Showing posts with label Israel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Israel. Show all posts

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 Gewürztraminer.

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.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Exploring Highlights of Israel

I had been in Israel for just about a week. There was a lot to see, but we had been given a pretty set schedule. Fortunately, my fellow writers and I were able to convince our tour guide to go off the plan a bit and it turned out to be our best day of exploring.

I woke up at the Dan Accadia Hotel in Herzeliya to another sunny day.

The scenery here was beautiful and even though I didn’t have time to fully enjoy it, I did walk around the property a bit, taking in the views of the pool and beach.

After another delicious Israeli breakfast, we headed onto the bus and toward the desert.

We were off to the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea. Despite the fact that it is extremely hot, and the drop below sea level had our ears popping, the distance of the sun kept the rays from burning as much as you’d expect.

The drive took us through Jericho, though we only made one stop, for a pose with a camel that was much more likely to be a tourist attraction than a working animal.

Below there we could see a site you don’t see every day – goats being wrangled down the desert dunes.

We stopped the bus at Neve Midbar Beach. We had about two hours there and we all were anxious to get our swimsuits on and head down to the sea.

Since the addition of this stop was last minute, I really hadn’t done much research on the Dead Sea. I welcomed information as I walked carefully down the slippery ramp.

From our side we could see Jordan. In fact, the border between the two countries is in the middle of the sea.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the mud or the ability to float and both surprised me. It was actually a lot of fun too. 

The mud from the Dead Sea is supposed to be wonderful for your skin as it has many anti-aging properties. We figured we had nothing to lose as we spread it all over our bodies before getting in the water.

It’s true what they say about not being able to swim in this sea. The salt content makes everyone float, a strange feeling when you try to turn over.

We relaxed in the warm water as we hadn’t in a week, wishing we could stay longer.

Before heading back to the bus we made a short stop at the bar, then showered and changed. We were all so relaxed that most of us fell asleep in the bus on the way to Jerusalem.

We had no doubt when we entered Jerusalem as the view is like no other in the world, as is the history.

Jerusalem is the center of so many religions and the Old City, which we would be touring, is appropriately a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Even though it was the Sabbath, a Jewish holy day, the sites were quite crowded with tourists from all over the world.

You also couldn’t help but notice the high security and soldiers everywhere, protecting this holy land.

We started our tour on the side of the Tower of David, taking the road it’s believed Jesus took in his last week in Israel.

The Church of the Holy Sepulche, the place of the crucifixion and the grave of Jesus, was as spectacular as anything I had seen in Rome.

As we walked around the Old City, we could see the Gondan Dome on Mountain of Olives, believed to be an ancient Jewish temple.

We also visited the Room of the Last Supper, and the Room of the birth of King David, as well as the Western Wall.

It was all a bit surreal since it had been so many years since I had visited Israel and didn’t remember any details of these sites.

Before we left the Old City we did a bit of shopping in the Arab Market. I came home with some gifts, and a belly dancer costume for myself.

We headed downtown and checked into The King David hotel. Many heads of state from around the world have stayed at this hotel which I can accurately describe as royal.

Before checking in we had some wine in the executive lounge with the hotel manager.

My room was very large and well-appointed. It was clear I was in one of the world’s most luxurious hotels.

I refreshed quickly for dinner at Colony Bistro, a casual restaurant not too far away.

Dinner was delicious, starting with an Israeli Salad and an eggplant dish. We each chose our own main course, which included beef, salmon, and a black ink pasta.

I choose the gnocchi in a creamy cheese sauce and loved it.

Before we headed back to the hotel we nibbled on an assortment of desserts, including crème brulee and gelatos.

Needless to say, I quickly drifted off to sleep at the King David Hotel after a very full day of exploring Israel.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

An Unforgettable Day in Israel

Some days of travel are amazing and some are not. Then there are the ones which are a little of both. This was the case for my fifth day in Israel.

The day certainly started out right as I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast from my balcony at the Dan Acadia Hotel in Herzeliya, a suburb of Tel Aviv.

I was getting spoiled by these Israeli breakfasts, which were filled with fruit, cheese, and sweet treats.

It looked to be another beautifully sunny day and I wished I had time to check out the pool and the beach, but I had to get ready to meet the group.

We were heading for a tour of Old Jaffa. I had discovered my passport and glasses missing and thought they might have been left at the previous hotel so I asked our tour guide to have the bus make a stop at the Dan Hotel Tel Aviv.

Unfortunately, despite the urging from my fellow journalists to stay, Carmela felt they were running late to get to the Jaffa tour and wouldn’t wait for me to check at the hotel.

What was a simple errand turned into quite an ordeal.

I’ll skip all the details, but, needless to say, it was a stressful day trying to catch up with the group that finally ended with me having to take a (very expensive) cab back to Herzeliya in the late afternoon.

The experienced certainly dampened my time in Old Jaffa, but I did at least get to have an amazing apple strudel at Opel Cafe, catch some Mediterranean Sea views of Tel Aviv, and see some of the market while I was searching for the group!

While the rest of the evening certainly didn’t compare to the afternoon debacle, the schedule was a gain changed on us.

An excursion to Drummers Beach was eliminated and we headed directly for dinner at Port & Sons restaurant in Tel Aviv.

By the time we got to the restaurant, I was more than ready for a glass of wine. Porter & Sons concentrates more on a big beer selection, but they did bring me a satisfying Israeli chardonnay from Dalton Winery in Galilee.

Porter & Sons also brought out a selection of food family style.

Even though they hadn’t been informed in advance of my fish allergy, managed to come up with some wonderful dishes for me, including spaetzle, eggplant, and pasta. The desserts were also quite good.

After dinner, we headed back to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art for the Piano Festival.

We saw a popular Israeli singer, who sang a lot of her native songs.

On the way out of the festival, we heard some jazz music as locals and visitors danced around them.

We returned to the Dan Acadia Hotel in Herzeliya and I did my best to relax after the stress of the day.

It had taken a lot of convincing from myself and my fellow writers, but Carmela had agreed to take us to the Dead Sea before Jerusalem the next day so it was time to try to move past the bad experience.