Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day Trip - Shivta Park

Today we decided to take a day trip in order to break up the monotony of working on the apartment.

Tel Aviv is smack in the center of the country and we decided to go down south to the desert. While it seemed that we were in a completely different hemisphere, we actually just went about 1.5 hrs south. For perspective - we were almost half way to Elat, which is the very tip (border) of the country on the south. There are many hiking and sight-seeing trips one can take around this tiny country; the one we settled on today was a trip to Shivta National Park. It’s an ancient city, which was settled in 1st century B.C. by the Romans, and abandoned in 9th century B.C.; it’s an archeological site now, its nice ruins to walk around in for a while :).

The interesting thing that happened on the way was: it actually rained as we were driving in the desert... I thought that was really cool.

Also its been raining for about 3 days here, which is considered the best thing ever since it rains so rarely, with Israel being situated mostly in the desert and all. So everyone is super excited. So as we were driving and getting close to the site, we saw a bunch of cars puling over on the side of a bridge and people getting out and taking picks. We of course did the same. It turns out people were taking picks of the water that had gathered in a stream below. It was pretty un-climactic, however I guess when you consider where we were it becomes kind of cool. But funny still so we took a pick as well :)

Here is the link to the entire album from that trip:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Week in, none the wiser


My new update:

I have signed up for school which does not start till April, which means that for the next month I will largely be a bum, not sure how I feel about that: Guilty I guess, bored a little - in anticipation of being bored. I have grand plans to look for something exciting to do but who knows what the reality will be.

We have managed to paint another room, now we just have the small spaces left to paint (kitchen, hallways etc). Ohh and of course we have to fix all the mistakes we have made and the doors which are in terrible shape. All in all still a lot to do. The big question is will our landlord approve? We did not ask him before doing all this stuff so i hope he does not flip. At the moment I am choosing not to think about it.

Now on to the exiting developments: we have purchased a TV and a washing machine. The way it works here is that if you want a fridge, stove, or a washing machine (no one has dryers, you dry your stuff the old fashioned way: air-dry) you have to bring them with you from apartment to apartment (even if you are renting), nothing comes with the home/rental. So for the first time in my life I purchased a washing machine, which was a very interesting experience. Besides the fact that you have to bargain for the price of everything, which gets really annoying when you are not used to it, people try to swindle you left and right. For example you can purchase one thing and then something completely different will get delivered, or they will outright lie, at least that is what we think happened to us. Now we are not 100% on this but we are pretty sure that when we were promised a full HD TV, what we were actually given was an old crappy model that was not even HD Ready. At this point we went to a chain and bought there, a bit more expensive but a piece of mind.. or so we hope :)

Another reason I love America: Everything is HUGE, you may not realize this now but comparatively speaking.. huge. I was in shock when I was looking at these washing machines. From the outside they look normal but then you look inside to where the cloths go they are teeny-tiny. My aunt tried to reassure me that I was crazy and that she used a 5 kilo machine (that's how much fits inside per wash, about 10 lbs) her whole life, with a family of 5 (including 2 growing boys), and since I only have to wash for 2 I should be fine with a 3 kilo (6 lbs) machine. My response to this was: Listen lady I am sure that it was great, but when you are used to a machine that fits the entire apartment inside, going to a 3 kilo machine... well... you might as well just wash it all by hand.

We proceeded to purchase the largest machine option they had which was 7 kilos (about 15 lbs). Just for comparison; now I cant be sure since I never bought a machine before but a normal machine in the States probably fits about 30 lbs.

My next adventure is getting a cell-phone plan which I started today and plan to complete tomorrow. I will let you know how it goes but should be fun since this too is a bargaining exercise.

After living here for a while I think I will be able to go back to the states and become a negotiator :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

First Impressions

Hello everyone,

Ok let me tell you a little bit about my first few days here (let's see today is the 5th).

Came in early in morning of the 17th Wednesday - the processing for immigrants (there was a total of 61 of us on the flight) at the airport was quite short and fast, which was surprising since I thought it was going to take forever. The only snag was that they lost our pictures so we were the last to be called after everyone else was escorted out, (this reminded me a bit of when we immigrated to US and they lost/misplaced our documents and it was a big pain in the butt that lasted 3 days, except that sucked much much more), and they had to take pics on the spot which means I look super tired in our official documents, as we just came off of a 10hr flight. Anywho then we promptly came home and passed out pretty much right away.

Thank god Dima already rented us an apartment in the middle of Tel Aviv - by Israeli or more specifically Tel Aviv standards ( Tel Aviv is the NYC of Israel with real estate prices to match) its pretty nice, by US standards.... its ok :). The hood is nice though.

So we slept on and off the entire day and night and managed somehow to wake up at 11am the next day - jet lag is a PAIN.

Thursday the 18th - so now I was able to take full stock of our living arrangement and decided that something needed to be done... and this is how our little renovation project came about. By the way having to shower while holding the shower head is a big pain in the ass, just an FYI, unless you have experienced it, in which case you know.

As i am reading this I am beginning to realize how spoiled I am ..... man.. I love America!

So now along with having to buy everything for the apt (although Dima already got a couch and a bed, and some kitchen stuff) we also needed a whole lot of paint and all the other supplies. By the way our outlets suck which means that until they get fixed charging my computer is a problem which is why I have not been on line much, along with being quite busy.

Ok so that's pretty much all that we had time to do on Thursday. Ohh and I started getting sick pretty much the minute we landed so by Thursday I was feeling pretty ill; coughing, stuffed up, head throbbing.

Friday the 19th - painted the entire day and since some of the walls were in pretty bad shape it turned out to be a bigger project than expected. And of course whatever it is that I had, got pretty bad, and I felt like dying - even had a fever and chills ( i don't remember the last time I had a fever). Anywho, this is all we did the entire day, with me taking napping breaks :). The day ended with 2 rooms painted and us dirty and exhausted.

Saturday the 20th - we rested a bit and finally got to walk around and relax and even went to the beach, its been unseasonably warm here, like 80 everyday, its pretty crazy coming from sub zero temperatures! Then we did a bunch of shopping for the apt and finished off the 2 rooms we started before.

An interesting thing here is that: Saturday night here, is like Sun night in the States (the 2 days off are Friday and Saturday) so you would think that on Saturday night, before the work week, people would want to stay home and chill but its actually the biggest shopping time of the week, stores stay open super late and EVERYONE goes shopping for everything (IKEA was like a mad house..literally, we had to stand in line to get in), also most stores don't even open till about 7pm, after shabbat. Its pretty much the opposite of the States, where everything shuts down early on Sunday. While this makes sense its still weird to see, at least to me.

Ok thats all I have, its really boring I know, but its whats happening.

Sunday 21th - We are going to continue to make this place more livable for a while still... the plan for tonight is to paint yet another room... But in the end it will be worth it to have a place to want to come home to. Today i am going to go to school to find out when the Hebrew classes start... soo not looking forward to it, but it will be nice to not feel like a mute idiot anymore, which I do pretty much all the time when I am out of the house. Even though most people speak at least a bit of English or Russian, I feel bad asking them to switch. Menus are a whole other issue; when there is no English menu which is happening more than i thought it would.

Ohh and I feel much much better now, I think this cold or whatever is pretty much over (hope Dima does not get it).

Thats it for now.