South Africa #2 – Cape Town

Hallo!
It was Saturday again and I had the time to write the second part of my South African guide.
That is, after a 3-hour coffee & and cake session with my gran…

To keep you up to date, last week I covered the first of three weeks of travel in South Africa.
I began with a “general South Africa intro” adding the when, who, how and when of our trip. (So if that interests you, check it out!)
Week #1 was Port Elizabeth to Cape Town – AKA, The Garden Route. Make sure to check it out if you’re heading this way!
To sum things up – This trip was South Africa round two for me. On the first time I was backpacking alone, and after falling in love –  I brought my family along!
The two trips were was completely different, so my South African guide includes recommendations from both, occasionally referring to backpackers or families only. (:

So Without further of due, let’s dive into the second week of travel – Cape Town!

My South African Guide- Cape Town

Cape Town Guide Outline:

  1. Accommodation
  2. Things To Do
    1. Nature
    2. Markets
    3. Cooking Classes
    4. Other (Cool) Things
  3. Resturants & Cafes
  4. General Tips

*I put some extra HTML skills to action to make a linked outline of the guide’s content, I hope it makes things more convenient! (:

Accommodation:

For Backpackers
  • Long Street Backpackers – Placed right in the middle of the city center, LSB is my choice for being a great peoples-hub. Lots of travelers aim for it for the location. I ended up meeting most of my friends between its walls, and that’ definitely what made my trip to the great experience it was!

    Long Street Cape Town

    Some of the friends I met at LSB, partying in my last night in Cape Town

  • Never@Home –  If you’re aiming for something a bit quieter, go for this clean & homey backpackers. It’s located right in front of Green Point park, close to the V&A, and even closer to Giovanni’s, a place you can scroll down to read about.
  • 33 South Boutique Backpackers – Located a bit far from the city center, in Observatory.
    I got there after 2 months of dance-less travel when I wanted to take daily dances classes in a studio near by. I quickly discovered there was much more to do than dance in”Obs”! The main street is full of cool vintage shops and the place itself was a great for chilling at.

    observatory vintage shops cape town

    Vintage shopping in Obs

*Sadly, I don’t have a family-appropriate recommendation for accommodation in Cape Town.
As a family, we stayed at an air B&B that I do not recommend.

Things to do:

nature
  • Table Mountain –  If you’re up for a hike I recommend taking the Platteklip Gorge route, it took us, the youngsters in the team, about 2 hours to reach the top. My parents arrived an hour later after waiting in line for the cable car (yes, it’s long!).  It’s better to climb in the morning (7-8 a.m.) when the clouds don’t hide the view and you reach the top when just a few tourists are around.

    Table Mountain

    Ohh, worth mentioning – it’s pretty chilly up there on Table Mountain!

  • Lion’s head –  Another exciting climb, shorter and a bit more challenging than Table Mountain. It’s a beautiful point to watch the sunset from, but when we climbed as a family my father didn’t believe how irresponsible I was for going down in complete darkness. In retrospect, I agree, and apparently the statistics as well. Quite shivering to find out how many tourists fall at night, so aim to get to the top an hour before the sun goes down!

    Lion's Head Cape Town

    Beautiful view from the top, even when the sun is fully up!

  • Kristelbosch – Another type of nature, more relaxed. The botanical gardens are probably what you’ll see as soon as you type “Cape Town” online.
    It’s great for a morning picnic, tea time or… A concert!
    Yep! Last year I saw Of Monsters And Men performing here, right underneath Table Mountain, and it was a blast!

    Kirstenbosch Garden

    one of the routes in the more “jungly” gardens

    • Simon’s Bay & Cape of good hope – A full day drive out of the city I recommend to hire a car for!
      Cape of good hope is the nature reserve at the tip of the continent, where you see the two oceans meet. It’s nice to go for a hike from the old lighthouse to the point that is called “Cape of Good Hope”, it takes about an hour and a half.
      Simon’s Town is on the way and it is known for Boulders Bay, the penguins’ reserve.
      To tell the truth, the penguins aren’t that exciting, you walk on a deck and it kind of feels like a zoo. But! The town has some nice restaurants and it’s a good stop for breakfast of lunch on the way to Cape of Good Hope.

      Cape Of Good Hope

      The view from the lighthouse, Cape of Good Hope

      Simon's Bay Cape Town

      One of the penguins in Boulders Bay  that walked right up to the walking deck

    Markets
  • Old Biscuit Mill Market – The best food market I’ve been to, no doubt!
    Dozens of colorful booths filled with different kinds of cuisine, Indian to French to complete fusion. It’s also an arts & fashion market, with stalls of local brands and vintage pieces, and has a stage with live performances.
    Runs every Saturday, from 9 till the afternoon, definitely something you don’t want to miss!

    Old Biscuit Mill Market

    One of the pastry stands

    Old Biscuit Mill Market

    Enjoying the live music on the market

  • Bay Harbour Market – Another fun food& art market that takes place in Hout Bay on weekends. Check out the booth in the front called Raw Jasmine, it showcases many cool art pieces made from cork,  probably my favorite material. (A bit of my cork obsession here) The place also hosts live shows on evenings, so come early if you want to sit down!
Hout Bay Market

#BayHarbourMkt

  • V&A Food Market & Water Shack – Might be full of tourists, but still a good place to stop for lunch, or even a whole afternoon on a rainy day and add in the water shack.
    V&A Food Market Cape Town
Cooking Classes
  • Ginger & Lime – A small cooking school that hosts different classes a couple of times a month. The price is great for on-budgets cooks like! Compared to the prices of cooking classes at home it’s practically like eating out, and the experience is much better! From the wine you get when you enter to the food you make yourself, I highly recommend!

