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Worst. Vacation. Ever. [Dec. 29th, 2015|11:44 am]
I'm stuck in San Francisco with useless suitcases filled with shorts, swimsuits and sundresses, my Cancun vacation now just something to be sorted out with Expedia in a desperate attempt to get them to honor the travel insurance we bought and give us a refund.
I've slept four hours in the last 36 only because the airport hotel rushed to get us a room when we passed out like hobos on their couches.
I only get 10 vacation days a year and 3 of them will have been spent in a Kafkaesque nightmare of airport bureaucracy.
The day and money I spent flying to Minneapolis and paying for a rush passport because I realized mine expired a week before this trip just adds to the spectacular waste since I didn't get close to making it out of the country.
The SCUBA certification we got for the trip will be largely wasted along with the $50 we've already spent attempting to get our suitcase filled with SCUBA gear on the various flights we've been on.
We won't be attending the wedding that was the inspiration for the trip.
This is by far the worst travel experience I've ever had. There was nothing to be done to prevent it. Our flight from O'Hare yesterday morning was cancelled due to mechanical failure that caused it to reroute to Orlando then an ice storm cancelled all flights for hours then we got out to San Francisco hoping that would improve our situation but the connecting flight to Cancun was then also cancelled. Then we tried to just get back to Chicago and call a mulligan on everything but that was in turn cancelled. We're currently booked to go home tomorrow morning but I have no faith in that or any other travel for the foreseeable future.

I wish I had just stayed home. I wish I had worked these days so I didn't have to spend my precious vacation time stressed to the mental and physical breaking point. I've cried, had an ulcer, felt like I was going to vomit. Great fucking way to end 2015.
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Vegas Baby - Part 2 [Aug. 31st, 2015|03:38 pm]
Wow. Well it's been a while since I started posting about this trip but I'm going to continue…

So we had gotten to the show way too early as pointed out previously by the DJ we wanted to see not showing up until 1:30 a.m. We spent an hour hanging out outdoors. I wandered over to the bar to find out how expensive drinks were, which was ludicrous, and was immediately hit on by a guy who recommended I get something very boozy and when I wound up just asking for two waters did one of the classiest moves I've ever seen where he very obviously looked down at my hand to see my wedding ring. I reported back on this scenario and Mike said I should take off my rings and try to get us free drinks. I did not do this.

Eventually we made our way inside where mask clad women dressed in underwear and angel wings were holding what first looked like nunchucks but later turned out to be more like air traffic control lights were standing on a catwalk over the biggest of the booths reserved for table service. Their job was to dance around to welcome every group that came in and as the night wore on they lost their masks and then wings and progressively looked more and more miserable.

We of course did not have table service and parked on a sort of bench area near one of the big booths where we got to witness the glory of Zakir Khan's party. This guy had shelled out so much that when he came in the screen on top of the DJ booth turned into a giant message welcoming him and the dancers came out with another welcome banner. At first his group was pretty low key. One guy was clearly very into the music and spent most of the time standing up and dancing. Another looked miserable and spent a bunch of time texting. But as things got busier the booth got steadily more insane.

There are poles positioned near a bunch of the bigger booths and a pair of women started taking advantage of one of them near us. One of the women was wearing a very short, very tight dress that progressively kept riding up. Sometimes they rub up on/made out with each other. This eventually got them welcomed to Zakir's booth. Zakir was also welcoming other attractive dancing women to come drink his insanely expensive booze in exchange for him putting his arms around them. At one point he actually pushed aside a woman who was dancing with her boyfriend to grab at a woman behind her and welcome her into his booth.

At some point one of the women who was pole dancing – not the one with the extremely short dress – grabbed my hand and insisted I come up and dance with her. She said I had "a great body and nice ass" and that I should "use it to get some free drinks." I danced because why not. It was fun and I got a better view of the stage though I did not get any drinks. In fact Zakir, who may also have noticed my wedding ring or perhaps the crew of guys I came with, in fact sort of pushed me away a few times so he could dance with the girl who pulled me up.

A tour of the space showed that this same scenario was playing out all over the club. There were also guys "making it rain" by throwing out singles and signs in the bathroom discouraging people from doing drugs or having sex. It was a pretty incredible experience.

We stayed out until the set ended, caught a cab back to the hotel and passed out for not nearly long enough since we had plans to do Escape Room the next day. We met at a spectacular pizza place, also recommended by loopygirl, for a big lunch and then went to Escape Room where you have to solve a bunch of puzzles in an hour to get out. We came super close but lost a huge amount of time to being stumped by how to use a key, which turned out to actually be a flash drive.

