The view into Eilat from Mount Shlomo
The past month has been full of dozens of blog-posts-worthy of stories, and yet here I am, my first night living in Jerusalem, just beginning to scratch the surface. What happened? Well, I was busy, to put it bluntly. For better or worse, just too busy to have time to sit down and write anything worthwhile. But I haven’t given up — in my mind, I’ve got a running list of stories and adventures that, at some point, I’ll commit to writing down. To name a few: My first Thanksgiving in Israel; an all-night desert rave; a week hiking Makhtesh Ramon; bringing a 3-week-old puppy on a bus across Israel.
But I think The Time I Watched Egyptian Soldiers Illegally Cross Israel’s Border qualifies as the most crucial story to write right now, even though it was the most recent, so here goes.
I recently spent two non-consecutive weeks hiking through some of southern Israel’s most beautiful trails with a crew of 12 students on my trip. The hikes were planned as the conclusion of the semester for my students living on kibbutz; for three weeks, they would hike different sections of Shivil Yisrael (the Israel Trail), which includes over 900 kilometers of interconnected trails spanning from the northern tip of Israel down to Eilat in the south. The first week found the group trekking from the picturesque, tiny town of Mitzpe Ramon through the gaping, 40 km Mahktesh (crator) Ramon and finishing up near the border of Jordan. My second week hiking (the group’s third and final week), we began at Timne Park and shot south for 5 days, ending up in Eilat. But not before we were nearly caught in a military conflict between Israel and Egypt. All in a day’s work.
Peter Dunn was in sixth grade when he bought his first share of stock in Philip Morris. By the time he graduated from Pike High School in 1996, his share had tripled in value. Pete the Planner had found his calling.
Today, at 33, he handles a lot more than $37. By trade, Dunn works out of Carmel, with clients ranging from full businesses to young couples, teaching them how best to manage their money.
Off the books, he’s Pete the Planner — author of two finance education books; blogger, tweeter, Skyper, emailer and Facebooker about all things personal finance; TV personality appearing on WISH-TV, CNN and Fox News; radio show host on WIBC-FM (93.1); part owner of Roboto Wear, a clothing company; in-demand professional speaker; and about as close as financial planners get to being a real life celebrity.
And somehow, he always has time for breakfast. On Mondays, it’s yogurt, granola and a cup of coffee at Cafe Patachou in Carmel. That’s before a day, like every day, that is “always different, and always a whirlwind,” said Dunn. Continue reading
I not-so-recently found the greatest falafel stand in all of the world, and I regret that I’ve only had time to write about it now. But yes, no hyperbole, the best in the entire wide world of falafel stands is in the shuk in Beersheba, and if you eat one you will never, ever be the same again.
But first, a primer: The standby rules to keep in mind when ordering falafel.
The first: Do not buy it in a bus station. Bus station falafel is almost universally bad. Yes, I know, it’s really cheap and convenient when you are running from one bus to the other. And if you want sub-par falafel, then way to go, champ. But nothing will change the fact that what you’ve just bought is nothing more than bus station falafel. The same rule applies to overly touristy areas, because Israelis know that Americans don’t know good falafel.
The second: If there’s a line, you’ve found a good spot. Falafel in a pita literally takes under 30 seconds to prepare and pay for, meaning lots of people can get in and out in a miniscule amount of time. So if you’ve found a spot so packed with people that a line has formed, you know it’ll be good.
The third: Never choose soggy chips. All falafel stands offer chips (French fries in Israel) to top off the sandwich. If those chips are cold, not crispy and sad-looking, your falafel is going to suck.
The fourth: Always judge a falafel stand by its pita. Warm, fresh pita usually equals hot, crispy falafel. If they can tell you the bakery where they buy their pita, even better.
Alright. So that said, back to the point at hand: the greatest falafel stand in the world. Continue reading