25 Years, 25 Things

As my 25th birthday approaches, I’ve decided to compile a list of 25 things to acknowledge to avoid having a quarter life crisis.

    1. Do you. Nobody else has the chance to, so own it
    2. Travel. Any.Chance.You.Get. I will never regret spending every last disposable penny I have on adventures around the world.
    3. Love your friends. I have some of the best ones.
    4. Mischief. As long as it’s not [super] illegal, break the rules sometimes. It makes for good stories.
    5. Life is a beautiful struggle. Struggle is everywhere, but those struggles build you and define who you are. I choose to see it as a beautiful thing.
    6. Be nice. There is no excuse not to be, and the world is a small town.
    7. Create. Don’t care if you’re not creative, exercise that part of your brain in some way or another whatever chance you get.
    8. Change is constant. Plus ça change, plus ça reste la même. Whatever language you want to say it in, you better be able to adapt.
    9. Don’t judge people. Everyone is fighting a battle, yada yada yada, but seriously just because it doesn’t work for you or look appealing to you doesn’t mean it’s not working perfectly perfect for them.
    10. Volunteer. Find something you’re passionate about and give back. Not everyone has had the same resources given to them as you, so share what you can
    11. Love. Your family, your friends, your person, your life. Feel love.
    12. Perfectly imperfect moments. Learn to love the imperfections.
    13. Get your grammar on. You can be the smartest person in the room, but you start mixing up they’re there their and you look like a dumbass
    14. Be Classy. Or at least be conscious of trying to be classy.
    15. Work Hard. Duh. It will get you places.
    16. Get Lucky. However you want to interpret that, luck is necessary.
    17. Be Spontaneous. Some of the best nights and trips I’ve had involved me making a last minute decision. Don’t be afraid to say yes.
    18. Don’t be afraid of the rain. Literally and figuratively.
    19. Laugh. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh, and laugh at yourself too.
    20. Embarrassing Moments. Happen way too often to be embarrassing anymore. Just roll with it.
    21. Manage your finances. Laughing at how low your bank account is is only funny for so long.
    22. Appreciate. Everything.
    23. Don’t learn how to fold a fitted sheet. It’s just not worth it. And who cares
    24. Hide. Under your desk, at the grocery store, inside your house. Sometimes you just need to not see somebody/anybody.
    25. Be happy. It’s a choice.

And one more for good luck…

                26.  HAVE FUN. Having fun is fun. And no one looks stupid when they’re having fun.

Cheers to 25.

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Xo

Amanda

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Road Trip!

I recently moved from San Clemente, California [back] to Park City, Utah. It would have been easy to drive direct, I-15 the whole way, through Vegas (been there, done that,) but I don’t ever do things the easy way. That is boring. I convinced my friend Allison to fly to SoCal and make it the longest CA-UT drive ever. Here is the journey…

Goodbye San Clemente!

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We started with a pit stop in Santa Barbara to visit an old college friend, Carly (from University of Vermont, woo!) I knew I couldn’t leave California without stocking up at my absolute favorite vineyard, Saarloos and Sons in Los Olivos, so we headed to see Keith and get our wine vibes on!

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It’s also a great excuse to eat the best cupcakes ever from Enjoy.

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After that we moved onto Solvang, a beautiful little Dutch town 20 minutes from Los Olivos with tons of wind mills

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We had lunch at Succulent Cafe which was delish.

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We were racing daylight at this point, so we decided to camp at San Simeon Campground.

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Luckily the beach is right across the street so we got to witness a pretty amazing sunset.

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PEACE OUT CALIFORNIA!

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Fun story, we had just finished dinner when 2 bikers stopped by looking for directions to the hiker/biker sites. Turns out after biking 16 hours for the 3rd day in a row you don’t want to turn around and go back up the hill, so we offered to share our larger than necessary campground. I asked them if they were axe murderers (they said no, just to clarify) so I figured we covered our safety bases.  Turns out one of the guys and I have a mutual friend, small world. Also, racking up camp karma points.

The next morning our goal was to make it to Kirk Creek Campground, which we’ve been told fills up super early each day. If you know Allison or I, you know waking up early isn’t our strong point. Our camp karma came back to us though and we got the last available campsite for that night. Not a bad place to spend some time…

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We drove around Big Sur for the day exploring…

Wouldn’t be a Big Sur road trip without stopping to see the lazy seals.

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Thank you, State Parks!

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Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Lunch at Nepenthe. Not a bad view!