    Ginger and Lime

    Baked Bree with figs cooked in wine, the dessert we made in the French cooking class


  • Masala Dosa – Another cooking class worth checking out, on the Indian side.
    It takes place in a restaurant’s kitchen and will teach how to make curry from scratch, from raw spices. Curry is quite a hit in South Africa who has the largest Indian popularity out of India, so don’t dismiss it for being a foreign cooking class you can take anywhere else! I learned a lot about spices in this class, Do you know what cinnamon is for example…? 

    Masala Dosa

    To book, call the restaurant about two weeks in advance!

Other Cool Things
  • Pink Flamingo Rooftop Cinema – The most magical open air cinema!
    It hides on the top of the Grand Daddy Hotel in Long Street.
    Rather go there and get a pink cocktail and a candy bag and understand for yourselves.
  • Wine tasting – Cape Town is a known wine region with more than 600 wineries around.
    On my first visit, I went wine shopping with friends and enjoyed them on a picnic in Signal Hill. That’s one great option.
    Another, which we did on my second visit, is booking a guided wine tour.
    And that’s the fancier way to do it!
    But after trying, I think it’s worth the investment, It’s quite magical to sip wine in old farms!
    I highly recommend Tsiba Tsiba Tours we went with.

    Wine tasting in Cape Town

    Tasting Merlos and Pino Noirs at one of the farms

  • Kalk Bay to Mossel Bay – A fun sunny walk from one cute suburb to another.
    You can start with a coffee in either of the towns and take the 40 min walk to the other, stopping on the way for some sea and sun and definitely a pic with the famous colored houses.

    Kalk Bay to Mossel Bay Walk

    Little colored houses on the beach, could you reallt ask for anything else?

Restaurant’s & Cafés

  • Giovanni’s – My top choice for food in both of my visits!
    A small and crowded Italian delicacy located in Green Point.  The walls filled with pastries, cheese, juices, cooked meals, and salads, everything fresh and home made or imported from Italy!
    Eat on their balcony or buy yourself the best picnic in town, as we did a couple of times:

    Giovanni's cape town

    Eating our Giovanni’s picknick after climbing Table Mountain

  • The Mess –  An amazing modern kitchen that makes small tapas sized meals, each better than the other! (Baos filled with halloumi and avo was my favorite.)
    Highly recommended for a fancier night out.

    The Mess

    Pic from http://bit.ly/2wRzRLM

  • Addis in Cape An Ethiopian restaurant serving traditional dishes with western alterations. The little alterations, like having a rice injera or using fewer spices,  were really great, I tasted things I didn’t have the courage to before! Add this to the music, service and setting arrangement and you’ll end up with a magical evening. 
  • ShiftA coffee shop located quite close to Giovanni’s, on Main Rd, Green Point. I reccomend their croissant sandwiches that pair perfectly with the freshly roasted coffee. A great place to type, or read a paper, or just start your day on a relaxed tone.

    Shift Cafe

    Pic from http://bit.ly/2wdl3Vw

  • El Burro –  A Mexican restaurant (on Green Point, as well). The atmosphere and service were great, it felt like a modern take on a classic Mexican place, in both food and design.

General Tips

  • Visit in summer – November till February is the summer time in Cape Town, and after visiting in both summer and winter (July), I can definitely recommend summer time!
    The weather is better, concerts and food markets take place all around the city, and it’s even safer! (We found that after our car was broken into, the locals I talked told me it’s common knowledge that there is less policeman in winter).
    So go in summer and bring your swimsuits along!

    Cape Town In Summer

    You don’t want to know how this place looked in winter… (grey&sad)

  • Markets & Festivals  – Right, it’s mostly during summer time, but sassy events take place in winter as well! and you might miss most of them if you don’t search the web/ ask around.
    The Cape Town Magazine is a good place to keep track of them as well as a Facebook search in the event section with “Cape Town” marked as location.

    Green Park

    Jeremy Loops concert in Green Point park, summer 2016

  • Safety – Cape Town is completely awesome! But… It can be a scary town.
    I think that it’s more appropriate for backpackers than families. Because adults know how to avoid danger better.
    Use Uber (that are cheap) instead of public buses, walk in groups at night and take the fastest route to your hotel or a car if you draw cash.
    Be cautious and you’ll have a better, theft free, vacation (:.
  • Traveling Alone – Even though I wrote a whole safety paragraph a second ago, traveling in Cape Town alone was a great experience! The city is quite a backpackers hub and it’s much easier to find people you enjoy hanging out with. Every thing turns out better when you can really choose the people to spend the time with, climbing hills to going to the beach.

    My Cape Town Gang

    My lovely Cape Town Gang, who I’d probably woudn’y meet if we were in a smaller town.

And…That’s it for my Cape Town top picks!
You’re more than welcome to contact me on the contact page/ socials if you want more info!

I must share that the month since I came back was hectic.
We came back home to discover a toxically molded apartment. Then, after an intense 2-week search moved into a new one. That drained most of my energy and money (and the reason you haven’t seen a coffee shop review lately).
Things were so busy I didn’t even write a birthday post! (What a sloppy blogger!)

But now, things are back to normal, Fww..!
I absolutely love our new apartment and it’s right by the University, which is nice. (You can check it out on Instagram till I post a proper post!),

Till the third South African post,
Many Kisses,
Rotem

South Africa #1 – The Garden Route

It’s actually been 2 weeks since I came back from South Africa, but I was so busy apartment hunting I didn’t find the time to do anything more than work out, go to the office and… hunt.

