It is hard to think that Israel can seem more beautiful than she already is. From her beaches with their crystal clear water, to her exotic deserts, to her lush, green mountain regions, you can see it all here. I am always so happily surprised when I see something that confirms, at least in my mind, that this is the most gorgeous place in the world. Despite the fact that Israel is a normal functioning country, filled with everyday commotions and problems, it is a paradise like no other. When I say "I don't know how I will ever leave this place", I am doing so without any hint of exaggeration.
Yesterday was my friend Dana's birthday and we decided to celebrate at the Namal (port) of Tel Aviv. When I lived in Israel two years ago I went to the Namal with some family friends, but remembered very little of it. It wasn't until I was back walking along the boardwalk, watching the sun set against the pounding waves of the Mediterranean, that I remembered how amazing this place is. Maybe it is because it is summer vacation in Israel, or maybe this is just an Israeli way of life, but at 9, 10, 11 o'clock at night the Namal was filled with families walking their babies in the strollers, little children running around the pier playing with toys, young men and women just sitting down to dinner, and so on. It is like a different world here. No where in the USA can you go and see families with little babies out for a casual stroll at 11pm!!! Nights are so alive here that you really feel like you will be missing something if you go to sleep at a normal hour.
After Dana and I walked around the Namal for a little while, simply enjoying the general splendor of the night, Susanna came to meet up with us, and we ventured to find a restaurant to have Dana's birthday dinner at. The Namal, being a fairly large tourist destination, had a plethora of delicious restaurants to chose from, and we ended up eating at a place I like to call "The Couch Place". I say this because the tables outside are surrounded by couches instead of chairs or booths, and it makes for a very comfortable eating environment. We all enjoyed wonderful pasta dishes with our individual glasses of wine, and we had a lovely birthday meal!
When we could eat no more, we decided it was time to get the check and move on to dessert. Being that we are in Israel, and we are a bunch of women who crave chocolate all day every day, we could only go to one place; Max Brenner! Susanna was particularly excited because this was her first time there (though she has been to Israel numerous times). Dana had an amazing waffle with chocolate toppings, Suze had a "to die for" Creme Brule crepe, and I, being the boring "I don't eat a lot of food" type, had a chocolate chai latte. I think next time I will go there for lunch, when I am not full from a previous meal, and have a dessert then! When we were absolutely stuffed, we got the cheshpon (check), walked around the Namal a little more, spent some time goofing around and acting completely ridiculous (which is always nice to do from time to time), and then caught a taxi home.
Today I am very excited to report that I will be joining Susanna in Jerusalem for yet another Iftar, and while I am there, assuming that time permits it, I think I should go look at places to live during the month I will be living there for my internship. It will be a very interesting month living in East Jerusalem, especially since I move there three days after the UN votes on the issue of a Palestinian state, but one thing is for sure... It will be one hell of an exciting month!
Until tomorrow :-) Ma Salame ya sadeeqi