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Posts Tagged ‘shopping in Israel’

A Long Lunch At Caesarea Port

April 24, 2012 2 comments

I found myself able to take a long lunch today between meetings. I felt drawn to Caesarea. I’ve mentioned in multiple posts that it’s my favorite place to spend a day. I tried to entice Stace to meet me there for lunch, but he couldn’t get away, so it was a rare day at the port on my own. I still had a few gifts to purchase before heading home, so I was also able to tackle a task list item. FTW. I really want to remember this day, so I’ll share it with you, gentle reader. (I’ve always wanted to write that.)

I had a wonderful view of the green-blue Med from my table. I'll never forget that color. It was a beautiful day to dine al fresco.

Lunch was baked salmon with an herbed panko crust on a bed of bulgar pilaf. It was heaven, and it was huge. Did I mention whole roasted garlic? Oh right, I said heaven.

I took my leftover salmon to Cat Quarter. The Cat Lady was just coming out to feed the cats and she welcomed my contribution. She said, "Oh, they eat gourmet today." She was carefully preparing a meal with aloe for one of the cats who has a skin condition. Apparently that cat catches snakes and got a parasite from the snakes. It was touching how much she knows about each one of them and how she cares for them.

I stopped at Draydel House to pick up a few more gifts and found this beauty for myself. I'd been wanting to find a hamsa for my house and this one is just amazing. The blue circles are impressions of a 2000-year-old coin found at Caesarea. One side depicts a kiddush cup and the other is a pomegranate branch. I just hope I can get it home safely. If you see me desperately clutching something at Ben Gurion, that's probably it.

I had just just enough time to enjoy the waves for a while before going back to work. *This* is how you take a lunch break.

I Need a Secret Decoder Ring for April Holidays in Israel

March 29, 2012 Leave a comment

As we prepare for packing, shipping, and traveling home, we do so while navigating a virtual minefield of Israeli holidays in the next few weeks. It’s official that our last day in the office will be 25 April, but the days leading up to that will be eventful.

Liam with his Pesach set from school which included a kiddush cup and little baby Moses in a basket.

An email from our relocation service attempts to demystify:

  • Passover – 6 April: shopping centers and supermarkets will close around 3pm and re open on the 8th
  • The second night of Passover is celebrated on 12th April , meaning commercial centers and stores will close at around 3pm and re-open on the 15th .
  • Holocaust Memorial day – 19 April: On the eve of 18 April, all restaurants places of recreation, supermarkets and shopping centers will close at 7pm and re open the next day. On the 19th at 10am , there will be a 2 minute siren where the entire population stands in silence to commemorate the 6,000,000 Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazi’s .
  • Day of Remembrance for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism and Independence Day – 24-26 April: On 24 April, the eve of the Day of Remembrance, from 6pm , all restaurants, places of recreation, supermarkets and shops will close until the next morning in remembrance of the soldiers of Israel soldiers killed in wars . At 8pm there will be a 1 minute siren indicating the beginning of memorial day and on 25 April at 11am a 2 minute siren will be heard around the country and once again, the population stands for two minutes of solemn silence . During the entire day, there are ceremonies at cemeteries and both TV and radio programs play music and interview families of victims etc. On the evening of the 25th, the atmosphere changes and the sunset heralds the beginning of the…
  • Independence Day celebrations with street parties, parades, musical performances etc. 26 April is a public holiday and this is characterized by lots of barbeques in every possible open area of the country, so go out and enjoy!!!

Wow. Did you get all that? Do we have timing issues or what?

Not only to we have to empty out our apartment in preparation to leave, but we have to avoid  being out of food when restaurants will be closed. Oy!

But wait–there’s more!

In the weeks leading up to Pesach (Passover) you can see the preparations beginning. You can read all about ridding your home of chametz at Operation Zero Chametz. In short, this is the time that observant Jews rid their homes of chametz in preparation to become kosher-for-Passover. From 6-15 April  no chametz can be consumed. Instead matzo (matzah) meal is substituted. If you are a gentile living in Israel this means that generally bread, pasta, beer, granola, and other obvious grains are not available in stores. (This might be the right time to start a low-carb diet.) These items can still be found in non-kosher stores such as Tiv Taam or Arab-owned establishments. Non-kosher restaurants will remain open.

