Suitcase and World: Thank You (False Alarm) Snowstorm!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Thank You (False Alarm) Snowstorm!

Hamsas for sale at Carmel Market.

I woke up feeling really well rested. Nothing like twelve days of vacation to do that for you. In all honesty, I look forward to going home and sleeping in my own bed but I do not relish the thought of having to go back to work!

Last night I was trying to decide how I wanted to spend my last day in Israel and I decided to skip the sightseeing. I've done more than enough in the past eleven days. The one place that I had wanted to go to but didn't have a chance because it was the Sabbath was the Carmel Market so I decided that would be my destination for the day.  The market is not located far from the hotel....probably about a third of the way between the hotel and Old Jaffa.

View from my hotel balcony.  Ahhh......

So the plan was an easy one.   Take a short walk on the beach, have breakfast, repack my suitcase and then check out and check in to the other hotel.  Then, head out to Carmel Market.

View from the jetty area near the marina.

Flash forward and I'm now in my room at the Leonardo Basel.  The receptionist told me that she had given me a room with a sea view.  Well, that was a bit of a stretch.  When I pulled back the curtain, my view was of the hotel's pool (drained for the winter season), the main road, the Renaissance Hotel across the street and in a wee, wee bit of a gap between buildings, I could see the waves of the sea.  Yes, I had a sea view :-)

But in reality, I didn't care about the view.   Everything else about the room was fine so I unpacked a few items and then packed my purse for my walk to the market.  I decided to leave my backpack and guidebook behind.  Just in case I couldn't find map at the hotel front desk, I took a photo of the one in my guidebook.  Not great but it and asking for directions along the way should get me to the market.

It's a work day so the beach is quiet.

Ready to go, I hit the streets.  What can I say?  The weather in Tel Aviv, at this time of year, is simply divine!  I love being out and about.  I made my way down to the promenade and headed in the direction of Old Jaffa, stopping every now and again to check the photo of the map.  Very useful!

There's a lot of public art in Tel Aviv.  This piece is titled, "Beyond the Limit"
and is by the Israeli artist Zadok Ben-David.

From the promenade, I crossed street and headed into the neighborhood where the market is.

As you can expect, most of the housing near the beach area are apartments.

It didn't take me long to get off the beaten path.  It was nice to be among locals.  You can tell you're the only tourist around because you're the only one with a camera dangling around your neck! :-)

Signs at the entrance to a neighborhood park.

At one point, a woman noticed me and kindly asked me where I was headed.  I told her the market and she  told me that I was on the right street but to just keep walking.....I would eventually get there.  I thanked her and went on my way.   I have to say that for the most part, Israelis tend to be a bit on the reserved side until they get to know you and then, they are as friendly as can be.

Sure enough, a few short blocks later and I arrived at the market.

One section of the market sells mainly clothing and shoes.  Lots of vendors selling t-shirts for tourists.

Carmel Market or Shuk Ha'Carmel as it's known in Hebrew is the city’s biggest marketplace as well as a popular spot for tourists.  I LOVE markets and am happy as a clam to be here.

Carmel Market is  basically one crowded narrow alley flanked with colorful stalls standing on either side. It is the local market so as you can expect, you can find almost anything imaginable, from different kinds of bread and pastry to delicious olives, dried fruits and exotic spices.

Bread and snacks.

Carmel Market It is also the best place to buy the freshest produce, whether it is fruits and vegetables, fish and poultry, cheeses or flowers.

Plenty of fruits for sale.  This time of year, it's oranges and pomegranates.

After walking a bit, I realized I had entered the market in the *middle* of the alleyway.  I got to one end and it was a small square area.  There were some Israeli Hare Krishna's performing for money.  They really need to train themselves to dance Indian dances....they were really bad.  I didn't see anyone leaving a donation.  Aside from the Hare Krishnas, the plaza area had seats filled with locals just enjoying each other and the wonderful weather.  Even on a Wednesday morning, this place is hopping!

Lots of clothes for sale.

See the woman with the cigarette in her hand?  Yes, they smoke in public here.  I think the law is about to change.

Spices, spices and more spices. 
I bought a small bag each of za'atar and shawarma spice.

Lots of cooked food for sale.  I even saw a vendor selling dumplings.

I was curious to try some but I couldn't find the seller in sight. 

No market in Israel could exist without someone selling olives and olive oil  Nothing is cheap here though.

My nose led me to this guy.  I would return later.

Baklava!  A very popular dessert item.

This place caught  my attention. Nothing but cookies and candies and chocolates.

My kind of candy store.  I picked up some chocolate bars as gifts for friends back home. 
I bought a combination of Israeli chocolates and some unusual Belgian varieties I can't get back home.
Cheese shops are very popular here.  I didn't get to try much Israeli cheese except for some feta.  Next visit!

Pickled vegetables are popular here.  Mainly as appetizers but I also liked to cram them into a shawarma sandwich.

The meat and fish section was a separate area.  Of course, the meat is kosher here.

I walked up and down the alley a couple of times.  By the time I got to this juice vendor,
I was ready for a cup of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice.
My last stop was back at the sandwich vendor.  I had taken one of their menus earlier and knew exactly what I wanted to order - a kebab pita for 22 shekels.  I had no idea exactly what would be in the sandwich except that I remembered that Uri told me that in Israel "kebab" automatically means lamb so I am expecting a grilled lamb sandwich.  If it tasted half as good as the grilled smell, I would be a very happy eater!

Watching the guy at worked reminded me of the nights in Fes and Marrakesh when Soon and I got our meat sandwiches in the souks.

The sandwich had to be takeaway though as I did not want to eat in the market.  Original idea was to take the sandwich and find a shady spot on the beach to sit, eat my sandwich, and watch the world go by.

I watched the guy stuff the meat and all sorts of fixings into the pita pocket.  The sandwich was absolutely bulging at the sides!  I was not complaining.  It looked so tasty!  I took my sandwich and put it in my plastic bag along with the two packets of spices that I had bought and made my way out of the market.

By the time I left Carmel, it was about 1:30p and it was actually getting hot.  I had long shed my jacket and was wishing I could shed more clothing but I was already down to my shirt :-(

I eventually made it to the beach promenade but in all honesty, decided to throwout my game plan to find a shady spot to sit and eat.  I decided to just head back to the cool of my room.

My sandwich was no longer hot when I bit into it but was delicious.  Too bad the market was just far enough away that it deterred me from walking back and getting a second sandwich for dinner.

I spent the afternoon doing office work and checking on the weather.  What was expected to be a massive snowstorm turned out to not even be a whimper.  By early afternoon, DC time, forecasters were not even referring to the snow fall as a storm.  In some places, it was just barely a dusting.   I called my parents and they had snow but even they had stopped worrying as it was already beginning to fade.  So, in the end, DC escaped a late winter snow and can now look forward to spring.  I got an extra day of vacation out of it.  All in all, it all worked out.

I also made a phone call to Diesenhaus to make sure my ride will be here tomorrow morning to take me to the airport.  Bag packed, ride arranged, I'm ready to go home

As I put the final words in this posting, I can honestly say that I am truly sad to be leaving Israel.  I feel like I have barely gotten to know this country - with its complex and rich history.  I will be back to spend more time and I will bring my brother and most likely, Soon with me.  I think both guys will really enjoy visiting this place.

Good night Tel Aviv!