Monday, September 22, 2008

Fazed and Confused

Three months have flown by and looking back I have to pinch my self to believe that we are really here. My life is changing and the future I had planned for, for so many years seems to be rapidly approaching towards me and I want to be prepared so I wont have to duck.

It is also a sad time. Good friends are going away, moving away, fading away and although I am trying to focus on the 'important' things in life, I am saddened and feel a sense of loss.

Gone are the days of 2 years ago where we would sit around drinking multiple bottles of wine until there was nothing more to say. No more running home from the bar via a group plunge into the Med just because we can. It seems like the fun times have gone and in its place we have something different. Different is not always bad... just not really the same.

Now we can sit around a Friday night dinner table together and a bottle of red go untouched. I look forward to evening walks with a good friend, one I can talk endlessly to and at the same time never feel boring in silence. I enjoy hanging out at my favourite vegan salad bar with my favourite vegetarian/ non-mammal eater/ fellow sprout salad obsessive girlfriend. I love coming home to snuggle in front of a movie, talk about our days and crawl in to bed.

I guess I am saying goodbye to Tel Aviv. Goodbye to all the old old hang outs; the benches we would sit and drink beer and talk for hours; the apartment block we all dreamed of living in every time we walked by; the good time restaurant that served cheap wine, cheap food and always had a free shot to give away when we sat at the bar; the old reliable sushi bar we would meet at in the evenings before we got bored and it closed down to become an ice-cream shop.

I am going to miss a lot of things, but the long evening walks, the vegan salad bar and the messaging all day long I will not!

I guess what I am saying is... Don't faze me out just yet, because I am still here.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

In summary…

Coming home is a bittersweet symphony, especially at this time of year with birthdays and summer lovin’ to have me a blast. Coming home changes everything and the little bubble we were living in for our month of bliss had to burst at some point… within minutes of saying goodbye the thought, “Well what do I do now” came to my head. Expecting to hear the voice I had heard so often every day for month responding. I was so disappointed to have to answer for myself… “You have to settle back into reality.”

But things have changed in such a wonderful way and life is developing at such a fast rate that I take a look at my over-flowing plate and I cannot wonder whether it is half full or empty for there is no room in it to wonder at all. But then I see a lifetime of time ahead for me and I know that each of these steps will come in their own sweet time and I should enjoy their build up as well as their passing equally and with equal anticipation.

I see my world evolving in front of my eyes and although I am scared… scared is the human reaction to all that is new… I am also excited for the new world I see hovering just ahead of me. Who knows how it will all pan out, but with everything I am lending my ear/ hand/ foot/ heart to, I am giving one hundred percent of myself and may I win or lose I will remember these days as being some of the happiest and most fulfilled of my life.

Funny how life happens when you were busy taking a break from it.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Drive to Boston

I've been awake for a while now
You've got me feelin' like a child now
'Cause every time I see your bubbly face
I get the tingles in a silly place

It starts in my toes

And I crinkle my nose
Wherever it goes I always know
That you make me smile
Please stay for a while now
Just take your time
Wherever you go

The rain is fallin' on my window pane

But we are hidin' in a safer place
Under the covers stayin' safe and warm
You give me feelings that I adore

They start in my toes

Make me crinkle my nose
Wherever it goes
I always know
That you make me smile
Please stay for a while now
Just take your time
Wherever you go

What am I gonna say

When you make me feel this way?
I just, mmm

It starts in my toes

Makes me crinkle my nose
Wherever it goes
I always know
That you make me smile
Please stay for a while now
Just take your time
Wherever you go

I've been asleep for a while now

You tucked me in just like a child now
'Cause every time you hold me in your arms
I'm comfortable enough to feel your warmth

It starts in my soul

And I lose all control
When you kiss my nose
The feelin' shows
'Cause you make me smile
Baby just take your time now
Holdin' me tight

Wherever, wherever, where ever you go
Wherever, wherever, where ever you go

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Drive to Maine

An "I Heart New York" Weekend

By the weekend we were so at home in New York and had done pretty much all the shopping we had planned to do. We were looking forward to a relaxing weekend with friends. First we began with Friday night dinner on the Upper West side. We arrived early to help. It’s also a ploy of mine when I know I am going to a dinner where I know only the hostess so that it gives me a chance to spend time with her first and also to make myself at home enough that when the other guests arrive I look like part of the furniture. I hate awkward entrances.

I have to admit that once I knew how many people were going to be attending the soirée I gulped with nervousness, but once we sat among the other guest and were immediately pulled into a heated discussion about how to stop terrorists from being terrorists, we immediately relaxed and began to enjoy ourselves. After 3 courses of truly delicious food, and enough red wine that I was beginning to feel sleepy we decided say our thank yous and goodbyes and make a speedy exit before the Charadi guys started on their 3rd Devar Torah.

