I’ve never been to Izrael before and would probably never go, if not my boyfriend’s cousin wedding – shining girl with a shining name Shani. The only thing I knew about the trip is that the wedding is hold for 600 people and that Tel Aviv has a beach.
Flight was nice, but long competing to maximum 2 hours flights to countries around centre of EU. Control at the border was soft and not disturbing. We got a little papers stating that we have right to be in Izrael and went outside the airport.
First of all I was surprised with the condition of the roads. Being born in Russia I know how bad highways look like (crushed asphalt, hols in every 5 seconds of driving). Living in Sweden I know good highways as well. Israel surprised me with absolutely perfect highway from the airport.
Other thing that surprised me were the flags. White and soft-blue coloured flags were everywhere. Colour combination of Israeli flag is nice and not disturbing. Comparing to red, black, dark blue colours in other countries’ flags, white and soft-blue are two colours that look good and soft together.
After a while I realised that even having nice colours, flags were disturbing. They were everywhere. Literally. Outside the cars, almost at every building. Shopping centres and administrative buildings used a chance to put up to 10 huge flags at the same time. We hoped there is a logical reason to that, otherwise this “flags obsession would have been madness”…
Place to stay
We got to apartment that we booked thru Airbnb. Note for future: if you ever want to rent an apartment in Tell Aviv don’t search for a place in the centre of the city. Main streets that are closed to the beach are extremely noisy. Cars, construction work, music from bars. Good luck with your holiday sleep…
I was not satisfied with our apartment from the first side. What it was? A flat on the ground floor which was reconstructed into 3 separate rooms and shared hall. So 3 guests could stay at the same time. Nothing like that was announced in the description. After a while in Tel Aviv I understood that this is rather common practise in Israel. To change a room took us whole day.
Night life Tel Aviv
For the first dinner we went to a popular restaurant/bar street … and were shocked with amount of people that were out. In Stockholm this celebration of life called “Friday/Saturday in Summer when no one yet went on holiday” read “6 days a year”. In Tel Aviv it’s an “Everyday evening after 8 pm no matter of the season or day of week”. Some clubs were still closed and stuff was preparing to open doors at 11 pm (on Sunday night..). We picked an asian food restaurant and grabbed our first Israeli cocktail. Don’t ever loose a chance get a cocktail in Izrael. The price for one varies from 8 to 15 euros and its totally worth it!
Ow yes, I forgot about our “marshrutka” shuttle bus experience. We got a tip from the locals not to take a public bus, but stop little shuttle bus. It’s faster and cheaper. And as locals say, you meet all the crazy people of Tel Aviv. How it works? You stand on the bus stop. The little bus comes and stops next to you. The driver moves a metal stick with his right hand and opens a door for you. Once you inside you pass the coins thru other people and scream out the stop that you need to take off. Loved it!
As I said we came for the wedding. A jewish wedding. That means not just one night of a party. Its a certain rituals that needs to be made before. One of them is “Mitzvah”. It’s a ritual hold exclusively for the bride and her closest female friends and relatives. I was welcomed as well, although it was my very first time to actually meat the bride.
We arrived to a suburb of Tel Aviv to a small building, which I would never guess is a place for religious rituals. I would say it looked more like a beauty salon. Once you get in you meet a smiley elderly lady with a scarf covering her hairs (probably just for comfort, rather for religious reasons). The hall has a sofa and a coffee table with plenty of candies in the glass ball. Shani (the bride) was given a towel and went to change for the ritual. After a while we all got into the room with a small swimming pool in it. Shani was standing in a towel over her body and smiled. Old woman said something fast in Hebrew and everyone made a circle holding each other hands. A woman next to me translated from Hebrew to Russian (she was born in Ukraine): “The lady said that we need to hold each others hands and send energy to Shani. And then one-by-one we will give her our blessings”. All blessings were in Hebrew, but looking at woman’s eyes I didn’t need any explanation. First words were given to mother of the bride and mother of the groom. Shani slowly started to get tears in her eyes. The moment was beautiful and full of love. We hugged Shani and left her with an old lady for the ritual.
I got further explanation outside. Groom’s mother from Ukraine gave me bunch of candies and said that I need to throw them on Shani after the ritual. What is the ritual? The bride needs to get naked and get into the swimming pool. She has to go completely under the water three times. And every time she has to have all her body and every single hair under the water. In that way she becomes clean for her future husband. Some religious jewish woman do this ritual every month after 10 days of avoiding sexual contact with their husbands.
I was holding the candies in my hand ready to throw them on a bride when she comes out. The candies mean a sweet life which we wish to a bride. Hope, it will be sweet not because of the candies 🙂