Tel Aviv with Friends

Almost one full year ago, we started our trip in Colombia where we did the Lost City Trek and met Ofri and Niv.  After spending several days with them there, they invited us to visit them in Israel if our journey led us here... and here we are!  

Of course, our stay here was awesome!  Ofri and Niv were so accommodating and nice.. they opened their 1 bedroom apartment to us, and as soon as we arrived, they made us feel completely welcome and at home.... Thanks again guys!

We spent our first few days relaxing and doing nothing but wander the cute shops around town.  Shopping here is really cute since there are so many different boutique-style stores and very few chains.  

On the weekend, Ofri and Niv took us for a walk along the coast.  We visited the harbour, the beaches, and ended up in Jaffa (the Southernmost and oldest part of Tel-Aviv).  In Jaffa, we had an amazing Arabic lunch and tried Niv's favourite dessert called Kanafe... yum!

When we first arrived in the Middle East and Israel, our brains were still stuck in the super-cheap-Asia mindset where paying an extra 2$/night for air conditioning seemed outrageous to us (even though it was 38deg outside)!  Returning to western-world prices gave our budget-mentality a huge shock, so we had been mostly eating cereal (or other relatively-inexpensive grocery store staples) since arriving in Jordan.  We were beginning to feel malnourished from our all-cereal-diet, so, since Ofri & Niv raved about how great the food is in Tel-Aviv, we forced ourselves to splurge and get over our uber-cheap Asian budget mindsets.  Thanks to all of the great restaurant tips they gave us, we discovered and indulged in some wonderful cuisine including some delicious salads, amazing breakfast places, some of the best breads/pastries... we also got to try Ofri's favourite breakfast dish called shakshouka.  The food here really was memorable and delicious... well worth the splurge! :)  

Luckily, we also happened to be here during their Memorial Day, and Independence Day.  Memorial day is a really important holiday in Israel where they commemorate all of their fallen soldiers and victims of terrorist acts.  The following next day, they celebrate their declaration of Independence in 1948.  We went out that night to join in the festivities... the coolest part was seeing all the kids chasing and shooting each other with cans of foam. 

We were also invited to a BBQ with Ofri's family.  We were warmly welcomed with open hands and enjoyed a delicious home-cooked meal with homemade lemonade from the lemon tree in the backyard.  Lucky for us, everyone there spoke to us in English (since our Hebrew is entirely non-existant).