The next day we met up for brunch with a friend and her husband in the East Village. Now this was my kind of meal. A meal with eggs, amazing company and three free alcoholic drinks! Now thinking about it, after not seeing my friend for three years, a drunken brunch was probably the best way to reconnect. We sat chatting like we had all known each other forever and when I told her how we had lined up at Magnolia the day before she insisted that we go across the road to her favourite bakery so she could show me where I went wrong. We were really in no rush though and it took the waitress giving us free coupons to “continue our conversation at the bar” before we took the hint and decided to stumble out of the restaurant and into the bakery across the road. The place was called Sweet Sugar Sunshine and when I tell you that it pooped on Magnolia, I mean that it totally ripped it apart, kicked it to the ground, stomped on its face and pooped on it… who would have thought cupcakes could turn so nasty. All I am saying is if you every happen to be on the corner of Rivington and Essex then you should go and get the Spicy Pumpkin cupcake… that’s all I have to say.

After walking around the area, checking out the local stores and working off some of the brunch we had had, we decided to head back to the hotel to hang out in more comfortable surroundings. We had plans for the night and our friends just wanted to come check out the place… that was at around 3pm. Over 6 hours later we were all still hanging out at the hotel… starving!

A dinner of burgers quelled our hunger and we spent the rest of the evening chatting life and discussing our plans for Maine and Boston. We would be sad to leave New York, but our day had led to an invite for next weekend in Brooklyn and we were so looking forward to another perfect week ahead.

I heart New York!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

All about me

Our time in New York meandered on in a haze of hot and cold days where we left the hotel in the morning and kept walking until our return at night. We spent our days exploring the city, shopping, taking long lunches, sitting in parks, drinking in New York and then swallowing it whole at night. And just when we felt we had discovered everything there was to see in one area we were exploring we took a turn north and realized how much more there was to see.

At times I wished that we had not made plans to travel further up North at the end of the week to New England, but on the other hand I was looking forward to seeing so much more of the country. At the beginning I chose to soak everything in. We took a tour bus around the city and firmly decided that we would never be so stupid again. We headed towards the Statue of Liberty and instead of standing in line for 3 hours with the rest of the tourist trailers we decided to hop on the Staten Island ferry and take a free trip across the water to see the view of Manhattan in all her glory. We waved to Miss Liberty and contemplated what it would be like to ride the ferry every day to work.

On our way back we took a walk around Wall Street and took a moment by Ground Zero. It seems that no-where on this little island is free from tourists, but then on second thoughts I cannot complain, it is not as if we have been anywhere other than the tourist trail, so for now I just accept it.

We carry on and find ourselves in Chinatown surrounded by plastic bags, fakes leather belts, Christian Dior and Valentino pours out onto the streets and everyone is walking around with black bags filled with the not so designer goods they have bought. Deep into Chinatown we find a little place to eat which gladly did not have a tourist in site and gathered our second wind.

Back on the road we headed up towards Soho and excitedly raced each other into Urban Outfitters and competed as to who could do the most damage to their credit cards… I may have won.

Our days continued in this way, until one evening the Israeli turns to me and says, “You really have not bought anything. Tomorrow we are going to have Channah day. We’ll do anything you want… I will be the bag carrier.”

So the next day we began Channah day with a hearty breakfast and many coffee refills before heading out towards downtown on the hunt for dresses, shoes and Aveda shampoo. After hours of walking around, buying little we finally found the Aveda store. Once in I promptly began filling my basket full of the Shampoos and potions I had been lusting after since our arrival, when the lady offered me a rejuvenating massage before I head back out onto the street to shop some more. I sat there as she massaged my shoulders and scalp and hoped that the Israeli was taking notes to do it again to me once we returned to our hotel.

Half an hour later feeling relaxed and slightly light-headed, my wallet significantly lighter we made our way further south towards Bleeker Street towards The Magnolia Bakery. We got directions from the chatty owner of a local Irish pub, who informed us that there was no way we would miss it for the line of people we would see outside. However when we got to Magnolia we realised that perhaps we had underestimated his warning… the line went all the way around the block! But we were there and despite the Israeli insisting, “It’s not the holocaust! Why are we queuing for food!” we waited it out to try the most famous cupcakes in New York.

The line was filled with tourists, Japanese school girls with their cameras at the ready, the odd New Yorker who spent the entire wait bitching at how many tourists come to their beloved local bakery. Once in it was a race to the finish line, who could get the best cupcakes and get out alive! The thing is, although the cupcakes were definitely delicious, I prefer to be able to pick the food I want, instead of the limited selection that was available to me. Channah day ended so peacefully with drinks with a friend and a good night sleep… I wish every day could be Channah day.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New York, New York!!

I awoke the next morning so excited I could not control myself. Today we were moving out of this dump and into a decent hotel! It was 10am and I did not care that check in was only 3pm; I wanted to go there now! But alas that was not possible, so instead I settled for a hearty smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel from a local deli, a coffee from Dunkin' Doughnuts, before checking out of our slum.

