As our second day in Israel winds down, it has been two very long but meaningful days. Yesterday was Yom Yerushalayim so we went into the Old City to explore the festivities. With Fival, the new head of Nesiya, a program I went on the summer my sophomore year of high school, as our guide we saw amazing views of the Golden Dome and the Western Wall. Walking around the Old City was beautiful but by the end of the walk we were feeling the heat. We scouted out some cold drinks and shade nearby to escape it a bit. The beauty of iced coffee in Israel, or Ice Café as they call it, there is always ice cream in it. It’s wonderful.
After we walked around the Old City, we came back to the hotel and relaxed. Getting food in Israel on a gluten free diet has not been the easiest thing. It will help me eat less unhealthy food and stick to meats, fish and healthy carbs like rice. Unless they use powders that contain gluten, alright Israel, whatever you say. Eating at the hotel has not been so easy – my breakfasts have been eggs and fruit, so I am pretty hungry by noon. When we don’t eat lunch until two PM, it is a problem.
Once we got back to the hotel I went to the gym for a bit. Earlier I went to Nike and bought clothes so I could do some sort of exercise. I am already feeling better. My mom and I went to the salon on the bottom floor of the hotel. It was the sketchiest salon I have been to in a long time. We had made appointments for 4 PM but since there is only one woman working there, I started and by the time my mom came back, some Israeli woman had taken the last chair. Clearly first come first serve is a policy in Israel. It took her 25 minutes. I spent more time ironing it this morning to fix it. For anyone who knows how tough curly hair is to blow out, 25 minutes did not do such a good job. My hair is long, very curly and thick. It takes at least 40 minutes. Needless to say, we are looking for an alternative.
We had dinner with a family friend of my parents later. He helped start up a college called Shalem here in Israel. It is based more on the American four-year model, a very different model than the current one in Israel. He is an interesting person. He always seems to have something interesting to talk about or a topic that we can all discuss. Apparently he was able to seem cool when interviewing kids for an internship he was setting up because he knew what Liquid Latex was thanks to our previous conversations. I got major props for that. It turns out someone is attempting to start it at another school, I am a little curious who and where.
We had the chance to visit the new college he started and meet some students today. Their campus is one building. It’s a moderately new school, with their first class of 50 kids. The building was very beautiful. It was full of Jerusalem stone and had really beautiful natural light. I still can’t imagine a school that fits into one building. Seeing Shalem College after being immersed at Brandeis for three years was a bit of a culture shock so to speak. We had the chance to sit down with different students and meet them. Turns out, I had a mutual friend with one of them who I know from Brandeis. Go Jewish Geography! What was really shocking is that they take six classes in each semester. They basically said all they do is schoolwork, I can’t even imagine.
Once we left there, we hopped in a cab, seems like all we do is take cabs to get to places, it’s getting a little nauseating, and went to Ben Yehuda Street. It hasn’t really changed since I was last there, little knick knack shops, tourist destinations, a lot of fast-food restaurants and not a whole lot of shade. Once we left there, in a cab again, we went over to Yad Vashem, the holocaust memorial museum. That is never an easy trip but since it’s been years, I wanted to go back. There isn’t all that much I can say about it but it just reminded me how many lives were lost by Hitler’s hand and how much devastation the Jews experienced in those few years.
Now that we are back in our hotel, we are resting before heading out for dinner with the previous principle of my old elementary school and his wife. They moved to Israel years ago and they asked to meet for dinner to catch up. That will be, interesting, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a conversation with him and I never really knew his wife. This trip will be full of meet-ups with old friends and I am very okay with that, for the most part.