Sukkot Pt. 3: Jerusalem, Ashdod, and Tel-Aviv

On Tuesday morning, I arrived in the Jerusalem bus station and met up with friends of my parents (and members of their Temple in Rhode Island). Dianne and her husband Martin offered to host me while visiting their son, Ari, who moved to Israel 5 years ago. Seeing their familiar faces in a place like Jerusalem was funny, but certainly welcome.

Dianne and I went directly from the station to the Israel museum, where we met up with Martin. After stuffing my bags into a locker, we explored the many areas of the museum – the sculpture garden, the Shrine of the Book, the large model of the old city, Israeli art and artifacts, and, my personal favorite, the huge archaeological exhibit.

Model of the old city

We spent the rest of the morning into the early evening walking around the museum, and I didn’t even make it halfway through all of the archaeological rooms. I could easily have spent two more days there with still new things to see.

Some really cool ancient masks at the museum

Meeting up with Ari, we all went out to dinner at one of their favorite Italian restaurants, just a short walk away from his apartment. After a delicious meal with great conversation (I learned so much about living in Israel), we set out down the boardwalk, where there is a “fake beach” (complete with sand and beach chairs), and many shops, restaurants, and bars along the way. On the way back, we stopped for ice cream at Vaniglia…

So many tasty vegan options!

So many tasty vegan options!

…Where I had an amazing vegan peanut butter, coconut & molasses milkshake.

Behold.

Behold.

The next day, I received a lovely care package from my mother via an Israeli friend travelling from Rhode Island to Jerusalem. So excited to have homemade seitan ingredients again! Not to mention the bag of Mom’s famous granola…nom. After a quick afternoon trip to the Jerusalem shuk, I hopped on the bus back to Ashdod.

The next day (Thursday), Paul and I went back to our favorite host family for the final sukkot meal, bringing Emily C and Todd with us. We all had a great time hanging out and meeting more of the family, and, of course, eating a lot of amazing food. I hope to stay in touch with them and spend time with them between the holidays.

My host dropped the big plate of vegetables right on mine and declared "FOR YOU!!!"

My host dropped the big plate of vegetables right on mine and declared “FOR YOU!!!”

The next morning, I coordinated to meet up with Steph on an early train into Tel-Aviv. She was coming up from her WWOOFing experience on a farm near Sderot, and we spent the ride in sharing fun stories. After a quick check-in with our host Guy (who graciously let us stay again for the weekend), we tossed down our bags and walked slowly through the artist’s market leading to the Carmel Shuk. There, I made one very important purchase: the seven shekel falafel with amazing spicy sauce, which Steph and I munched ceremoniously sitting on the curb. I think I smell a Tel Aviv tradition.

That night we met up with my new friend Nimrod, who invited us to his nearby apartment for Shabbat dinner with his friend Tomer. I broke into my sacred aupply of vital wheat gluten and made seitan, enjoying the familiar flavor and texture, and coated in my new spice mix from the Carmel shuk. After dinner, Steph and I finally had our girls night out on Rothchild Street, where dancing and late-night hangs were had.

The Jimmy Who bar and nightclub. It looked a dungeon inside. But also packed with people, kind of dancing, but mostly bumping into each other.

On Saturday, we went to the beach for what I fear may have been one of our final beach days. The temperature was just warm enough when the sun shone free, but the wind was blowing giant, fluffy clouds across the sky and a consistent thin sheet of sand across our bodies. Yet we prevailed. And I got a little more tan!

After an afternoon of watching 2001: A Space Odyssey (neither Steph nor Guy had seen it, so I insisted), Steph and I decided to go out and see where the night would take us.

That's us!

That’s us!

We started with a late-ish dinner at a nearby vegan restaurant and bar. We split two dishes, both of which were outstanding, and very reasonably priced.

Some kind of savory pastry roll with almond feta...followed by a bean burger with garlic aioli, taters, and homemade ketchup. All was eaten.

Some kind of savory pastry roll with almond feta…followed by a bean burger with garlic aioli, taters, and homemade ketchup. All was eaten.

Still feeling food-y, we returned to Iceberg for more vegan ice cream. It’s definitely a good thing there is no vegan ice cream in Ashdod…it’s too damn good to resist.After such grand food adventures, we decided on a chill night at the apartment…

…which allowed us to wake up on the earlier side Sunday morning. We walked to Jaffa for one of the most Israeli-recommended and (internet) acclaimed hole-in-the-wall humus places in Tel-Aviv, Abu Hasan (also known as Karavan).

Magnificent wonderland for 18 shekels - or 9 shekels each

Magnificent wonderland for 18 shekels – or 9 shekels each

After we gorged and before we departed for Ashdod, I once again made an important purchase: a container of Abu Hasan humus to bring back with me, complete with spicy pepper sauce. So excited.

Much was learned, much fun was had, many new friends made and places seen, and last, but not least, a ton of incredible food was inhaled – I’m proud to say my Sukkot vacation was a huge success!

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