Saturday, 30 July 2011

Jean Shorts

I have come to find that they're still cool in Israel. Sadly I left my pair back home. Tough break, I tell ya

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Israeli motorcyclists

Craziest people on Earth . These guys ride around on their scooter/moped/vespa type things (some people have real motorcycles but majority not) like there's no tomorrow and they have to make every second count. They literally ONLY weave in and out of traffic, never stay in a lane... unless that 'lane' is the shoulder of a highway in which case they will gun it up the shoulder to pass by any amount of car/truck traffic that builds up. Also all the pizza delivery guys have vespa's with pizza boxed-sized containers on the back. What's more, the vast majority of them ride around in normal clothes, i.e. t-shirt, shorts/jeans, flip flops, whatever... so when they crash, which they eventually will because they're psychos, it's not going to be a good look. My boy on the team was just telling me he hit a guy a couple weeks ago... was changing lanes and the guy came out of nowhere and knocked him down. Thankfully the dude was ok but scary stuff. In conclusion, never ride a motorcycle in Israel.

Stray Cats

There's a million


Today (Tues) we had practice in Holon in a sweatshop of a gym.... I needed a shower after tying my shoes. FYI

(Gameday (The 25th

Monday night we had a scrimmage against a random group of guys... most of them from the 1st division I think. Four quarters of ten minutes with real refs and everything. First half I played an ok amount, then I think I played the entire second half. I’m sure the coach wanted to see me play some in person, and also give me a chance to get the feel for how they play and all the guys on the team. Was pretty tired by the end... haven’t played in a real competitive game since the college season ended. I did pretty well though. The team plays a crazy uptempo style... 2-2-1 press the whole game, lots of steals, quick shots, and fast breaking. It’s pretty fun but tiring. Anyways we ended up winning something like 85-64.

Got home and showered quick before heading out to meet up with Kyle. It was another one of our high school friends’ birthday, Josh Gross, so we took a cab out to the Herzliya marina/beach for a barbeque/drinking/hangout session. Was pretty cool and met a couple people including Kyle’s girlfriend (for the boys back home I know you’ll find that hilarious)..


Got my internet hooked up this morning finally. Awweeesooomeee. so here's a couple things I wrote down since last weekend.

Tel-Aviv/Weekend  in Jerusalem

Thursday night we had practice as usual, but being that it’s Israel we, and everyone in general, get Friday and Saturday off instead of Saturday and Sunday. So Thursday night everyone got cleaned up and met back up at this restaurant in Ramat Sharon which is an area right next to Herzliya. We get 50% off at the restaurant and the owner loves basketball players so she hooks it up... she’s also a craaazy cougar. Pretty sick deal tho either way, as a table like 3 people ate dinner, couple sprites, then we must have had 25-30 shots/mixed drinks and it came out to like 270 shekels so liiiike $75 or $80 maybe? Really legit. Anyways we ate/drank for a while there then headed to Tel Aviv. Two guys drove so we got there fast. Went to two clubs in the city, both were bumpin and basically exactly what any club looks like back home. You wouldn’t know you were in Israel if you couldn’t hear the Hebrew being spoken everywhere and the weird money being used to settle bar tabs. Apparently bars/clubs can serve alcohol until all hours... so the nights get pretty late. We got our late night eats at like 3:30 maybe and got home at something like 4:30. Little did I know my landlord would be waking me up 4.5 hours later to ‘talk about stuff’... Thanks guy (he’s nice tho).

