Israel: Tel Aviv

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Back in December I was stressing out about a number of things that in retrospect probably didn't matter that much ( this is my M.O., if you're new to this space,) when, in a last-ditch effort to cheer me up, Peter suggested I tag along for his work trip to Israel. It didn't take much convincing for me to say yes, so off we went a few weeks later...

I landed in Tel Aviv airport after a red eye and from there headed straight to Tel Aviv. We only had a few days total in Israel so I didn't want to waste any time catching up on sleep; instead we walked from our hotel on Rothschild down to the seaside towards Jaffa Port.

I have to say as far as trips go, this was one of the least planned out ones we've taken overseas. Usually one or both of us has some sort of bucket list of things we absolutely want to see/would like to check out if we have time. Unfortunately, 5 days was not enough, especially factoring in jet lag. But we did our best, had a blast, and soaked in the beautiful sunshine, so I'd still say it was worth it!

Jaffa and Tel Aviv are interesting bedfellows. One (Jaffa) is a town so ancient it's heavily featured in the bible, while Tel Aviv is a relatively new city, growing upward and outward from an old fishing village to a huge center for technology and culture in the past century.

Most of our time spent in Tel Aviv was just walking through beautiful neighborhoods- Rothschild Avenue for its beautiful bauhaus architecture, Florentin for cute cafes and an artistic/hipster vibe, and Neve Tsedek for beautiful houses and instagram-worthy doors. We tried to visit Carmel Market, only to find it was closed for the Sabbath (these kinds of mistakes became a trend on this trip, haha.) A lot of sites (less in Tel Aviv but moreso in Jerusalem/Nazareth) kept surprisingly short visitor hours, so if I could give one piece of advice for someone spending any amount of time in Israel, it would be to research opening hours for Markets, Churches and other religious sites you're interested in.

We were pleasantly surprised by the collection at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, which has a great collection of Impressionist and Modern paintings.

The city as a whole is quite beautiful. I was impressed not only by all the natural greenery and parks, but also by how clean everything was. It was a stark (and saddening) contrast to the coastal Cretan towns where I spent my Fulbright, where the streets are rife with crude graffiti and litter. Obviously the financial and political climate in Tel Aviv is quite different, and they do a fantastic job of keeping the city clean and beautiful.

Where we stayed: The Diaghilev Hotel had been pre-booked by Peter's job, so we added a couple of days to the reservation. The location right by Rothschild avenue was super convenient, the rooms were clean and spacious, and the breakfasts were great (wish I had taken a photo, Israeli breakfast is so. delicious.)

Where we ate: We went based off of quite a few sources for this trip. A friend of mine had lived in Tel Aviv for 4 years, so for food and drink we mainly relied on a list she sent us, along with this post from Les Flaneries D'Aurelie blog. A few favorites were North Abraxis for amazing farm to table food with a menu that changes daily, the Old Man and the Sea for some truly amazing fish overlooking the old port (the colorful photo of a dozen or so small plates, above, is from that restaurant), and we got some incredible Falafel in Jaffa's Flea Market area (Falafel Danny.)

For Nazareth, a former colleague who is Palestinian and has quite a lot of family there gave us some great recommendations (more on Nazareth/Jerusalem later.) And of course you can't go wrong with a Lonely Planet Guide :)

Ok time to run catch another plane! Will post the rest of the photos some time this week :)

Just Things

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Hi! It's been a minute, hasn't it? Getting back to work after a long time away can be quite a jolting experience, one that pulls me from this space for awhile. The fact that my mood correlates so strongly with the temperature doesn't help, though I'm thankful the New York winter decided to show its ugly face as late as it did. Oh well, it had to start some time, right? And we've got an unusually busy travel itinerary the next few months, which is great- it's always nice to have a warmer climate to look forward to this time of year. Here's a few interesting links and articles I've been discovering lately.

Our first trip this spring is Israel- not a destination I felt super strongly about visiting, but since diving into books and articles about the country's rich and sometimes turbulent history and culture, I'm wondering if the 4 days we tagged on to Peter's work trip will be enough! I suspect the answer is no...either way this brief article about Tel Aviv, sold me on a city I really didn't know much about before this trip. Most vegetarian-vegan friendly city in the world? I'm in!

