Wednesday, November 30, 2016

winter

This past long weekend, we had a fab opportunity to hop over to Madrid, Spain.  Flights were cheap, and friends of ours from Baltimore (who now live in Germany) suggested a Turkey Day meetup there awhile back.

So we were like sure, why not??

Madrid totally surprised me. I pretty much had no expectations going in, outside of knowing we were attending a Flamenco show for Thanksgiving Dinner... and that our friends Brian and Sarah would make better tour guides than we ever will.

Travel pals

I'll spare the rambling about the beauty of Madrid and the surrounding countryside (although I easily could write paragraphs about it) because I think I prefer that my travel posts offer more than just describing the trip, and more of the emotional side of it...

We both packed about thirty ten minutes prior to our cab picking us up for the airport on Wednesday night - I literally was just throwing random things into my suitcase and hoping for the best.  Luckily I glanced at the weather and noticed lows there were in the 40's, and that we should probably pull out those things that we haven't had to use here in TLV yet... what are they called again?

Coats.

Sure enough, the weather was crap.  Crap is actually the word I would have used six months ago... but after 3+ straight months of only sun, and temps in the 70's and 80's, I actually really really loved the weather.


Fun fact that most of you probably know but some of you may not - I really adore winter.  Always have, always will.  The snow, the cold that comes with it, the ice.  The bulky clothes, the skiing/sledding/snowball fights, hot chocolate - I could continue this list for days.

So yeah, I'm missing my winter a little bit.  I keep hearing from locals/people who have lived here for awhile - just wait, winter will come and it's going to suck.

Well, it's about to be December 1st and I'm still waiting, because I'm pretty sure I took the dog for a run on the beach in shorts and t-shirt this morning.

So anyways - back to Madrid. I rocked my winter coat and boots most of the trip, and loved every second of it.  The light drizzle and slight chill seemed to add to the enchanted-ness of such a gorgeous city, and the occasional wet toes were easily fixed by a few glasses of sangria.


Never in my life (outside of skiing in Michigan at age 5) have I gone on a vacation intentionally to somewhere colder; it's always been off to the beaches. But I loved every second of cold, dreary Spain, and it made me excited to plan our next cold weather trip, whenever that may be.

OK you probably have better things to do than read about how I tie my emotions to weather. I probably do too.  Have a great hump day!

Cheers - 
Kait

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Things (part II)

I know I've already brought up a few things I miss from the U.S., as well things I love about Tel Aviv, but I've got a new list that I've slowly been compiling so bear with me.

Like any country, there are different trends and routines that Israel has seem to embraced and adopted, etc.  The fixed-price coffee cafes are awesome and super reasonable, and I'm going to be honest and admit I'm a little obsessed with all the girls wearing boy jeans trend right now, simply because they look really comfy....

But today I want to talk about things that Americans are used to that aren't really 'a thing' here in Tel Aviv...

- Exhibit A: (and what inspired the brainstorming of this list) - Brunch

Now, you can find some brunch options at a few restaurants around the city, and a lot of places do all-day breakfast.  Yet it's crazy to me that the concept of bottomless brunch hasn't really been embraced here.

You can find a few all-you-can-drink bars at a flat rate - any time of the day, which we have yet to try. But man I'll admit that I miss the occasional solid brunch option - which is why it was pretty amazing when one of our friends hosted one of her own this past weekend.



- Exhibit B: The casual wearing of workout clothes while running errands.

I realize I probably definitely tend to prefer wearing workout clothes more than your average girl to begin with... but on my Target runs back in the day I saw PLENTY of other humans rocking their gym gear and/or sweats while out running their errands.

Not a thing here.  Not even a little bit.  It makes me stick out like a sore thumb and furthermore look like a hobo compared to the trendy outfits the girls here seem to be wearing 24/7.

Of course, that doesn't detour me from doing it.  It just helps to scream 'I'm an American' as I walk down the street in search of chicken broth (which is also oddly hard to find).

- Exhibit C:  Uber.

There are actually a FEW when you open the app, but rarely used and I've heard it's unreliable here.  The ease of Uber back in the States has us all super spoiled.  There's another app called Gett Taxi which is almost as easy but for some reason I don't like it as much... I think because it's actual taxis?

