After spending a few relaxing days in Ashqelon the three hiking musketeers made our way to Tel Aviv. We spent the night at one of my USY friend’s apartments, a boy I hadn’t seen in four years. Reunions are always a lot of fun; I am especially looking forward to reuniting with all of my lovely friends and family back in the States ☺
My USY friend was not on vacation like we were and had to go to Ulpan class during the day. Amir, Eli, and I headed to the mall to do what we love to do – go shopping! Actually this is a joke, Amir and Eli don’t love shopping. But they do love when they have Ms. Zink as their personal stylist. I saw so many London stores in the Tel Aviv mall (Accessorize, Fox, Zara, and more!!), it made me very excited to be able to hopefully shop at the end of these ten months when I am living in Tel Aviv and have a better idea of my financial situation.
After buying some lovely clothes for Eli we headed to Steimatskys, Israel’s most popular bookstore. I decided that if I found the right book I would treat myself and buy it. There is something just so relaxing about a bookstore, the smell, the knowledge, and the people who are just as interested in the words as you are. Due to all of this I was completely in the zone when I was trying to find the perfect book to buy. Amir came up to me at one point and said, “You seem to be completely unfazed by this Lauren.” I told him how when I am trying to find the right book I really get in the zone and it’s hard because so many are calling out to me. Amir proceeded to tell me that there was an empty shopping bag outside that the Israeli bomb squad was about to blow up and the police had locked us inside the store. I had no idea! Boy I really was in the zone.
Soon the police let us out and led us to the sidewalk where it wasn’t closed off. In Israel if any type of bag or suitcase is left sitting on the road it must be blown up. This is because there is a possible chance of a bomb being inside it. Fortunately it doesn’t happen a lot because Israeli’s make sure not to leave bags or suitcases lying around. Given we were able to view such a sight we of course stayed and watched. A robot machine headed over to the bag and gave a look inside. If it seems like a threat the machine blows it up, if it doesn’t men with protective vests give it a look inside. The latter was what happened here. Inside the bag was a kitchen utensil. Not quite the James Bond ending I had hoped for.
Later on in the evening Ariel came and met us in Tel Aviv, she was staying with her family the past week. We had a fun night out at a bar and an even more fun (not) morning when we had to wake up early and a bit hungover to make our way to Eilat. This vacation consisted of Eli, Ariel, and I – Goodbye Amir! About five and a half hours later we stepped off the bus into the hottest part of the country of Israel. Boy do I love this heat (sarcasm).
Fortunately our hostel was right near the central bus station. It was as cute as can be and also very clean which is always nice. We rested for a few minutes and then gathered our things and headed to the beach.
We found a nice place to lie down and look out into the Red Sea. We also ran into other Otzmanikim who were vacationing in Eilat. Later on we browsed around the mall, only to be tempted by more clothes. We made a group decision to instead go eat some food, something we didn’t feel guilty spending our money on.
The three of us had a lovely dinner and shared a bottle of red wine – we were on vacation after all! The playlist in the restaurant was fantastic; it played a variety of songs ranging from Frank Sinatra to Blind Melon. We even heard “what if G-d was one of us?” Which I found quite funny given we were in Israel and if G-d was one of us he probably would be found in the Holy Land.
After dinner we went back and got ready for our night out. We made our way to the other Otzmanikims hotel rooms, had some drinks and fun in there, and then went to some bars. The first was right on the beach and we had couches, drinks, hookahs, and friends – what more could we ask for? Well we did want more I suppose because we eventually left and went to a nightclub where we could get our dance on.
Getting late we decided to go back to our motel and get some rest. This way we could be well rested for a day of rest on the beach the next day. The Red Sea is fantastic, complete with smoothies and markets with fun clothing and jewelry. Throughout the day I was getting more and more excited because I knew in just a few hours I was going to go to Topshop – my favorite store in London! The only one in the United States is in NYC of course. I was fortunate to go once, but one time is not really enough for me. When we were walking to Topshop we were walking through a wealthier and more upscale touristy area of Eilat. It was absolutely gorgeous; beautiful white sand, clear Red Sea water, palm trees galore, tasty restaurants, and upscale shopping. At the very end of the strip was Topshop and I danced my way on in through the doors.
In New York City the Topshop has a very British feel to it. I did notice that the clothes themselves are more catered to the NYC fashion audience but the décor of the store has paintings on the wall of places such as Piccadilly Square, Big Ben, etc. I was interested to see the Israeli Topshop and if the clothes would be more Israeli and the décor very British. The clothes in fact were pretty Israeli, much like the fashion found in Tel Aviv. The décor was not British at all, in fact if I didn’t know what the store was I probably would never had known that it was started in London. The coolest thing about this Israeli Topshop for me was at the cash register where I found a Tzedakah box. I still get so excited every time I get to experience the Jewish religion mixing with the Jewish culture in my everyday lifestyle.
About an hour later we had a very stressed out Ariel and Lauren, and a very frustrated Eli. He couldn’t believe we were taking so long, and we were trying to be respectful but just couldn’t figure out what to buy. We loved everything! But it was too much money to spend. We ended up investing in two pricier items, however there was a “buy 3 get 1 free deal” going on and we were able to smartly share our items and save some money that way. We left Topshop with two huge smiles, and one huge frown. I promised Eli he could choose where to go for dinner to make up for it.
He made a fantastic decision too; I guess it was a win-win for Ariel and I. The restaurant was a lot of seafood, something we haven’t really been eating much of in Israel and I am missing very much. The restaurant décor looked like you walked into a Long Island or Nantucket nautical restaurant, not very Israeli to say the least. The food was delightful, and that fortunately tasted Israeli. After dinner we went and hung out with Otzmanikim friends for a bit and then headed back to the hotel to get a good nights sleep before heading to Jordan in the morning.