After that I went to the Las Vegas Convention Center to interview a bunch of Magic players for a story on professional-level play I wrote for The A.V.  Club. Then I went back to the hotel for a nice long nap before seeing Absinthe, which is a combination burlesque show and circus that was extremely entertaining. Then we had dinner at Bazaar Meat, a meal that would definitely rank among the best I've ever had. We considered going out again but were all pretty beat so just met up for brunch the next day, another incredible meal, then did a little more shopping, napping and beer pong followed by tapas dinner and heading home.
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Vegas Baby - Part 1 [Jul. 2nd, 2015|12:46 pm]
The last weekend of May I went to Las Vegas with Kevin, Dan, Mike, Josh and Zoe. I hadn't been to Vegas since I was 18 and doing a summer program at Stanford and met my mom and grandma there for my birthday. That was a fun weekend, the highlight of which was seeing O, but getting to go again as an adult with some of my best friends was absolutely amazing.

Kevin and I flew out after work Thursday. On our flight we got to enjoy watching the woman sitting in the aisle seat of our row being hit on by a serious bro in the aisle across from her who was from Florida and talking about how great Florida is and making fun of Ohio when he discovered that's where she was from. Made me groan since I'm from Florida and Kevin's from Ohio. Also the woman was a beer promoter and was treated to such lines as, "You probably don't even drink beer." She wound up giving him her phone number, which I sincerely hope was fake.

After getting in, we caught a cab to The Golden Nugget where we had to wait for a solid 30 minutes to check into our room. While we were there Mike and Josh, who'd gotten in early, met us in line to say hi and then head to Fremont Street in search of ridiculous cocktails. We were exhausted from a full day of work plus long flight but were persuaded to walk the street after checking in because I'd never seen it and it's much more interesting at night. It's a truly bizarre place, some fusion of a boardwalk, mall and strip club. There are kiosks and shops selling random touristy crap but also women in underwear dancing on bartops which all sell frozen drinks that are maybe 2% alcohol with the rest being sugar water. There are also knockoff superheroes, Transformers and men of all shapes and sizes also in their underwear. Plus it's got a big awning overhead that lights up and people zipline down.

We crashed pretty soon after that and got up the next morning to hit a breakfast place that loopygirl recommended which was excellent. Then we went to the Golden Nugget's awesome pool, which surrounds a giant tank filled with various types of sharks and big fish like grouper and bass. We spent a lot of time just hanging in the water and watching the big toothy sharks swim towards us. Then we soaked in the hot tub while drinking Coronas for a bit and went to the gym to work out. After that we agreed we wanted lunch but hit some conflict since Josh, Dan and Mike wanted to go to the strip and just stay there until the house show we were seeing late that night, while I knew if I was going to be out that late I'd want a nap. So we wound up splitting the party with Kevin and I napping and then having some tacos at the hotel's Mexican restaurant while the other guys hit up a buffet. We later felt entirely justified in our decision when the DJ we wanted to see didn't come on stage until 1:30 a.m. and Josh was extremely cranky from lack of sleep. But I'll get back to that show later.

First we met up at the Forums at Caesar's Palace where we hung out for a while waiting for Mike to finish having Scotch and a cigar while Kevin and I opted for some really excellent sangria. Then we went to The Wynn to see Zedd, where we wandered around for a while trying to find tickets. We managed to hit the sweet spot where online sales were closed but in person sales hadn't started yet so we had to wait around a while before joining a big line to get tickets which were $20 cheaper for women than men – pretty standard in Vegas apparently. Also groups that were entirely young women didn't have to wait in the line. But the waiting and money was totally worth it as the experience was insane. More on it later!
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Christmas Cards from Fake Families [Dec. 17th, 2014|10:21 am]
[mood |amusedamused]

rollick introduced me to a Christmas card exchange organized by a Chicago writer where the cards you write and receive are not from your actual family but from a family that each participant made up. After I read the description mocking cards that are all about bragging how great your year is, I immediately had an idea for mine but I wasn't sure if it would be appropriate. So I scanned ones from last year poster on the organizer's website and the first one I randomly selected was post-Apocaltyptic. Feeling justified I wrote and sent this to five strangers. I hope they enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Our Friends,

This time each year when the days grow short and sometimes the daystar does not even appear at all to share its false comfort, I always enjoy looking back at the dark deeds my family performed in the past year beneath the watchful eyes of those beyond the stars. While the unenlightened festoon their homes with artificial illumination in order to ward away the darkness, I hope you have enjoyed the maddened whispers that can be heard in the chill winter winds as much as I have.

