Category Archives: Mediterranean Monday

Mediterranean Monday: The Art of Bus-Riding

IMG_0029If my cup of coffee in the morning doesn’t completely wake me up, then the bus rides sure will! Riding the public busses in Tel Aviv is an art form, its not for the faint-of-heart.

You might be thinking, “how difficult is it to ride a bus, come on!?!”

And let me reply, “it’s not difficult, but you need to have gumption and be ready for battle.

First of all, let me start at the beginning. Bus-Riding in Israel 101.

  1. While waiting for the bus, remember that lines in Israel do not actually exist.  Everyone will sorta mule around, and when the bus pulls up you must push your way into the huddle.  If you stand back, unassertively, you will be last, and being last as you will see is not a good thing.
  2. In the midst of pushing yourself onto the bus, make sure you have some sort of bus pass.  Giving the driver change will just prolong your process and make everyone else annoyed with you.
  3. Once you are in, look for ANY available seat.  Being able to sit is a rare treat!
  4. If there is no seat you are now one of the many sardines in the tin”.  Trust me its not fun, but there are some important guidelines for the sardine life:
  5. Make sure you have a firm grasp of either a pole or a seat.  I prefer not to use the hangy things from the ceiling, cuz they just are not stable at all.
  6. When standing, make sure you have an evenly-balanced position. Legs shoulder-length apart, never together.  You MUST be prepared for the MANY abrupt stops the driver WILL make during the trip. Learning how to shift your weight from your right to left leg, according to stops and take-offs are ESSENTIAL!  This will prevent many akward spills into other people.
  7. Make sure you know your stop.  If the bus is full, wading your way through the sardines to the exit of the bus may take a bit of time, so be prepared.
  8. And finally, when the bus stops you must be quick to get off.  The driver WILL shut the doors on you or before you have a chance to exit.  Make sure you know the word for driver in Hebrew (nag), and be ready to shout it out, in hopes he’ll give you a second chance an re-open the doors.

As you can see, its not for the weak-minded….

And now you know why I do not look forward to my 4 bus trips everyday.  But, while in Rome (aka, Tel Aviv)……

Mediterranean Monday: Eilat (אילת)

EilatEilat is Israel’s southernmost city, located on the north tip of the Red Sea. It’s part of the Negev Desert, making it scorching HOT during the summer, and still warm enough to vacation during the winter.  It is definitely one of the most popular travel destinations for Israeli’s, who just want to get away for a few days or the weekend.

As you can see from the map, it is located right on the corner of Israel/Jordan/Egypt.  If you also look closely you will see a blue line going from point A (Tel Aviv) to point B (Eilat). While it might look like quite the journey on the small map, in reality it is only about a 4 hour drive (5 1/2) by bus, more or less.

And here’s the exciting news.  At the end of the week on Thursday night, I will be traveling to Eilat for 3 days!!! My Hebrew class ends on Thursday, and that night my flat-mate and I are taking a MUCH NEEDED trip down south.  Full time-ministry and full-time studies can be exhausting!

We were going to go across the border to Jordan and explore Petra too, but due to some external situations, we decided just to chill in Eilat instead (which isn’t too shabby of an idea).  Petra will have to wait.   

So, what can one do in Eilat, you might ask??? 

Well, while we are there, we plan on doing a scuba dive with the dolphins in the Red Sea at Dolphin Reef (which I am beyond excited about and have ALWAYS wanted to do).  You can take a camel tour, which I am hoping we will also be able to do.  And of course, relaxing on the beach, soaking up the last remnants of summer after a loooooong intensive Hebrew Course! 

I’m sure I will have MANY pictures to post when I return…so stay tuned for more Eilat action to come!

Mediterranean Monday: Lets debate!

The other day in class we were learning the new verbs: (לדון) ladoon and (לריב) lareev.  Ladoon is “to debate” and lareev is “to argue”.  My Ulpan teacher gave us an explanation that just about cracked me up, and if anyone has lived/been to Israel you will totally understand why.  