So, in a short delay, a couple of hours after a new rent agreement was signed. I found the inner peace to type my top recommendations for South Africa future visitors – Kruger to Cape Town!

South Africa Trip

Who should read this?

  • Food lovers
  • Those who like to hike at day & have a hot bath at night (Those who like nature but aren’t crazy for tents)
  • Young 20-ish folks as I
  • Families with teen-aged kiddos

Who should not?

  • Those who love trekking (the ones crazy for the thing)
  • Meat lovers – sorry, I traveled among them, but I can’t tell about the experience first hand.

Meet the team:

Traveling South Africa

At the crocodile bridge, Kruger

From Right to Left: brother, father, brother, mother, myself and my boyfriend.

A diverse group: 2 extreme lovers, 1 extremely interested in wine, 1 surfer, 1 vegetarian and 1 book worm. In total, we were more than 25 meters tall, yet somehow managed to fit into one car.

Why South Africa?

This is South Africa round 2 for me.
Last February the travel team included myself, a big bag, and friends I met on the way. A classic backpackers trip. It was fun.
In 3 months I totally fell in love, determined to come back and bring my family along.

Cocktail

It worked, though traveling with my family was totally different… They aren’t as keen on food, fashion or international friend as I. So – I decided to include recommendations from my last trip as well.

When?

First time I was here in the South African summer – February to April, this year we visited in July. I think summer is much nicer in Cape Town & The Garden Route, but for Safari’s – “wintery” July. South Africa’s dry winter season is great for animal spotting, the weather in Addo and Kruger (both safaris) was just divine!

The Route

  • One week from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town (AKA The Garden Route)
  • Another week in Cape Town
  • And last, a week in Blyde River Canyon and Kruger National park

Ok, ready?
Let’s start with week #1:

Garden Route Top Picks

Accommodation

For Families –
  • Harbour House in Leisure Isle Knysna – A beautiful air b&b apartment on the lagoon, perfect for a big family like ours. It included a great host, big kitchen, on-the-lagoon location and… 4 bicycle pairs!
  • Swallow’s nest in Storms River – Another accommodation well built for families! Continental breakfast included!

    Storm River accomedetion

    Nice & Cozy, fit perfectly with the stormy weather that hit the area while we were there

For youngsters –
  • Wild Spirit in Nature Valley – A whole new experience. The place is some kind of magical farm I can’t explain in words. This would be my top recommendation for backpackers.
    Tree house
  • Dijembe Backpackers in Storm River – Stayed there last year and enchanted by the rustic homey feel & comfy log beds…  They also have a wonder-goat named Buzz, who was enchanting himself:
    Goat

    that is, till I found out he ate one of my tops when it was drying outside.

    They also have a free breakfast pancake stand & a wall filled with visitor illustrations! Try to find mine if you visit!

    Wall sketch

    An art piece my new friend Simona & I left on the wall after kayaking in Tsitsikamma

  • Albergo For Backpackers in Plettenberg – Clean, well designed and located perfectly.
    A good place to stay if you’re planning a couple of calm days by the beach.

    Seagle bird

    I haven’t got any pictures from the backpackers, just from the time I spent at the beach!

Things to do

  • Addo – The Garden Route safari option, highly recommended to anyone who likes elephants (and that’s everyone, right?).
    Addo, Elephants
  • Tsitsikamma – A beautiful nature reserve with a bunch of trails, stay till sunset and you’ll be breathless.
    tsitsikamma at sunset

  • Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour – I was skeptical but went with my brother’s flow and it turns out sliding from one tree to another is quite cool when your 30+ meters high! Worth booking ahead.

    Tsitsikamma Canopy tours

    Brothers & Father time

  • Robberg trail –  This would be my top recommendation for a day hike. It’s a beautiful half island, home for many (apparently very stinky) seals, birds and, if you’re lucky, whales!

    Robberg Trail

    Imagine this through a whole island surrounded by swimming whales and seals

  • Rent bicycles in Knysna – I am a known bicycle lover, but this was far from my usual urban-rides. We went through half flouted meadows, ocean beaches, and beautiful houses. Absolutely magical.

    Lagoon cycling

    Don’t let the pic fool you, it wasn’t all nice and flat. I started with 4 layers and finished with 1.

Resturants & Café’s
  • Marilyn’s 60’s Diner Not for the food, but for the vibe! Go there, put on a wig and an Elvis costume and you’ll understand.

    Afro Wigs

    Costumes & 50’s music is a good recipe for fun!

  • Tsitrus Café This was the perfect place to eat pumpkin soup on a rainy night. Filled with crafts and a super friendly crew, this is a great place for a non-pretentious dinner/ lunch.

  • Wu’s Chinese and Sushi – As mediterraneans, we’re not used to the South African amounts of butter and cream. Wo’s really gave us a relieving break from those two, being an authentic butter-free Asian. We dined there twice and I highly recommend their bean curd soup! 

  • Bella de Karoo – A magical farm in the karoo, right on the beginning of Route 62. They served the best farm bread I tasted, hands down.