For my first weekend in the country I went to Jerusalem to hang out with my family. Have an aunt, uncle, and their two kids there.  Because my landlord woke me up I figured I might as well get going. Usually I would have to take the train from Herzliya to Tel-Aviv to start the trip, but instead I got lucky and hitched a ride with my landlord’s wife/girlfriend/lover who was heading into the city. She dropped me off at one of the main bus stations in town (called Arlozorov, the other one is a station at the University of Tel-Aviv). From there it’s just one bus to Jerusalem. So I bought two trips on a ticket (costs 34 shekels which is like 10 bucks, so good deal) and headed out. The bus takes like an hour and shortly after we got to Jerusalem’s main terminal my aunt and cousin rolled through and picked me up. They actually live in a suburb of Jerusalem called Pizgat Ze’ev, so we drove a couple minutes out there. Spent the weekend hanging out with the fams, and eating (too much) really good real food (as opposed to just falafel and shwarma which, while awesome, are more the stereotypical dishes). On Saturday aka the Sabbath, aka Shabbat, aka the shazbath, my aunt and one cousin drove into Jerusalem to walk around a bit and just hang out. We didn’t go to any touristy places... just a random neighbourhood and an Aroma coffee shop. Jerusalem is pretty eerie on Shabbat because it basically shuts down. Obviously you can still see people walking around and doing normal activities, but it’s reeeeally quiet around. I guess at sundown everything opens back up. Anyways it was nice. I forgot how striking a place Jerusalem is...  I was pretty mesmerized by the drive in. It’s very hilly and new buildings and neighbourhoods are constantly popping up as you round yet another corner on the winding road.

On Sunday my uncle drove me into town and dropped me off at the station. Caught the bust back to Tel-Aviv and then walked the couple hundred feet to the train station.  Bought a ticket to Herzliya and caught the train a couple minutes later. It’s only two stops away so it took like five minutes, really convenient. I was going to go to the mall, which is nearby, to buy some stuff I needed, but it was so effin hot I just felt like going home, so I caught a cab back. Anyways it was a fun weekend and got to adventure a little bit figuring out the bus/train stuff. Also got to Hebrew it up with people on my journey into and out of Jerusalem... plus my uncle refuses to speak English to me haha, so was getting my Hebrew on with the fams too. Next weekend I think they might come out to Herzliya to come see my place and have dinner.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Food. Sweet delicious food

I am in love with the food here.  First day went to a tiny little hole in the wall falafel shopand got my first falafel in the motherland. Probably not even a great place in the grand scheme of things. Maybe it was because it was my first real falafel in like 7 years, or maybe I was just really hungry... but that thing was awesome.  Next day I went  to a take-out /sit down restaurant a little bit past the falafel spot and got lamb shiskabob in a laffa bread. Laffa is like a flatbread that gets rolled up , fyi.  

Wednesday night another  guy on the national team, Dori, was helping me out with driving me around.   After practice we had to race around finding a place to get me some more passport pictures for the university games forms... But after that he took me to the 'best shwarma place in herzliya' called Jameel. I don't know why I put that in quotations because if there's a better place than that I'd be shocked. Ridiculously good. Could eat it every day and twice on sundays. I'm at my aunt's (big Irv's sister) house in Jerusalem with her family for shabbat dinner and the rest of the weekend, and I'm sure dinner is going to be awesome. .. Lovin the eats right now.

Food related note... The man, the myth, the legend, just killin the cereal game.

Day 2/ The apartment

This morning I got picked up by another manager type of guy from the team, Gidon, and he took me to my apartment.  Pretty hilarious cuz his English is awful and I’m still playing kind of dumb with my Hebrew skillzz. Pretty sick place though, here’s the digital tour.

Got this crazy security gate thing that comes with a garage door type-opener, so I have to raise the metal up and then unlock the door. Also have an alarm system inside...  This is a nice area so I guess people are worried they might get robbed.  I think i forgot to take a picture of it but you can kind of see it from the first pic here  at the top right

When you come in there’s a living room/kitchen. They brought in the couch, chairs, tv/cable/dvd player.
Cable got fixed on thursday so I'm in business. Pretty legit actually, have a bunch of english channels... Even have espn. Hilarious I have espn in Israel and not at home. Effin Canada. This pic is from the couch

‘Kitchen’ is small... sink, little fridge, and a microwave and toaster oven they brought in for me. Don’t have any cutlery or plates/bowls and the like yet but my landlord said he's going to bring me some.

