I sorely missed my friend Shiran and her amazing family, and I had just survived a pretty wretched midterms / finals / rewrites / thesis forming / stupid strike, so after writing the last midterm (!) paper and doing more work on my thesis (I think I may be getting somewhere. Thank goodness for my advisor!), I headed to Tel Aviv for the afternoon and evening.
I arrived at the Tel Aviv Central bus station and, to my amusement, my shock, and my delight, I found massive Christmas displays in the bus station's mall! The lights! The trees! The boxes of ornaments! I felt like I had wandered back into a South Florida mall -- just add the stench of cigarette smoke and ambiguously connected floors, nudge an inter-city bus terminal off of one corridor, and you've got Tel Aviv's Central Bus station on Christmas Day!
Coral Square Mall? No...Keep Guessing...
Aventura Mall? No...One more try...
Tel Aviv Central Bus Station?! BINGO! Yuletide glow is felt all 'round this secular city!
Na-nac-nachman meuman followed me to Tel Aviv. This graffiti is very popular and found ALL over the place in Israel.
I left the bus station and made my way down to Nachalat Benyamin, a crafty street fair that is open in Tel Aviv every Tuesday and Friday. I got a huge Diet Coke at Burger King (ordering in Hebrew) and wandered around the fair's pretty displays for a long while. I ran into a bunch of Florida kids on Birthright, and the new UF rabbi, ordained at JTS last spring. It was fun to see the FL kids, and to hear that Yoni's enjoying UF Hillel! (Also, Go GATORS! Wooo!)
A fine retail establishment, close to Shuk HaCarmel and Nachalat Benyamin. There didn't seem to be any books inside, so we can chalk this up to crazy Israeli translation skills (like when you order a "beagle with lox").
I also wandered through Shuk HaCarmel (FYI, Davidson Chevre: This is actually fun when it's not raining!), and up and down Sheinkin Street, which has funky shops. I FINALLY got new leggings (or, as they say in Hebrew, "tights"), as I discovered that Tel Aviv is the leggings capital of Israel. Jerusalem is not the capital of leggings...or Israel, for that matter, at least according to my home country. I'm just trying to raise the intellectual bar a little, seeing as how I'm just talking about shopping here. But really. Leggings are hard to find in Jerusalem. And so is the US Embassy, because it's in Tel Aviv.
Anyway, the leggings came in this fabulous bag: Sometimes, when Israelis put English on things, they just throw words together that they think look cool. I was half mortified, half elated, to be carrying such a disgusting and ridiculous bag, filled with, not sex, but two pairs of leggings and my fleece jacket.
When Shiran met me as the sun was setting on Allenby Street (Sheinkin, Nachalat Benyamin and the Shuk are all spokes off of an intersection at Allenby), we got her some backpacking pants (she's going to India!), and then I made her convince me that I needed not only a new necklace for my birthday, but a new wallet as well. Happy birthday to me!
"It's a fine neck-LACE," as they'd say on the State.
Look, I got a wallet for an adult! For the first time since high school, I will be using an adult wallet! I'm growing up, I guess:
Big Girl Wallet outside!
After all this, we amused ourselves with the finer things in life: גרבי חברות / Garbei Chaveroot / Friendship socks. See:
גרבי חברות / Friendship socks!
We also had a jeans-trying-on adventure in Castro (um, zippers at the ankles are just not OK), which is like Express in the States, and we got fruit shakes before our bus ride back to her hometown.
Dinner was great, and I feel like I can actually talk in Hebrew with Shiran and her family. I told them what it was like to prepare for a hurricane, and we conducted much of the conversation in Hebrew. It was awesome. With ulpan back and school (supposedly) operational, and my visits to my Israeli pseudo-families, I just may be able to converse with Israelis wherever we may meet!
After watching most of the Israeli Try-Out-For-Grease-Idol, I was tired and got on the bus back to Jerusalem. As the bus rolled back to Jerusalem, another successful Tel Aviv Tuesday spun to a close.
PS - I love Shiran and her family!