    Bella de Karoo

    The hosts mentioned they also have accommodation, worth a check if you’re heading to route 62! (Oudtshoorn isn’t so pleasant at night)

General tips

  • Long drives – be prepared and Have books & snacks in hand. If you’re traveling alone or in a small group consider taking the buzbus, I used it when I was backpacking, it’s a good way to travel without a car.
  • Many supermarkets – except storms river, we never had a problem stocking up. If you want to cook your own food, buy snacks, or have picnics outdoors you won’t have a problem.
  • Poverty –There are a lot of baggers and street salesmen. South Africa is still a 3rd world country, though it hard to believe when you’re traveling in the modern, beautiful Garden Route. This shouldn’t scare you, but you should come prepared, meaning – don’t be overwhelmed by it. (I wish I emphasized it more to my mom before we took off, she wasn’t prepared for visiting a 3rd world country at all, she thought South Africa is similar to Europe.)
  • Affordable Traveling– The other half of the poverty coin. South Africa is very budget friendly for both families and backpacks! You can dine in fancy restaurants & enjoy attractions for a funny amount. Theirs something nice about having a guilt free vacation in that sense.

That’s it for South Africa #1!
Next week an all Cape Town post will be coming up, alongside with a post about the cute Origem café I’m currently sitting at.

Stay tuned and don’t be shy to shoot me South Africa questions through the contact page & socials!
Kisses,
Rotem

 

Back to life, Back to reality

Hallo!
I’m back from my 3-week vacation in South Africa!

And though I tend to use song names as post titles, in this case coming back was literally coming back to the Tel Avivian reality.

You see, as I walked the stairs to our apartment, I noticed something smelt fishy.
By fishy I mean –  did a street cat died in the hallway?
It was really stinky.
When I opened the door, I discovered the smell comes from the apartment itself, and it was no dead cat… It was mold. A very bad case of mold.

Most of our wooden furniture covered with a greenish coat, 2 of the walls were spotted with black dots and the kitchen… My lovely kitchen! It was the worst. Both in smell and looks. (I will spare the nasty description from you…)

I thought we live in the perfect old beautiful building, but it turns out the infrastructure just couldn’t cope up with our summer leave. Tel Aviv is just too moist!

Since I’m allergic to 50% of the things in the world + an ex-asthmatic, I can’t continue living here for long. Even after we cleaned all the mold we could (with masks, it looked quite hilarious), there seems to be a true problem with the walls and we need to move out.

Here again, we’re facing the devastating real estate reality of Tel Aviv city.

Moving out

Picture from 7 months ago

I swear, if this would happen a year ago I would probably cry my heart off, but it seems that in the year that passed I developed some kind of emotional stability. Amazeballs.
Let’s see if I can keep it up in what is also known as mission impossible #1 – finding an apartment in Tel Aviv.

If this was a TV show you would have seen hundreds of couples and roommates running around in matching colored headbands, challenged to find a normal apartment where the sink doesn’t link brown water and the rent is less than 6000 ₪.
Thing is, no one wears matching headbands, it’s an undercover Facebook race and we don’t seem to win it so far!

Here are some highlights from our 4-day apartment-hunt:

  • “Great apartment for those who aren’t at home during the day” stands for “the building is under construction”.
  • “intimate” apartments are small apartments, usually meaning less than 45 square meter, and the only Intimacy you will find there is the one between the bedroom and the kitchen sink.
  • An apartment looks great? Scroll to find out the kitchen is shared with 1-3 other neighbors! And don’t let the determined real estate agents fool you,“shared with a chef/ a tenant that knows to cook amazing food!” says nothing about the frequency they wash their dishes.
  • Real estate agents in itself is something that annoys me. What once used to be a real occupation is now a Facebook post writing job. The service includes just a Facebook message and a tour with 3829 other people. Why should I pay an additional 8000₪ for that??

A picture from SA that sums the way I about Facebook real estate agents at this point:

I hate real estate agents

Credit to my boyfriend, who makes sure I’ll remember the hungry/ tired moments of this trip too

To make things more realistic, my phone passed away this morning.
RIP.
I might have been too excited to come back to the gym, didn’t hold my phone right and it fell all the way down from the high stair-climbing machine.
Just came back from the mechanic who told me it’s fatal…

What I like about my reality is – it’s all okay! Thank god I’m not a designer assistant anymore, and I can afford to pay movers and buy a new phone.
And it was time to get a new phone anyway, right? We could all tell that the pics on the blog were a bit too blurry. That could be my 23-birthday present to myself (17 days count down!).

Yep, so I’m back to reality.
Back to write again, back to manage the happiness, back to platies classes & running.
Sure feels good to be back in Tel Aviv!

I’d love to hear your thought & tips about urban apartment hunts!
And if there’s a Tel Avivian apartment owner in the crowd…. Contact me urgently!

Kisses,
Phone-less-Rotem

*The phone death also effected the amount of photos in the post. Sorry for that. Going to buy a new one after work!
** Will write some kind of a best-of-SA post soon! Be hold!

Mid-Night Hospital Visit

Heya, Good morning!
Today I’m not writing from a coffee shop, I’m writing from the sofa at home. Surrounded by a bunch of pillows, ginger tea in my cup, the neighbor’s cat peeking through the window bars.
I’m trying to heal my body from the shock it experienced on Friday night.

Excluding my trip in Africa, it was my first visit to the emergency room.
First time I was in so much pain I called a taxi in the middle of the night (after calling mom, of course). It was the first time I was connected to an IV,  waiting for a diagnosis.
The whole night was far from pleasant, and even 2 days later I can’t eat properly, which makes the whole experience even less pleasant.

You can’t foresee these kinds of events, but I could have definitely been more prepared for it. I learned one can take some pre-steps to make emergencies bearable.

How to Be better prepared to a Medical Emergency:
  1. Have a taxi app or number on your phone – We spent 15 min downloading and authorizing one last night while I was in pain. Could have been helpful to have something installed and compatible with our credit cards beforehand.

    Taxi number inhand

    Ready for the next unpredictable event!