Really cool thing the place has is this rooftop ‘balcony’. It’s in between the main room and my bedroom, halfway up the stairs. Not a great view but cool anyways. Thinking about getting a grill and putting it out there for most of my cooking this pic is the view from the 'roof'. Not a great view but it's cool to be out there

Bedroom is straight. They brought in a big bed (queen i think?) and just laid it over the bed that was originally here haha, very bootleg Israel styles. Got a bunch of cupboards and whatever, even have some hangers.

And finally got a little bathroom. Shower, toilet, sink, usual.

Neighbourhood is really nice, reaaally quiet. Got a park next door from my place, a supermarket around the corner. I walked around a bit yesterday. Had my first falafel from a hole in the wall place around the corner from the supermarket... fairly delicious. Here's the park... or some of it, it's pretty big and continues in the other direction across the street

Unrelated to anything, apparently Israel has these hilarious outdoor workout areas for public use. .. They are ridiculously funny.  

Got picked up in the evening for practice again. Getting to know the guys a little better, played better  today too. After practice my guy Ben had to go home so I called Kyle (Giddens) to see what was goin on. He was randomly meeting up with another friend of ours, Adam Davis, whose been here for a couple weeks after birthright. So I got dropped off, we bought some beers and headed back to Kyles place. Had a barbeque care of Jason Wiseman who lives with Kyle. Some solid chicken. Davis ate approximately 4,670 sunflower seeds. Solid night tho, got to just relax and catch up on stuff. Stayed there until like 2am then walked home with Kyle and Davis.  Like 20 min walk away and not too confusing to get there, so that’s good. Fun times.

The Flight/Day 1

So I got here in one piece. The flight actually wasn’t that bad. I sat in the first row of regular seating so had
some solid leg room... but they did make me pay for it, fuckers. The seats next to me were empty too so I was pretty comfortable. They showed a bunch of movies  

                                                                             that wrestling movie called ‘win/win’: watched it, pretty go 
Rango: already seen it, didn’t watch
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 1: seen it, watched some of it tho
Narnia #17: dunno what Narnia it was but wasn’t interested.
And I think that’s it.

Funny bit from the plane... hilarious to watch the Israeli flight attendants decide who they can speak Hebrew to and who they have to speak English to. In their defense, they are surprisingly good at it.
Another side note, first class looks like the best thing ever... the seats recline so far back its stupid. They’re almost like actual beds. Lotta jealousy over here. Probably slept for a combined 4 hours on the plane in relative comfort, so that was legit.

When we landed and de-boarded there was a guy waiting for me (and one other girl who was making aliyah) who took us to the immigration absorption centre to do the paperwork. Got a bunch of papers about health insurance, bank accounts, my Israeli i.d., etc. When it was all done with we headed out to the concourse where I was met by the national team coach and the team manager of bnei hasharon.  Seem like good guys. I got all my bags and went with the guy from bnei hasharon (his name is Ze’ev). We drove away from the airport, through Tel-Aviv, and into Herzliya. He was on the phone the whole time and I was semi eavesdropping because he, nor anyone, knows that I know Hebrew... ok I was fully eavesdropping.  The other manager of Bnei called a bit after saying he found an apartment for me to live in for the year, so we drove out there. I’ll get some pics up but it seems like a nice place, nice landlord who lives next door, etc. Then me and Ze’ev went out to eat and he dropped me off at the hotel I’m staying at for a day or two before my real apartment is ready. It’s a nice place. On the eighth floor and I can see the ocean from the balcony.

Took a solid nap and then got picked up by another guy on the national team named Ben Reis, who’s also on my club team. Drove to university of Tel-Aviv athletic facility and practiced for a little. Only like an hour and a half... I was pretty surprised. Met a lot of guys at practice, obviously the different coaches and around 16 players. Was a little bit rusty but warmed up a little but as we kept playing. All of the guys know each other pretty well, but most of them were pretty nice to me, cracking some jokes or just talking some. They also got some people helping me out with my I.D. stuff so hopefully that’ll all get done quick.

