One Week in Boston

My blogging has been in a bit of dry spell, but it’s because I’m in the sweltering Simi Valley. Simi Valley, in fact, is in a dry spell of its own as the area is experiencing a severe drought. We’ve been asked to cut water usage to 85% of regular levels.

I’m in California for 5 weeks working at a Jewish summer camp program (for young adults!), and I have 2 weeks left. Before I came here, I had about one week in Boston. One week to “settle” into my new home…but I think I’ll really do the settling once I return to Boston in mid-July. Nonetheless, in an attempt to stay connected to the blog during these crazy California work weeks, here are some highlights from my first week in Boston:

1. American coffee in all its forms
Featuring Starbucks, 1369 Coffeehouse, and Bloc 11 – all in the Cambridge/Somerville area

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Although I’m a huge fan of coffee in Israel (and especially the fact that coffee there is served in reasonable sizes!), the coffeeshop menus in America go way beyond the scope of Israeli coffee menus. In Israel, basically the options were Americano or Cappuccino. I missed the milky-madness and sugar-bomb variety of American coffeeshops. 🙂

2. Fitness!!

Running was a big part of my time in Jerusalem, but I didn’t do any group or organized fitness there – no gyms or yoga classes! So, I was extremely excited to get my yoga groove on when I got to Boston. Within my first 24 hours, I bought a yoga mat and signed up for a trial week at Be.Yoga in Union Square:

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I also had my much-anticipated return to the November Project. For those who aren’t familiar, the November Project is a grassroots fitness community that started in Boston and has spread throughout the country (and beyond!). The group has no cost, and it is centered around fun and relationships that are formed by sweating together. The group meets three times a week – Wednesdays are the classic November Project workout: running all 37 sections of the Harvard Stadium steps.

You start at the last section:

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And 48 sweaty minutes later (if you’re me), you get to the beginning!:

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Holy cow. This workout is amazingly hard, but it’s really no wonder that it’s so popular. By the time you’re running up only the second set of stairs, you think there’s no possible way you can get to the end..but then you do. And it is so empowering! I am already looking forward to being back in Boston in a of couple weeks and returning to the steps to try to break my 48-minute time!

3. New restaurants!

Obviously, I love going out to eat. A big highlight of moving to a new city is re-starting the game to find the place’s fun/unique/delicious foods. In the week I was in Boston, I somehow ended up finding myself at Clover three times:

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Clover started as a vegetarian food truck, but it gained such popularity that it now has several storefront locations around the Boston area. There are a few right in the Cambridge neighborhoods, so it is a convenient and delicious spot for any meal of  the day. AND….EXCITING NEWS!!! Clover recently announced that they will be going certified kosher. Woohoo! This is definitely a big win for Boston kosher restaurants. 🙂

I also went for lunch with a friend at a bakery/cafe near Central Square called Flour. Flour has the typical cafe/bakery assortment of salads, sandwiches, pastries, coffee, and soup. But it also has some interesting extras like stuffed bread and homemade pizza! Everything on the menu looks delicious, and I would definitely be happy to go back there again in the future:

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4. Seeing the sights!

Noah and I love exploring. For the Sunday we had together in Boston before I went to California, we went to the Boston Science Museum:

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I had so much fun! There were a lot of really interesting exhibits – photography of food, the human body, electricity…the list goes on. The highlight of the visit for me though was watching an IMAX movie on humpback whales – it was so cool! It turns out that humpback whales were almost killed off by human hunters, but when a recording of their whale songs was accidentally discovered and released as a recording, they captured the hearts of the public and were ultimately saved by a series of conservation and protection laws. Also, baby humpback whales are 14-feet long when they are born – CRAZY!

All in all, I had a great week in Boston, and I’m excited for the adventures to continue when I’m back there in another couple weeks! See you soon, Boston. 🙂

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Making a Home

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I’m in Jerusalem for a year of Jewish learning at Pardes, but moving to a new home – especially in a new country! – takes some adjustment to make things feel comfortable. Tomorrow, I will have been in Jerusalem for three weeks, and I’ve definitely started to feel at home.

Eating meals at home helps me to feel settled. On vacation, I’m usually eating out all the time, and while I plan to do plenty of eating out in Jerusalem, there’s something that feels comfortable and “I actually live here” about having meals at home. While I’ve gone out for a few meals with friends, I’ve mainly eaten from the comfort of my own kitchen. And the food has still been great!

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It’s been especially fun to eat at home since there continues to be so many fresh fruits and vegetables that I want to enjoy straight from the fruit stands.

This week: mango and kiwi!

