Visiting Beaver Creek

Noah and I were in Beaver Creek this week on a ski vacation with my family! Beaver Creek is in Colorado, about two hours from Denver.

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We stayed at a condo in the Kiva, and the whole family loved the accommodations! The condo was a three bedroom with king beds and a bath for each room – this is nice because usually my baby brother (who is not so baby anymore) ends up having to sleep on a pullout or small bed, so the extra space here was really nice for everyone.

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There was also a spacious living room with a huge TV (which wasn’t really utilized much by our group…) as well as a kitchen with a big island. Bonus: there were two porches! It was pretty cold though, so I can’t say we spent much time on them:

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Throughout the week, the whole group did a combination of skiing and relaxation. Noah and I went cross-country skiing two days and downhill once. The first day of cross-country skiing was on the primary Beaver Creek ski mountain. We took a chairlift to the cross-country area and then were able to take the same chair back down. The skiing was much more challenging than the cross-country I’m used to. I think the difficulty was a combination of poor conditions (hard/icy snow) and simply the fact we were on a mountain (!) – as opposed to some of the open field areas I’m used to doing cross-country. Regardless, the views were absolutely gorgeous and we had some good laughs:

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After a few too many falls, Samuel decided he would be best served by walking:

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We all persevered though and eventually made it home. 🙂

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For the next cross-country ski trip, we drove over to Vail (about 20 minutes from Beaver Creek) to seek better conditions at the Vail Nordic Center. The extra drive definitely paid off! This was some of the best cross-country skiing I’ve ever done. The trails were doable but still challenging in areas (it was on a golf course), and the landscape was beautiful. I felt like I really hit my stride a few times and left feeling totally exhausted. For this second ski trip I went with my Papa and Noah. Noah is an expect skier compared to us, so it was fun to watch him do his thing…

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…while we tried our best:

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Overall, a fabulous and fun ski outing. 🙂

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While the skiing was nice, it was also a real treat to have time to just sit around, relax, read, catch up on personal projects, and all that stuff that seems to fall by the wayside during busy semester schedules.

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Noah attempted to keep us warm by keeping the fireplace going (a difficult task because all the wood was outside on the wet, snowy porch!):

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And, of course, no ski vacation is complete without PIZZA:

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Happy winter. 🙂

A Few Final Israel Moments

My last post mentioned some of the meetings and educational tours I had during my last Israel trip, and here are a few of the food and location shots that didn’t make it in…

One of my favorite meals during my recent Israel trip was this outdoor lunch at Cafe Greg at the Old Port in Tel Aviv:

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Cafe Greg is a chain around Israel, but I actually really love their salads and, especially, their version of Israeli breakfast.

The group also took a spontaneous trip to Cinema City:

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Besides playing with the new lifesize Star Wars figures, I also snagged lunch at Moshe Burger (see my post here for pictures of their food). The burger was great!

I spent a nice afternoon at the Tahana Rishona – one of my favorite Jerusalem spots!:

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While it was hard to saw goodbye to Israel at the end of the trip, I was so happy I was able to visit so many favorite spots (and favorite meals!) during my trip. It also helps that I know I’ll be back there again next winter. 🙂

 

Back in the Holy Land

I was fortunate enough to have a glorious two-and-a-half weeks back in Israel this December! I spent the first week relaxing on my own in Jerusalem, seeing friends, eating at favorite restaurants, and re-exploring my favorite neighborhoods. It was wonderful. On my first evening there, I went to Caffit (one of my favorite Jerusalem restaurants) with a friend. I had a cappuchino, the famous Oreganato Sweet Potato salad, and my friend ordered a bulgur and mushroom dish:

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The next morning, I went for a walk around the neighborhood and checked out Noah’s and my old street and apartment. It looks like they finally finished the construction that had been going on for most of last year!

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I enjoyed a lazy Friday morning with an Israeli breakfast, sitting outside at my favorite Jerusalem cafe – Kadosh:

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Other highlights from my week included running along the rekevet:

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Israeli produce (!!!):

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A good old-fashioned fry fest with some of my classmates from last year (reminiscent of last year’s Chanukah fry fest):

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Many trips to Aroma:

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And, of course, just generally walking around the Jerusalem streets and alleys:

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Emek Refaim has some interesting new decoration in the form of these spandex decorations:

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Slightly bizarre, but okayyy.

And a few final tidbits…

Star Wars dominates the holy land too:

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And when I saw this baby playing (sans parents) in the hall of Hadar Mall, all I could think was, so Israel.”

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More about the rest of my trip coming soon!

 

 

San Diego: Food, Fun, and Fauna

Continuing the recap of my San Diego trip with family in August, I would say there were three primary highlights of the trip.

1. Food (obviously)

Food was delicious and also provided lots of good table time sitting around and talking about the days. My favorites were True Food Kitchen (a natural food cafe with great juices):

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Breakfast at Cody’s La Jolla:

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…Cody’s also had a dog menu!!

