Days 136-139: They’re Here! Part 2

Here’s part 2 of my parents’ visit to Israel! Enjoy!

Day 136: Wednesday, 1/21/2015

tumblr_inline_niu0movWYZ1qzafdrHappy long weekend to me! We spent the day exploring Jaffa, which is very fun. Of course I’d had tours through Jaffa before, but this is definitely the longest I’d ever spent there. We took the bus and walked towards the old city. From the top, we were able to see the entire waterline of Tel Aviv! The last time I’d seen this was at night, so it was really beautiful to check it our during the day.

We started to get a little hungry, and I’d heard of an amazing hummus place called “Abu Hassan.” We walked up to a different area of Jaffa and found it. It was packed! We actually shared a table with someone else. He hardly acknowledged our existence. The hummus was the best I’d ever had! Seriously, so amazing.

After our snack-turned-lunch, we headed back down to the old city and found the flea market (in Hebrew: Shuk HaPishpeshim), which was our original intention. I bought a new phone case for 15 shekels…originally 20, but I haggled it down! Go me! We went into a few art galleries as we explored the city. Most notable was the Ilana Goor museum. Ilana Goor is an Israeli artist who actually lives in the museum! It houses both her own artwork and her personal collection. We spent about an hour exploring around. It was a lot of fun. My parents have all the cool pictures though. Sorry.

Random wings painted in the Jaffa Port! Had to stop for a photo op!
Random wings painted in the Jaffa Port! Had to stop for a photo op!

After the museum, we had some time to kill before our dinner reservation.

So we explored the Jaffa Port and found many people taking wedding photos around the city! It’s very beautiful in the area, so it’s no wonder they were taking pictures, but we definitely saw 4 or 5 different couples. It was insane.

Okay, now for me to tell you about our dinner experience. I’d made a reservation at the NaLagaat Center’s “Blackout” restaurant. The NaLagaat Center is a center dedicated to introduce guests to the world of people with disabilities. The particular experience we were going to do was have dinner in pitch blackness. And when I say pitch black, I truly mean it. They made us leave our phones outside and take off anything that could possibly have light, such as watches. Before going into the restaurant, we chose which entree and dessert we wanted to eat, as we would not have been able to see the menu while inside.

We were lead into the restaurant by our server (all the waiters are either visually-impaired or completely blind) by putting our hands on each other’s shoulders. The room was completely pitch black. Our server, Maayan, told us where everything on the table was located and helped us through the meal. It was very unique. The food was good (I got gnocchi, as I felt it would be easiest to eat without actually seeing it) but it was truly about living the experience. I highly recommend dining in the dark once in your life. Miraculously, none of us spilled on ourselves!

We took the bus back to their hotel and got an early night in before our early start the next day!

Day 137: Thursday, 1/22/2015

The majority of my program (including my roommates) left early that morning for the trip to the Negev and Eilat. While I was sad I was missing the trip, I was thrilled to have time with my parents and have the apartment to myself!

Today we were heading up north towards Haifa to go wine tasting! My dad had arranged visits to 3 different wineries and my parents had rented a car for the day. We hopped in the car and I plugged in the address into Waze (the car company had gotten rid of car navigation systems since everyone uses Waze….not the best idea, in my opinion, but it all worked out).

Our first stop was Tulip Winery in a little town called Kfar Tikvah. Kfar Tikvah literally means the “Village of Hope,” and for good reason! It is a community for adults with disabilities and mental issues to live and work in the world. The winery actually employs people from the community to make the wine! Such an amazing story, and luckily, the wine was amazing too! The woman who helped us was named Lotan, and she let us try about 10 different wines! Not to mention, she brought us a nice cheese plate and tomatoes to pair along with the wines. It was such a nice experience! We also were able to meet the winemaker (whose name is escaping me) and he told us about the process of owning a kosher winery and what to do during a “shmitah year,” or when you have to let the land rest for a year every 7 years.

Next stop was Binyamina Winery located in the town of Binyamina. We got a little bit lost, so I had to call the winery and explain my problem both in English and Hebrew. Luckily, we were able to figure it out and arrived to the winery where we met with Hilit, the export manager, and Yael, one of the winemakers. We first got a tour of the facilities, where we had to be escorted by a mashgiach, a religious Jew who works for the winery. In order for a winery to be considered kosher, all production has to be supervised by religious Jews. Not going to get into the politics on it, but it was a pretty strange concept. We tasted about 6 or 7 wines, and each was explained by Yael. It was very fun to sit with the winemaker for the whole time, although none of the wines were actually made by her, since she just started working at the winery a year before. Our wine was accompanied by some yummy bread and olive oil!

We then headed to our last stop of the day, Carmel Winery, which is the largest winery in all of Israel, located in Zikhron Yaakov. Here, we tasted 4 different wines. I liked them, but to be honest, I was pretty hungry after not really eating much except cheese and bread the entire day. We finished up at Carmel and headed into the town for dinner. The man at Carmel winery had recommended a restaurant in Zikhron Yaakov, and we realized afterwards why things like TripAdvisor and Yelp exist. It was not very good. We salvaged it with some delicious ice cream and frozen yogurt afterwards.

We drove back to Tel Aviv and headed home to my empty apartment. Ahh so nice…

Day 138: Friday, 1/23/2015

Today was a much more relaxing day. We had a later start and decided to go shopping at Dizengoff Center. We walked down both Ben Yehuda and Dizengoff on our way, stopping at a few galleries along the way. Mom and I also got some yummy falafel, her first one of the trip! We got to the mall, and I got really cool pair of boots to help me get through Europe! Thanks, guys!

We stopped for a little snack at “Bar Giyora,” one of the first places I ever went to on the trip. Although the last time I went was for the live music bar in the bomb shelter. I got some yummy sangria and a ceviche.

We walked back to our respective homes to relax for a bit before getting dinner. Dad had seen a fish restaurant nearby called “Barbunia” that he wanted to try, so we went there. They gave you a bunch of salads and stuff before the meal, in true Israeli style. The food was pretty good, nothing to report on too much.

Day 139: Saturday, 1/24/2015

Mom and dad’s last day 😦 They came over to see my apartment, and were physically able to see some of the many issues I’d been complaining about for the past 5 months. However, they agreed that if it were built properly, it would be a nice place to stay. Too bad it was built with Israeli workmanship…

Afterwards, we headed back to the Namal (Tel Aviv Port) to come pretty much full circle for their trip. It was much more crowded than the previous Saturday for some reason, but we had a lot of fun perusing in the gorgeous weather. We had a late reservation at a restaurant called “Mul Yam,” which was rated among the top 50 seafood restaurants in the WORLD. Yes, the world, not Israel. It was amazing! Tied for best meals in Israel with Messa. Obviously I can’t afford to go to these places on my own…

After our late lunch, we walked back to their hotel while watching a beautiful sunset. Mom took about 50 pictures. I restrained myself to a few.

We got back to their hotel and hung out for a bit before the taxi came to pick them up. We gave really big hugs and said our goodbyes. Luckily, the next time I see them will be in just 5 weeks, instead of 4 months this time!

It was so great that my parents were able to come and visit! As you can tell, we had a really great week together, and I am sad that it had to come to an end. However, I have so many fun things in store for me until the next time I see them!

-Girl in Israel 🙂

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