Clouds On Fire {Sar-El 🇮🇱 Day #14}

Clouds On Fire {Sar-El 🇮🇱 Day #14} | Saturday 23rd July 2016 |

Like last Shabbat, I took the opportunity to relax for as long as possible. My day consisted of swimming, noshing on Doritos, reading (I’ve almost finished my book now!) and sleeping in the shade by the rooftop pool in the hotel. The others went to the beach but I didn’t fancy getting all sandy, so I joined them later on when they brought the French guys to the hotel. We had a chill afternoon by the poolside, joking around and people-watching as Shabbat’s end was nearing. 

As the pool was closing, the friendly lifeguard let me stay up there to continue reading my book. He came to chat to me and we discussed Israel, my volunteering, intermarriage, and I taught him about the “friend zone”! He’s the kind of lifeguard who does his job but also goes the extra mile to schmooze with the guests and make them feel at home. So yes, I did make friends with a 50-something year old Israeli, but he offered to let all the volunteers use the pool whenever we’re next in Tel Aviv, which was really sweet of him. There was an artist yesterday at the market who also thought it was great that we were doing Sar-El; she said “I am so proud of you”, which really meant a lot to us. 

The sunset was extraordinary today. The sun was setting behind some clouds, so it made the outline of the clouds look neon or like they were on fire. Also, there were huge rays of golden light beaming through the clouds in all directions, which looked stunning both in the sky and reflected in the sea. 

After Shabbat, the whole group of us met up at the Namal and queued up at a restaurant for at least an hour whilst they were opening up. Some people refused to eat because of the bad service, but we were the first table to receive our orders and the pizza we’d all been craving was well worth the wait. 

Of course, we went for ice cream after the meal. But we had planned to go to the pop-up Magnum store where we could design our own Magnums, so this was an extra special ice cream treat. It was such a great idea and we all loved picking out our own unique topping combinations. I think they have something similar in Covent Garden but I’ve never been so this was a cool experience. One of the French boys had to leave us to back to the military hostel in time for the curfew, but the rest of us had a long walk (primarily in search of a rooftop bar but my room mates and I ended up returning to our hotel out of sheer exhaustion). 

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Mooching In The Markets {Sar-El 🇮🇱 Day #13}

Mooching In The Markets {Sar-El 🇮🇱 Day #13} | Friday 22nd July 2016 |

Photo credit: Louise Aron |

Back to the Carmel market and then the artists’ market! We met up with the French guys and hung out with them whilst we all tried to bargain for gifts and souvenirs in the busy marketplaces. It always takes a lot of self restraint not to buy random bits and pieces at the shuk! This time we completed the artists’ market and I loved it. My New Yorkan friend and I took our time looking at all the interesting pieces of jewellery etc, but our Canadian friend was not impressed and kept reminding us that Aroma was waiting for us at the end! Naturally, iced drinks were much needed after all the mooching around in the sun, so we boarded a shared taxi shuttle with our Aroma refreshments and headed to the hotel, followed by the beach. (On the ride back, my friends wanted me to show them English currency so I explained all the coins and denominations.)

Our Australian friend met us at the beach with his GoPro, so we got to take some really cool action shots in the water as the immense waves crashed over us. We had much bigger waves today so it was really fun jumping into them or being carried off by them. The lifeguards kept shouting through their megaphones but we had no clue what they were trying to say!

My Shabbat meal consisted of some supermarket snacks, including pitta bread, humous, cold meats and an aloe vera drink that I was introduced to on Genesis. I love that I can just go into a supermarket here and pick up any meat I want, knowing that it’s Kosher- it’s such a privilege!

I went with my friends to the Namal area (the port) to take some  obligatory pre-Shabbat selfies (the Australian boy dropped his phone into a forbidden access construction site!) and I watched the sunset as they ate their dinner.  The busy week started to take its toll on me and I went back to get an early night, but it was a really great evening and I realised I would miss being in Tel Aviv next weekend! 

A Dorito A Day {Sar-El 🇮🇱 Day #7}

A Dorito A Day {Sar-El 🇮🇱 Day #7} | Saturday 16th July 2016 |

It’s really strange coming from a programme like Genesis, where Shabbat is such a special time, to being left on your own in Israel with no “family” to sing, dance and schmooze with. 

Today was a proper day of rest. I relaxed by the hotel pool pretty much all day, reading, napping and taking in the awesome 360 view of the Tel Aviv skyline. 

My room mate was in the room all day but we reconvened as Shabbat ended and then headed out to find food. All the Kosher restaurants were still closed or just about opening, so we just went to grab some snacks from the supermarket. It’s hard not to get distracted by all the Kosher chocolates, sweets, crisps and ice creams that aren’t suitable or available in the UK (especially Doritos, which I have been eating every day- I’m going to end up looking like Phineas from “Phineas and Ferb” if I continue like this…)

My room mate went out with her aunt for a real dinner and I joined the French volunteers on the beach for some ice cream. We messed around on the beach taking photos on giant chairs, playing on the exercise machines and watching hench guys show off with back flips and dance moves. I had a really enjoyable evening and I felt so happy to have made such nice friends already. 

Shabbat Sunset {Sar-El 🇮🇱 Day #6}

Shabbat Sunset {Sar-El 🇮🇱 Day #6}  | Friday 15th July 2016 |

Israeli breakfasts are the best. Fact. Our hotel had a huge buffet with cereals, a deli counter, an egg making station, a pastry corner, a make-your-own-soup table and an area for all the typical Israeli dishes like “shakshuka”. We ate so much food that we couldn’t get up for a while…
We headed to Nahalat Binyamin, the artists’ market, but ended up wandering through Shuk Ha Carmel first. It’s a very crowded half-covered market that sells everything from flip flops to Shabbat candles to fresh smoothies to mini canvas prints… It’s a really fun, buzzing place to be, but Friday mornings are hectic because everyone goes shopping there before Shabbat, when everything closes. I bought some fire pants, a skirt and a Magen David necklace. 

Exhausted from the hustle and bustle of the shuk (and from walking 20 minutes to find a pharmacy and supermarket), we started meandering through the artists’ market. I absolutely loved looking at the craftsmen’s handmade work. There were some really lovely pieces of unique jewellery and quirky sculptures made from wire, wood and ceramics. It was interesting talking to the artists and finding out how they make their work. I didn’t realise how big the market was- next week we are planning to return so we can go to the end and buy some bits and pieces. 

After a dip in the pool, we headed to the beach opposite our hotel. (We almost went into the men-only beach by accident!) We were in the sea for about 1.5 hours (time flew by so quickly) and left just as the sun was setting (in time for Shabbat). The airport is really close so every few minutes we had planes flying directly above us when we were in the sea. Like I said yesterday, the sunsets here are absolutely beautiful; the colours are so vibrant and it just makes me happy when I experience nature in this way. I love that you can go to the coast and just walk onto the beach at any time you want. It was so relaxing wading in the water, and we had so much fun jumping around in the waves. Thankfully we didn’t get stung by jellyfish! 

Shabbat dinner was delicious! Just like at breakfast, we stuffed ourselves with food from every buffet station. I had chicken soup, challah, beef stew, cous cous, schnitzel, sausages and meat strudel, followed by some chocolate and passion fruit cake slices for dessert. I’m normally disciplined when it comes to food but when you’re eating potatoes 24/7 at the base, it’s hard not to go a bit overboard when you have so much choice. As you can tell, I’m quite passionate about food…