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And all meals eaten on the back patio of the house facing the beach:

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When we were at Cody’s La Jolla, a woman sitting near our table commented to us that she was impressed that no one had their phones out during the meal…good job quality family time!

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2. Fun!

Fun defined as activities out and about but primarily biking

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Papa Bear in action:

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We took a couple breaks during our rides to check out the water and views (clearly my parents have a thing for wearing college apparel):

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Goofin’:

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3. Fauna

So fauna might not be the most appropriate word, but it was an alliteration. We went to the zoo – an establishment I have had a great affection for since childhood.

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This was the best day. We were at the zoo for a loooong time – 6 hours maybe? But it is huge! And amazing! And has pandas!

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Good times on the gondola:

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Last but not least, it’s always a treat to enjoy the eccentricities of family. 

Samuel with homemade sun protection:

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Classic Dad explanation mode:

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And…unfortunately I don’t have enough photos to document it, but the number one most exciting thing to happen was…meeting a new family member! I hadn’t yet met my gorgeous and lovely baby (although not quite a baby anymore!) cousin. We only had a brief visit, but it was great to spend a little time together! (the light in the picture isn’t great, but you get the idea) 🙂

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City of David tour and Hezekiah’s Tunnels

Noah and I are back in the United States now! Wow, what a year in Israel. I’m going to try to put out a post or two about the first days back in Boston soon, but for now, here’s a final recap of the last days in Israel.

A couple weeks before we left, Noah and I finally took a much-anticipated tour of the City of David. We had been wanting to do a tour there since last fall, but schedules were always busy and we wanted to reserve a spot on an English tour in advance. Eventually, the end of our time in Israel was approaching so we knew we needed to go! We went on a Friday afternoon tour through the city and the water tunnels. In total, the tour was about 3 hours long. We got there early to look around the area before the tour started:

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The tour started with an overview of the area (which has a great overlook into East Jerusalem) and explanations about some of the ruins found in the area.

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The highlight of a tour to the City of David, however, is a trip through the water tunnels. King Hezekiah built these tunnels as a way to defend the city from the approaching Assyrian army in the 8th century BCE. Today, the tunnels still have some water (about knee deep, sometimes a little higher).

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Unfortunately, our trip through the tunnels wasn’t the greatest. We were behind a group that was singing very loudly and, it turned, included several blind people. It was great that the group was enabling some blind people to walk through the tunnel, but it made the trip through the tunnels very slow and I started to get sort of frightened after being in the small space for so long! I was definitely glad to see the sunshine when we got to the end!

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Besides the City of David tunnels, there were some other final activities and restaurant visits that we wanted to make sure to get in before leaving the holy city. A few highlights include…

birthday dinner at my favorite Jerusalem cafe, Kadosh:

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a final trip to the Old City to see the Tower of David Night Spectacular:

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a waffle from Waffle Bar:

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Saying goodbye to our beloved Jerusalem apartment:

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And a 4:00am trip to Ben Gurion airport for our departure flight:

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Goodbye, Israel. I will miss you so dearly. 

Exploring in the north and Hamat Gader

As mentioned in my previous post, the Shavit Family Guest House is both a lodge and a restaurant, and we were fortunate to be able to enjoy some of their delicious food during our stay there. The first night, we ate dinner at the family restaurant, ordering the signature dish of lamb casserole – cooked all day and stewed with potatoes and various vegetables. We also had breakfast at the restaurant both days and it was delicious! Like any good Israeli breakfast, there was an abundance of dips, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and beverages.

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After breakfast, we made a stop at Capernaum (where Noah and I have now been three times!) and looked at the ruins of a synagogue from approximately the 4th century (don’t mind the fact that the men in the photo below are actually looking at another camera…):

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After Capernaum, we began to drive north further into the Golan region, stopping at a lookout point along the road for some incredible views of and around Lake Kinneret. The area is called Offir lookout, and it is off of Rt 789:

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The lookout was a great find – we weren’t planning to go there and only happened to notice it off the road. In fact, we had to drive along a long, muddy trail to get there, and we almost turned back, thinking the path didn’t lead to anything. I’m glad we forged ahead!

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Given the slightly cold and rainy weather during the trip thus far (as you may have noticed from the photos), the group decided that this would be a great day for a refreshing activity. So, we headed to Hamat Gader, a hot springs spa located right by the Jordanian border and only a few miles from the point where Jordan, Israel, and Syria meet. Despite its slightly suspect location (and the fact that this is an Israeli spa, read: you need VERY different expectations than what you would expect from an American spa), visiting Hamat Gader was a lot of fun. When we arrived, we ate a quick lunch of salatim at a casual family eatery within the park and then headed to the main attraction: the hot springs!

