Category Archives: Travels

Back on line!

Ok, seminar is over, and I will have a stable internet connection for most of the rest of my trip, so I will be able to catch you up on my journey.

I also had to deal with a little Verizon issue – about a week into the trip I got a panicked email from David letting me know that I got  charged $1070 for data roaming charges on my phone. So you know, I didn’t use my phone at all, but did have it on a bit to find phone numbers and emails from my contact  list.

Also important to mention, we went to the Verizon store a few days before I left to see if I could get some international plan so I could have a phone while I am here. The answer was that I could not use my phone as a phone while I was here, and that it would basically turn into a tablet and connect to WiFi, but that I couldn’t use it as a phone.

Wrong info – when I got here my aps started trying to update, and so while I was oblivious to all this, through passive use I was bouncing offers all over the place and getting charged  over $20 per kilobyte or something like that – crazy, right?

So David contacted verizon international who would only verify that the charges were  legit, and at the verizon store, since the bill was closed for the month, there was nothing they could do.

I contacted the store that I went to, and got a message that indeed I got information that was not complete, and that they should have told me how to shut off roaming capabilities, but that I needed to contact customer service.

I finally managed to talk to someone who was extremely understanding and helpful yesterday, and she said that I should not be held responsible for getting incorrect and/or incomplete information, and is going to credit us the WHOLE amount as soon as they get word from the store that I visited, which should be no problem, since I also emailed her the message that I go from the store.

I am happy to say that Verizon does indeed have customer service, that the person I spoke to was knowledgeable, helpful and spoke perfect English, and that she actually did everything she could to help make things simple for me.

Thank you Verizon for putting me before a $1070 profit, and for treating me as a valued customer!

I think I’ll celebrate with a beer when I get to Tel Aviv tonight!

In the mean time here are a few pictures from my trip

The first picture is of what was left of the first dinner on the trip – TOO MUCH SHAWARMA!

The second is of some of the people on the trip with me, in the Cardo in the Jewish Quarter of the old City of Jerusalem

The third is an arch over the street in the Jewish Quarter of the old city of Jerusalem.


Israel Day 2 – Tel Aviv June 20th

After sleeping well, we woke up and had a great Israeli breakfast of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese and pita bread.

Eva's first breakfast in Israel, Jordan's apartment

We started the day by realxing and strolling through the shuk again. Forn Eva, this time was less overwhelming, and she got a chance to actually take in the smells and the sights (not to mention the noise).

Next we walked to the Azrieli Mall, and wondered around, not buying much, but enjoying the air conditioning and the many Israeli stores. Eva even found a dreidel that she liked, but the price was $400ish which put it a little out of her budget.

We enjoyed a yummy shawarma lunch at the food court at Azrieli, and then went to the offices of the ministry of interior, so that I could renew my Israeli passport – it would expire only a few days later, so I needed to get that done. Filled out the paperwork, paid 265 NIS, and was told to return Sunday to pick up the new passport… easy quick, and less then a US Passport. (265 shekel is about $75)
We then walked through Sarona, a former German Templer colony, built in the Bauhaus style. The neighborhood was abandned and fallen into disrepair, so the municipality of Tel Aviv took it upon itself to fix it up, and preserve the buildings. The process is still going on, but its cool to see:

Sarona, the former German, Templar colony, Tel Aviv


We returned to Jordan’s place to rest, and pack, since we had to be in Jerusalem at 8:30 the next morning, which meant leaving Tel Aviv no later than 7, which meant a very early wake up. We rested a bit, and then since it is National Book Month, and there was a week long book fair at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, we decided to go look for books.
Eva found one, I didn’t buy anything but we enjoyed the crowd, and the celebration of literacy:

Tel Aviv book fair


We returned to Jordan’s place, had a light dinner, and then my sister and her family, my brother, and Yinon came for coffee and fruit/cookies. It was a fun evening, and when they left, we went to bed, since the 5:30 alarm wasn’t going to wait for us. Tomorrow, Jerusalem!


Israel 1 – Tel Aviv

We arrived in Israel on Sunday, June 19th at 9:30 in the morning. Getting through border control, luggage and customs was a breeze, and we were on the 10:50 train to Tel Aviv.

We got to Tel Aviv, and took a cab to Kerem HaTeimanim, where my brother’s apartment is. He left the keys with Julie, a proprietor of a fantastic Egyptian-Jewish restaurant, so of course we had to have lunch. I had a stuffed , and spicy fish balls (insert giggles here) with rice, beans and salad. Eva, the teacher who came here for the seminar with me couldn’t finish her food, much to Julie’s chagrin, but I made a happy plate. Got the keys, but my sister forgot to leave me the cell phone, no biggie, I had skype. Walked around the corner to my brothers apartment, and settled in for a bit, only to discover that his WiFi was disconnected. Guess that I didn’t have skype after all, and that I would be completely off the grid for a few days. After a bit of panicking, I got over it, and got ready to move on with my trip.