I guess I've just learned to enjoy hanging out in random stranger's personal cars.  Especially when they offer you free candy and chargers, which 100% contradicts how we raise our children.

- Exhibit D:  Pre-packaged margarita mix. 

Not a thing.  I've now searched several stores and they just don't sell it - probably because cocktails really aren't as big of a thing either. Liquor is substantially more expensive, but you can usually order a marg at most establishments; and we've found a few solid ones at Mexican restaurants.

We even found one Mexican Restaurant that said they would be willing to sell their margarita mix to us... but the confusion they expressed when we inquired about buying it made me realize we sounded desperate and weird and therefore I've resorted to simply making my own healthier version with sparkling water and lime juice.



NO I DON'T DRINK MARGARITAS REGULARLY, it's just my favorite cocktail OK. Jeez. Judge harder.

- And lastly, Exhibit E: The word sorry.

I've heard a few people mention (maybe a joke maybe not) that there's not actually a word in Hebrew for 'sorry.'  Which makes me question how Justin Bieber's song Sorry would then be translated.


But seriously - I typed it into my Hebrew App and there doesn't seem to be a singular word for sorry, but instead just the phrase 'I'm sorry.'  I belong to a few Tel Aviv Facebook groups so that I can stay hip and in the know with what's going on, and I actually once saw a thread about how Israeli's hate how many people they now hear saying 'sorry' out on the streets.

I will agree that the word sorry is definitely overused in the U.S.; almost as an awkward filler word.  


I almost just reached for the same jar of salsa as you at the grocery store OH GOSH I'M SO SORRY. 

But in my American opinion, it's perhaps a bit underused in Israel.  But who am I to make that call - you live and you adjust.  You start hosting your own bottomless brunches, and the next time your dog lunges at a stranger's shopping bag on the street because she thinks it's actually a toy of her own, you don't apologize you just keep walking.

Just kidding I would never do that I promise.

Anyways, there are my recent realizations of things in America that aren't things in Israel.

Cheers- 
Kait

Friday, November 18, 2016

Kilometers

Oh hey.  Happy Friday!

Let's talk running, shall we? It's been years since I've written a race recap but this one will be different than any I've ever written, so stay with me.

This past Wednesday was two firsts for me: my first race outside of the U.S., and first night race.  The Tel Aviv 10k.  They say over 25,000 runner showed up, and man what an experience it was on many levels.

The race experience itself = awesome.  Very well set up - tons of festivities at the finish, the course lit up with lights and DJ's, typical finishers medal, all that jazz.

It was also pretty cool because we (Andrew and I)  ran the race with two of our friends from our crossfit gym - both who had never ran in a race before.  So in my opinion, they picked a pretty fun race to make their first (and they both did fantastic).  Plus it was through the enchanting city of Tel Aviv, which is more alive during night hours than any other time.

But let's talk specifics here, because this is where things get interesting.  For example, we actually had no idea how to get to the start of our correct heat... as everything was in Hebrew.  Thank goodness for bilingual friends.

So we manage to get to the start, the gun goes off and like most races the starting area itself is very congested and slow moving.  However the congestion didn't clear for quite awhile.... and by that I mean, I felt I was weaving and trying to find space through almost the entire course.  Which for the first few kilometers is fun right? I had the race adrenaline going, was dodging and cutting people off and plowing over little kids and simply put, racing bliss had me running too fast.


So first rookie mistake if I was a rookie but I'm really not anymore, so to be blunt, first stupid mistake was starting way to fast and scurrying around like a caged hamster just set free.

However.  adrenaline slowed and hills starting creeping up and I became more aware that I didn't feel fantastic anymore... and we were about halfway through a 6.1 mile race.

Realizing that I was slowing down, that my legs hurt, and that I was getting passed, I came to three conclusions in my head as to why this race was different than any other I had recently run.

1.  Heats were in no way followed, people started whenever the heck they wanted to (including myself) and therefore runners weren't as spread out throughout the course as I was used to.
2.  I am not as fast as I was a year ago.  This is true - miles simply have not been put in, and the phrase 'we hardly trained for this' was thrown around a few times leading up to the race.
3. Israel's population is overall faster relative to the U.S.