  2. Medical line assistance – I could have avoided the ER night trip by talking to a nurse or a doctor on the phone. My HMO provides the service, but I didn’t think straight because of pain, I wanted someone to check me and give me a cure ASAP, so we skipped the call. Now, after I’ve been in the emergency room, I promised myself I call the hotline before I run to the hospital.
  3. Have some basic medicines in your drawer –  Just having a pain killer or antiemetics would have been super helpful last night, even for the in-between moments till arriving at the hospital. So today, after my check up with my doctor – I went to visit the pharmacy. I’m not a fan of pills, but last night convinced me everyone should have some pain killers in their closet.

    Medicine worth having in the drawer

    This is what my doctor recomends – a pain killer, something for the stomach and something for the throat. I think I;m covered now.

  4. Always take a sweater – If you do end up running to the ER,  know that emergency rooms tend to be cold (and you really want to avoid covering up with the hospital blankets). My boyfriend gave me his hoodie in a very heroic act, but I saw the goosebumps he had all night. That made me commit to myself I’ll bring something warm next time.
    Always take something warm to the hospital

    As for my illness –

    I woke up at 2:00 a.m. feeling nauseous. It wasn’t the regular kind of nausea dizziness, it was painful. I was shivering and I felt as if I am going to faint.
    I never felt this way before.
    My hunch was that eating bread would help. But after grabbing a slice I felt worse, much worse. So I did what any rational adult would do in pain – I rolled myself into a ball on the sofa and started crying.

    That woke my boyfriend up.
    He didn’t look too worried till the crying scene moved to the bathroom floor. He looked up “home remedies for nausea” online, since we didn’t have any medicine at home (not even Advil). That didn’t bring up any helpful results. I might add that at this point I was sure I was pregnant – I mean, morning, sickness, a kind of nausea I never felt before..? I thought my mom would have some kind of instructions to stop the pain, but she was confused as well and told us to head up to the hospital.

    That’s when I found out having a quick way to connect a taxi could come in hand.

    40 min later, we were in the hospital, standing in line to get signed in.
    Now, let me tell you why it’s worth consulting with a medical authority before you arrive at the ER – if your head is still attached and your heart is beating you’ll have to wait. A lot.
    It was Friday night and a ridicules amount of drunk teens was filling the hospital. We sat on the bench and I felt like the world is going to end before they’ll have a bed for me. Everything hurt, I was crying, and my boyfriend went to check what’s going on.
    An old woman that sat on the same bench as us hugged me and said it’s all going to be all right. It was such a bizarre moment, but at that point – a much needed mother-like hug.
    Being in pain in the waiting room is even worse than being in pain at home.

    4 hours later, connected to an IV, medicine in my veins, the final diagnosis was food poisoning. That’s it. All this pain and the cause was that simple.
    I had some food poisonings while I was traveling, but it appeared 1-2 hours after I ate and was way less painful.

    Another thing was (and still is) – I can’t put my finger on the cause.
    We had a little investigation: It must have been dinner because my boyfriend and our dinner guest had a stomach ache as well. The things we all ate were – sweet potatoes, bread, snow peas and wine. At this point, we suspect the snow peas. They aren’t a regular meal on our table, and they smelled really bad only one day after they were made. That’s strange because they were cooked, but currently it’s our leading guess.

    Now my body is in a bit of an over-shock. I have lost a significant percentage of the fluid in my body and that left me weak. I drink tons of tea and juice, as the doctor advised, to get sugar back to my blood.
    Tomorrow I should be back to normal. Finger crossed I’ll be able to walk without falling like I did today after a two streets walk to the Doctor’s office.
    But in case I do need help, now I have a taxi app awaiting all all times!

    Have a great day,
    Kisses from the sofa,
    Rotem

 

 

Purim in Tel Aviv

If you’ve been reading my blog lately you’ve probably stumbled upon the word Purim once or twice, and as I explained it’s a Jewish holiday. On the last few days, it had a big influence on the city, so I think I won’t be a true Tel Avivian blogger if I don’t tell you a bit more than “the Jewish version if Halloween”. If you ask me, Purim is one of the best times to visit Tel Aviv.

Purim is a celebration of a miracle that happened to the Jewish people under the rule of the Persian empire and it’s  the most joyful holiday I know. On the holiday days it’s a mitzvah (kind of a golden point from god) to be happy, and the traditions are really happiness-promoting! My favorite ones are giving each other “Mishloches” (gift or food packages, usually filled with sweets) and putting on costumes. There are also great holiday cookies, Hamantash, made from a crispy pie dough filled with chocolate/ poppy seeds/ pistachios/ dates (recipe at the end!).

The small "Mishloche" me made our neighbors & friends

Our version of “Mishloche” this year – Granola jars for every neighbor/ family member in a walking distance

Israel becomes glittery and colorful on Purim, especially Tel Aviv. A couple of weeks before the holiday the street shops get filled with costumes, each bakery makes Hamantash with a different twist and party posters are hung everywhere.

On the holiday itself, the streets become a parade, people walk with costumes day and night making simple daily tasks like cycling to the gym interesting.
It isn’t the Brazilian carnival or Halloween, it’s something else, and it’s worth seeing.

Pic by Lior Caspi

Pic by Lior Caspi

Part of the happiness effect it caused by the tradition of drinking “ad-lo-yada”, directly translated to “till you don’t know anymore”. Of course, this one doesn’t apply to me, I get dizzy after the first sip of wine, so for me every 1+1 happy hour is an ad-lo-yada. For everyone else, Purim is the best time to get good deals on the usually-very-expensive alcohol.
Good thing there are good options for people like me (who don’t drink enough to enjoy the crowded parties),  this year we went to an epic party at a museum! Imagine large designed spaces filled with exhibits and people in costumes, videoart on walls, concerts in diffrent room and dancers all around.