Bags back on our backs, we decided to head to the new hotel again, we have no shame, and leave our bags there for the day until we checked in. This was obviously no problem, and we then headed out into Midtown New York ready to explore the streets.

Unlike with every other town that we had visited, in New York we did not use the Lonely Planet Guide; we did not walk around with a map (ok a couple of times, but only for reference). In New York we were not tourists, at least we did not feel like tourists. In New York we were home. It is very hard to explain, especially as for the Israeli, this was his first time in the States ‘period’ and for me, well last time I was in New York it was for a minimal amount of time and while there I chose to close my eyes and let my hostess lead me around the city. This time around we were leading ourselves in the only way we knew how… getting lost, getting found and realising that using a Starbucks or Dunking Doughnuts as a point of reference is not going to help you find your way.

Regardless, we had a vague idea of where our hotel was in relation to a few major landmarks, so off we headed down the road, past Grand Central Station (we’ll get to that in a few days), in the shadow of the Chrysler building, past the Empire State Building and on to Time Square. I remember going to Time Square in the winter, in the snow and watching the bright lights, made all the brighter in the snow seemed so magical. Here on a hot summer’s day, with an overcast sky and the heat of the streets steaming up all around us, the view was totally different. I suddenly looked at Time Square from the perspective of a local, and I had the urge to wipe at my arms and legs to swipe the tourists away from me. It reminded me of the promenade in Tel Aviv mid-August when all the French tourists are in town… I avoid the promenade in Tel-Aviv during the whole of August. In fact I avoid that area from the end of June, July, and August and maybe will venture back around the end of September… maybe.

But this was different. This was not my home, I was one of the tourists, so as much as I felt a little overwhelmed by the number of people swarming around me, I could not be mad at it… I was one of them. We spent the rest of the day visiting my New York office, buying a Nintendo Wii, checking out the shops and getting used to the city. And we walked. Lord did we walk!

Eventually we returned to our new hotel, The Eastgate Tower Suites. In our room, which was pretty much the size of a studio apartment, with its own kitchen, dining area, sofas and chairs, walk in wardrobe and bathroom, we unpacked our belongings into our home for the week and could not help but feel like it was our home for good. And as we lay on our giant bed and surveyed the space around us and the clothes hanging in our closet we smiled contently for we saw that it was good.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A bit of a screw up...

So we left my cousins' early this morning in somewhat of a rush to get our car to the rental place before the 12pm deadline. We made it, settled up with the rental company, put our rucksacks on our backs and headed towards our home for the next week on East 39th Street Manhattan... or so we thought...

On arrival at our hotel we found that our booking had been cancelled and then on second glance the hotel receptionist informed us that the hotel room had in fact been rescheduled for Tuesday 24th June and not Monday 23rd June. They would happily arrange a room for us for the evening, but it would be $500.

We scratched our heads... on the one hand we had been driving all morning and were tired and just wanted a place to call home for longer than a couple of days, but on the other hand nothing was worth that amount of money... just think of all the shoes I could be buying with that!

We checked a few websites and found a little place on the Upper West side which was of a reasonable price and thought, "well really what other option do we have?" Rucksacks back on our backs we hailed a cab and headed uptown.

Now I hate to sound like a snob, but when I mentioned that this place was small I don't think I gave a full and true representation of how tiny this place actually was. Firstly the bed was possibly the smallest bed we have experienced here in the States and secondly that was pretty much the entirety of the room... just the bed. No I think I do not exaggerate when I tell you that in order to get into the bathroom I had to move our luggage in front of the main door to the room and then to get out of the room we had to move the luggage back in front of the bathroom.There was certainly very little breathing space and the window opened up to a brick wall, so there was very little air in the room to breath anyway.

Not to be down heartened we decided to find the best out of the crappy situation we were in and although we could not work out how we had both overlo
oked such a stupid mistake, I decided to call my sister who had lived around the neighboured a few years before for a couple of years. Within five minutes we had a game plan and decided to head out onto the streets and explore some of the Upper West side.

New York has a way of hitting you the moment you step into it. I realised this as soon as we drove off the Brooklyn bridge into Manhattan and I got stuck in a right lane wanting to turn left. Outside of the tourist areas it is eat or be eaten and after 4 years of living in Israel I was certainly prepared to bite back... This English girl ain't no fool!

The Upper West side is actually a pretty cool place. I mean I had always thought of it as one of the big Jewish hang outs in New York, but after walking around I saw so many decent bars and restaurants... it made it very difficult to choose where we actually wanted to park our tired butts to eat. The second plan for the day, under my sister's recommendation, was to head to Central Park and take advantage of this oasis in the middle of the city.

On the way we were only slightly distracted by the Museum of Natural History. It was 5pm and at first we thought it too late to go into the museum as they closed at 5.40, but the lady at the door informed us that now was possibly the best time to go as it was free and fewer people were around. Free! We were sold and we headed in to get a quick tour, but really we had one thing on our mind. The Squid and the Whale.