So, we went to the market, and then to the beach – see for yourselves!

At the beach, looking at Tel AvivAt the beach, don't you wish you were here?After the beach we went to Dizengoff Center - the first Mall in Tel Aviv, and I bought some Israeli music, and Ice cream from Vagnilia. Halva and passion fruit ice cream - YUM! Then a visit to Gan Meir Park, and back to the market to buy some produce for breakfast - 2 tomatoes, and 2 cucumbers for less than $1 (combined), some feta cheese, pita bread, delicious olives and yogurt.Fallafel for dinner, and then back to Jordan's place. Jordan came to visit (He moved in with his partner and is giving up the apartment at the end of July), and we went walking down Rothschild boulevard. (these are pictures from my last visit, but they will give you an idea of how cool the boulevard is) The pride of Rothschild Blvd

The koi pond
The pond on Rothschild

I got to visit Jordan’s new place, decorated by his partner. Yinon (the partner) loves minimalism and clean lines – the place is so white, the KKK could use it as their HQ, but hey, to each his own!

Was back at the apartment at 10ish, and went to bed, to get ready for the next day, and all that Tel Aviv has to offer.
 

Back on line

Ok, I am finally back on line, so I can update my blog… When I got here I found out that my Brother’s apartment was no longer hooked up to WiFi, so I had no internet connection. 2 days later, both my brother and brother in law tried to connect me to broadband and did something to mess up my computer, so that when I got to the Hotel in Jerusalem I could connect to the LAN, but not get out to the internet. That is fixed, and here I am back, and ready to blog.

Its been a great 5 days in Israel, after a long and boring flight – as soon as we took off the lights and entertainment system crashed, which meant no individual lights, so as soon as the cabin lights went out, we were in the dark, and couldn’t read. Worse than that, no movies, games or music. Not fun at all!

The seminar has been hectic, and we got a lot done already, with very little down time, but tomorrow is a light day, and so is Saturday, so I will be giving a play by play, day by day account of the trip then. In the mean time, here are few teaser pictures for your enjoyment:

My Feet in the Mediterranean

The water was great!

 
Too… Much… Shawarma!

Delish!

Jerusalem is truly a wonderful and beautiful city

This is a rooftop view of the old city of Jerusalem, looking at the Church of the Holy Seplachur

 
Thats all for now, I promise lots more pictures, and a much more detailed account of what we have been up to, needless to say I am having an amazing time!
 

Branson – AKA Redneck Disney

The big Chicken and me (I'm the one in front)

So this is me in Branson, and the big chicken kind of sums it up. Its like Wisconsin Dells with a drawl, and it was fun to go there ONCE.

We left Sunday morning, after mowing the yard. It was about a 4 hour drive (with stops), and after eating breakfast at Sonic on the way, and lunch at Sonic when we got there. We had some time to kill, since my parents got held up by traffic in Saint Louis and were running late, so we took the tour of Stone Hill Winery, which was lame, but at least we got free samples. I have to say that for a winery that won thousands of national and international awards, I was not impressed. They do have a sweet wine called Jaquess (or JackAss – wine with a  kick) that wasn’t bad, but the rest was meh. The “jokes” told by the tour guide were tired, but the place was air conditioned and we had the time to kill.

When my parents arrived, we checked into the studio apartment at the timeshare resort that they were booked in. The place was nice, but David and I had to sleep on a hide a bed.

David and my mom on what will become our bed.

 

After check in, we went to see the Hollywood wax museum, which would have been ok if it was $5-8 a ticket, but it cost us over $70 for the 4 of us to get in, including a coupon, and senior discounts for my parents. I did learn that Toto made more money per day than the munchkins did…

Later we went to Walmart to get some stuff for my parents. The Walmart in Branson is like a theme park based on the “People of Walmart” website, and was extremely amusing, and we left with a sense of superiority that they didn’t even charge us for!

Dinner at a Chinese buffet, chit chat with my parents and a very unrestful night on the hide a bed ended day one in Branson. I did finish the first Sookie Stackhouse , but thats a different blog post.

The next day we just relaxed in the morning and then went to a lunch/lets try to upsell the old folks. It was 2 hours of Fazoli, and misinformation. My parents didn’t buy any more “points” and got a lame coupon book out of it.

We drove around Branson to see what the place was really all about – the answer – Redneck Heaven! Its where hasbeens go to be idolized, and dignity goes to die.

There are however amazing views that I am guessing most visitors miss out on, but we went to the scenic overlook, and took some pictures.

Me and my parents and the view of the area around Branson

Then we went to the Chicken restaurant from the first picture for a late lunch/Early dinner, and then it was time for David and me to head home.

The drive home was uneventful, and went by quicker than we expected, and so ended our Branson vaca.

It is Tuesday, and I leave for Israel in 4 days and David leaves in 31 days, and thats when the REAL vacation happens!