Haifa, Purim, Jerusalem and Rockets Far Far Away

Sorry for the length of time since my last post, but it was a busy week combined with a very busy weekend. We only had three days of classes last week because it was Purim. It is an actual religious holiday, but to an outsider, it can basically be described as a multi-day celebration with costumes and street festivals and general frivolity.

Emily, Eva, Brittany and I all bought super cheap animal ears and party hats and were “party animals.” Oh the ingenuity that comes with thriftiness. It was a good time that lasted from Wednesday night through Friday and spanned both Haifa and Jerusalem. Meanwhile, since the holiday meant no class on Thursday, three of us walked down the entire mountain to the beach, which you can see from everywhere on campus. It only took us around two and a half hours, although we’re pretty confident we can get it down to two since we really know what we’re doing. It was a really nice walk and I am eager to do it again when the weather is nice. We of course, took the bus back up.

So on Friday, we went to Jerusalem! We stayed in a hostel, which was an experience. It was right next to the Damascus Gate into the Old City and only a ten minute walk from Ben Yehuda Street, but was um…a hostel. So, you get what you get when you only pay 25 bucks a night. But we had a good time wandering through a Purim street festival on Friday afternoon, then heading to the Western Wall for the start of Shabbat. Seeing so many people doing the same prayers was really very moving.

Saturday was full of wandering wandering wandering through the Old City because most of the museums and such that we would have gone to were closed because it was Shabbat. That’s something that’s not as noticeable in Haifa, but definitely is in Jerusalem.

One museum that was open was the Tower of David museum, which is a really old fortress that is now a museum about the history of the city. It was a rather nice way to spend several hours. The weather was also absolutely gorgeous. It was just warm enough that we all got some sun, but not so warm that we were sweaty. And, as always, we practiced the cardinal rule of exploring an unknown land…when in doubt, or when lost or sad or confused or just breathing, eat! Fallafel, shwarma, dried fruit, weirdly awesome honey balls, just eat! I also had my first haggling experience where I got an embroidered tapestry (the one thing I really really really wanted from Israel) from one of the shops in Jerusalem. His initial ask was 400 NIS and I paid 200 NIS, and it is the one souvenir I will probably buy myself the whole time I’m here (besides food). It is now proudly hanging up in my dorm room.

On Sunday, we went to Yad Vashem, where I was awed and overwhelmed by the beautiful and touching simplicity of every square inch. For those who don’t know, Yad Vashem is the Holocaust Museum on Mt. Herzel, and is a must-see for anyone who has any sort of reverence for the tragedy that consumed so many lives so needlessly.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend as long as I wanted there or take it in as much as I really would have liked to because Mother Nature decided to kick my butt and make me very sick very fast. The past few days have been a string of feverishness, blowing my nose and lots of coughing but I’ve got a doctor’s appointment tomorrow and a date with some Nyquil another International School student has tonight.

Wow, that was a long one, but kudos if you read all the way through. Another post will follow this week before our hike.

Oh and the rockets? What rockets? All of that is far far away, I promise and by the way, it’s not really news here. It’s just life. So never fear. All is well.

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Categories: Friends, Israeli life, Photos, Travels | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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