For those of you that have never been to New York or never heard of the Squid and the Whale I will paint little picture for you. In the Oceanic area of the Museum is a Giant B
lue Whale hovering mid air and the walls surrounding are alight with various displays of aquatic life. All very interesting and a little more gritty than the fluffy displays we had seen at the Museum of Natural History in DC. For example one of the displays was, at first glance, of a Polar Bear and a baby seal, however on second glance you realise that the polar bear is stood growling by the side of a hole in the ice and the baby seal has clearly been plucked from the water by the bear, leaving a trail of blood on the snow behind it. So now that you have a feel of the place, we headed downstairs to the deep sea level of the displays and somewhere under the stairs you will find the display entitled the Squid and the Whale. In darkness the giant squid is trapped between the jaws of the Whale deep under the sea. It is pretty gory, scary and fascinating to see an artist's interpretation of how these two aquatic giants meet. It really is a display you have to stand and stare at...

Anyway, back to Central Park. I have been to New York once or twice before and enjoyed Central Park in the winter, but after walking around for half an hour trying to find the area that I went to last time to show the Israeli that area I gave up and decided to enjoy what was around us... The Jackie Onassis reservoir, the Great Lawn. We walked and found ourselves outside the Shakespeare Theatre, which my sister had told me showed free performances throughout the summer, so we decided to grab some tickets and make a night of Hamlet in the park.

After running home and having a shower we headed back to the Shakespeare Theatre and found our seats. The plan was we would meet up with a friend and eat afterwards, but I clearly have not been to the theatre for a while because I did not realise that the show would go on so late. Three and a half hours later, after a thoroughly enjoyable performance, we were walking out of the park and carrying our tired asses back to the hotel. Within minutes I was out and dreaming of a squid and a whale in our real hotel room tomorrow.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

In the Capital

I would like to dedicate the following post to our precious GPS and our beloved Chrysler which I now appreciate more than ever... Our time we shared together was so special and we miss you very much... (Especially the old GPS. New one is shit!)

The drive away from the Appalachians, up the Blue Ridge Parkway was a long one, but gratefully I was not driving and enjoyed a sweet slumber along the lush mountain road. A sweet sleep that is until we realised we were about to run out of gas and so turned to our trusty GPS for guidance. I think somewhere along the lines she was a little confused that we were looking for a gas pump to refill our tank and not looking to dig for oil, because somehow GPS took us off the road and through some undergrowth, over a brook and down towards a number of rickety old houses with signs warning, "Trespassers will be shot first and asked why they were here after the corpse has been identified." We were certainly not in Kansas anymore and although we trusted our beloved GPS something told us that perhaps she was mid flow or just having a bad day, so at the next gateway we did a speedy 3 point turn and headed back the way we came. Back past the menacing looking houses, over the old brook and back up to the main Parkway Road... thankfully with no bullet holes to show.

After finding a Yokel gas station and refilling we decided that enough was enough of the wilderness and it was time to head back to civilisation. Next stop on the route was Washington DC, or to be precise Potomac, Maryland to the house of my cousin Marilyn.

After days in a strange surrounding, in the middle of redneck nowhere and surrounded by nothing more than trees it was such a shock to drive down my cousins beautiful suburban street and even more of a treat to arrive at her door just as she arrived home from work... this trip is all about timing.

Finally we were in a real home. Shoes off, bags thrown in our room, orange juice poured we sat in the living room and regaled my cousin with stories of our trip so far and caught up on family news from her. Both of us were exhausted from our long travels and were very much looking forward to some home comforts and to sleeping in a real bed... goodbye tent!

Our first evening was a relaxed one with a family meal and an early night. The next morning we slept in a little and then headed towards Washington DC via the metro. Arriving at Union Street station we were immediately overpowered by the historical monuments that surrounded us. Having been used to trees and rocks for so long I was a little overwhelmed by the giant American flag that greeted us as we exited the station and the 7 foot bell, the 10 foot Statues and the buildings... all the building were stone and white and had pillars.... we have gone from nature to industry in one step and I was ready to lap it all up.

Rightly or wrongly (ok it was wrongly) we decided to spend our hard earned cash on a bus tour of the city. It all started well, however we made the classic mistake of being a little too eager and got off the first stop we were told about which was the Art Museum, the West Wing. Two and a half ours later it was already past noon, we were starving and realised that we still had 4 other museums, 6 other monuments and Arlington cemetery to fit into our schedule and we only had a couple of hours left before the tour buses stopped running. We decided to carry on on the bus, not getting off at any other stops and then get off at the White House, walk through the Mall and see the monuments ourselves. The idea was a pretty good one, apart from the fact that it was Friday, traffic was a mess and our tour guide decided not to tell us about the history of monuments were were passing, but talk about the state of Washington traffic instead for half an hour.