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Bixby Bridge

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We’re fairly dirty at this point and with no showers at the campsite, we decided to go swimming at Sand Dollar Beach. As soon as we got there, the heaviest fog rolled in and it got super cold. That didn’t stop us from taking a dip, twice, just to make sure we were clean. The European family walking by bundled in multiple layers thought we were absolutely insane. We probably are.

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Time to enjoy the Saarloos wine! Not above drinking it out of Solo Cups

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And now the most perfect of all things perfect….

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And our lovely camp host, Keith!

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Morning time brought us to Big Sur Bakery, a must stop on the way!

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Moving on we drove to Yosemite National Park. Such a beautiful place! No words can describe it, but Magnificent is my best try.

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There were absolutely zero campsites available in the park, so we got a canvas tent at Camp Curry. It’s not called camp for no reason, this is like summer camp for adults/families.

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We were working with SUPER limited time ( approximately 20 hours) to cover a National Park that you could spend a year in and never see it all. So, we decided to do the easiest most touristy things. We hiked up to see Vernal Falls, which were super dry and tiny but it was fun nonetheless.

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Showing my love for nature

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We drove up to Glacier Point Observation for sunset. The drive up was just as impressive as the view from the top.

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I was bored of taking your typical scenery + person photos, so convincing a little boy from India to take a jumping photo for us was interesting and so worth it. And It worked! Half Dome in the back

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“All that the sun shines on is beautiful, so long as it is wild.” – John Muir

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Made it to Utah!

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And now this is my home. From one beautiful place to the next!

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Israel, Part 7 – Tel Aviv

Ahh Tel Aviv. I had no idea before this trip how much of a metropolitan city this was. We were lucky to stay at the Golden Beach Hotel right on the Mediterranean Sea. We spent the afternoon swimming in the magical Mediterranean. The water was so warm, the sand was super hot, and there were lots of baby jelly fish all over!

Here is the view from our room at sunset!

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Our last night in Israel was spent partying in Tel Aviv. Dressed for the occasion!

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Our tour guide Yoav has his party wig on

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The next morning we got a tour of Independence Hall.

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The exact room the Declaration of Independence was signed.

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Yes, that is a duck sitting on the table. That is schmucky the ducky. She became our group mascot and the focus of many photos. She not only stands there and looks pretty, but has a switch that makes her dance a special interpretative style dance. There were a few dance breaks where we all followed along.

Chocolate milk in a bag. More for the experience than the taste..

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Exploring Jaffa, the oldest part of Tel Aviv

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Cacha and I in Jaffa with Tel Aviv in the distance

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Jules and I found this adorable cafe.

A glass of rose was quite appropriate!

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Jules strolling through the Jaffa market

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Exploring the streets of Jaffa

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Our last supper together

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New friends!

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Shalom Israel! Until next time…

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Israel, Part 6 – Gaza Border

First stop after leaving Jerusalem was Netiv HaAsara. This is a community right on the boarder of Gaza. This area is in constant danger of being hit by rockets coming from Gaza. There are multiple barricades, including 2 heavy duty cement walls. One to keep out artillery one to keep out sniper fire. Our host, Shmulik Rosenbaum, took us in FRONT OF the sniper wall to show us a taste of what life is like in their community.

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walking along the sniper wall

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pieces of the wall with an army guard station in the background

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members of the community have created a peace wall on a portion of the wall

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adding my own piece of peace!

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for lunch, we went to this amazing hummus place. Lots of different hummus options with different toppings: meat, mushrooms, pesto, egg, etc etc.

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Next we visited Sderot, which is less than 1 mile from the Gaza Strip. The Sderot Media Center hosted us and taught us about life in Sderot. Since October 2000 the city has had thousands of Qassam rockets fired at it.  Many of these rockets are homemade so they’re not perfect and therefore don’t always kill, but they have killed an estimated 11 residents. Thousands have been injured, millions of dollars of damage done, and about 75% of the residents suffer from PTSD.

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A small amount of missiles fired at Sderot, housed at the local Police Station.

They have an alarm system which once the “Red Color” alarm sounds, they have 7-15 seconds to get into a bomb shelter before the rocket touches down. Because of this constant danger, there is about 1 bomb shelter for every 2 residents. All bus stations double as bomb shelters. The structure of the parks the kids play in double as bomb shelters

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Israel, Part 5 – Jerusalem

We’ve been up since 3am and have done more activities than I do sometimes in a week. We’re on the bus and I’m completely passed out in a deep sleep. I get woken up by someone handing me a blindfold saying “put it on” and in my sleepy state I oblige (I trust these people.) We’re all walked out of the bus and line up at (I found out after the blindfold was off) Mount Scopus Observation Point.