But these things take time. It’s one thing to rid your entire house of (literally) every crumb of chametz. Imagine getting an entire grocery store ready. As far as I can tell this process started in our neighborhood grocery on Sunday. When I walked into the store I thought the dairy case was broken. The entire case was empty with employees frantically working on it. When I saw that the pastry case in the bakery was getting the same treatment I realized what was happening. The next day the pastry case was filled with specialty cheeses. This has continued, section by section, throughout the week. Guess what happened when I tried to buy ice cream yesterday? I was a sad panda.

30 Shekels Worth of Ant Killing Joy

October 3, 2011 3 comments

Thank you Teva Market! You, and only you, carry ant killer with Boric Acid–with instructions in English! I’m literally as excited about this as I am to go see The Lion King in London next week! Now I don’t have to worry about having an apartment overrun by ants when I get home. Whew!

First Haircut in Israel

October 3, 2011 9 comments

I have this wonderful Maya Angelou quote in my email sig: “Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it.” It in no way applies to getting a haircut in Israel.

Having worked with Israelis, I know they will listen to you, nod, say OK, then do something wonderful… even if it’s not exactly what you agreed on. This in every way applies to getting a haircut in Israel.

I tend to zone out when I’m getting my hair done. I get sleepy when they wash my hair then I close my eyes during the cut to keep little hairs out. When I “woke up” I realized that my new best friend Itzak did not follow my instructions. I had a brand new style. I panicked for a moment, almost cried, then realized it actually looked great, but my bangs were still too long. I asked if he could cut them some more. It went like this:

Me: It’s still too long, can you cut my bangs shorter?

Itzak: (Squints eyes, shakes head) No. Eez beau-ti-ful deez way.

Me: Seriously, my hair grows fast. It will be poking me in the eyes in two weeks.

Itzak: OK, (shrugs)  just a leedle bit. (Pretends to cut my bangs) How does it look now?

Me: The same.

Itzak: Eez beau-ti-ful. (shrugs)

Well, I have a sexy new style and it only cost me  160 (~US$42) which is basically what I would pay in the US. It wasn’t quite like this, but there was great music, and he did make me silky smooth.

The Lazy Housekeeper vs. The Ants

October 1, 2011 6 comments

I think this is what the queen pictures when the scouts describe my apartment.

Liam has been eating granola bars all over the apartment. We’ve had quite the struggle over staying at the table with food. Now we have ants.

They are coming in through the laundry room and carrying granola back out, one oat at a time. The Lazy Housekeeper has morphed into The Obsessive Thrice-a-Day Scrubber.

Trying to buy bug killer in a foriegn language is frightening. The only bottle that even pictures an ant apparently kills EVERYTHING. Even the assurances of the nice lady at the grocery store that it was safe wasn’t enough to calm my fears because I can’t read the instructions. She couldn’t tell me if it would kill the queen or not… I don’t think she understood what I was asking.

I really wanted to use that old Borax hack, but no one seems to sell boric acid powder in Israel. It might be one of those things where it’s just not in an intuitive spot. (For example, cake and brownie mixes are not in the same isle as flour and oil. They are in the sweets isle.) If anyone knows where to find it I’m all ears. Until then I’m scrubbing my surfaces and floors with vinegar + water three times a day.

FYI: The alcohol + dish detergent + water trick does not work here because it dries up too fast. It will kill the ants on contact while wet, but it won’t act as a deterent once it’s dry. The water + vinegar is a better deterent, but only lasts half a day.

Shopping in Israel: More Rules

September 27, 2011 2 comments

As promised, I’m posting more shopping rules.

Membership Cards
Nearly all of the chain stores have membership cards to get sale prices and discounts. What makes them different from the ones in the US is that you have to buy them.  Before you buy one:

  • Ask how much they cost. Some of the small neighborhood shops offer them for free. I’ve spent anywhere from 40-80 shekels depending on how nice the store is.
  • Shop around before you buy the cards. Figure out what stores you like and plan to frequent, then buy those cards.
  • Make sure you understand how they work. Some offer a flat discount regardless of purchase amount. Others require a minimum purchase for the discount to kick in.
  • If you have expat friends here, they can tell the cashier your phone number to use your card for the discount. You can strategically buy cards and share.