Finally we could take no more.... However, in the time we spent after getting off at the White House and heading back to Union Station and back for Friday night dinner at my cousins we managed to see the following:

The White House
Washington Monument
The Lincoln Memorial
The Second World War Memorial
We walked the length and breadth of the Mall
The Korean War Memorial
The National Art Museum - East and West Wing

Day 2 in Washington DC, my cousin and her husband took us on a day trip of the capital allowing us to see some of the things we missed the day before:

The Natural History Museum (2 hours)
The Air and Space Museum (1.5 hours)
The Native American Museum (.5 hours)
Arlington Cemetery (1 hour)

After a long day, we were then treated to a meal on the other side of the river, back in Virginia. With a sunset view of the Capital, a cocktail in hand and the best company we had had so far on the trip I felt like a very lucky girl... could I simply stay here forever?

Our third day in DC we arranged tickets to go visit the Holocaust Museum. After so many days of museum hopping, we decided to dedicate one day to this final museum and then return to Potomac for a home cooked BBQ and an early night. We were also warned by my cousin's husband, who had been very much involved in the Museum from the outset, that it would be a long day. I think I must have underestimated his words because we were shocked to find that 3 hours had passed and we were little over half way around the Museum. It was a amazing experience and although I have been to a few Holocaust museums and memorials, it was most interesting for me to see and hear about it again from an American perspective. US reactions to the concentration camps and US papers with headlines of news from Germany between 1938 and 1948 came from a slightly different view point to the ones I had read and seen in the UK, and it made the experience all the more new and fresh for me... and ultimately all the more poignant.

The next day we decided to see the other side of DC and walked around Dupont Circle and Bethesda. I think I now understand why my cousin loves Maryland and DC so much. And there was no other place that we both felt so at home.

Sorry I know it was a long post... and to be honest I feel I have still missed out so much...

Oh well on to New York!

Friday, June 20, 2008

The long drive

With full tummies we fell into a deep sleep in our over sized bed at the Best Western Ashville and I dreamt of red velvet cakes and fried green tomatoes. We will be heading further up North through North Carolina and Virginia towards Maryland soon and I am already feeling nostalgic for the South.

The blue ridge parkway is a scenic stretch of road that runs from North Carolina (Smokey Mountains) to the Shenandoah National Park and is by all accounts has the most beautiful views of the area. We met the road somewhere outside of Ashville and headed up the road as far as an area called Otters Peak. The entire road was lined with forest either side and beautiful green hills in the distance. Brooks lined our drive and as we drove we soaked in the scenery. It is so lovely to be surrounded by so much green... reminded me of England in someway, only as with most things American it was bigger and better.

After a long drive we decided to camp for the night in Otters Peak and stumbled onto a great find in the middle of a forest. This was a campsite that was like no other campsite we had seen or stayed in. A larger forest area with small campsites placed far apart throughout the area with stone fireplaces, a picnic table and a small plot to pitch a tent it left the surrounding area untouched and so we almost felt like we had simply pitched our tent in the middle of a deserted forest. As we ate our dinner of hummus, bagels and salads a doe walked around our campsite surveying her new neighbours for the night, nodded her head in approval and then moved on. Fireflies dances around our tent and the forest was a live with sounds of birds and wildlife bustling around us. We read a pamphlet I had picked up on route about what to do if a Black Bear approaches and retreated to our our tent for an early night. This was the first night we felt the cold and so our tent provided shelter and warmth that our t-shirt just could not match.

We awoke in the morning to to see two long legged spiders, lit red by our tent, entwined on the front window of our tent obviously also seeking some warmth from the cold night. Although I am scared of spiders it was a comforting sight to awake to and we began our preparations for the rest of the day.

At the visitors centre we were told about a beautiful walk by a waterfall where we could go and so we headed of for a walk in the woods. Beautiful it was, although it was somewhat harder than we had thought it to be, but as we were getting tired we saw the doe (we like to think, our doe) walking through the forage in the direction we were heading and we got our second wind and headed on back to the car.

Back at the car we typed in our next destination into the GPS (g-d bless GPS) and headed to Potomac, Maryland where we would be spending the weekend with my family and seeing Washington DC. We said a fond farewell to our tent and hello to civilization. The camping part of our trip was over and as happy I was to be heading into civilization I looked back with a little sadness to be leaving the shelter of the forests. Sadly we never did see our Black Bear.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A little town called hippyville

When we were in Bonnaroo we loved our tent. Perhaps it was due to the long days and exhaustion that we felt that caused us to sleep so soundly on our floor made of yoga mat on top of plastic on top of dirt, but our night in the Smokey's was a totally different experience.

Firstly I got bitten twice on my right foot. Now I know in the past I have moaned about being the chosen one of all mosquitoes and as a result itching and scratching throughout the night with howls of ooooooof and woe, but in recent years they seem to have found a new victim and I have been fairly bite free my time in Israel. In addition i would like to point out that in all my time of being bitten the bite in question had never caused the body part attached to swell up to twice the size or form giant red lumps around the area. I exaggerate not... in fact we were not entirely sure what bit me, but lets just say that it was not pleasant to say the least.