This was a big year for me. I took the bold step of assassinating my master within the cult of Nyarlathotep. While there was certainly a bumpy period of adjustment to my new position, I think my fellows now agree my promotion was a great decision for the organization at large. While it is hard to interpret the feedback of the masked lords I now directly report to, I believe they too are highly satisfied with my performance.

The biggest challenge has been delegating some of my old responsibilities. I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to sacrifice selection and I know from personal experience that you don’t want to give your subordinates too much work to do or they’ll start getting ambitions of their own. A bit of a culling might be in order come spring.

My increased responsibilities do keep my away from home a bit more, but I always make an effort to spend quality time with my family. My husband loves sharing his progress in deciphering hidden messages from the Black Pharaoh left within Egyptian hieroglyphs. The Book of the Dead has been well-plumbed by other researchers, but his work analyzing more obscure texts appears to be bearing fruit. Over the summer, we took a trip to the ruins of Gaza with the kids and had a wonderful time together exploring ancient crypts looking for snippets of parchment and taking notes on the words the priests scrawled in their own blood upon the crumbling walls.

Speaking of the kids, Jezebel is truly excelling in her studies. I believe she has inherited her father’s knack for dead languages and her teachers speak very highly of her performance in school rituals. Ethan is a natural athlete, and has taken up jogging each morning and practicing his dagger forms in the evening. I know someday he’ll put those talents to great use chasing down curious interlopers.

I hope next year will be just as fulfilling as we continue to work toward the awakening of the Old Ones and the return to glorious, primal madness.

Wishing you a dark winter solstice and a bleak new year!

Marion and the Hali Family

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Getting out while the getting is good [Aug. 6th, 2014|01:52 pm]
The line to go up the Eiffel Tower was super long but we got in the shorter, cheaper version which is billed as walk up two stories and then take the elevator to the top. Turns out they have a really warped sense of what two stories is because calculating the height we actually climbed it's more like 23 stories in any other building. We were pretty out of breath by the time we got to the top and grateful that there was water for sale. There were also some people that kept pushing through the line like it didn't apply to them which was super annoying. Though we did get to see two guys who were doing it get near the front only to be pulled out by security guards. The rest of the line applauded when that happened.

The view from the top was worth the wait. It's really magnificent looking out over the whole city and seeing all the other landmarks and then on to the edges of the city as they become countryside. There's also a champagne bar at the top where you can get a flute for $15. Since we could get a whole bottle for that across the street from our hotel we opted not to do that but plenty of other couples did.

We turned out to be lucky to get to the tower when we did because it started threatening rain so by the time we got down they had closed it to further visitors. But the rain held off and we walked through a little street fair and enjoyed some Belgian beer then went back to the hotel and took a nice nap.

Then we got together with my family for one last big dinner at an excellent Japanese place. My dad had me just order for the table, which I always love, and everyone was happy with what I picked. I even added in some ramen after seeing an entire table eating it and it was a super good call. After dinner we hung out with my family in our hotel room and shared that $15 bottle of champagne, then my mom and sister went off to watch Seven while my dad and brother went for a walk and Kevin and I read. The next morning we said our goodbyes, picked up a few souvenirs and got some crepes for breakfast, which again weren't as good as I wanted out of a signature French dish in Paris – like the American kind but more expensive. Then we caught a cab to the airport, boarded the plane and were asleep before takeoff.

When we were picking up our luggage at O'Hare, the TVs were showing that Hamas had started bombarding Tel Aviv with rockets. It was just surreal since we'd just been there. In fact the original travel itinerary had the entire trip in Israel but Kevin and I were going to leave early because we have less vacation time and wanted to check out Paris. Then my parents decided that was a good idea and joined us there too, heading from Paris to London for a few more days. If that hadn't changed, they would have been in Israel when the fighting started. It was a great trip and it turned out we did it at the exact right time.
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Mystery Meal and Cafe Gourmand [Jul. 29th, 2014|09:45 am]
I'm not normally a huge fan of art museums. I like science and natural history museums a good deal and I also can appreciate straight historical exhibits about particularly interesting time periods or people. But not that much art speaks to me. At the Art Institute of Chicago I basically don't appreciate anything in the modern wing – I'd prefer to look at the classical stuff, especially ancient sculpture, jewelry and pottery.

