Green and Other Bikes

Tel-o-fun

Photo c/o Google images

After living in Los Angeles for many years, I love living in a city where I do not need a car! My main forms of transportation are by foot, communal city bikes and bus. The communal city bikes, Tel-O-Fun, are neon green bikes dotting corners throughout the city.  They’re clunky, squeaky and I love them because they are everywhere and I don’t have to worry about it getting stolen since they belong to…everyone! Though they aren’t as cool or as fast as the electric bikes that many more people ride (and are a threat to the green bike system!).

Regarding bikes: Initially, I didn’t understand at first why most bike lanes are ON the SIDEWALK! (mind you, this doesn’t include all of the scooters that are parked on the sidewalks and seem to also take liberty to drive on the sidewalks at times).

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Chanukah Easter Bunnies

IMG_3220Still trying to understand why chocolate “Easter bunnies” were for sale in the Chanukah section at my local supermarket. I assume they were at least kosher.

On the other hand, I’ve appreciated the lack of “holiday” celebrations–no shopping madness, pumpkin-eggnog-peppermint-flavored chai tea specials or holiday music blasting everywhere. Just Easter bunnies.

Dogs Everywhere

June at my local library

June at my local library

I’ve quickly learned a few things about having a dog here:
-they’re welcome virtually everywhere. June, my 60 pound lab mix, has already visited the local library, an art show, countless stores, restaurants, beaches, and the airport. I also learned that I can take her on a sherut (a small private bus) as long as she can sit on my lap.

June waiting to greet arrivals at Ben Gurion

June waiting to greet arrivals at Ben Gurion

-Dogs are generally welcome at “social events” which is why I’ve seen them at political rallies, outdoor Shabbat services and shuks (outdoor marketplaces)
-leash and poop “laws” seem to be mere suggestions
-some dogs take themselves out on walks as they please without an owner in sight
-nearly all dogs here are beautiful mutts

Special Baggage

Luggage and June's crate at JFK

Luggage and June’s crate at JFK

Bringing a dog to Israel is more difficult than a person. After countless forms, rabies tests, US government documents and vet certificates, we were ready to go.  I was traveling with my 60 pound Lab mix, June. I was anxious about traveling with her on such a long flight. We spent hours at JFK together. First waiting to check in at El Al (where people wanted to say hi to her). Then we had to wait until an hour before the flight for TSA to inspect her crate (which she didn’t enjoy) and then finally, she was wheeled away on a cart down a crowded hallway, barking at everyone as she anxiously left me.

Upon arrival at Ben Gurion, I was told that she would be in the special baggage area. After hours of paperwork, I finally arrived to the baggage claim area and quickly went to “special baggage.”

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Newman or Noiman?

FullSizeRender(236)Upon arriving at Ben Gurion Airport, I was greeted by a host with a large sign for olim (new immigrants), all of whom were younger than me. I expected hoorays but most people were just absorbed in their phones and pretty non-chalant about the whole situation. We were taken to an office where we started to fill out paperwork to get an Israeli ID card and a special ID for new immigrants. That’s when I had my first dilemma:

What’s your last name? Newman, I answered.
Ok, what is it? Noiman? No, Newman. How do you spell that?
Ummm, I don’t know.
(conversation between people). Ok, so it’s nun-yud-vav.
OK. And that is how you spell Newman in Hebrew?
Yes but you could (or should?) be Noiman which is Nun-vav-yud.
Yes, but I’m NEWman. OK, so you can spell it different ways-what do you prefer? Continue reading