^^ Now that may be a bold statement, and I don't have hard facts to back it up outside of what I've observed these past three months. Israel is the fittest country I've witnessed to date - extremely low obesity rates - and therefore, I would honestly bet that race paces in this 25,000 person 10k race compared to a similar-sized race in the U.S. are overall faster.  Just a hypothesis.

Anyways - the combination of the three above observations made this race one that will sting for awhile - in a good way.  Then add in the fact that all course signs were in Hebrew - and I blew by the first water station being on the complete opposite side of the road and not paying an ounce of attention - and that was just the icing on the cake.

Finishing time is up for grabs - my watch malfunctioned at the start and started too early, and times haven't been posted online yet, but I'm thinking I sat between 47 and 48 minutes, which put my pace in the high 7's.  But that might be generous to be honest.




I took a minute afterwards to vent to Andrew about how crappy the last few kilometers felt, I didn't have my racing legs, blah blah blah cry some more Kait.  There aren't excuses, just facts, I'm not the runner I was a year ago.

But the beautiful part that I love about running? The more you work on it, the more progress you're bound to see.  And it just so happens that half marathon we signed up for is 98 days away, as of today.  So let's see what I can pull together in three months, eh?

cheers to the freakin' weekend - 
Kait


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Eats


Coming up on three months of living in Israel, I can now confidently answer some of the questions like, "What has been the hardest parts of the transition?"

One of the harder parts that is a shorter, more light-hearted answer to give you is, food.

Let me caveat with - Tel Aviv has some amazing restaurants and food - which is part of the problem. The first month and half we were eating out a TON due to:

1. excitement and wanting to try new things 
2. lack of knowing where to buy certain foods
3. not having most of our kitchen stuff yet i.e. blender crock-pot etc.

Some prices were a bit shocking at first - some because of cheapness (produce) and more because of costliness.  Packaged foods are definitely on the higher side; which is why we now order most non-perishable items from Walmart or Amazon.

We live close to Carmel Market, which as I mentioned above has a fantastic array of all kinds of produce.  The exchange of cash initially intimidated me, but I've grown use to the mild pushing  and yelling and force myself to at least buy the majority of our produce there on a weekly basis (they also have great wine deals there on Fridays so that's a plus).

Carmel Market (on a very empty day) - Source

That being said, the emotional experience of grocery shopping also was a shock at first.  

Kait WTF do you mean grocery shopping is not an emotional experience.

For me it is was; I've always LOVED grocery shopping, nothing like finding a quiet evening at Trader Joes or Whole Foods with no lines and tons of samples, know what I mean?

Probably not but that's ok, just don't judge.

So yeah, grocery shopping for awhile (until maybe like.. last week) actually gave me a good amount of stress.  95% of labels are in Hebrew, and while sure I can stand there taking pictures of the labels with my phone and using Google Translate, the self-conscious part of myself simply wouldn't allow it.  And consequently, I brought home some kind of weird tomato salad instead of salsa, butter instead of cheese... the list goes on but we will stop there.

It's just more of a... get in and get out here are your groceries now go type of experience.  There is no 'thank you' from the cashier once you pay, they hand you the receipt and you leave. Which for awhile was hard for me to not take personally, and I always felt like I was leaving the store with my tail between my legs.

However a good indicator that I'm slowly becoming used to the sometimes abrasiveness/bluntness that is part of this culture:

Riding my bike down the sidewalk just yesterday - Israeli man clearly screams at me in Hebrew for riding on sidewalk - I smile and keep riding.

Two months ago that interaction would have sent me close to tears.
But now... sorry bro I'm not looking to ride down a major city street and get sideswiped.

Anyways, back to the food thing.  I think Andrew would agree, as of the past few weeks, we've finally found more of a happy medium with cooking healthy meals, having morning smoothies, etc.  Meals definitely look different than what my go-tos were back in the States, but it was a good change that has forced me to explore the boundaries of healthy eating options.



Having our crock-pot arrive a few weeks ago has been a huge help, sweet potato chili fulfilled my fall craving, and this week I concocted a balsamic veggie chicken stew thing that got the thumbs up from Andrew (and Kai who I found trying to lick some off the counter).

Anyways, there are some rambles on food - here is the link to the sweet potato chili if you're interested - I highly recommend it (it calls for beer but I omitted that).