But it's really hard to be blasé about a museum where every single work is by a master. All the names you think of when you think of French art are there: Picasso, Matisse, Renoir. There are some super weird paintings plus all the nudes and still lives you'd expect but also portraits that just seem incredibly alive.

The most impressive part is the two rooms devoted to Monet's "Water Lilies" murals that were built after World War I as a place for peaceful reflection. The rooms are circular and the paintings are massive, with four in each room showing different times or colors. They're just awe-inspiring. My mom and sister split from us pretty much as soon as we got to the museum so Kevin and I just wandered at our own pace and then checked out the three Rodin sculptures outside the museum which are also incredible.

Then we set off walking to the Eiffel Tower, again meandering as we went to check out impressive buildings and sculpture which Paris is just full of. We were getting hungry when we were in a fairly residential area still about a mile from the Eiffel Tower and found a restaurant where I had my favorite meal of the trip. We were the only non-French people there and the menu was in French so I wasn't entirely sure what I was ordering. But they had a two-course lunch special which everyone there was doing that sounded exciting and was awesome. The appetizer was smoked salmon with peppercorn and dill and for entrees Kevin got an awesome whitefish with herbs and I had pasta with chicken and olives. I don't know what they do to poultry in Paris but their duck tastes like steak and their chicken tastes like duck.

For my second course I'd opted for cheese (which is a dessert in France) and it was amazing bleu cheese with fresh baked bread. We saw the couples on both sides of us with little trays of miniature desserts with a cappuccino in the middle and thought they looked delicious but didn't know what they were. An older couple sitting next to us saw us gawking and explained in English that it was called cafe gourmand and is a selection of the house's desserts "in miniature portion so you don't have to feel guilty about it." Despite the stereotypes, I found every single person we interacted with in Paris to be quite nice, even if we didn't speak French. So we ordered the cafe gourmand too and it was amazing: a tiny crème brulee, a little soufflé, a scoop of strawberry ice cream and some other pastry that was a bit like tres leche. Thoroughly satisfied we continued walking to the Eiffel Tower.
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My exasperating family [Jul. 24th, 2014|10:35 am]
We spent some time wandering back from Notre Dame, checking out a big park with a bunch of sculptures and then the Luxor Obelisk, though we didn't realize at the time that's what it was. I pointed it out and Kevin was convinced it couldn't possibly be from ancient Egypt because seeing ancient Egyptian stuff in the middle of a park seemed insane. We looked it up and apparently it was gift from Cairo to commemorate the end of the French Revolution and sits where a guillotine used to. Kevin complained no one gave the U.S. a big Revolution gift and I pointed out that the French gave us the Statue of Liberty, which he responded to with an appropriate "Touché."

Having been up since 4 a.m., we were pretty hungry when we got back to the hotel but apparently my parents and sister were still en route from the airport. They'd wanted to go to a steak frites place for dinner, so we figured we'd wait for them and went across the street to a little convenience store to get some snacks. We got some cookies that were a bit like Pepperidge Farm Brussels, some fruit and the best: a 2 Euro bottle of Bourdeaux that I nicknamed Two Buck Jacques and we drank out of the little cups in our bathroom. I've had better wine but definitely not for $3 (after the exchange rate).

Once my family did get there, my dad, Cassie and Jake decided to go for a run.
Now I have no problem with running in theory but not the way my family does it -- when they decide they have to exercise they don't give a damn about any standing plans or anyone else. This happened most recently when they were in Chicago and we were supposed to go to the Field Museum with them and they changed their mind because the weather got nice. It also happened multiple times in Israel holding up plans. It's not like we weren't getting plenty of exercise walking around everywhere. Sigh.

It was 8:30 p.m. by then and Kevin and I decided we were fed up and went in search of our own dinner. We found a nice, if tourist-heavy, place where we got duck, roast fish and tiramisu and went back and went to sleep. Apparently my family didn't wind up having dinner until 10 p.m.