Purim Party in Tel Aviv Museum of Art - video art on the walls & Concerts on the hallways

Purim Party in Tel Aviv Museum of Art – video art on the walls & Concerts in the hallways

OK, now – my costume!
(I have to admit, everything else was sort of a buildup!)
“My” costume is actually our costume, my boyfriend and I made it together on Wednesday night till 1:30 o’clock. As my team at the office said – “He made the costume with you?? On a game night?? You got to marry that guy!” I agree, one day you guys.

Purim in Tel Aviv - The Jungle Blog

Costume-making night

If you don’t get it it’s because we dressed up as a very famous Israeli book called “The hummus king and the bathtub queen“. I know, I might create the impression Israeli nutrition is based on hummus and we ride camels by telling you about this book, but –  if a New Yorker would use the word pizza in his book title, you would you think New York’s culture is just about that? It’s sort of a funny title, so a fun costume to walk in and get smilling faces in response.

*All the tourist thought I’m a cupcake, but I didn’t get it, I had a golden duck and a sponge wand, and those are practically the symbols of bathtubs!

Purim in Tel Aviv - The Jungle Blog

Could you spy my golden duck?

Remember the Hamantashen I mentioned earlier? This year I found out the secret for making the perfect ones!
At work, we played the game the Americans call “Secret Santa”, it has a local name but the important part is you have to give someone small gifts all week long and come up with a great “Mishloche” for the last day. I got the Marketing VP, basically the one I work with the most, and I knew his kids and wife are gluten sensitive, so I  devoted an evening to make a basket of gluten-free Hamantashen, which I thought would be the perfect “Mishloche” for a person that loves his family so much.

IT WAS SUCH A HIT.
Seriously – the best Hamantashen I ate this year, and totally worth the extra money gluten free flour costs. I made them again for the small Purim party I hosted at home and all the positive comments really re-bosted my confidence in baking. I actually made cookies long before I knew what is kale, my kitchen-crush started almost 10 years ago when I was watching Karin Goren’s butter-filled baking show. Even though I’m no longr in this genre, coming from it I managed to   handle the very delicate gluten-free dough and shape it properly.

Purim in Tel Aviv - The Jungle Blog

Dates & walnuts Hamantashesth (Starring the granola for “Mishloche” and a dinner salad in the background)

I added the recipe I used, it’s based on this blog post in Hebrew, I didn’t translate in exactly how it was written (changes based on the products I could buy without breaking the budget, AKA Almond flour and crusted suger). You can click the link I added and use google translate to see the original one.

Gluten Free Hamantashs

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 30~

Ingredients

  • - 4 tablespoons sugar
  • - 2~ tablespoons almonds
  • - 1 cup gluten free flour
  • - 200 g cold butter cut into 1 cm cubes
  • - pinch of salt
  • - 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • - Lemon zest form 1 lemon
  • - 1 egg
  • - Spread dates/ Nutella/ jam for the filling

Instructions

  1. Process almonds and sugar - in a food processor till they become a powder.
  2. Mix dry ingredients and butter – put the flour, salt and sugar/ almond powder in a bowl and mix well, once unified add the butter and knead it in till the mixture is crumbly.
  3. Add eggs, lemon zest & vanilla –and continue to process just until the dough clump is created.
  4. Cool the dough - Wrap it with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
  6. Forming Cookies - on a gluten-free floured surface, roll out 1/3 of the dough till it’s about 3 mm thick. Cut circles using a cup, in any size you want.
  7. Adding the filling – put ¾ a teaspoon of the filling in the middle of each circle, and close into pastries as explained in the video below. It is important not to play with the dough too much.
  8. Place the cookies on an oven tray lined with baking paper..
  9. Bake for 12-17 minutes, or until golden ears and stabilized.
  10. Cool completely and store in a sealed box for up to one week.
http://tlvjungle.com/purim-in-tel-aviv

Notes

  • Filling – I filled half with dates and crushed walnuts, half with Nutella,  that’s what I had at home and what I love. You can basically fill them with anything, the classic cookie is filled with poppyseeds cooked with sugar, milk and vanilla, but it’s time consuming and I’m not that rich in time. My advice, on the first time – go for chocolate.

    The date's filling I used, just so you have an idea of the consistency we're aiming for

    The date’s filling I used, just so you have an idea of the paste – consistency we’re looking for

  • Rolling the dough – It’s very similar to pie dough, the best way to handle it is to keep it cool. I rolled a 1/3 of the dough each time, leaving the rest in the fridge. Also, flour the surface genuinely and make sure you can lift the dough easily inbetween rolls.
  • Shaping – I was home alone and I couldn’t film it, but I found a youtube tutorial that explains how you make the triangle shape.
  • Baking – You don’t want the cookies to come out too brown, more of a white pastry with golden touches, to keep it moist. I set a timer for 8 min and check it every two min to prevent over-cooking.

Foo, I think it’s the longest post I’ve ever written! As you can tell I really like this holiday..
Thank you Lior Caspi and Shai Ashkenazi for letting me use your pics! Check out their linked Facebook albums, they have great pics for the holiday events!
Kisses,
Rotem

Out Of Office #6 – Loveat

Closing 2016 from the office was much easier with all the meetings I had to attend and the forms I needed to get signed. Now that’s it over with, I’m renewing my out of office project! Currently checking mails and working on a campaign  far away from the office, drinking my morning coffee at “Loveat”. There are a couple of branches of this cafe, I chose the one on Nachalat Benyamin. Once again I had errands in the area –  picking up my sewing machine from the repair and finding a mint colored spray (for one of my new-home projects, I’ll write about it when I’m done).