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and when you take the blindfold off…..

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After taking in the view we got checked into our hotel, Jerusalem Gate. We watched some videos on Mt Herzl, Michael Levin, and heard the story of a Holocaust survivor. Prepping us for what was to be one of the hardest days of the trip going to Yad Vashem and Mt Herzl the next day.

First stop, Yad Vashem. Yad Vashem is Israel’s official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. To quote our tour guide before we went in “I hate this day, I hate this place, but it’s part of our history” The museum has done a beautiful job of telling the story and remembering those lost in such a tragic period of history. There is a separate building for the Children’s Memorial.  “This unique memorial, hollowed out from an underground cavern, is a tribute to the approximately 1.5 million Jewish children who were murdered during the Holocaust. Memorial candles, a customary Jewish tradition to remember the dead, are reflected infinitely in a dark and somber space, creating the impression of millions of stars shining in the firmament. The names of murdered children, their ages and countries of origin can be heard in the background.” (Taken form the Yad Vashem website)

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Walking through the Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations . Tree’s have been planted in honor of people who helped save countless lives during the Holocaust. The double tree in the background was planted for Mr. and Mrs. Schindler.

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The Pillar of Heroism

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Next up was a trip to Mt Herzl, Israel’s military cemetery.

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We heard stories of a few people buried there, but one story in particular stood out. Michael Levin was born and raised in the US and fought to be able to join the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) and was killed in battle during the Second Lebanon War

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People put rocks & objects on the tombs to show that they have visited.

Theodor Herzl is buried at the very top of Mt Herzl. Herzl is the founder of the State of Israel and this is where their Independence Day holiday kicks off.

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Part of our group consisted of Israelis. Basically all Israelis join the IDF right out of High School. It’s typical for both men AND women to spend at least 3 years serving in the IDF and then travel, all before going into College. It’s crazy to think how different an Israel adult is than an American adult putting each of our experiences into perspective.

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Shabbat started at sundown, so we had a group shabbat at our hotel which was super casual. Saturday we walked around Jerusalem which becomes eerily quiet with very few cars on the road and most businesses shut down. We walked by the Knesset which is Israel’s government building. Across from the building is this beautiful Menorah which has many different scenes carved into it.

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After another casual service for Havdalah, all 48 people of our group ventured to downtown Jerusalem for a night out on the town

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Downtown Jerusalem

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Next day we explored the Old City Jerusalem. This is a .35 sq mi walled area within the modern city of Jerusalem.

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City of David

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Casual. Bad ass IDF chicks hanging out

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This is the Cardo. Basically Main St Jerusalem circa 2nd-3rd centuries CE. So crazy how old this city is and how much history there is. Imagine all the people who have walked these exact streets…

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All around the old city you can walk from roof to roof

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And now… THE WESTERN WALL. Also known as The Wailing Wall or The Kotel. This is one of the most Holy sites. There are separate sections for males & females, you have to dress modestly/covered, and when you walk away you back up so you don’t turn your back to the wall.

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Common practice is to write a prayer or a wish on paper, put it into the wall, hold your hands to the wall, kiss it, whatever you feel is right.

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After the wall we ventured to Machane Yehuda Market. This is an open/closed air market or shuk.

Machane Yehuda Market

There are tons of stalls of different goods, a lot of chachki items and a lot of delish foods, spices, and candy.

Machane Yehuda Market

Machane Yehuda Market

The delicacy of the market is Rugelach. I’m not sure making them on your own could ever be as dreamy as the ones found in the market, but I found this recipe if you dare to try it. Maybe one day I’ll give it a shot.

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again, i was too busy enjoying to take a photo, so here is one from the recipe at http://crepesofwrath.net/

Group photo at The Western Wall

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Israel, Part 4 – Masada and The Dead Sea

Here comes what I was looking forward to most, Masada & The Dead Sea! This journey starts at the Bedouin Tents. From Tzfat we drove south and as soon as we got off the bus we had camels waiting for us.

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Natalie and I paired up for our romantic camel ride into the sunset

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Everyone mounting and getting settled on their camels

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When we got back from the short camel ride, we were welcomed by our Bedouin host for some tea and the coffee ceremony.  That tea was delish!

