I’ve had a few emails and personal messages asking how I’m doing, what I’m doing, and what my life looks like. They say that a picture is worth 1,000 words, so here are four pictures that will hopefully help satisfy some curiosity and allay any concerns about my well-being:
And in case those pictures weren’t enough, let me also say that my people here have been as good to me as they always were. In a lot of ways, it feels like I never left; in others, it feels like years have passed. I think I’ll be exploring that grey area between foreign and familiar for some time, but that’s just fine with me.
A lot gets packed into our eighth grade trip to Israel. After four nights in Jerusalem, two nights in the Negev, and three nights on the Kinneret, the trip staff were exhausted. Built into the trip was a weekend with host families, usually students’ relatives or family friends. For staff, this meant two nights to choose anywhere in Israel to stay and just relax. One of my carpool friends was also a trip chaperone and we chose to spend the weekend in Tel Aviv; it was nothing less than glorious.
With the kids, we stopped in Tel Aviv twice over the course of the trip: Once to eat falafel and hang out in a park before visiting the Olympic Museum, which was entertaining for the kids and a lovely display of Zionism, and once to go to the beach. Suffice it to say that Tel Aviv (and perhaps anything) with kids is completely different than with adults.
After traveling by bus with a group of students also staying in and around Tel Aviv, we were free! We dropped our bags at the hotel and headed straight to Nachlat Binyamin, the artists’ market where, back in 2007, my parents bought a fruit plate that still sits on their kitchen counter and I bought a pair of purple earrings that I wore every single day until they turned green. (Those earrings are the reason that I chose purple studs when I pierced the second hole in my right ear.) I didn’t buy anything this time, but it was still fun to look around.
From there, hungry, in the mood for shakshuka, and still in need of gifts, we wandered Shuk HaCarmel, the most famous of Tel Aviv’s markets. As readers of this blog know, I adore markets. I love food and smells and flavors. I love the dedication of the vendors, the passionate bargaining of customers, and the speed of each transaction. I love the crowds and how markets are universally loud, frenetic, and a true delight for all the senses.
This particular market area of Tel Aviv is also a great spot for really neat street art. Shout out to my weekend partner-in-crime for her patience every time I said, “Wait, need a picture.”
Truth be told, however, we spent most of our weekend just sitting on the beach. I’m generally really bad at sitting but that’s all my body wanted to do. Sometimes we sat with food or drinks and sometimes we just sat and watched the water. We met up with a friend and some friends of friends and had ourselves a lovely time.
In addition to a great beach atmosphere, Tel Aviv also has a great restaurant and bar scene. On recommendation from one of our trip guides who lives in Tel Aviv, we went to Four One Six, a vegan restaurant that exceeded all expectations. After a few minutes of talking to the owner, we made a New York connection – he and his twin brother, the head chef, are from Brooklyn and opened the restaurant together a few months ago. He had previously worked at Candle 79, a phenomenal vegan restaurant that was blocks away from my Upper East Side apartment for the month that I lived there. The owner was really friendly and told us that he and his brother are working to challenge the food scene in Tel Aviv by introducing delicious vegan food that highlights what vegan can eat rather than what they can’t. Sounds a little like Candle 79! (And Vedge in Philadelphia, which I also highly recommend.) The owner dropped off a plate of chocolates and stopped back to ask if we’d figured out the flavors. Delicious isn’t a flavor but that’s what they were.
Other food highlights from the weekend include shakshuka, which we didn’t find at Shuk HaCarmel but ate outside at a sidewalk bakery/café, and burekas, which we also enjoyed while sitting outside. I could eat nothing but Israeli food every day for the rest of my life and never get bored. Every meal, including breakfast, is full of various types of fresh salads and I just love it.
After dinner, we met up with our guide, his girlfriend, and a few other friends at Dizzy Frishdon, a great bar with outdoor seating, several indoor bar areas, a table with swings instead of chairs, and a few rooms of normal tables and chairs. It was a really lovely evening to sit outside (are you noticing a theme?) and enjoy just being in Tel Aviv and watching the nightlife all around us. Our guide’s friend is a part owner of the bar and that came with food and drinks perks, which was a lot of fun.
Overall, it was an incredibly relaxing weekend and exactly what we needed to prepare for the final two nights of the trip back in Jerusalem. It actually ended up being two and a half nights after a seven-hour flight delay, so it’s a good thing that we were relaxed and rejuvenated. Beautiful beaches, beautiful food, and beautiful people have a way of doing that.
This was the weekend of parks. The weather took a break from the winter we had last week and I used the sunshine as a good reason to wander through three. I was pleasantly surprised with the flurry of activity I found in each. I do like that about New York City – there is literally always something happening!
My favorite cosmetics shop is in Korea Town, which is an area I like a lot because it reminds me of being in Asia. I never made it to Korea, but it gives me a little sense of home that feels warm and inviting.
I usually walk through Greeley Square Park on the way out of the subway. Unbeknownst to me, Broadway Bites had popped up and there were people everywhere! It was so much fun to see literally all types of delicious food and drinks.
My other Korea Town plan was a bowl of noodles, so it all worked out really well. I ended up sharing my table with a lady visiting from LA who was trying to sample as much pizza as she could while visiting.
Since the weather was beautiful, I was happy to just wander. And needed to walk off my mushroom ramen! In keeping with my Operation Keep Smiling plan, I took some photos on the way to Bryant Park where I sat for a while to finish my book and enjoy some hot chocolate. (I had, after all, walked off the ramen.)
Bryant Park’s Winter Village recently started, again unbeknownst to me. I’d been to the Winter Village on various trips to New York City but I didn’t know it started this early! Maybe I should start accepting the free copies of Time Out New York magazine at the subway. Maybe that would help me know things.
Again, really enjoyed people watching and looking at all the cute stands and stalls. There were lots of food and beverage options here, too.
There’s even a carousel! Another good reason to have kids: being able to ride a carousel.
Love this view of the city
There’s a Children’s Reading Room! This child is reading! How wonderful!
Tables and chairs were set up everywhere and full everywhere.
My favorite pop-up shop . . . and favorite bookstore . . . that I need to stop visiting because I buy something every time I’m there . . .
The park surprises continued today. I made my way to Washington Square Park on a whim. I haven’t been in a while even though I live less than two miles away. Distance is deceptive in Manhattan. Everything is really close together but the subway is built to run mainly north-south with buses taking more of the east-west routes. It can take a really long time to get places as a result. The easiest route from my apartment to Washington Square was to walk, so that’s what I did. Notice the steadily darkening sky . . .
And in the park . . . chalk! Who knew? Looking at all the drawings was so much fun! Is that a typical thing? I have no idea and there were no signs anywhere indicating as such.
When the sky got really threatening, I headed in the direction of home. When it was clear that I was going to get caught in a torrential downpour, I stopped to take another picture. Nothing to lose at that point!
All those poor chalk artists!
In addition to the beautiful weather and chalk drawings, here’s what made me smile today:
Three parks and a surprise in each one. Sounds like Halloween weekend to me!
Photos, travels, musings, and ideas on education by a twenty-something teacher trying to make the world a better and more peaceful place