Street Parties and Beach Trips

Okay, so one of the reasons I came to Haifa may be that there’s a beach here. And it stays pretty warm all year. I’m a South Florida transplant to Gainesville who hasn’t had nearly enough beach time in the last three and a half years, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve been to the beach three times now. But come on. With this view, and the perfect weather here, who can blame me?

And with every trip to the beach, you have to get some food from one of the food stands. The falafel is excellent, and the meat eaters in the group have enjoyed the shwarma, a kind of grilled chicken stuffed into a pita. There’s also the option of a sit-down restaurant, where you can order plates of hoummus and pita, Israeli salad and eggplant.

I have managed to explore the actual city though. The school is on top of Mt. Carmel, making it impossible to leave the school on foot. As inconvenient as this can be, we’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out the bus system. I don’t speak any Hebrew, but pantoming, pointing, and random English words seem to work with bus drivers. So far, I haven’t even gotten lost!

In the last week, I’ve managed to go grocery shopping and back to the shook for inexpensive veggies. Grocery shopping may not seem exciting, but try doing it somewhere where no food labels are in English. I’ve been able to guess at stuff pretty well, but about half the international students here bought sour cream instead of yogurt the first time.

However, as riveting as grocery shopping is, the real highlight of the week was going to a street party in lower Haifa. The street party started Thursday around 5, but due to rain and classes we didn’t make it over until 8 p.m. It featured food, live music and some art. We tried a kind of dessert involving cheese and crispy, orange noodles. As strange as it sounds, it was actually pretty good! The band was great, the people were interesting and, when we got tired of the crowds, we could sit at a restaurant along the street and watch the action. We also got to try out the subway system in Haifa, called the Carmelit, when we left. It’s the shortest subway in the world and just travels up and down the mountain. There’s a joke here that while it may be the shortest subway, it’s the longest elevator.

Now that it’s the end of the weekend, the street parties are over and the school work begins. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel; a hike in Golan Heights next weekend! We’ll stay overnight in a hostel, cook outside and explore the area. Until then, it’s time to work on my Arabic.

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