Friday, December 31, 2010

More Israel Travel Tips

1) Israeli cellular phone companies do not want to do business with you. Their stores are like nice versions of the DMV: you take a number, sit and wait, and eventually someone will deal with what you need, like adding NIS 100 to your prepaid phone, but not with any alacrity. It was like they'd never done the transaction before, writing crap down on post-its and running back and forth from the mysterious back room and random computer terminals.

2) The shouks have the cheapest veggies. A "shouk," for those who don't know the term, is the descendant of that Arabian market that was caricatured in the Disney movie Aladdin as full of intolerant and pushy shopkeeps, vicious scimitar-wielding law enforcement officials, and a fez-wearing monkey.

In fact, they look like any nation's street market, but here, the shouks in Jerusalem, Acco, and Ramla all have great vegetable assortments, as well as fresh fish and baked goods, for a price far below what you'd find in the local supermarkets.

In Jerusalem, there's also a dumpling-in-soup place I hear is delicious, as well as a place that sells Judaic-themed health beverages. It would set off Penn & Teller's alarms pretty quickly, although the Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon-themed almond beverage and the angelically-themed chocolate drink looked tasty.

3) Elias's Butcher Shop in Ramla is a great place for raw meat. Elias himself will cut you pretty much anything you want of whatever meat he's got, and he stocks enough for an entire barbecue in his shop, from firestarter to bamboo skewers to frozen french fries. I'm a sucker for any butcher that has a side of meat just hanging around, and can yank a leg of lamb out from under a table.

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