Apart from the bites (as if that was not enough) the land we slept on was not exactly flat so we slept half the night with our heads pointing downwards and with the feeling we were about to slide into the brook below. That was until we had the brilliant idea to turn around and go feet first instead.

Then there were the neighbours moving in some time in the night making noises that at that late hour sounded to me like a chain saw wielding psychotic red neck with a little too much whiskey in him and the lust of fresh blood in his nostrils... we were the closest tent to his. Although I decided that the camp of young mathematicians that were opposite were definitely more appealing than our quarter aged blood that had been made impure I am sure by whatever it was that bit me.

Outside fireflies lit the woods while bright yellow caterpillars scaled our red tent and we fell into a deep sleep.

In the morning we awoke to use the amenities which were filled with the local wildlife looking for a place to stay the night. I became intimately connected to a small yet very friendly cockroach, packed up our belongings and headed out to our next destination... Ashville.

Ashville, NC is supposed to be one of the happiest places in the USA. When we entered their visitor center we understood why. The place was filled with information, computers with free Internet access, and some of the loveliest and most helpful people we have yet to encounter in the States. After an hour we booked a motel, checked our emails and decided to drop off our belongings and explore the town... with restaurant recommendations in hand.

Walking around the center of Ashville we saw cobbled streets lined with artists and street performers. On one corner a tattooed and pierced girl played banjo while her equally pierced friend with purple hair juggled. As we walked on Lior turned to me and said, "How come you don't play the banjo... hey?"

After some time walking around, hunger took over and we headed to the most recommended restaurant in town, The Easy Girl Eatery. I have to say this place was everything the recommendation stated and more. I simply could not get enough of the Fried Green Tomatoes and even though we were full by the end of the meal, when the waitress told us that we simply had to taste the traditional Southern desert, Red Velvet Cake, we simply could not say no.

I cannot begin to describe the morsel of heaven that we put in our mouths at that moment, suffice it to say I have been trying to recreate it ever since, but no red velvet has yet to be the same. Have no fear though I am on a mission to bring red velvet back home with me so you can all have a try... i just need to try and convince the chef at Easy Girl Eatery to give me the recipe.

Well fed and satisfied we headed to bed. Tomorrow the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Country Road

After returning to our home called the Comfort Inn Nashville, ordering Domino’s Pizza to our room, sleeping off our time in Bonnaroo, we awoke reasonably refreshed and only slightly wishing that we could sleep in a few more days I mean hours. We skipped breakfast (well we knew this time what we would be getting) and headed to pick up our car from the Airport.

We had originally ordered a Dodge Calibre, but when we arrived at the desk the guy asked us where we had come from and when we told him Israel, he said, “Welcome! We are brothers! I come from Egypt” and proceeded to offer us any car we wanted for the same price as the Dodge Calibre (the cheapest option). 15 minutes later we were cruising up the Interstate in our big black Chrysler. I have never driven anything so big… erm ok.

Anyway off we set on our tour of the backcountry.

It was not a short drive, but there was plenty to see along the way. In essence it looked a little bit like the English countryside, although as is typically American they got to do it bigger and better! Seriously. Although once we got off Route 40 and headed via Route 441 through Gatlinburg towards the Great Smoky Mountains we were in for a shock. Amongst all this beautiful natural scenery, they (“who have to do everything bigger and better” and tragically go too far) decided to build a miniature Disneyland. No I am not talking about Dollywood, which is close by, and I am secretly a little disappointed we missed (ok no not really… ok a little bit… ok I am over it). No this was what I can only describe as Walt Disney flew over the Great Smoky Mountains and threw up a bit on the way back down to Disney World Florida. The roads looked fake. The people were all tourists or just fake. Roller coasters lined the road along with the most about of sweet stores I have ever seen in one area other than a fairground!

Once though and safely back into the real world, we found a campground for the night, pitched our tent and settled to sleep.

Only one issue I am finding here is that none of the locals can understand me. Now I have been told in the past that my accent is that of a CNN news presenter. Universally understood by all, but it would appear that the yokels here cannot understand a word I am saying and so the Israeli is having to translate what I say to them! Very demoralising… Home of the brave! Yeah whatever!! Kiss my… “She said thanks and have a nice day.”

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bon-a-ROOO Baby!

Two days in Nashville to get over the jetlag (Thank you Natalie for introducing me to Melatonin), check out the scene (thank you Shara for introducing me to Jonah and Jonah for introducing us to Gold Rush) and then in no time at all we were all packed up again ready to head to Manchester TN for the Bonnaroo festival.