This piece on surviving the cold on Man Repeller was a refreshing break from prior pieces on the subject. I'm all for hygge and koselig, but sometimes you just need to have a margarita themed dance party and use blankets as a fashion statement (the people of Lesotho are exceptionally good at the latter, as exhibited here.)

Not sure where this stained glass art trend came from, but I'm into it. Colorful macaw wall hanging, anyone? Also loving this beautiful, less expensive piece (especially if you're on the hygge bandwagon!)

Also on the topic of hygge and home, I've been on the hunt for a vintage pendleton blanket for quite a while, mostly to save money but also because I kind of love some of the older designs. If I were to get a new blanket, I love the line designed by Native American artists (this one's my favorite) with the National Parks line being a close second

Speaking of National Parks, I'm so grossed out that the shutdown led to atrocities such as this one. Can't believe someone thought this was ok!! Here's an article on how to help the parks get through the shut down (hint: it starts with not marring the landscape and cutting down trees and ends with just don't effing litter, ok? Jeez it's like people were raised without common sense or decency...)

It's not to late to get a flu vaccine if you haven't already! It's not just about you, you know- this youtube video has a great explanation about how your life choices impact the lives and safety of others. And while your at it, if  get your goddamn measles vaccines too!! Seriously can't believe we're even talking about this in the 21st century (this applies to those who haven't gotten them :)) but we've had so many cases in the New York area due to under-vaccination and loss of herd immunity. Bottom line: vaccines save lives. Just get your shots!!

Lastly, this global eclectic Bahamas house is design goals for me! Wood + persion rug + lots of green accents = swoon-worthy home, IMO.

Ok that's all for now. Will try to throw another post up next week. Have a good one, y'all!

New Year's Day

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year's! Hope everyone had fun and stayed safe. Party animals that we are, the husband and I (well, mostly me) fell asleep at 10 pm after a game of scrabble and 1 hour's worth of the Godfather Part II. Can't complain though- that's about as exciting of a New Year's as I want these days. I guess it means I'm getting older?

We had a merry little Christmas down in Florida and are now back up North. I'm not usually one for New Year's goals and resolutions, but this year I definitely had more free time to reflect on where I've been and where I'm going. I was waiting to share more when I knew more about my new position, but I'm very excited to be moving to Boston next academic year to accept a position as one of Boston Children's Hospital's Global Child Health Fellows. Finally getting that position that I've always dreamed about feels pretty surreal and amazing, and since it's been a working goal of mine for the past 10 years I feel incredibly excited, satisfied and proud all at once. Between that satisfactory feeling and being a lot less sleep deprived than last year (thanks residency!), the idea of trying to accomplish some goals is more exciting than daunting. Here's what I've come up with so far

  • Read a book every month- the year Peter and I started dating I set this goal and really found it to be very rewarding/enriching during my Fulbright year in Greece. I've already read so much more this year than I have since starting my medical training, and forgot how relaxing/enthralling it can be to curl up with a hot cup of tea during the winter, bundled in the coziest socks and blankets, and diving into another world. This time around there's a lot less fiction and more nonfiction/memoirs on my list, but I'd like to tackle some classic lit that I missed during my Bachelor's degree as well (looking at you, massive Shakespeare anthology.) Other authors on the list include Tara Westover, Garth Nix, Paul Farmer, Ursula LeGuin, and maybe some C.S. Lewis
  • Get proficient at another language- I haven't decided yet if it will be Greek or French, but since the new job will likely take me to Haiti (although that's not yet official), French would be the natural choice. I haven't studied French in close to 10 years but I'm hoping my 4-odd years of foundational high school and college classes will have laid a solid enough foundation that I'll be able to catch myself up to speed quickly enough.
  • Eat healthier and exercise- this is a big/broad one. I'm in now way in terrible shape, but I am the heaviest I've ever been and more sedentary than I've been most of my adult life. During residency longer workouts and runs just proved to be too daunting to even come close to tackling, so for now I'm committing to eating out once per week or less, no processed sugar and no alcohol outside of vacations. More importantly I'd like to exercise a little bit every day, or at least 6 days a week. I've found a couple 20-30 minute targeted workouts on youtube that I can do at home, removing the 'it's to cold to go outside' excuse that I've clung to for the past 3 years :) I may also start to try and see a therapist for the next few months, to help curb some of the built up anxiety I've accrued the last few years of adulthood. We'll see if I have time for that one...
  • Discover new music- Nothing against the top 20 charts, I just feel like I've missed out on quite a few years' of new rock, folk and alt country. I was a bit inspired by this post by the Larson house (link here) to stop listening to the same few pop songs over and over again. This year I'd like to spend more time discovering new artists and albums in some of my favorite genres. I made the below playlist out of some old songs I've had for ages, but it's time to find more new artists to get excited about. Open to any suggestions in this area if y'all have some!
I think those are the big ones. Overall there's a lot to look forward to in 2019- more traveling, a big birthday (I'm turning 30! ah!) and a bigger career step that's both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. What are your goals for the new year?

