Sunday, November 16, 2014

Israel 2014 Day 10: Tzfat and the North

Israel 2014 Day 10: Tzfat and the North

This morning started out with a nice breakfast with everyone, followed by a goodbye to Michal's parents who were heading home this morning. Our first stop after breakfast was Ahusa St. in Ra'nannah for some shopping. Today's theme: Judaica!!

And as always, a photo of a random cat
Let the mezuzah shopping begin!
We went to a cool housewares shop, where we found the local artist cake dishes and housewares with cute kitchen drawings and recipes in Hebrew written on the dishes themselves. I really loved that stuff, and got an Olive Oil pourer/Salad dressing mixer, as well as a placemat/coaster set from the same artist. Awesome.

We wandered more Judaica stores and I found some Shabbos napkins for my Mom, as well as a store that just had trays and trays of different Mezuzahs. I've never seen so many in my life!! It was incredible. I looked for maybe 30 minutes at all the different options, all so different. Some made of Jerusalem stone, metal ones, wooden ones, modern, old-school, glass-blown ones, anything you might imagine. Very fun. I ended up getting a pretty modern-looking silver one, as well as a Pomegranate painted one that looked a little like the eclectic artwork from the lady who made the kitchenware.

From there we went to an even fancier shop that had some great artwork, and even an artist in the basement of the shop selling her handmade candlesticks and other Judaica. It was a great shop. One of my favourite things was a really nice funky blue Menorah, by an artist named Emanuel. It was so nice, both modern but also classic at the same time -- I don't really like super modern-looking menorahs, so this one was a crazy colour scheme and a little wild but still in the very classic, historic fashion. Totally perfect. I loved it, but I've recently bought a new Menorah myself in San Francisco (that is super classic) so this will have to wait for another time. Very awesome though.

The exact kind of Menorah I would have
I picked up some "Nes Gadol Hayah Po" dreidels (Dreidels have a different final letter on them in Israel as compared with the rest of the world, so that was fun). I also got one paper prayer roll (that goes inside a Mezuzah). The store clerk asked me "Ashkenazi or Sephardic?" -- I didn't know there was a difference in the Mezuzah scrolls you would buy if you were from one or the other stream of Jewish culture. The scroll was already wrapped and in a small plastic bag, ready to install into a Mezuzah. It was made in Bene Beraq, a religious area near Jerusalem. After a morning of awesome shopping, we had earned ourselves a Falafel Sandwich. It came with everything, chips (fries), tahini, eggplant, the works.

Crushing a pita with falafel in it
And onwards we went, "up North". Our first stop was Tzfat/Safed/Zefat. I had learned about Tzfat in the very surprisingly available course I was able to take at Waterloo, "Kaballah and Jewish Mysticism." Tzfat has been a center of Jewish Mysticism for a long time and it sounded like a really cool artist colony and that it would be totally up my alley (it was). We got there, parked the car and started to wander... it was SO hot. My phone said it was only 28C, but it felt much hoter.

And here we are in glorious Tzfat!
Cool Tzfat alleyways
We parked near the Artists' Colony and walked the wrong way at first... but by chance we happened upon the two rivaling cheese shops: Hamieri Cheese and Tzfat Cheese!! They were both super chill spots and we ended up at Tzfat cheese to wash our faces in their bathroom (it was sooo hot) and hang out inside for a bit. Several other people were doing the same.

An older woman was sitting there, along with a long-haired weird hippy dude. The first thing he said to us, "Why are you guys so sweaty?" hahaha. It was like walking into someone's kitchen (I think it was someone's kitchen), and, as expected, the older lady said to us, "Sit, sit! Have something to eat!" haha. Loved it. We got some of their homemade dolmas, cheese and olives. We tasted a few different cheeses, including one called Tzfatit which was very salty, and a bit like Parmesan. Super funny situation there yet super welcoming and fun. Totally perfect.

"Sit, sit! Have something to eat!"
We did as we were told and sat for a few minutes, talking to the weird hippy dude, and then headed off to a winery place that had a great view. We got some lemonade there and some watermelon and "bulgarit" (Bulgarian Feta) salad. Mmm.

Watermelon and Feta
Note the right-side opening of the book, since Hebrew is written right-to-left
After more wandering in the intense heat, we finally found the artist's colony!! It was AMAZING!!! At first there were a few very touristy shops, but it was easy to spot the difference between those and the legit, artistic stores. We found some really fun stuff to look at and peruse: a pile of shofars, Mezuzahs, interesting hand-painted art and jewellery. My favourite of all the places was the Fig Tree Center area... I liked that the most. They had some "Metal Lace" Mezuzahs which were totally over-the-top amazing. Like something my buddy EJ could make with his laser cutter. :) It was so ornate and detailed, and I really loved the designs. I think they were like $200 or something wild, so we decided to keep that for a future purchase. But oh MAN they sure were awesome. Also in the Fig Tree center was a place that Hand-Crocheted Yarmulkes and Tallit. It was reallly nice and some very impressive handiwork. I actually got 2 of those -- a while/gold one that Michal LOVED on me and the staff said it was good for "special occasions". I also got a green/blue/yellow one which I loved too. I also bought a small tree of life painting with a blessing written in Hebrew around it. Some really beautiful artwork was there, and I really enjoyed this. I could have spent several days there, it was so fun.

A box of Shofars
And now, we shop
This was awesome
So many Tallit
Super amazing "Metal Lace Art" mezuzahs
Tallis weaving factory
Oh look, a Tallis being made!
On the rooftops in Tzfat
One the way out of the market, we got some fresh cherry juice that some guy was somehow squeezing (?) on the side of the road. Dodging the bees, we tried it out and it was tasty. A quick stop at the local supermarket was useful, and we grabbed some more of the life-changing Israeli cottage cheese, honey turkey, pitas and hummus for dinner. We then drove to Rosh Pina, our home for the evening.

Our awesome B&B!
Our awesome B&B!

Outside our room, a nice pool
The view of Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee) from our backyard!
Good times
This was a really epic place. Wow! There was a hot tub in the floor, an amazing shower, a nice pool outside and a wicked hot tub outside too. We took lots of photos, and enjoyed some wine and snacks ready for us on arrival. We walked around Rosh Pina a bit, but there was not much to see after our epic day in Tzfat. It was quite a small town, so we just walked around a little now that the temperature had cooled down a bit, and walked by another grocery store to buy my favourite popsicle again: the one shaped like a watermelon. Michal tried to take a bite when I wasn't looking.

Michal trying to steal my favourite Watermelon popsicle
After a long day outside in the sun, we decided to have a dinner picnic at "home" in the hotel. We had a nice Nespresso, and just some chillin' and a quick swim. The hot tub outside was totally amazing, it had rotating lights, a pillow light, and a water feature light. Of course I played around with all the settings, finding one that let you cycle through all the different LED colours automatically. Yes! A long and fun day, again! I had a great time and we slept well after all the walking and our tasty dinner.

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