Four days in a field in the middle of nowhere and 3 nights in a tent may not fill all of you out there with feelings of envy, in fact the idea of using a portal loo for that time period may remind some of you of bog duty in a field somewhere in Wales. However when you consider that during those 4 days you get to party your ass off, meet some really cool people and dance oh lord dance to everything from Latino funk to hard rock, you may get where I am coming from… ok maybe not.

Anyway, Our Bonnaroo experience began really the night before. We heard about a small pre-Bonnaroo party going on in Nashville and quickly signed ourselves up for the free gig, grabbed our local friend Jonah (The best thing in Nashville!) and headed over to check it out. The line-up was not exactly headlining acts, but as we watched the lead singer of Lez Zepplin (the lesbian cover band of Led Zepplin) our feet began itching for Bonnaroo and some food… wow we were hungry! Jonah asked where we would like to go and he did not hesitate when we said, “Somewhere not on the tourist trail.” Gold Rush.

Gold Rush is the kind of bar every town should have. A bar with a bartender called Patrick who knows everyone by name and drink, no waitresses, no non-sense just good old bar with good ole Southern style food. I highly recommend the Nachos (Shara a picture was taken in your honour. I hope to get it uploaded soon).

After we fed on decent food we headed back to the Comfort Inn motel that we had called home for 2 days and fell into a deep sleep.

Early in the morning, I have no idea what time it was, we received a call from Matt, our ride to Bonnaroo. Actually to call Matt our ride is really is selling him short… Matt our friend, our brother, our Captain arrived with two friends early in the morning, quickly showered and ate and stuffed we squished ourselves in the back of his Audi and headed towards Manchester.

The ride in theory should not have taken too long, but we were prepared to add a couple of hours on our journey to get into the Bonnaroo campground. We were actually told it could take up to 8 hours, but there was no way we were going to queue for that long! Initially we seemed to arrive a the exit and were so excited that there was no queue, however our excitement was short lived as we saw a State Trooper blocking off the road. We were further disheartened when we realised that we were being redirected 20 miles to turn around and come back from the East. Then as we came off the Interstate to turn around we saw that the entire right lane was one giant queue for Bonnaroo. There was no way we were waiting in that line! After a few softly English spoken words with Trooper Taylor (I think I remember his name correctly) we were informed that we could just overtake the entire queue and carry on, “Yeah hunny I don’t know what them people are doin’. You go on there suga… You go ahead and do whatever you want.” So never being one to go against a Trooper that is exactly what we did.

I think that after 10 miles of overtaking traffic headed in our direction, we began to feel somewhat guilty and then very nervous about what would happen when we finally got back into the line, so once we found a big enough gap between two camper vans we decided it was a good a time as any to rejoin the queue. Plus we all needed to pee so it was a good time to find a bush along the freeway.

Now, I don’t want to go too much into detail here as I still have a lot of Bonnaroo to get through and we are not even there in the story, but let me just say that getting out to pee, finding some nice people from New York to talk to along the way and thinking that the traffic is moving slow so you will be able to catch up with your car quickly is stupid. Lets just say we were stupid and as a result spent the next 2 miles running after the car, only to almost catch up with it before it sped off again… Now I know I have been training for a Marathon, but 2 miles in flip-flops is not fun!

Okay, so we arrive in Bonnaroo and a re secretly hugging ourselves for our traffic surfing as we ended up camping next to a group of guys who had got in the queue around 7.30am while we joined the line closer to 10.30am. And we could not have got a better spot; close, but not within smelling distance of the toilets, 3 minutes from Centaroo (where all the action happens) and 1 minute from the showers (used only once in the end… they were not as luxurious as we had anticipated them being).

Now whoever said we would be the only Jews in Manchester TN, clearly had never been to Bonnaroo before! They are everywhere! In fact there were few people we met who weren’t Jewish. The two groups of boys who camped near us were Jewish, the friendly dealer from Kentucky who was just around the corner from us had a “Get Chai” t-shirt and proudly announced that he was the only member of his family not to live in Israel!

We settled in, made ourselves at home and got down and dirty at a few shows. I was initially surprised to see such a diverse crowd of people there. People of all ages, with and without children. At one show I saw a guy with his teenage son enjoying a gig together… I was blown away!

I would have to say overall we got the most out of our Bonnaroo experience. We saw a hell of a lot of music, but did not wear ourselves out too much in the process. And thank the lord we had the good sense to sleep through Kanye West! On behalf of all of us who attended Bonnaroo 2008, “Fuck Kanye West!” The guy made a whole hoo ha about changing his performance to 2.45am so everyone could go see his light show with naked astronauts and then the guy didn’t even get on until 4.30am… AFTER SUN RISE! What an arrogant ass! As Chris Rock said, “No-one has a bigger ego than Kanye West!” Chris you are the man!

