bomb the Navy's boats, others say the beaches. They have closed down the entire coast due to it. Also negotiations have stopped between Israel and Hamas with one of the Israeli soldiers that has been held for a few years now. (not sure why) and then Israel has warned Syria that if they were to start a war they would lose. Syria wants the Golan Heights back. Hebrew is just getting harder and harder and we had a quiz today. It is just so hard to read block letters, then translate them into script while trying to figure out the sound, and then having to make a word. And then once you make the word you stare at it because you barely know any Hebrew words. It's just really tough, and so frustrating because you feel so slow! Ugh. I enjoy learning it, but it's just very stressful. I was at the grocery store yesterday and this really old man who spoke very little English came up to me and asked me if I knew what Cheerio's were. He said that his wife eats them, but he doesn't know what they are. It was so cute, I was so happy that I could finally be helping someone in this country. He was surprised that it was cereal as he thought it was a type of vegetable. Ha! Today was such brutal weather, the wind and the cold. Tough walk to campus. It takes me about twenty minutes each day, I consider it my workout.

This weekend doesn't look too exciting, the weather is supposed to be bad and I just really want to concentrate on Hebrew. I'll have to get some laundry done sometime in there. Tata :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


So there are these creepy guys that live across from us that like to creep in our windows with binoculars. I caught them the other night, so weird. I think this blog thing is like ADD for me, I can't go to sleep because I keep thinking about all the things I need to write about. Ahhhh!!!! So cats are everywhere here. Really gross, it's like NYC's rat problem. And no one on campus, or the Student Village where I live seems to be able to walk their trash bags to the dumpster. Luckily, I live right next to them, but seriously people leave their bags (not even tied) right outside the main lobby doors! Hello people?!?! Walk your dirty crap to the dumpsters. So annoying, and it is always smelling. We have two girls moving into our apartment today and tomorrow. Adie is from the States, but has kinda lived in Israel off and on for six years. She goes to University of Michigan, and Aviva is from DC and goes to Temple. I'm really excited to finally have a full apartment with no boys.

So my hotdogs and beans was a failure last night. I bought turkey hot dogs, and then these beans that weren't cooked. Ugh, I was so upset. I'll head to the grocery store tomorrow to stock up on foods as Thursday we are going to the Old City and then Friday is the Dead Sea. So if I want food for the weekend, then I need to go tomorrow. Also, I have an internship interview tomorrow. I will be taking three classes and an internship while I'm here. A lot to work on later to get myself prepared.

I met with Yoel today (the one from Pisgat Zeev who is helping me with the transition and also is the coordinator with the JCC sister thingy) but we had lunch in the faculty lounge- as he used to be the Director of the school I'm attending now. I had beef stew for lunch! It was soooo soooo good :) He gave me a great tour of the school and I saw the Dead Sea and the hills of Jordan. This is just such an incredible place. You could spend hours just staring out over Mr. Scopus in any direction. The Old City is so close, you can see all the walls, its just so amazing. See you later :)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Continuation of One!

So I think I ended with coming back from the Old City on Friday. We were in a cab on the way back from school and we were stopped in the middle of a demonstration. Kinda scary. It was a demonstration for the land that the Jewish people were building houses on. There were Arabs, Jews, Christians all for the protest against this tiny house. So we made it back to school and then we had a HUGE Shabbot dinner in my apartment. There were like twenty people here and we had a ton of food, great chicken and lots of wine. We had challah, wine, candles, and then people began singing Jewish songs. It was a ton of fun. Ew though, our floor was so gross after people left and we don't have a mop yet :(. I didn't do much after dinner, hung out with some people. My second Saturday was very low key during the day. I did some homework, organized my room, cleaned the apartment. Not too much. Later that night I went to the community of Pisgat Zeev for Tu-Besh-Vat. This is like Arbor Day in Israel. Wagner has a requirement for me to do community service for ten hours a week at this Jewish Community Center as the JCC on Staten Island is the sister JCC to Pisgat Zeev. I was met by Yoel, who is helping me with the transition between the JCC's. It was a lot of fun, and I am really excited to be going up there each week. It makes me feel as if I have a family already over here. I was introduced to many people in the community, and they were excited to finally meet me as they knew that a student would be arriving soon.

On the way back, we drove through the West Bank! Yes! The West Bank! We are so close to it. It was nothing like I expected. We drove right through the security without being stopped and then we went to see a Jewish settlement. I was a little nervous, but then we were back in Israel. It is so confusing though between what is Arab land and what is Jewish land. I really can't even begin to explain as I still don't fully know. I'll fill you all in though :) So finally I am up to Sunday, which is today! We had class today, really weird to have classes on Sunday. I keep catching myself staring out the window during class looking at the West Bank and the Mosques. Hmmm I think I should be paying attention, but it really is beautiful to just look out onto the desert. After class ended, we had our academic orientation for our classes. It sounds so unorganized and just not fun to register. Worse than WWAM! Iknow! I can't even imagine something worse than that. Oh well, I'll be registering sometime within the week. Not sure what my classes are, I have a meeting with my advisor this week as well.

I cooked my first dinner by myself tonight! I cooked ground chicken, with spices!!!!!! Thanks Ro! And then some spaghetti sauce with spaghetti. Really good. I was so proud of myself! :) Did a little homework, still trying to sound out all of the sounds and then trying to figure out what it actually means. Now I feel like downloading some pictures to Facebook and then they will be up here shortly! But I miss all of you! And I am so excited to have followers and I love that I can share this with you! Adios!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

First Post :)

Hi everyone! So I don't know blogging all that well, but everyone seems to be doing it, soooo why not. And yes, you might think that the title is strange, but for real- I am living in the safest room in the apartment. I have an extra door leading to my room (pictures of my apartment will follow), I have a red light which stays on at all times. Ugh, not fun trying to sleep with, and then my windows are a little different. I think that the shades could potentially be bullet proof. Who knows.