Loveat Cafe

Gosh, I love this street, I visit it every two weeks to find art supplies. I actually sat in this cafe twice before, when you wake up at 7:00 a.m. you usually need to wait for the shops to open up. Lately became much more attractive, since I got a “10-bis” lunch-card from my company, loaded with 700 to spend in specific businesses every month. I’m trying to use it for my ‘out of office’ mornings, because on lunch I prefer eating the food I cook for myself-  made with good oils & whole grains, plus nutritionally vegetarian friendly (I run & dance so I make sure I eat enough protein).

20170116_094942

Anyway – Loveat excepts 10-bis card, so here I am on 08:30 in the morning, listening to jazz music, scanning the menu and the people surrounding me (mostly small groups of business men). I have a perfect spot in the green filled back-balcony,  right next to the door, so I can easily see all the pastries on the long wooden bar at the entrance.

20170116_094932

20170116_094938

I ordered oatmeal with fruit topping, just felt like the right thing to eat after cycling here from my apartment. (Only 15 minutes, but I was starving and needed more than my regular almond croissant.) It was nice, yet not perfect – I hate unripe fruit and the cook seemed to be a fan of those. The rest was nice, I had a cup of coffee and a big chocolate chip cookie, all in all cost 60₪ and sitting in the green balcony totally made my day begin with a smile.

20170116_084542

  • Bicycle Parking – (I locked them at the entrance, but one more bicycle and that entrance would be blocked)
  • Charging Plugs – V  (some in & mostly out)
  • Wifi –
  • English Menu – V
  • Price Range – $$ ($ – cheap, $$ – regular, $$$ – fancy) – V
  • Food – A blend of healthy choices and pasteries (kind of made for healthy people with a sweetouth)
  • Service – Nice, but a bit slow, I might have came too early in the morning,
  • Vegan Friendly – V
  • 10bisYes!
  • Newspapers – V
  • Smoking – Outside
  • Final Score for Working/ Studying – 8/10

20170116_091450

Something worth knowing –  their iced coffee is one of the best I ever had. It’s a strong Ice slush drink based on espresso, a bit too chilly to order it now, but on hot summer days… Wow!

20170116_095020

Well that’s it for now, glad to be back to writing, kind of missed it while we we’re moving + work got crazy. Good thing I’m back to normal! Maybe  I’ll think about this blog a bit and figure what I’m going to write (Is food critics enough? I did so much DIY’s, but maybe I should focus on Tel Aviv? I’ll think about it, cause now I have time for that! ).

Have a great week!
Rotem

 

Moving – Part 2

It’s 9 p.m. and I’m too exhausted to paint or fix or clean or glue, so I’m taking a moment to write  in between all the moving arrangements.

We moved on Friday, my parents came all the way from the north in their jeep, equipped with a 15 year old teenager and a mini market amount of food.  I kind of hoped the two middle brothers will also come along and use their mussels for something more useful than lifting weights and attracting 15 year old girls, but both “busy” with what they define as “a thriving social life” (also known as laziness).

20161230_131932

I would never imagine I have enough to fill aw wagon / that my belongings weight so much!

Anyway, We did just fine without them!

 

On 17:00 we finished with the heavy lifting & basic cleaning, then headed for dinner at my grandparents. It only took 5 people, 9 hours, my breathing system and a coffee stop (thanks dad, a novel-level Idea to supersize us with takeaway cappuccino’s and pop seed chocolate cake at 3 o’clock!).

The cake was gone before I was able to take a pic!

The cake was gone before I was able to take a pic

Grandma fed us like we’re kings of England (talking about dishes worthy for a Michelin chef), and I really needed all these comfort meals after a day of lifting and inhaling dust.  When we finished she send us back home with lunchboxes for a week and… Pa Pa Pam… Their 60’s super cool retro chests of drawers!

20170101_001549

Looking gorgeous in our entrance hall

On Saturday we continued on our own and walked to my boyfriend’s apartment to pick up his stuff. Maybe I shouldn’t use the word “pick”, because, again,  we lifted way too much.
After we moved everything + ate grandma’s packed lunch,  we drove for the last Hanukkah candle lighting at his parents house.

3 hours later, with cookie filled stomachs, another full jeep made it’s way to our apartment, filled with 2 different parents, 2 sisters and a trunk loaded with interior accessories.

20170101_001612

Check out the beautiful side table & rug my boyfriend’s mom added (and while you do it – excuse me for the mess!)

By the end of the weekend all the “big things” were handled, and we were left with the “little stuff”. Actually, I was left with them, because my boyfriend went away for a week long work trip. At the beginning I said – sure, lets move anyway, I want to move from my place as soon a possible. But now I kind of want him to be around for the planing, searching, finding, buying, installing.. If he won’t come back soon he might even miss our first bug exterminating .

I hope he'll be around for the second round of "small stuff" shopping. It became really heavy!

I hope he’ll be around for the second round of “small stuff”, Shopping for a drying rack alone is’t such a blast!

But – being home alone in a new house made me really kick it with DIY’s!
I already colored our front door in lilac blue from the inside and bought  the hard-to-find products  for fixing beautiful armchair  the builders used as a ladder (peeking in the third pic))& making a big cork board on a plain wall.
Be tuned for pics!