So 4 days later we came back to Nashville to recharge batteries and are soon to be heading to the Great Smokies and becoming one with nature. Bonnaroo was a blast and I was so sad to say goodbye. Many fond memories I will carry always. And who knows… maybe one day I’ll go back with my kids and tell them how I partied Bonnaroo 2008.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

25 hours

When we booked the flight, went through all the transfers we had to go through to get here, I never stopped to think how long it would take in total... 25 hours. 25 hours of my life spent on planes and in airport terminals and the irony is that only in the first 5 minutes we both giddily spoke about how much we loved flying, "I love everything about it! I would say it is my favourite part of the holiday!" Well after 25 hours travelling I would now have to say that it is a very overrated experience.

Yet, arriving into Nashville airport where the announcements are read by local celebrities who are so proud to be from Nashville, and a branch of Tootsies bar seems to sprawl itself out into the hallway with its live band strumming a country tune, there was this feeling of excitement that surged through me. This was not Israel, not England, not like anywhere I had been before. This was new and suddenly and probably for the first time I can remember I was looking forward, instead of being ashamed, at being a tourist. I have been perfecting my 'cutest' English accent ever since... Do you by any chance know where I might procure some tea? Thank you.

After checking into our motel, checking out the local pharmacy that seriously contains everything a person needs to live, and filling our bellies full of truly junkilicious junk food, we headed to bed and were gladly horizontal for the first time in 25 hours.

There are somethings I am not a fan of in the USA, I am sure I will list these many times along this trip, but I am definitely a fan of the bed in our room! So big I have no idea who I am sleeping next to and with the most comfortable pillows ever! Seriously I am not sure I want to leave this room... the only down side is the stench of smoke that lingers up from the carpet. Note to future Channah: Next time you book a motel room ask for non-smoking.

Waking up in the morning I was so gutted to find no breakfast would be served in bed, and then going downstairs to find eggs, something that resembled rubber that was apparently meat, waffles and lots and lots of bread was somewhat of a disappointment. I know, I was warned. Tennessee is not known for its great choice in fruit and non fried vegetables. So while we ate I closed my eyes and pretended for a moment that I was eating breakfast in an Israeli hotel with choices of salads and fish and 5 different types of eggs and a decent cup of coffee. I then opened my eyes swallowed my eggs on toast and smiled.

Our motel is situated about half an hour bus ride from Downtown Nashville. Probably less, but that was how long the friendliest bus driver in the world took to get there. Having no idea where we're going and relying souly on the Lonely Planet guide book, we decided that while in Nashville we should check out some sites and found ourselves walking towards the Country Music Hall of Fame. We thought it might be a cool thing to do for half an hour, but 2 hours later we came out fully educated in the origins of all that is Country and humming Dolly Parton's Jolene.

Just a piece of trivia to leave you with. Jolene was actually written by Dolly after a signing where a little 8 year old girl came to Dolly to have her sign the book/ CD she had. The little girl had beautiful red hair, green eyes and freckled skin and by Dolly's account was the most beautiful little thing she had ever seen. When Dolly asked the girl her name she said "My name is Jolene". "What a beautiful name," said Dolly,"Your dad must be called Joe so you're name after him?" and the little girl said, "No. I am just Jolene". Dolly thought the name was so beautiful that she decided then and there to write a song with the name as the title and told the girl that if she ever heard a song with the name in it she would know the song was written for her. Dolly told this story and at the end admitted with some regret in her voice, that she had never heard of anyone coming forward as the Jolene the song was written about. I feel your pain Dolly. I would like to see the girl with 'flaming locks of auburn hair and ivory skin and eyes of emerald green.'

Monday, June 09, 2008

No more countdown

Only a week ago I was surrounded by boxes, unpacking and settling into my new apartment and now here I am surrounded by cases, packed up and ready to head off. In a matter of hours L and I will be boarding a plane and heading via a hop (Brussels) skip (Chicago) and a jump to Nashville where we will begin the first leg of our month long trip out of the holy land and into a new world... well a new world for us anyway.

I cannot believe right now that it was a little less then six months ago when we both decided, pretty much on a whim, that we would travel to the States, go to a music festival and then perhaps see what else was going on in the country. From where we are now, thinking about where we were then, it is pretty crazy to think how easily that decission was made.

So here we are now, ready to go and somehow I feel on the one hand like we are going forever and on the other like it will be over in seconds. Either way I am ready to love every minute of it and if not... well I'll see you in Maine babe.

Our only guide... Lonely planet

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Not Forgotten

It has been brought to my attention that my ramblings may be missed out there in the blogosphere. Very sweet, so I just wanted to drop you a quick note as that is all I can currently afford to say. No I have not forgotten to write, yes there is so much going on... too much going on to find time to write about, yes I will write again...

In summary:

I am moving out of my apartment in 9 days
I am going for a month to the states in 18 days
I am running a 10k run in 100 days (but 31 of those training days will be in the States)

In conclusion:

Life is pretty hectic right now, but I'll be back!!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Best Thriller Video on YouTube

Nope... you haven't seen this one yet...

And this one...