Cheers - 
Kait


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Paws/Pause

I realize there's a lot going on in the world right now so I decided I needed a time out from the madness, and pause to write about why today is important to our little Eggers clan -

Kai turned 1 today!
you better believe I baked her some pup-cakes

As I write this, she's aggressively digging in the couch trying to hide her newest toy (a stuffed squirrel) that she picked out at the pet store as her birthday gift.  She still has 100% puppy in her and more energy than Andrew and I put together, making it pretty hard to believe that she's already a year old.

To prevent this from turning into a weird obsessive ode to my 1 one year old dog, I'll keep it short and sweet.

First and foremost, this girl has been an absolute blessing hands down.  It was a semi-rash, sudden decision that we made back in March to get a dog, yet we have never once questioned the decision; we actually stand by the idea that it's one of the best we've made so far.   She's forced us to be more responsible than we probably have wanted to be at times, but she's taught us so, so much.

how Kai & Dad dance :)

She's ripped up our couch multiple times, eaten some of my favorite skirts, and thrown up more socks than I can count... and we love the crap out of her.

Day 1 - March 19
On top of all that, I seriously can't imagine making the move here without her.  I have probably said that to Andrew about once a week since August 18th when we officially moved here.  The adjustment has been crazy and certain days have been long and lonely - but never *that* lonely, because I always have a paw to hold or fur to shove my face into. We've learned a lot together - where the stray cats hide, where the best coffee stands are, which convenience stores welcome dogs, etc.

Not to mention she's been quite the conversation starter with random strangers on the street/at the dog park, etc. Husky = Husky in Hebrew, so that helps.

Anyways, Happy Birthday Kai. We love your crazy self, and love bringing you along on all of our life adventures :)  

Cheers - 
Kait 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Sports

Well I was planning on writing about food or something along those lines today, but then the Cubs won the freaking World Series and seeing that half of my readers are from Chicago, I figured I might as well write about something a little more relevant than a chili recipe and boost my page views.

Cubs. Wow.  Love it.



It's such an odd experience watching sports live out here in good ole' TLV.  We went to bed shortly after 11 pm last night, knowing that if we wanted to see the end of the final World Series game live, we would be setting the alarm for 5 am.  Luckily we have a husky who hasn't adjusted to the time change (our clocks fell back an hour last week) so she started stomping around on our bed hungry for breakfast around.... 4:45 AM.

Well we might as well get up and watch history in the making - right??

So instead of watching games with beers in hand, we watch games with bedhead and strong black coffee. Let's just hope our elderly neighbor next door didn't wake up to our screams of despair around 5:30 AM when that two-run homer was hit to tie up the game.



Shortly after the win was secured, we cheers'ed (is that a word?) our coffee mugs and Andrew headed off to work.  On the plus side, I got to watch some of the post-game interviews without the nagging thought of "I should probably go to bed now or I'm going to be a zombie tomorrow."

Instead it's more like, "I should probably start my day now, get out of my PJ's and be a productive member of society."

The second oddity is, baseball isn't a thing here.  Something I'm slowly realizing (approaching our three month mark) is that one of the things I really love about our good ole' US of A is that overall, we LOVE our sports probably harder than any country (outside of a few soccer-specific mad houses). The overzealous enthusiasm for the game of  baseball/football/hockey/soccer/insert favorite sport here is something that's impossible to recreate here - and probably in most countries.

First instinct upon winning was to throw on some red and blue and high five our door man on the way out of the building.  But the World Series probably doesn't even translate to anything in Hebrew if I had to guess.


So yeah, it's a little weird.  
Not bad, just different, and makes me appreciate our culture in that regard.
And appreciate the fact that we even have the ability to watch the games over here.

Wrapping up - congrats my Cubs fans.  You've been waiting 108 years and unless you're a Cleveland fan, there's no way you could watch that game and not smile out of the sheer joy that win just brought that team, the fans, and that my city.

Source: @ABCnews

And if you're a White Sox fan (like me) I hope you can suppress any negative emotions you may have, if you have any, and just be happy.  And if you're a Cleveland fan, I'm sorry.  And if you don't even care about baseball and are wondering why you just wasted five minutes reading this - I'll write about food or weather or something next week.

Cheers amigos -