On the Honey and the Beesting

Monday, May 22, 2006

Israel: The Best and Worst of...

Our madrikh, Eliad, asked us all to fill in this survey so that he can make a suggestion book for future students. Here were my answers (keeping in mind that most restaurant suggestions, unless noted otherwise, are in and around Haifa)

Best Hiking Experiences:
1)Nachal Ammud, in the Galilee near Tzfat. This is for those of you who actually hate hiking trips, like me. Very easy and doable paths through a shade-filled forest with springs that you can swim in. Nice views of the Galilee

2)To Daliat Al Karmel; This can be done with a cab or the 022 bus from the university (which FYI, never comes), but the cool kids walk up the damn road (where on saturdays, a family sets up a Druzi Pita stand on the University side of the road), mainly because taxis are never going the right way, but also because the Carmel Forest is on the other side, and it's pretty scenic. I would try flagging a cab right around Bustan HaCarmel, a good 45 minutes-hour walk from the university and reportedly a good 3-4 hour walk from Dalia, because otherwise it's just too far. (though Daliya is only 20 minutes by car/bus/cab)
And by the way, there is no bus back from Dalia. Catch a Sherut near the Fox Plus store around 4, 4:30ish. Otherwise, you're shit out of luck. We've gotten all the way to Usufiya on foot before seeing a cab.

Best Places to Meet Israelis Off Campus:
Clubs, Bars, Museum, the Beach...Anywhere in Israel...Volunteer Programs...
Chof Hastudentim, two minute walk south along the tayelet from Chof Hacarmel.

Best Traveling outside the Country tips:
Shana suggests Issta Travels (Outside the Main Building of the University, next to the Post Office, where the bus stop is), because they have good student deals. I suggest Terminal One because my aunt works there.

Best Bars/Restaurants/Coffee Shops
-Dinerash (Dinner Rush...) in Merkaz Carmel: 25 shekels for all meals. Very cheap and yet surprisingly gourmet
-La Goffre in Merkaz Carmel: Belgian Waffles, Crepes, and Icecream.
-Pomodoro's Pizza in Merkaz Carmel: The sit-down is very good, DO NOT ORDER DELIVERY. They suck at delivery and the pizza from the Moadon at the dorms is probably cheaper.
-Aroma Cafe in Merkaz Carmel
-Greg's Cafe either at the upstairs strip of the university (be pushy) or in the Merkaz Carmel. The one in Merkaz Carmel has great food and is a good place for dinner
-Cafein, also in Merkaz Carmel, but they're nicer at the one in Chorev. Get the Chocolama if you are a chocolate fan.
-Litchi Japanese Restaurant in Merkaz Carmel
-Tatami Japanese Restaurant, between Chorev and Carmel
-Frangelico's Japanese Kiosk (you sit down at the bar) in the Grand Kanyon. If it's the bitchy waitress (she's the one who looks generally depressed with her life/job/hairstyle and who refuses to break larger bills), leave. Otherwise, the sushi is amazing, and the tempura vegetarian sushi rolls are awesome. Get the (freshly cooked) Agedashi Tofu soup, not the (microwaved) miso.
-Mandarin Cafe: The one in Chorev serves dinner/lunch/breakfast, and has more food options and is generally in less of a sketchy area than the one in Merkaz Carmel
-Broadway Bagel in the Chorev Mall. Kosher, so not open on Shabbat. Also, the food is really good, but let's just say that they aren't known for speedy service.
-Coffee to Go at Tel Aviv University, across from the Einstein dorms
-Shaltieli: Nargila Bar on the Chof Carmel Beach, right next to the Camel bar/restaurant, and above the natural amphitheater. Good Nargila, good alcohol, good fries, and good chummus+pita
Camel: Bar on the beach (Chof Carmel), great food, kind of pricy
Kadarim: Restaurant on the beach, north of Chof Carmel (just walk along the tayelet)
Misa'dat Achim Chalabi in Daliyat alCarmel. Great place, HUGE amounts of very good middle eastern food for ridiculously cheap (2 people each ate 2 kebabs, 5 different types of salads, chumus, pitta, felafel balls, arab desserts, soda pop, rice, pickles, tea, and coffee...for 40 shekels. That's 10 bucks.), great service. Also, the Chalabis basically own Daliya, so whereever you eat will be good.

