The Metzuda beach
Me and a friend at the beach in Ashdod. The Metzuda (Citadel) is behind us
I am so proud of myself for managing my time well during this visit. Normally I get lazy and hang out in my grandma's house for days because I don't feel like traveling far to visit friends--during this visit I knew I wouldn't have much time to lie around so I made sure to cram everything in.
I arrived in Israel on the 20th at around 2 pm after a direct flight from LA. I got lucky--I got a window seat (my favorite) and had an empty seat next to me on the flight. Nonetheless, the flight seemed endless, and to make matters worse, every time I had to pee I had to climb over my row of seats to the seat behind me, since the colossal woman sitting in my row slept like a rock the entire flight.
I took the train from the airport near Tel Aviv to Ashdod (about 40 min. south) where my grandmother lives. My uncle picked me up from the train station, which was a nice surprise since he lives about three hours south of Ashdod, in a kibbutz called Neot Smadar.
The next day was set aside for unpacking, sleeping, and
Tel Aviv Nightlife
The CLARA in Tel Aviv for my friend's going away party
finishing up some things I needed to prepare for the Olive Tree Initiative trip, including sending a letter to the unit I served in the army to ask if we could tour the army base during our visit to the West Bank.
On the 23rd I went to the beach with friends. I love the beaches in Ashdod- we went to a beach called the Metzuda, (citadel) (built after the Arab conqest of the land during the 8th century: http://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%90%D7%A9%D7%93%D7%95%D7%93_%D7%99%D7%9D
- the link is in Hebrew but there are pictures).
It was lovely; there were absolutely no jelly fish (normally the water is full of them in the summer) and the sea was warm and clear. As we played in the waves my friends wondered what we should do if we heard a siren (indicating that a rocket was headed in our direction)--we came to the conclusion that staying in the water would probably be the safest thing to do. At that moment I realized that I was wrong when I told UCI's chancellor during an OTI group discussion that when I come to visit Israel on vacation I don't deal with the conflict--we deal with the conflict every day, whether we like it or not. We were at the beach for five hours and I got a pretty bad sunburn.
On the 25th I met up with Michal, a friend from the US who moved back to Israel. She came to the beach in Ashdod and we soaked up some sun (I smothered myself in sunscreen this time). From there we drove to Rehovot where she lives and then to Tel Aviv to meet up with two other friends. Our waitress was a total hipster. I never realized this, but Israelis take hipster to a whole new level.
From there we went our separate ways and I continued on to the nearby shopping mall (Dizingoff center) to meet a few friends from the army. We sat down at another coffee shop in the area (but this time I ordered cold cider with chunks of apple in it) and we chattered loudly for about three hours until the waitresses began to stare us down. I caught the bus home to Ashdod at around 10:00pm.
On the 27th I found myself in Tel Aviv once again--this time for a friend's going away party (she had just finished her master's degree in Tel Aviv University and was heading back home to the US). We went out to a dancebar called CLARA. It was my first time there and I was excited to go because all of my American friends seem to really like it. It sits right on the water which is very pretty, but I'm not a huge fan of the bar itself--the music wasn't too great.
On the 30th I came back to Tel Aviv to meet up with more friends from the army. We ate at a pizza place where you buy pizza in small slices, that way you can taste many pizzas with many different toppings. I headed home at around 10:30 pm--I had to pass through the Tel Aviv central bus station which is pretty terrifying at night--I always wonder why the city doesn't do anything to make the place less creepy--is it that difficult to add more security guards or policemen to walk around the place at night?
I got home and started packing for my trip to Jerusalem the next day where I would finally get to spend a weekend with my best friend whom I hadn't seen in a year.
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