Okay, so I have been here for a week and two days. Lets start with the flight: I had to get a little extra screening on El Al Airlines (honestly because I am not Jewish, but it was fine, a little nerve racking however). The flight was long. They sat the entire group of about 55 of us in alphabetical order so I had the last row, which a wall was behind and I couldn't put my seat back. Total bummer. Food was good, movies were good. After the meals the men and young boys went to the exits and prayed. I guess that was my first look into how things would be in Israel. I sat in between two girls that have been to Israel multiple times. Oh and I was lucky enough to be sitting in the middle. Ugh. I was walking around a lot and standing and talking with other people from the program. I think once we saw daylight and then the beaches of Tel Aviv, I just remember I kept asking myself why on Earth am I studying in Israel!?!?!?!? We then take a bus to Jerusalem, find our roommates and then our apartments!

There are twelve buildings in the entire complex and I am in building four. We are on the third floor and I have a view of the dumpsters. Ha! I moved in with a girl named Sarah from MA, who goes to Bates. We were really excited that there were people living here and there were basic things as silverware and toilet paper here for us. At first there were two polish people living here who were working on their Masters, but they left yesterday. There is also another girl named sarah from CA who goes to UC Santa Barbara. She has been here all year, I have only seen her a few times as she is on her "Winter Break" now. Her boyfriend also is here for the year. So after arriving we had a few hours to unpack and then we went to the mall. We had to buy comforters, pillows, towels, slippers, lamps. Pretty much everything for your room. That wasn't the greatest feeling. I wish they had told us to really buy food as Friday is Shabbot and everything is closed for two days. People, when I say everything is closed for Friday and Saturday I really mean it. I think that was the biggest and still is the hardest adjustment. So we come back from the mall, finally get to sleep after being awake for 40 hours and then Friday arrives.

I went down the the "Shook" which is the open air market with a few people and it was INSANE!!!!!! It was incredible to see all the fresh produce but it was so busy as everyone was shopping for Shabbot dinner and Saturday meals. Its really hard to understand that after four o'clock on Fridays and before six o'clock on Saturdays you really are just resting. I mean they push it on you as you are in Jerusalem. I have heard that it isn't this bad in other parts of the country. So Friday I bought some hummus (which I live off of), some apricots, other stuff and then head back. It was so weird because you are all living in different buildings, people still barely know each other, yet you have to instantly bond so you don't drive yourself nuts. Friday night I went out with my roommate and a few other people to a bar in one of the Arab neighborhoods. Pretty chill, nothing too exciting. It was nice to get out though. The thing about being in Jerusalem and everything closing is that things are open, but they are in the Arab neighborhoods and its just whether you want to venture out there or not. I am living in an Arab neighborhood so there is like a falafel/tiny grocery store open around the corner. So its exciting to be in those neighborhoods and see life moving around.

Ok Saturday- I think I slept until like 3 in the afternoon, so nothing too great, haha. We all went out to like the American/tourist part of the city to a few bars. Then Sunday we had our orientation, and then classes started on Monday. Wow. Hebrew is beyond hard. My teacher was moving at such a fast pace and the other kids in the room had already learned the alphabet. After much convicing and crying I was moved to another class where the teacher actually wrote and sounded out the letters. This isn't easy people. I have been to the grocery store up the street a few times, but still wonder through the isles looking at everything having no idea what it is. One I rarely shop and cook on my own, and's all in Hebrew! Double fail. The week went on and I got to know so many more people. Kids from all over the States and the World. Its really exhilerating to see everyone wanting to study here.

So then on Thursday we had our like first little family meal I guess. Me and five friends all cooked together and then got ready to go out to the bars. Wow, Thursday nights in Jerusalem are the night to go out. So much fun. Except everyone smokes here, and inside everywhere. I'm always showering as I smell like smoke. It really sucks. Badly. After a fantastic night of Israeli bars and clubs I finally ventured into the Old City on Friday. I got up a little eary to go to the grocery store so I could have things to eat for the weekend, as it would be close later (once again). So we take the bus down to the Old City and enter in the Christian Quarter, walked around, saw great shops that had the statues of Jesus made out of Olive Wood. Really cool. You saw people of all races and religions walking around. We then made it to the Church of the Holy Sepulchure. When we walked in the side, I was really confused by it. It is actually pretty plain compared to Notre Dame or St. Patrick's but the actually history of it is fascinating. I want to take a tour of it so I can really know what everything is. But I did get to light candles for the living and the dead. It was very emotional and overwhelming. Next we went to the Arab quarter and were in there for a while. We had lunch at this great restaurant and then walked some more. Tons of shops and little "titsey's" to buy. We kinda went off the main road and were walking in some rural areas. It was fine though. We then started walking up these stairs and didn't realize the the Mosque and terrace were right in front of us. We were stopped by two soldiers with massive guns. Ummmm yeah. A little scary, they told us to come back another day, it was fine after that. Once coming back to reality and realizing that we were just stopped by M-16s we went to the Jewish quarter. We had to go through security and then made it to the Wailing Wall. First impression was that it was kinda small. Pictures made it look much larger. We walked closer and stopped at like an area for tourists to stand. the Wall is separated between men and women, but we could stand anywhere. One of the guys we were with is Jewish and he went up to the wall. It was neat to see people sticking their prayers inside the cracks. It started to get busy as it was Shabbot. Going to the Old City was so exciting but overwhelming. When I go back I want to take a tour of certain things so I really know what everything is.

So I hope this was good for a first blog?!?! :) Ummm I'll keep them coming and pictures will be up soon!