Shopping and Shedding Pounds in Tel Aviv

My fit friend Julie. It was like Israel boot camp, but I could not have asked for a better person to tour with.

When I talked to Julie the week before our big trip, she mentioned that she enjoys walking, and she hoped to walk everywhere in Tel Aviv.

“Perfect, I love walking!” I said.

But then, as I got to know Julie better, I began to realize we weren’t exactly on the same level with the physical fitness. Yeah, she walks, and she runs, and she exercises.

She’s what we call fit. Super fit. I’m what we call….not fit.

My gut closely resembles this Israeli statue…

 

He’s cute, isn’t he?

I could not have found a better person than Julie to tour Tel Aviv with. We were already acquainted well enough that I felt comfortable with her, and yet we were new enough of friends that there was no arguing. Ha!!!

Besides, Julie is awesome. She is laid back, intelligent, sensible, down to earth, and an excellent conversationalist, which is perfect because I often have a super hard time thinking of what to say. She also was better than me with figuring out where we were and how to get where we were going, which is important in a foreign country!

Go ahead and laugh. You know I have no sense of direction. And maybe you THINK I talk a lot, but inside I’m working hard to think of all those words.

This is the street in Tel Aviv that runs along the beach.

Tel Aviv Boot Camp

We had a routine that worked well. Breakfast and supper were free at our hotel, so that was what we ate. We had a late breakfast, skipped lunch, and then there was 4:00 tea time at our hotel, with snacks. Then there was dinner at 6pm.

So yeah, we just skipped lunch everyday. We didn’t save any calories though. They fed us so well at the hotel, we weren’t even hungry at lunch.

 

Tel Aviv Beach

Alan and I did a little walking on the beach together too.

The Shopping

You know I’m thrifty, and Julie is too. I’m so easily influenced by who I’m hanging out with! I didn’t buy all that much, but we did walk around tons of shops and markets.

We went into Israel expecting to barter for everything. People had told us we would need to barter, and yet, that was not what we found. Maybe it’s just different in Tel Aviv, but most everywhere we went the shop owners and workers said, “No, we don’t do that here. It’s just one price.”

I bought these Coca-Cola in Hebrew shirts for my 2 biggest boys.

I scored this entire outfit at the Shuk for only $100 shekels…That’s like $35!!

Funny story:

First of all, several different people asked Julie and me if we were from Germany. ???!!?? Germany? No! America!

I found that odd, kind of funny, but also sad, considering Israel’s history with Germany.

But the funny story was the sales guy we met at the Shuk, where I bought that exercise outfit.

He was an unusually friendly young Jewish man, probably around 24 years old, a cute, small guy. What I didn’t realize at first was that he actually lives in Miami, but he was in town for an event and helping his dad in their store that day.

“Where are you from?” he asked us, after explaining the day’s sales to us.

Each time people asked, I found myself not knowing what to call our country. Isn’t that hilarious? United States of America is sort of a mouthful. So sometimes I said America, and sometimes I called it the U.S. or the United States.

That was not a sufficient answer for anyone that asked. Every single questioner actually wanted to know what state we were from.

I move every 2 to 3 years, so my new policy is to be from wherever I currently live.

This particular sales guy laughed when I said “America,” and said, “Well, yeah, I know, I mean I didn’t think you were from Germany!”

Julie and I looked at each other, mystified. Well, the rest of the country seems to think we are from Germany, and even this guy referenced it, so clearly their history left scars.

But he knew we lived in the States because he’s been living in the U.S. himself for several years.

 

We bought this from an arts and crafts fair in downtown Tel Aviv.

So we explained to the sales guy where we were from. He said to Julie, “You look like a runner!” Then they talked about running and swimming…Funny…no one ever asked me what sport I participate in……hahahahaha…

I was shopping for a cute exercise outfit, so I picked up Larges, but I’m usually borderline on sizes, so I was glancing around for a fitting room.

“Oh, you don’t need a large!” this sales guy had all the answers…”This stretches, see? You need a medium.”

Flattering, but I actually didn’t even need to try on the pants. I’m 5 foot 6 with enough hips for all 3 of us standing there. I require the large, and I’m thankful I didn’t take his advice.

Shirts are a different story. I have to try on every shirt I buy.

There I was, in a foreign country, trying on a shirt, in a storage closet, in an outdoor market area (The closet had walls. The store did not.), with Julie standing guard in the OPEN doorway, with the super talkative young sales guy, waiting outside the closet. He was waiting to “snap a photo (of me) and put it on Facebook.”

Laugh. Out. Loud. “Yeah, you are not putting this on Facebook.”

I was in such a hurry to be done with the process that I bought the shirt, without being sure if it fit well or not because I didn’t want to look in the mirror long enough for him to get a Facebook photo.

Why do I care about him taking my picture? I’m a blogger for crying out loud. Yeah, well, I’m a vain blogger who carefully crops out all chubby bits before posting pictures online, and me in a spandex work-out tank? No way was I putting that out there.

That sales guy was hilarious. He talked to us all the way out of the store, as we left, and invited us to come back and see him tomorrow.

I never did make it to the Dead Sea, but I did buy this soap at the craft fair, which was made from Dead Sea Mud.

Gotta love mud.

This was another character that we met.

 

Okay. Sorry it’s all mirror-backwards, but look how hard it is to read a receipt in Hebrew and shekels!!! If it weren’t for the numbers, we wouldn’t even know it was backwards.

That receipt was from a group dinner. Don’t worry. We didn’t spend anywhere near that much.