"5 Shekel" key chain fob

Always Carry 5 Shekels
Unless you shop at an upscale market like Teva, you will have to “rent” a cart for 5 shekels. The carts are chained together and the coin frees the cart for you… the cart keeps the coin until you return the cart. I never have enough change for anything and going through security and around to customer service for change  is a royal pain. The solution is to have a special key chain fob shaped like a 5 shekel coin. You can buy one in the hardware store where they make the keys.

There Are Slow Times To Shop
I haven’t attempted shopping on Friday, so I can’t speak to it. I have managed to find some slow times to shop in general. Israelis are night owls. If you get to the grocery right when it opens in the morning you can park just about wherever you want and get in and out quickly. Between 4-5 PM is also a good time to shop. Late night shopping is also good. Most of the chain grocery stores (in Netanya at least) are part of strip malls. If you go at 9:00-9:30 when the small stores are closing you can park with no problem. Ace and Office Depot are open until 10:00 while SuperSol and Super Pharm are open until midnight.

1+1 = Buy One, Get One Free
’nuff said.

Buy Housewares Just Before Rosh Hashana
Personal gifts and gifts for the home are traditional for Rosh Hashana. There are lots of sales happening. It also just happens that I”m setting up an apartment right now so the timing is really good. 🙂

Israelis Have the Biggest Hearts

September 19, 2011 1 comment

There is a term to describe Israeli born Jews, Sabra, which means prickly on the outside, soft on the inside.

Israelis can seem very aggressive to Americans: the way they drive, the way they seem to “cut” you in line, their directness. Most Americans have a difficult time getting past this prickly skin. If you can just go with it and join in the spirit of beseder (Hebrew for “It’s OK.” They say it constantly.) you will greatly reduce your stress. If you are willing to ask Israelis for help, they will astonish you with the depth of their patience and willingness to spend time with you to make sure you are OK. Even complete strangers will do this.

Example 1:

My colleague, Hagit, offered to help with whatever I needed. I was struggling figuring out which stores to go to for what. (See An American Shopping in Israel) I sent her a list of things I was looking for and she suggested meeting at IKEA since it was close to her house. As we shop I say, “So, how far did you have to come?” She says, “Oh, not far–about an hour.”

She rearranged a meeting, drove two hours (round trip), and sacrificed a Thursday night (= Friday night in American society) to help me shop. She listened to me vent about the challenges we’d been having, and generally helped me feel more at home.

Example 2:

In the grocery store, I am completely puzzled by the garbage bag selection. I’m trying to convert centimeters to inches in my head and I have no idea what size bags to by. A woman walks by and I say “Slicha. (Pointing at the bags) are these big (making big gesture with arms) or small (small gesture with hands). I want big.”

She starts picking them up and reading them carefully. She points to Hebrew on the package and says “For big kitchen.” She would not leave me until she felt like I had what I needed.

Example 3:

In the same grocery store, I’m checking out with the cashier. She says something in Hebrew, I look confused, and she points to the readout: 190.22 NIS.

Me: Hand her 200 NIS

Prickly Cashier: Says more in Hebrew I don’t understand

Me: Check the readout again to make sure I didn’t really owe 19022 NIS–I sure hope not. I say, “It’s 200 NIS.” Give her my what’s-the-problem?’ look.

Nice Man Behind Me: “She wants to know if you have 22 cents.”

Me: “Slicha. I only have 16 cents. She can’t make the change?”

Nice Man Behind Me: “She doesn’t want to go to the trouble.”

Me: Give my so-what-do-I-do-now? look.

Nice Man Behind Me: Reaches into his pocket and pulls out 22 cents for the cashier. I try to give him my 16 cents, but he won’t take it.

Example 4:

Liam confused our couch with a trampoline and well… I don’t think I have to tell you the rest. We wandered around a street in Netanya with no signs in English trying to track down the medical clinic our relocation assistant sent us to. I can read (i.e. sound out) enough Hebrew to identify the sign for the place, but it looked like an abandoned warehouse. We found out from a nice lady on the street speaking broken English that it had moved to another location. Another lady out with her son spent about 10 minutes with us calling around on her cell to find an open clinic.
Instead of stitches they glued the cut back together, thank goodness. Liam was a real trooper and even though the staff spoke almost exclusively Hebrew he followed their requests (via gestures), was totally calm, and asked to go to McDonalds when it was all done.
This is what I mean when I say Israelis have big hearts. I don’t know how they fit them in their chests. ❤