My Bonus Week!

awesome host and yoga instructor Bat!
Mostly when I travel, I seem to always be moving around pretty quickly, trying to see as much as possible, so for this week, I decide to just hang out!  A close friend I made in Vienna has an Israeli boyfriend (whom I've never even met since he lives in New Zealand) who practices a lot of yoga.  He kindly put me in touch with a yoga instructor friend he has in Tel Aviv.  It turns out she is an instructor at the Bikram studio there! And she opened her home so willingly to me- a complete stranger.

Sigal and I

I went to yoga everyday, met up with some group members, got to know the streets, markets, and old town quarters of Tel Aviv, and met up with more friends-of-friends for some great local food.   I really got to know one Israeli group member named Sigal better, spending 3 of the days together with her since she lived just outside Tel Aviv.  This was a really special time for us since the group was 40 people so this felt much more personal.  We went to the beach and the markets and I also invited her with me when I went to visit my step-cousin Ari and his family.  This was a really special day for both Sigal and I.  For me, I was meeting a recent addition to my extended family for the first time and lucky me, he lives in Israel!... but both of us had a special experience bonding with Ari's three children and seeing the moshav (small town) where they live.  He is a winemaker there and it is such a charming place to raise a family.

My hostess is named Bat and we had a special time together also.  I couldn't believe how awesome she turned out to be.  Bat was a great model for healthy lifestyle and wisdom about life.  I just couldnt get enough of her and luckily she let me ask questions about everything.  She was busy studying Ashtanga yoga and preparing for a sweat lodge with her shamanic leader and group in the desert near Jerusalem but we did get to spend some time together on my last day, eating at an Indian restaurant where everyone sits on the floor and only locals seems to know about.

I really feel that everyone I met in Israel was special and I each relationship meaningful.  Most people will ask me if I felt safe there and the answer is yes.  The Taglit Birthright trip does not focus on politics or Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but rather the history of the land and the Jewish people.  This trip was a unique experience to me, definitely a highlight of my travels.

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