To their credit they were up around the same time as us the next day and we went to a little café to have croissants, quiche and coffee. It was fine but honestly I've had better croissants in the U.S. made by Brad. Cassie ate a granola bar because of course. While we were finishing breakfast my dad ran next door to a photo shop where he was going to get some prints made of the photos he'd taken in Israel. He'd picked out everything when my mom came in to look and accidentally hit cancel and undid all his work. This triggered a freak out from my mom that chained into my brother, who seemed exasperated by the whole trip at this point, getting upset. He and my dad split off while my mom, Cassie, Kevin and I headed to Musee de l'Orangerie, a gallery of Impressionist works.
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The pee closet and Notre Dame [Jul. 18th, 2014|09:57 am]
 Jake, Kevin and I got to the Tel Aviv airport with plenty of time (my parents and sister were getting a later flight) and hit the food court since we had to leave before breakfast was available at our hotel. Kevin waited in an excruciatingly long line for coffee and a croissant, longer than it took me to get a fresh-made salmon roll and pot of blooming tea. Mine cost more, but it was totally the right decision. I figure if I can eat salmon on a bagel for breakfast salmon sushi is totally legit.

The flight was pretty easy as was the customs process in Paris. We caught a cab where the driver didn't speak any English but did point out the Concord to us as we passed it leaving the airport. It was raining pretty hard when we got into the hotel and only Jake and Cassie's room was ready. We wanted to drop off all our bags in Jake's room, but were told it was too small for that, though Jake disagreed when he saw it. But not wanting to get into an argument with the guy at the front desk we just left our stuff downstairs where he said he'd watch it and went to get lunch at a café we could dart to.

We relaxed, had a glass of wine and chatted with some other American tourists. I had a goat cheese salad which was only OK (so not everything I ate on the trip was super delicious, Tasha) but I wound up steeling a bunch of Jake's cured ham and cheese sandwich which was delicious, especially with their really spicy Dijon mustard. Then, since it was still raining, I went back to the hotel where my parents' room was now ready and briefly took over it to nap.

This hotel had some really weird rooms. My parents' room was "a triple" meaning they had a queen-sized bed and then a loft with a tiny other bed and a half-bath. The ceiling above the loft was so low Kevin basically couldn't get up there, but my dad loved it because it gave him his own bathroom. Meanwhile, once we got our room we discovered that the toilet was on one side of the room while the sink and shower were on the opposite side. I lovingly dubbed the toilet the pee closet. This is not normal for Paris. I was talking about it with my family at a restaurant we were at and the server who overheard us looked absolutely baffled and disgusted by it.

After napping Kevin and I went off to explore (my parents were still en route and Jake was in a pretty antisocial mood and had gone off to a museum by himself). We took a bunch of pictures in front of the Louvre though didn't go in because the line was super long. Then we walked in the direction of Notre Dame, stopping to check out things along the way like the Pont do Arts bridge, which is absolutely covered in "love locks" which tourists put their to show they've been to the City of Romance and the French hate because they're damaging the bridge. There was also a random street market that sold flowers and birds and the Palais du Justice, a massive building where Mary Antoinette was imprisoned before being executed.

We got to Notre Dame and took a bunch of pictures outside but were initially deterred by the really long line to get in. But after seeing how fast it moved we got in line and went inside and I was really, really happy we did. It's even more magnificent inside where there's ornate stained glass and sculptures and information about how the cathedral was built over the course of centuries. There was also a service going on with lovely singing and chanting. It was one of the highlights of the trip for me. I just love being surrounded by that much history and beauty. My dad's not a fan of going into churches but I think you don't have to share the religion of a place to appreciate how incredible it is.
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Gardens, hummus and Vietnamese food in Israel [Jul. 15th, 2014|12:35 pm]
We woke up early the next day and headed to the Baha'i Gardens. They are absolutely stunning with giant flowering trees that litter petals in red, orange and yellow; manicured areas of cacti and other succulents; and hedge rows with fountains that my brother pointed out look very much like a level of Zelda. There are also lots of cool sculptures of eagles and peacocks. The shrine itself was a bit underwhelming. We were told it was incredibly sacred but it's really just a small room with a bunch of mirrors and a plaque with the tenants of the Baha'i faith. I'd been hoping for something a bit showier given the gardens outside.

After walking through the gardens, we drove to an outlook where you can see the them from above, which was really neat because the flowers form patterns that aren't obvious when you're standing in them. There was also an ice cream truck up there which offered way better ice cream than its America counterparts. I had a version of a chipwich with a delicious double chocolate cookie and Kevin had a chocolate chip ice cream cone with really good chocolate.