Generally, I’m sorry for the lack of posting persistence.
I really need to get it together for 2017 and decide what I’m going to write about, then do it properly. Maybe I’ll even open an Instagram account.

OK, maybe, I’m just aiming for having a great house & choosing what I want to study for 2017, I’ll finish that and we’ll talk about an Instsa account.

Good night!
Rotem

 

Now Bust A Move

I can’t believe I’m moving with my boyfriend tomorrow!
Yes, I knew this was coming up for a couple of weeks , but It only hit me when I saw the white walls of the empty room I finished packing!

This means – no more flatmates! No more pilled sinks, or dirty underwear in the bathroom, no more walking in quietly so X (name withheld) wouldn’t notice I came! From now on I’m coming in with a “Ta-Daa!”, 3 steps of jazz, and – “honey, what do you want for dinner? because we freaking have a kitchen for ourselves!”. At least for a week.

I want to thank FB, for helping me find this gorgeous sofa, for a price I can afford:

(Shot in the seller's apartment*)

(Shot in the seller’s apartment*)

And thank myself as well, for refreshing 10 second-hand furniture pages every hour. There is no luck in this world, if you want to find beautiful (cheap) furniture you got to hit those F5 buttons!

Also – a great moment to thank the universe for my parents.
When I got home last weekend my mom jumped to the door supper exited and said: ” We’re going to buy you a fridge!”. “We said we’ll wait and talk and talk to her properly!” dad’s voice popped from the kitchen, “right, right but I was just too exited! You know – no one supported me when I was in the university, I’m so happy we can help you now!”. (Still not a student, it’s just a build up for next year!).

It didn’t stop there.
On Monday I got a text from mom: “Don’t buy anything for your kitchen”. I guess most of you celebrate Christmas but for me it’s Hanukkah,  a holiday of light, donuts and miracles. So I texted back – “Mom, is this a holiday thing?”, and got a list as a response: ” A tea pot, 2 serving sets, 3 pans, 3 pots, working tools, coffee, tea, sugar, salt, olive oil, viniger and ext’..”.
“Mom your just awesome!!!!!”
“You still have to buy a microwave, though”. Well Gee, I think I can handle it.

Wait, we have a phase 3.
“Dad, you’ll pick me up from my apartment and we’ll drive to the new one together?”
“Am.. I can’t. your mom is bringing food..”
“Dad – we have a 7-seat car and extra wagon for the move!”
“What can I do, you know your mom..”
I really don’t know what to expect tomorrow.

I’ll upload pictures from our new place as soon at it’s tidied up & ready for a first photo shoot! (Spoiler – It has the same kind of vintage tiles I fell for in this apartment!).

Time to go back to youtube, I think there are some DIY videos I haven’t seen,
Wish me luck!

Rotem

 

Camden & Shoes

Hola, good morning!

It’s Saturday and I finally have some time to write after another crazy week – closing 2016 at work & looking for an apartment with my boyfriend. Can’t say it was busy for nothing… We found the perfect place! It’s freaking beautiful. Shame my current land lord is moving out too this week, she isn’t such a pleasant person even when she has time.

In between I had to find time to buy boots –  my vans could no longer stand the rain& puddles (to be exact, I couldn’t stand walking with soaking shoes anymore).
Don’t know if you were looking for boots this year, but prices are insane! Even at Zara they charge 400-700₪ for a pair, and the shoes are far form being comfortable. I’ve been to a shop where the heel fell apart as I picked up a shoe, the shop owner just blurred  “made in China, what did you expect?”. Umm.. Some quality? Where are the days of boots made for walking ?

I was about to give up and walk with sneakers all the way to April, but luckily a Camden & Shoes ad popped on my FB feed. The shoes didn’t look too good  on the ad but the prices were tempting so I decided to visit their shop, and good thing I did!

20161221_124419

First, the shop girl was super nice, there were about 7 customers on the 30 min I was there and she navigated perfectly between all of us, including 2 screaming babies.
Secondly, I was surprised by the  variety of shoes I could actually afford! They weren’t low quality at all, no falling heels of anything, all made in Israel, and made properly (I always check the fabric, the stitches and the glue).

20161221_124425

Boots cost around 290₪ a pair, a reasonable price I feel comfortable paying for winter shoes. It’s even half the price I was planing to spend, so after a short dilemma I decided to take two pairs:

Camdon & Shoes

#FeelingFancy

I walked out with new shoes and a great feeling – I got something I love without breaking the budget!

So – I wanted to spread the news so other on-budget people could enjoy this brand, that has a couple of branches and an online shop!

Generally, this isn’t an elite boutique, it’s a more homey place that address different styles.  They sell clothes and bags as well, and even though most of the garments weren’t really my taste, I found a great pair of red wide pants and a asymmetric turtle neck tonic (couldn’t go too crazy though, still on budget!).

So give it a look, they have a wide range and it might fix you for this winter!
Have a wonderfal-last-week-of-2016,
Rotem

Camdon & Shoes

These boots were *definitely* made for walking

 

 

Tweeting

Yep, I decided opened a twitter account!

Twitter is not a big thing in Israel, I stated using it as part of my marketing team responsibilities and found out it’s pretty cool, so after a months of tweeting as a business I opened my own account yesterday.

I quickly discovered I know nothing about non-marketing accounts, lost in the sea of tweets I began by following Zara& Urban outfitters who I thought might be fun, but they were too “You need our furry shoes” for me.

I write these super sharable, eye catching scheduled tweets at work, what I really need in my provate feed is some fun, authentic people to follow.. Any advise?

Rotem