Twelve hours of flying and we would be there. I boarded the flight and thought, “I’m so tired. I’m not sure I even want to do this.” COVID burnout had been hitting me and my energy levels were low. But about halfway through the flight, after a few hours of sleeping in the upright position, I woke and realized I was going to Israel, and it was going to be awesome.
We landed around dinner time in Tel Aviv. We had to get a COVID PCR test, go to our AirBNB, and quarantine until the results came in. We did this pretty quickly, found a taxi, and settled in our AirBNB by 7 pm. At this point, though, we were so excited to be in Israel and there was no way were going to sleep. Trapped inside with some airplane snacks and nothing else to entertain us, we attempted to order food online. It went on for about two hours, having chose our meals at two or three restaurants and having no success with delivery. We finally gave up, retreated to bed, and woke in the morning with negative COVID tests. We were free to explore Tel Aviv!
My mom – Amelia – and Tony were on this trip with me. We ventured off to find some coffee at a local coffee house called Origami. It was probably seven or eight blocks away, and I have to say, I learned pretty quickly that Tel Aviv is an incredibly accessible city. In fact, more accessible than some places in The States. The sidewalks were clean, in great condition, and every corner had a ramp. Thank you Tel Aviv!
Almost everyone in Israel speaks English. Our conversations usually started out with a ‘Shalom,’ which is Hebrew for ‘Hello,’ followed by additional greetings in Hebrew. We responded with ‘Shalom, how are you?’ And just like that, a completely fluent English conversation happened.
We had our coffees at Origami, limiting ourselves to just one so we could check out a few other cafes. We hadn’t eaten yet so we found a café with a breakfast menu. Here, we had our first Shakshuka, a very common Jewish breakfast plate. It is two poached eggs covered in a tomato sauce with a variety of vegetables. Cheese is optional. I had this almost every day we were in Israel, and I don’t regret it.
We spent the rest of the day walking around Tel Aviv. And to be precise, walking around Tel Aviv meant walking over 12 miles. We found tiny breweries, local frozen yogurt shops, markets with local knick knacks, and my favorite, a shop with hundreds of kinds of cheese!
I’ve always said that one of my favorite ways to experience a city is to just walk it. I had some pins on the map – a synagogue, a famous street, and so on. But it’s the sites in between each destination that reveals a city’s culture. The smells, the noises, the people. Mmm. I just love all of it. Around 5 pm, as the sun was approaching the horizon, we started heading back towards our AirBNB. There was a beautiful, cement path along the Mediterranean Sea, and this, of all things, was one of my favorite experiences in Tel Aviv. Oh, and the hummus. The absolute best hummus in the world!