 

Ah! I can’t wait to go back someday.

 

P.S. I lost 3 pounds.

 

At the Dizengoff Center, a shopping mall exactly like you’d find in America, I found MY store. Yep. April is a cosmetics store.

Julie and I averaged about 9 miles a day, over 20,000 steps. We were sweat-soaked each day when we made it back to our hotel room. If you go for a week, you need to pack like 14 outfits.

By the time the trip was over, I had definitely built up my endurance. I’ve been sure to get in at LEAST 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise everyday since we got back, so this trip was a grand success, in more ways than one!

Be sure to check out my last post on Tel Aviv to learn more about this bustling city!

 

Tel Aviv, Israel: The Beach and the People We Met

Me, having breakfast overlooking the Mediterranean. I’m still not over it.

Tel Aviv is gorgeous. It is a huge bustling, modern city, on the Mediterranean Sea. It has everything you could want or need, with the unique Israel flavor to it.

We stayed in Tel Aviv for our entire week in Israel. Other cities we visited were just day trips.

Most Israelites are Jews, but not necessarily religious Jews. We heard that a lot in our time there, not just for Tel Aviv, although it is definitely more secular than many parts of Israel. Multiple tour guides explained to us, “Most Israelite Jews are Jewish by race. They are not really religious.”

I looked up the exact statistics online. I found these from jewishvirtuallibrary.org.

Israel

74.7% Jewish population

20.8% Arabs

4.5% others

 

By the way, it was gay pride week while we were there. The big parade was Friday, one day after we left.

Walking around Tel Aviv, the city felt very diverse. You pass many Orthodox men wearing a yamaka, but you pass by even more that are not wearing one.

You will also see Arabs, tourists, and nuns. In certain parts, you see many Muslims, in other areas, not so much. They also have many foreign workers from all over the world.

The Tel Aviv beach was by far the most interesting people-watching place I have ever been to in my life.

Some of it you wish you had not seen, like the 60-something-year-old man nonchalantly washing his man parts inside his Speedo, right there in the beach shower.

Some of it is more pleasant, like the countless shirtless Israeli men running on the jogging path and the sweet group of nuns, dressed in head to toe black, putting their feet in the water.

And some are hilarious to me, as in the young girls taking a zillion selfies of themselves on a beach chair.

Some it will make you blush, like the small group of 20-something gals walking in front of me and my husband in their thong bikinis. Go away, girls, I can’t compete with that!

So yeah. Interesting place.

You couldn’t find a better place to jog or go for a walk. There are even separate lanes for the thousands of bicycle riders. Biking is big in Tel Aviv.

Someone in our group actually got hit by a bicycle, probably a motorized one.

What? Motorized bikes that are not motorcycles? Yes. I don’t know how to explain it to you except they look like regular old bicycles, but with battery packs or something.

 

view of Tel Aviv from my hotel room balcony

Alan and I walked around Tel Aviv a little together, but the lion share of my Tel Aviv adventures were actually with my friend Julie. Both of our husbands were busy working, so we took on the city together.

Me, Julie, and Belinda.

Later on in the trip, we made another friend, Belinda, she is American too, and she joined us. Well, actually, she’s Canadian, but that’s a whole other story.

This was a true small world story. Alan ran into Belinda’s husband in the hotel lobby, a man Alan had not seen since his time in Afghanistan, 6 years ago!!

After Alan and I hung out with our old/new friends, we got into the elevator, with one other man, and rode up to our room. Alan commented, “Wow, it’s a small world, isn’t it?”

The other man in the elevator happened to be an Orthodox, yamaka-wearing, Jewish man. He smiled at us and replied:

“What we say here is that it’s a BIG world, with an excellent CEO.”

And what could we say, except, “Amen! Amen!”

Tel Aviv skyline

The building with the red flag is the Turkish Embassy.

 

View from the 17th floor of our hotel: Notice the extensive walking and biking paths.

You might notice the rainbow umbrellas in the photo. That was officially the gay beach, an active area since it was pride week.

This view is from the opposite side of the hotel from my hotel room.

The sunset over the Mediterranean is so pleasant, people line up in the park below, just to watch it everyday.

sunset over the Med.

I spent a little time in my room editing photos. Talk about the perfect environment.

I loved the moments that I had in my room, simply to sit on my balcony and STARE, and read my Bible, and pinch myself, thinking, ” I cannot believe I am on this adventure.”

When I opened my Bible to read I was delighted to find that even though I have been reading in Romans, that day’s reading was still about Israel.

11 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”[a]? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”[b] So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace…..           Romans 11: 1-6

 

Alan and me at the Tel Aviv beach at sunset.

 

The United States Embassy in Tel Aviv, decked out for Pride Week. There was disappointment in Israel that week because President Trump did not move our Embassy to Jerusalem, as previously promised. Now you know I’m not normally up on the news, but I read the Jerusalem Post almost everyday that I was there.

 

There were mixed feelings in Israel over Gay Pride week, as you can imagine. These signs popped up a day or two before the parade.

Julie and I spent days walking around Tel Aviv.

We visited shopping malls, mostly. We even visited the gigantic local market, which they call “the Shuk.”

The Shuk was so insanely busy, I did not take any photos. It was mostly food, but there were also areas of it where they sold clothes and just about anything you could think of, all outside. I’ll talk more about the shopping on my next post.

This was such an amazing cultural experience. In so many ways, it was just like America, and in so many other ways, it was nothing like America.

I’m telling you, if you get a chance to take a big overseas trip, go to Israel. Israel will not disappoint.