She gave this example: In the States, you have debates.  One person gives his/her side of the issue, where he/she stands.  Then the other person says, “I see your point, but I believe that…..”  The debate might go on and on this way, one person politely “seeing” the other persons point of view, then giving her/his own.  This is debate.

But, in Israel, debate does not actually exist AT ALL!  It begins with one person giving his/her point of view, then when it’s the next person’s time to talk, he/she immediately begins “arguing” why it is right or wrong.  The conversation completely skips over the “debating” segment into the (heated) argument segment.  


Even in Israeli politics there is no debate.  Give it one or two minutes and the politicians are yelling at each other (or having a heated argument as some might suggest).  The “debate” will never happen.  

When I first moved to Israel, I felt like everyone was always yelling at me or each other.  Even the normal speaking tone of voice seemed harsh to me.  I would always tell my Israeli friends, “stop yelling at me when you talk”, and they would always respond, “I’m not yelling!”   It was a bit of a shock at first, but now I have totally accustomed myself to it.  Even yesterday when a guy was yelling  speaking with the bicycle store owner, I found myself thinking nothing of it and totally ignoring him.  

So, don’t ask me why לדון actually exists in the Hebrew language…no one here knows how to use it anyways!

Mediterranean Monday: I ♥ The Sea of Galilee

DSCF2148The Galilee region is so seeped in history, its almost impossible to go anywhere that isn’t represented in the Bible and history books. There are many churches, ruins, gardens, and landmarks explaining what happened here in the past:

* The Wedding Church: where Jesus performed his first miracle of turning water into wine (they claim to sill have a couple of the original jars from this event)
* The Beattitudes Monastary: On the mountain where the sermon of the Beattitudes took place. 

* The Church on the site where Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth

BUT, my absolute favorite place is the Sea of Galilee!!! There is no claiming  this was the site where something took place; it IS the place where the storm was calmed and HE walked on water.  Surrounded by hills and valleys, trees and shoreline, its absolutely breathtaking.  Standing on the Israel side, you can look across and see what is now Syria.  When I’m here, my mind automatically drifts back into the history and puts pictures with words.  I ♥ it!


Mediterranean Monday (ok its Wed.): It’s Jellyfish Season!

jellyfishDuring the months of July-August, we are bombarded with the pesky creatures of the sea, aka…Jellyfish!  They come invading our Mediterranean bliss on their way up north towards Lebanon and beyond.  

We are reminded that they are not dangerous or deadly, but can cause bad burns on the skin where they touch you (try telling a child that they are not dangerous after he/she has just been burned).  

This morning I went to the beach to do some of my “light reading: Iraq to 1958“; this way I could break up the monotony with a few swim breaks.  Low and behold, there were jellyfish in the water.  Personally, I did not get stung, but a young girl did (and made sure the entire beach knew about it).

It reminded me of when I was little and we would take our yearly family vacation to Florida to visit my grandparents.  One year we were at the beach and a jellyfish wrapped itself around my mom’s arm.  I’m sure that she could tell the story better, as I only remember bits and pieces; but I do remember not wanting to go back in the water after that.  It was a really bad sting, and my dad had to get a trash bag in order to grab and pull it off her arm. 

So when you go to the beach this summer, be careful!!! Its an underwater jungle out there….

Any other jellyfish stories floating around??? Mom: you might want to fill in the missing parts….

Mediterranean Monday: Israeli Salad

It’s back! I haven’t done a Med. Monday in quite some time and I’ve been missing it. As a special come-back post, I made a short video of me making Israeli Salad.  Yes, you heard correctly…. I am going to actually prepare it myself!!!  Take a look….

(Don’t worry, its not actually that long…after the credits the song goes on for a bit)

Mediterranean Monday: Jewish Boy Band

As we were leaving the Old City in Jerusalem on Easter Sunday, we happened across these boys who were performing in the square outside of Jaffa Gate.  I’m telling you, they are only a record deal away from being the new Jewish Backstreet Boys! They even have choreographic dance moves….awesome!

(please excuse the shaking and moving around of the camera. I was in the back holding up my camera, trying to film blindly)


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