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Taking all of my stuff out of bags and making sure that everything has a place in the apartment also was a big step for making the apartment homey. In some instances, this tooking getting a little creative. For example, I brought all my jewelry here in a ziplop bag (and then spent about 30 minutes getting it all untangled when I got here!). Earring trees don’t travel so well, so I had to find a solution for how to store my earrings while I”m here. The result: egg carton earring stand! 

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While I didn’t want to buy a new earring stand here and then feel compelled to fly it across the Atlantic later, there were some things that are worth buying…

…such as a new yoga mat! Having the mat has enabled me to do some yoga at home; I’ve done a few YouTube lessons by Lesley Fightmaster. Her last name might not sound very yogic, but her videos are a good workout and I’ve felt really rejuvenated afterwards.

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I’ve also visited the Pardes building a few times to get my bearings and see where I’m going to be studying for the year…so excited!

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and the most essential part to feeling at home here…

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LOOK WHO ARRIVED ON TUESDAY:

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Yay. 🙂 This is really starting to feel like home.

Tahana Rishona

The Tahana Rishona (First Train Station) is a historical site that has now become a center for culture, music, and socializing in Jerusalem. Service on the train tracks that used the First Station ended in 1998, and after that it stood abandoned until renovation started to open it as a cultural center in 2013. Part of the initiative was also turning the train tracks into the rekevet pedestrian and bike trail. As planned, in 2013, the station – called The Tahana for short – reopened and has since become a great location for both Israelis and tourists to soak up Israeli culture, enjoy a good meal or drink, or even go to the ‘beach’ (there is a sandy area with a volleyball court and wave simulator!).

The Tahana features several full-service restaurants as well as places to get a drink, an ice cream shop, and a smoothie/juice joint. A couple weeks ago after Shabbat ended, I went with some friends to Fresh Kitchen for some coffee drinks and cookies.

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Fresh has a lovely outdoor seating area and a broad menu with lots of appealing dishes – so appealing, in fact, that I went back for a real meal last night.

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The Tahana also features a rotating schedule of events for people to enjoy fitness, music, and dancing. Every morning there is yoga, Friday mornings there is a running team, on Sunday and Wednesday nights there is dancing, Tuesday nights feature a live Jazz Trio, Thursday nights there is Zumba, and every Friday at 5:00pm there is a musical welcoming of Shabbat!

Last Friday, I went to the Tahana’s musical welcoming of Shabbat to see the prayer/music group, Nava Tehila. The group playing Shabbat music at the Tahana rotates each week, but I assume that – similar to how it was with Nava Tehila – it is generally a lively playing of Shabbat songs with lots of singing along and dancing from the audience. This past week, there was quite a crowd for the welcoming of Shabbat, and it was a lot of fun to see all the people and families there – happy to enjoy the music and excited for Shabbat!

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Beyond the music and events, the Tahana also features rotating art exhibits…

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…stores where you can by Jerusalem gifts, jewelry, and knick-knacks…

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…and, during the summer, a daily arts and crafts fair as well as a farmers’ market on Fridays:

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Overall, the Tahana is a great spot for pretty much any activity, and I’m definitely planning on visiting more of the restaurants and taking advantage of more of the cultural activities in the near future!

 

Free Birthday Fitness

Great things about having a birthday:

1. People you haven’t talked to in years will write on your facebook wall to wish you well

2. People you talk to regularly will do something nice to reinforce your mutual affection for one another

3. FREE STUFF

Lots of restaurants give you a free dessert (and haven’t we all misused this perk to surprise an unsuspecting friend on their non-birthday…or just to get a free dessert? nope…just me?), a lovely sandwich shop in Northfield, MN will give you a free hoagie sandwich, and right here in Minneapolis you get the gift of fitness. Gym rats, yogis, and cross fit addicts everywhere know that fitness doesn’t come cheap. Just a few examples…

Cross Fit monthly membership: $170

Yoga Studio Monthly membership: $120

Pilates/Barre Monthly membership: $160

So, the birthday gift of free fitness is really a gift. Instead of paying $38 for drop-in class rates, I received a free class at Corepower Yoga and a free class at Allign Pilatesjust for being born.

I’ll take it! Naturally, I knew right away the only Corepower class I could even consider was sculpt.

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Corepower sculpt, I love you. If only our relationship depended on more than money…

At Allign Pilates, I took a barre class. Holy cow, this was a tough class! Although I wasn’t quite as fatigued as after a sculpt session at corepower, the exercises at a barre class are more unique and make me feel like I’m using totally new muscles (or at least using them a lot more than I’m used to). If your legs don’t shake at a barre class..hats off to you!

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And, since I can’t justify doing another birthday post more than a week after my birthday, the last b-day related pics are from a lovely dinner with friends. Featured dishes: cheese and crackers, sauteed summer squash, and rosemary flatbread from Smitten Kitchen (topped with caramelized onions and blue cheese).

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