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We were fed this meal: rice, meatballs, chicken wings, Israel sides, and pita. yum! (PS, no utensils for this, all hands in!)

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Our sleeping accommodations were a massive tent with mats for all 40+ of us. Good thing we all liked each other and were only sleeping for a couple hours!

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Before going to bed, we walked out into the Judaean desert, layed down towels, and watched the stars. It was so magical laying in such peace. It was so clear that we could see the Milky Way. That’s not something you see everyday if you live anywhere close to a city! When we got back to our tent we had a campfire, and instead of our traditional marshmellow roasting, our new Israel friends were super excited to show us the POTATO roasting. They wrapped ’em in tin foil and threw them in the fire. We started a new game with the left over potatoes which turned into a lot of potato hucking across the table. When life gives you potatoes, have fun with them!

3:00am wake up for Masada! The goal is to get to the top before the sun comes up, so we had some coffee and cookies (and a cliff bar I packed which probably saved my life) and were on the bus by 3:30am. We climbed up the easier Roman ramp path which is a short, steep, winding path with stairs & loose gravel.  It took us about 15 minutes to get to the top. Even though it’s short, it still felt like an accomplishment getting to the top with the moon still in sight and the sun on it’s way up!

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Precious moments before the sun came up… our guide started playing Here Comes the Sun and the Lion King’s Circle of Life.

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AND THERE IT IS! The sun rising over the dead sea.

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And, as if that wasn’t magical enough, we started blowing bubbles!

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Group photo!

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Once the sun was out we started exploring all that Masada has to offer.

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We spent some time inside a large cistern which used to be used to hold rainwater

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walking down into the cistern

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We learned about the history through members of our group acting out the history. The general gist is Herod the Great built up Masada as his winter palace sometime in the BCE times. It was extremely lavish and was visited by people like Cleopatra. In the early CE years it was a fortress of Jewish zealots during the Jewish wars against the Romans. The Romans spent some time building a ramp to attack, and when they got to the top it is said that all 960 Jews had committed a mass suicide in lieu of being captured.

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Once we were done we walked down the other path, called the Snake Path. It was about 11am at this point so the sun was out in FULL FORCE. Whether you’re walking up or down in day time, BRING SO MUCH WATER. More than you think you need. It took about 40 minutes to walk down and by the end I was so swollen that rings that normally fit my middle finger had to be on my pinky. Definitely worth the experience though!

masada snake path

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After a quick stop for breakfast/lunch, we headed to Ein Gedi, an oasis with waterfalls. This was a welcome refreshing break after Masada!

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One last pit stop before reaching The Dead Sea. We stopped at the Ahava factory/store, a world renown maker of Dead Sea products. Also fun fact, Ahava means love in hebrew!

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Finally, THE DEAD SEA!

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Testing out the mud 🙂

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I know the stories of the dead sea and how buoyant it is and how you float and yada yada yada. BUT, actually getting in the water was the coolest thing ever. (Just make sure you don’t have any open wounds, that water is super intense)

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Israel, Part 3 – Tzfat

Have you heard of Tzfat/Safed? I hadn’t. It’s a very small town up in the mountains and is said to be the birthplace of Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism.  When we got off the bus the air just felt different, maybe more pure or clear, but it definitely had a mystical vibe to it. It’s an artistic town as well so everywhere had a unique beautiful look to it.

The steps to get up to the city

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We started at Avraham’s studio. This guy is totally aawwwwwwwweesomeeeeeeee.Screen-Shot-2013-09-05-at-9.19.13-PM

Wandering the streets of Tzfat

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Walking through the artists market

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Listening to the music of these talented gentlemen.

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Simtat HaMashiach – The Messiah’s Alley

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The narrowest of all Safed’s alleys. Grandma Yocheved believed that the Messiah would pass through Safed on his way to Jerusalem, and would surely enter the city via her alley. She used to sit at the entrance waiting for him.

Cheese and Bread. People have been eating them together forever! This though, was magical. A Yemen man named Ronan started this stall on the streets of Tzfat. It’s simple, a yemen “pancake” that is topped with herbs & spices, vegetables & authentic Tzfat cheeses. THE LACHUCH.  So, if you ever find yourself in Tzfat go there, and enjoy.

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Photo from Tasha’s Travel Blog

nom nom. more deliciousness… fresh squeezed juice!

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with the juice at the entrance to the art alley

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beautiful artistic city

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view from Livnot Ulehibanot

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