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The hot springs basically look like a big public pool, but it is filled with thermal hot springs. Also, the natural sulfur in the water is said to have a healing and renewing effect. I am not so much of a water person, so I was content to sit by the side and watch the fun:

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After the hot springs, the rest of the day included more driving, gazing at lookout points, and a dinner on Mt. Gilboa before heading back to the Shavit Guest House for one more night (and breakfast!). Naturally, there was more rain – this time with a bit of hail!

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And I thought there wasn’t supposed to be rain after Pesach?!?!

The following day was again busy with exploration, visiting the Yigal Alon Museum at Kibbutz Ginnosar, more ruins, and a very rainy trip to Tzfat (sound familiar?!).

The day ended with a drive back home to Jerusalem, where Noah’s parents would spend the rest of their visit. We went for dinner at one of Noah’s and my favorite neighborhood restaurants, Kalo. Noah and I shared a camembert cheese sandwich and salmon/cream pasta, both of which were delicious:

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Noah’s parents stayed only a few blocks from us at the Little House in Baka – a small and casual hotel that has been very popular with the visiting parents of students in my program this year. Be careful, though, not to confuse it with the building next door: NOT little house in Baka:

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I guess those people have had one too many tourists try to come into their living room…. 🙂

Although Noah’s parents spent another 5 or so days in Israel after coming with us to Jerusalem, I could only spend one more day with the group because classes at Pardes were resuming. During my last day with the family, we went to the Israel Museum. Although Noah and I had been to the Israel museum before, it is a HUGE place and there were a lot of exhibits we didn’t get a close look at the first time. In particular, I wanted to look at the archaeology exhibit and the sculpture garden. I really enjoyed walking through the sculpture garden and, in particular, seeing a piece called Space that Sees by James Turrell. The piece is a large box of sorts that you enter through a walkway…

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Inside, it is a large square where you can sit and look up at the sky through the open ceiling:

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Very neat! I imagine it could be quite beautiful to see in the nighttime:

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Other posts about visiting with Noah’s parents:

Zichron Yaakov – visiting Ramat Hanadiv gardens and Caesarea
Ein Hod Artist’s Village and Acre (Akko) – Crusader’s Fortress and market

 

 

Visit to Zichron Yaakov

For the second part of Passover and through the following week, Noah and I had very special visitors:

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Noah’s parents visited for about 10 days, and we had a great visit. It was a lot of fun to have visitors, and it was also a real treat to travel more throughout the country and see some new places. To begin the visit, Noah and I met his parents at the Tel Aviv airport.

Small interjection about one of the “so Israel” things that I love about this country, the man waiting at the arrivals corridor next to us was reading the Talmud Bavli. Oh, Israel. ❤

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When Noah’s parents arrived, we picked up a rental car at the airport, and then drove together to Zichron Yaakov. Zichron Yaakov is at the base of Mt. Carmel, south of Haifa and was founded in 1882 as part of the First Aliyah movement. The settlement was founded by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, a Zionist, French Jew who provided the financial backing for much of the first aliyah movement.

In Zichron Yaakov we stayed at the Purple House, a lovely place that Noah’s mom found on Air BnB.

Adorable, yes?:

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AND, with a lovely garden:

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Upon our arrival, we went for dinner at a restaurant called Casa Barone at the Beit Maimon hotel. It was kosher l’pesach and had various meat-y items – I had a burger with fries (the restaurant was dark, so no good pics).

The next morning, we had a nice breakfast at Cafe Kilimanjaro, a coffee shop that Noah’s mom found to have a lot of good reviews on Trip Advisor.

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Breakfast was delicious…

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…and Noah ordered the cafe’s signature drink – some sort of chocolate/coffee mixture:

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After breakfast, we strolled a bit around Zichron Yaakov’s main pedestrian street, peeking in windows and (of course) posing with statues:

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The day’s primary activities began with a trip to the gardens of Ramat Hanadiv – beautiful sprawling gardens in the memory of Baron Rothschild.

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At the gardens, we watched a brief movie about the Baron Rothschild and then spent a couple hours walking through the various garden paths and admiring the trees and flowers, as well as visiting the grave of the Baron whose tomb is within the gardens:

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After the gardens, we drove to Caesarea and explored the ancient ruins there. The ruins included – among other things – a Byzantine fortress wall, Roman theater, and various rooms and storehouses used by the area’s previous inhabitants:

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My favorite part of the ruins was the Herodian amphitheater:

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The ruins were right along the coast which provided some great views of the water:

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The area was quite sprawling and a bit overwhelming to make sense of without a guide, but luckily there were some informational panels smattered throughout the ruins providing information:

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After leaving the ruins, we made a quick stop at the (impressively intact) remains of the Roman aqueduct and then went back to the Purple House for a relaxed evening:

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Other posts about visiting with Noah’s parents:

Ein Hod Artist’s Village and Acre (Akko) – Crusader’s Fortress and market
Exploring in the north and Hamat Gader spa and hot springs