After practice me and Ben went out to eat and then met another one of his friends and went to a bar on the beach near my hotel.  Pretty cool spot. Just got a beer and hung out for a while. Now back in the hotel. Had to wash my practice jersey in the sink haha, no washing machine. Bootleg as hellll. Watching superbad and making sure I’ve got all my stuff ready to go... Tomorrow morning one of the Bnei guys is coming to pick me up and take me my real apartment that I’ll be in all year. Pretty legit place I’ll get some pics when I’m all settled in there. 

Catching Up

They tell me my internet is going to be working by monday the latest at my place. I'm at my aunt's in Jerusalem for the weekend so I can use a computer though. Wrote a bunch of stuff down in my many hours of down time so I wouldn't forget them, so now I'm going to put a bunch of stuff up here... This accumulated over the whole week, I'm not that big a loser and wrote it all right now...   And the punctuation might be messed up because the internet is all Hebraish here

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Extra! Extra!

I'm not really one to brag, but here are the different articles that came out after my team released the info that I'd been signed today... If anyone's interested. You're going to have to google translate it. Won't be perfect but it'll be understandable. I didn't read all of them but I'm sure some of them are really similar


Monday, 11 July 2011

Cleared for Takeoff

It's in the books... El Al flight on Sunday at 1pm, direct to Tel-Aviv. Looking forward to it and updates to come when the cool stuff starts happening. Hit me up if your around this week and want to say what up before I leave forever... well until like May at least. Peaaaace

Friday, 8 July 2011

That was easy

So I gave my visa in to the aliyah folks on Thursday morning. They then had to take it down to the Israeli consulate, get everything approved, and stamp my immigration visa into my Canadian passport. I'm kind of in a rush with all of this because the national team coach wants me there yesterday to start practicing, but the aliyah people are going on and on about how it can take up to two weeks, blah blah, they'll do what they can and so on. So I was pretty resigned to just play it by ear... Then I get a call this morning... "hello, your visa is ready, come pick it up." I was like damn, 24 hours later. Must be a world record. I have to wait until sunday to book a flight because they close for Shabbat but looks like I'll be out of here pretttty soon. Departure date info soon to come

Thursday, 7 July 2011

中华人民共和国??? 中华人民共和国!!!

What's up loyal followers? Got some cool news last week but didn't really tell people about it because I was waiting to see if it was all good. Since I'm getting my Israeli citizenship for the coming basketball season, my agent recently got contacted by a national team coach who invited me to play on Israel's under 25 national team for the world university games thisummer aug 12-23rd. For those of you who don't know, it's kind of like the olympics for college aged-ish athletes. Here's the webpage for the basketball part of the tournament, and you can click around for info on the entire tournament: Some of the other events include judo,volleyball, tennis, and more. 

If you didn't figure it out from the title of the blog or if you didn't click on the link (what loser wouldn't click on the link?), the tournament is being held in Shenzhen, China 
(,Shenzhen,+Guangdong,+China&ei=mB8WTqGeIIPY0QGlpqh1&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=image&resnum=2&ved=0CFMQ8gEwAQ). I had no idea it was going to be there and was really excited when I heard. I've never really traveled anywhere so looking forward to it.

Only thing is, because the tournament starts near the beginning of August, the coach of the team wants me in Israel ASAP to start practicing with the team. So, while I still need to wait for my immigration visa to get approved, I'll be leaving Canada almost asoon as my visa comes back. Instead of being here until mid-late August, I'll be gone probably in 2 weeks max. Kinda sad because in my head I was planning on being around for a while, but I definitely couldn't resist playing for the national team and a trip to China. By the time the tournament is done and we're back in Israel it will be late August and almost time to start the pro season with my team, so I won't have a chance to come back home... possibly not until next May or June. So don't be shy, say your goodbyes now if your in Toronto.