Inland Empire

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Last month I spent a beautiful long weekend visiting a friend who lives in California. I had never spent any time East of LA, let alone heard of any Inland Empire, so I was blown away by the beautiful vistas and desert scenery it had to offer.

I was originally traveling for a work trip which ended up getting canceled, so I was happy to enjoy some spare free time drawing and listening to my audiobooks (I am about 3 decades behind but a friend in publishing has got me sucked into the Garth Nix series Sabriel...any other fans out there? First book was incredible.)

These photos are actually out of order since I visited Joshua Tree National Park on my last day, but the rock formations really are something to see... I only went to the park on a whim and at my friend's suggestion, as she had to work a shift my last day. I hadn't realized until I got there that it's one of the more instagrammed national parks and a popular day trip as it's a short drive from LA and Palm Springs (it was tragically never on our radar when we planned our 2011 road trip, though looking back it definitely should have been.) There's only a handful of places I've visited that made me feel transported to an alien planet and this was one of them (in a good way, haha.) I'd love to come back and camp at some point, and maybe take some time to explore the nearby town of Joshua Tree.

Having grown up in one of the flattest parts of the country (we called my neighbors' mound of landscaped dirt a 'hill' and the steeper streets of Athens 'mountains'...nope not kidding!) we Floridians tend to get excited by anything that remotely resembles a mountain. These beauties were no different.

The three above photos emphasize how truly terrible I am at blogging- when I was in towns/cities (including one of the most photogenic little spots, Palm Springs of all places!!) I really didn't bother to take photos! I guess I was a bit more self-conscious? I don't know. What I will say about Palm Springs is that it was gorgeous but I really only walked up and down the main drag and visited a couple restaurants/coffee shops in the ABM guide. If you'd like to dedicate a weekend to Palm Springs I'd definitely recommend checking out the post, their team members seem to visit quite a lot, haha.

Living in a big city the past 6 months has truly been a blast, but after weekends like this one I tend to realize that in the long run I need green, open spaces, woods, trees, mountains... either way this under the radar part of California was definitely worth a visit. More time hiking and camping (and maybe a first ever backpacking trip??) will definitely be on my bucket list this New Years'. How about you?

Hope everyone's having a fantastic weekend!

Home Again

Monday, December 24, 2018

Gosh it is so nice to be home. Especially when home = sunny Florida :) I used to make endless fun of the snowbirds as a year-round resident, but after enduring a few winters up North I kind of get it now, haha. We've been spending our days

  • short and long runs through the neighborhood
  • seeing the Byrds live in concert (a rare classic rock band that actually still sound amazing.)
  • kayaking at Riverbend State Park  (highly recommend. It was so. beautiful. Scary baby alligators and all!)
  • enjoying a bonfire in our freezing (read: very reasonable 53 degree) weather
  • exploring Fairchild Botanical Gardens, visiting their gorgeous rainforest butterfly garden and seeing our fifth Chihuly piece...we keep stumbling on his works in the most random corners of the states and I'm really not mad about. This one's another definite must-see if you're in the area
  • trying face masks, making terrible cocktails (like...truly awful, LOL) and watching too much House Hunters International
I have to say I really do love spending time with my family, especially down where it's warm. Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. What are your plans for the holiday?