General Tips About Israel:
-Dont assume that just because they're not speaking English at the moment, that they can't understand you when you try to speak about them behind their back.
-Totally go to the Haifa Film Festival! See as many films as possible. Free movies are played in the evening outdoors in Gan Ha'em in Merkaz haCarmel, and there are booths with fun things to buy in the park near the Cinematheque, at the entrance to Merkaz haCarmel.
-Get a cellphone. You may think you're being avant-garde and "free from distraction" without one, but in real life, you're just obnoxious. People like to get in touch with eachother. If you want to be free from technology, then just go without internet, but in Israel, everyone should have a cell-phone. Worrying parents like to get a hold of their kids, hint hint. Also, many israelis do without landlines and only have a cellphone. Or two.
-Israeli movie theatres sell assigned seat tickets and the movies have an intermission. Usually, it is not a problem to move your seat around after the movie has started if its not the opening weekend, but don't ever count on that. If you're going in a group, have one person buy a chunk of tickets and pay them back later, or if you're all there at the same time, you can ask the teller to seat you together but pay separately. Also, the time at which the intermission interrupts the movie is randomly selected. Watch out for it.
-If you must have a computer, bring a laptop with wireless capability
-Unless it's major traffic jam time, ALWAYS have the driver turn on the meter (taf'il et hamoneh, bevakasha)
If you take busses and you plan on using them every day, it's cheaper just to get a monthly pass
-Otherwise, get a kartisiya, ten rides at 80% of the price. Cheaper still if you're short and get the youth pass instead of the student pass, though not all bus drivers allow it if you're riding from the university or look too old.
-Don't tip the cab drivers, it's not done, and if they expect it, they're trying to rip you off
-Always tip your waitresses at least 10% if not 15%. The waitress is not paid by the hour by the restaurant, and only makes whatever you leave her in tips.
-There is no such thing as a drop-in appointment at the doctor's office in Israel. There is not a hebrew word for "walk-in" or "drop-in". Book in advance. If you're very sick, go to the receptionist early in the morning and cry a lot and hack like you have a seriously infectious disease.
-Most cafes have a shelf of free postcards with witty sayings and sometimes little foldy origami paper things. Take as many as possible.
-Superpharm always has the longest lines. If you don't need it right away, leave the store without it.
-Buy all housewares at the housewares store on the first floor of the chorev mall. They have power strips and surge protectors. FYI: there is not a single israeli who seems to know the word "surge protector" in hebrew. This is because different companies call it different things. Ask for a magen brah-kim. Otherwise, you can buy dishwares at any supermarket.
-While the minimarket in the dorms is more convenient, buy your vegetables and fruit at a real supermarket. Which is often cheaper
-Tampons and pads cost a hell of a lot more in this country, bring them from home
-Do not take the train to Jerusalem unless you want to go to the Malcha Mall. Take the bus otherwise. And the 940, not the 947, which stops at every village along the way and takes twice as long.
-Do take the train to Tel Aviv
-Israelis have an interesting concept of "the line", especially in the supermarket. They think that people will "save their place" (if they don't leave their cart) and then can waltz back 20 minutes later and cut in line and be all "but I was here first even though I didn't leave another person or my cart or my child". Don't allow this. Not even if they're little old ladies. Kick them while they're down. Defend your place to the death. And it might come to that. However, if you really were in line first, don't let other people get in front of you. Make a big scene.
-Don't be the ugly american. Nobody likes a sloppy drunk unless they are also a sloppy drunk. Europeans and Canadians are also quite capable of being "ugly americans".

Easy recipe for the Dorms Kitchen:
Pancakes: All ingredients can be obtained at the minimarket upstairs. Measurements can be inexact,and it will still taste good. So if you don't have measuring cups or spoons, use plastic drinking cups for the cup, soup spoons for tablespoons, and small spoons for teaspoons.If you want to double/triple the recipe, double/triple all proportions but NEVER ADD MORE BAKING POWDER/SODA
-Oil pan, put it on a burner, turn on the burner
-1 plastic cup full of flour
-same plastic cup full of milk or water, depending on if you are vegan/lactose intolerant
-tablespoon or two of white sugar, or more, to your taste
-teaspoon of oil
-teaspoon of vanilla or of vanilla sugar (vanilla sugar packets can be bought at the minimarket)
-teaspoon of baking powder/soda (also can be bought at the minimarket; if you buy it in packets, use about a third of the packet)
-1 egg
Stir vigorously and ladle onto sizzling hot frying pan that is well oiled. You must oil the pan for each pancake you make. Flip the pancake when bubbles start to form, or when you can get it on the spatula without things flying everywhere
Recipe makes about three big pancakes.


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