Monday, April 25, 2016

Farewell to Israel

It had been a long, full trip to Israel which was finally coming to an end.

I managed to pack a lot into my final day in Israel, which actually stretched on for nearly two days.

I woke up at the Dan Hotel Tel Aviv and lingered over my final Israeli breakfast. I was going to miss the fruit, salmon, cheese, and of course, the halvah and cheesecake.

I could resist taking a final photo of the beach before heading off to the Carmel Market.

I had loved this market on my first day in Tel Aviv and wanted to go back to pick up some items before I left.

The halvah was at the top of my list, but I also picked up some of the Middle Eastern spice combinations I knew would be delicious over rice.

Soon after I returned to the hotel my cousin Marge joined me. She had brought my mother to Tel Aviv as we were both flying home very early the next morning.

Mom decided to stay and get organized for the trip while Marge and I headed to Nini Hachi, a top sushi restaurant in Tel Aviv which my cousin and her architectural firm Sitton Plus Tannous had designed.

She was anxious to show me it and introduce me to her bosses, and I was thrilled to have kosher sushi, which I could eat since the fish had never been near shellfish  (You can read more about my sushi experience on Yahoo!).

We had a long lunch of Asian food, including fantastic vegetarian sushi, a beef bowl, and an unforgettable salad with salmon, and a bit of sake at Nini Hachi.

I really enjoyed hearing about the perfect partnership of Jacob Tannous and Sharon Sitton – an Arab and an Israeli.

After lunch I headed back to the Dan Hotel Tel Aviv to pack, rest, and get ready for dinner. Mom was coming along for our farewell dinner to Messa Restaurant.

The restaurant was elegant and the food was amazing. Through no fault of the restaurant, though, they didn’t have my allergy menu and my mom was hit with a very hefty bill.

The trip home was pretty awful. We had a 1:00 am flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul and were dropped at the wrong terminal. I had to maneuver four suitcases and a wheelchair to the right one.

The layover in Istanbul was four hours in the middle of the night that turned into six hours. I do have to compliment Turkish Air on excellent service and food on the planes. 

Mom and I separated at JFK in New York, where she took a flight home to Florida and I continued on two more flights to my home.

Despite all the problems, in the end, I had no regrets about going on this trip. I got to see my cousins and visit a lot about a country I hadn’t seen in nearly 40 years.

The trip certainly could have been better had it been coordinated more carefully between all of the parties involved – especially the flights and the tour guide.

I am still grateful to Israel Tourism and Tel-Aviv Non-Stop for giving me a chance to learn so much more about Israel.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

From King David to More Tel Aviv

I woke up in Jerusalem, surrounded by every comfort imaginable. Everything about The King David validated that it was one of the most luxurious hotels in the world.

My room was beautiful, with attention to every detail, and the service was just impeccable. 

Every time we turned around, someone was waiting, anticipating our every need.

I had been thoroughly enjoying the Israeli breakfast buffets throughout my stay in the country, but The King David took it one step further. In addition to a magnificent display, they offered made to order omelets and eggs benedicts – with ingredients such as truffles and salmon.

I chose a fresh vegetable filled omelet, and filled a plate at the buffet with cheese, fruit, and salmon, adding a small pastry and some halvah to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Before I packed up to leave, I walked around the hotel a little to check it out. 

I also ventured out to the courtyard and took note that it would be another pleasantly warm day in Israel.

We drove to Tel Aviv and heading straight to the Sarona Market. It was nothing like the markets we had been to on previous days.

Sarona Market is indoor and set up like a mall, but all of the stores and kiosks are focused around food and drink.

I wandered through the market with Jo Piazza, the former Yahoo! Travel managing editor who was one of the other members of our group.

Our first stop was at a very unusual spirits store where you could buy barreled liquors, such as cognac, whiskey, and liqueurs. We sampled a few and they were all good.

The Vom Fass store next door also had some interesting spirits, as well as a selection of Vom Fass oils in casks. They had everything there, including grapeseed oil, ginger sesame oil, and even avocado oil.

We stopped at a wine tasting room next to sample some Israeli wines. The store gave us the option of tasting a few little glasses, or purchasing a larger one. They were all kept at proper temperature inside a Wine Station.

I really like the pinot grigio from Lueria in the Upper Galilee and the Carmel Valley Winery Gew├╝rztraminer.

It was hard to resist buying a bagful of the luscious cheeses at the next store we were at, but I knew they wouldn’t travel very well. It was also almost time to meet the group and head to the hotel.

On the way out, we walked past the Freestyle Raman Table, where it many locals were enjoying lunch, Fiori Fresh Pasta Bar, a store filled with spices, dried fruits and nuts, a fish market, and a bakery with many tempting breads.

We had to wait a while for the bus to come and pick us up, but I still had some time before dinner to take a walk down to the beach for probably the last time in Israel.

I showered and changed before the bus came back to take us to dinner at Herbert Samuel Restaurant. Joining us was Mira Marcus, the International Press Director for Tel Aviv.

Although they had prepared a menu for us, they did adjust it for my seafood allergy.

The group did rave about the calamari, but I enjoyed a fresh tomato salad and beef kabobs.

The desserts at Herbert Samuel Restaurant, while complicated in description and name, all proved to be scrumptious.

We headed back to the Dan Hotel Tel Aviv more than ready to retire. The next day would be our final one in Israel.