We then drove to Akko, which used to be a Crusader city but was later taken back by Muslims and then later by Napoleon. So there's a castle with a moat that was never filled with water because that's too scarce in the area but still left armies vulnerable to being shot with arrows. There are also forts with cannons and a bunch of mosques. There's apparently a tour you can take that shows the areas where the crusaders actually lived but that wasn't available when we were there so I was bummed.

What Akko is best known for among Israelis is hummus, and after having had it I have to relegate the Jerusalem hummus to second best. We ate it and more falafel and chicken shawarma in a little shop inside an Arab market which is bizarre because there are stalls that sell knock off toys and shoes next to ones that have just bags of spices or coffee that make it look like they could have been the same 700 years ago.

After lunch we hit up a small Israeli winery, which was cool. I got to learn a bit more about the wine making and aging process and try some really good bottles. There was even a bottle called Rotem, named for the owner's granddaughter, so I bought one for my friend Rotem as a gift. Then we returned to Tel Aviv. My parents and Cassie wanted to rest for a while but I was really hungry so Kevin, Jake and I shared a bottle of wine and went in search of food.

I'd consulted the edition of Time Out Israel left in my hotel room and found a Vietnamese place that turned out to be awesome. We were a little skeptical when we first showed up and the place was half empty but we were told that we'd have to sit at the bar because all the tables were reserved. But soon enough they all filled up and the bar turned out to be the perfect spot. The bartender hung out with us and gave us a free shot of mango sake and made recommendations, which were all great, and we had a full view of the kitchen. When we asked what we should have for dessert he asked if we trusted him and brought us out a sweet chicken with sticky rice dish, which was really good, but then threw in a caramelized banana dessert for free. I'd thought he was the owner but when I told him he had a great place he said, "No this isn't my place, it's his" and pointed to the chef who gave this adorable little sheepish wave. It was a very fun last night in Israel. The next day we had to be up super early to get to the airport and fly on to Paris.
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More from the big trip [Jul. 10th, 2014|10:51 am]
So I'm home now but I'm still writing up the trip in short entries so this won't be the last one.

So more information on Jaffa. We got a late start because the rest of the family wanted to go to some fancy pool to swim laps in Tel Aviv. Kevin and I just slept in because we were pretty exhausted. In Jaffa we started at a little flea market where we could pick up some sunglasses since Kevin forgot his and my extremely cheap ones broke. They're pretty important somewhere as sunny as Israel.

Then we went on to a little jewelry shop that is notable because a few years ago they tried to renovate and found a bunch of stuff buried under the space. They wound up just building a little basement museum dedicated to what they found, which again shows that layer cake of history. There are Bronze Age coins and insignia from Ottoman uniforms and cannonballs from when Napoleon invaded Jaffa. Then we went to this square that had a really neat fountain with 12 very cute sculptures that represent the figures of the Zodiac. Kevin and I had to persuade the rest of my family to go into a museum there since they just wanted to eat gelato and chill. It was sort of a weird reoccurring theme that we were super interested in all the history but no one else was. As my brother later summed up my dad liked the idea of going to Israel but didn't actually want to do anything that you go there for.

The museum was small but again showed off how much stuff has gone on in that city historically and religiously. It was alternately run by the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Jews, Ottomans and French, so we were looking at Greek amphora and ancient Egyptian scarabs and a full excavation site that showed Greek mosaics and pillars. There were also a bunch of incredibly goofy but cute movies that explained the city's significance as both the start of the tale of Jonah and the Whale and where St. Peter had his vision that he could convert non-Jews.

We had lunch at this really awesome little place where we had lamb and chicken kabobs plus a bunch of little salads – beets, carrots, olives, roasted vegetables and fried eggplant. Apparently that's a common thing in Israeli restaurants, a lot like all the stuff you get at a Korean restaurant. I loved it and wish more places in America did food like that.

Then we headed to Caesarea, an area that was built up by King Herod to be a major port. He built a lavish palace there, right against the ocean, and you can still see the mosaics and pillars and what was probably his swimming pool. There's also a beautiful theater that's been rebuilt to host concerts and the remains of a chariot racetrack, a bathhouse and an office that was used to keep tax records from the port.

After that we went to our new hotel in Haifa where we had a snack and then went to sleep. When my parents came to wake us for dinner we were so exhausted we decided to just skip it and keep sleeping. They woke me up when they got back at 11 p.m. with some leftovers, which I ate enough of to not wake up too hungry before going back to bed. The food was pretty bad so I felt good about my decision to sleep instead.
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