Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Happy Together

This morning we are up very early for a sunrise turtle walk.

We had reserved this trip through the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and luckily had a gorgeous day. There were nine in our group of which three were employees and one volunteer. We drove to a beach near our hotel and walked to a turtle nest set back in the dunes. One of the employees had a small snapper turtle that someone had found on the road and she would take back to the rehabilitation center.

Our nest had hatched a few days before and now they check it to make sure all the turtles made it out. Carefully they dug down into the sand and retrieved 74 hatched shells and two unhatched eggs. These were broken open and we saw that there was just yolks as they had never developed. Careful notes were taken and the site was completely restored to the condition we had found it.

Afterwards we took a nature walk on the beach and saw some shore birds. These beautiful area is where the movie Glory had been filmed even though the actual events took place on nearby St. Simon's Island.

Next stop was a visit to the turtle center and their hospital area to meet some patients. This sea turtle had lost a front flipper and may someday be returned to the ocean.

Back in the historic District we had lunch at the Crane House Restaurant, former home of the Crane family of plumbing fame.

We walked by the beautiful Faith Chapel with its signed Tiffany window. Unfortunately it is only open after 2:00 pm so we sill have to visit it on our next trip.

Back to the hotel to pack and one last look at the beach. Found some wild orchids growing along the boardwalk.

Time to say goodbye to this beautiful place and head home.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Georgia on My Mind

Super Day! We slept late and woke up to rain on St. Simon's. Dressed and drove a half hour over to Jekyll Island. Most of the ride is going over the bridge to the mainland and then a long causeway out to Jekyll. This island is much smaller and practically deserted. We found the Hampton Inn and they checked us in so we are set to explore.

Decided to visit the Jekyll Island Club, the main attraction here. They call it the historic district and that includes the club, member cottages and shops. The grounds are gorgeous. We stopped at the museum which gave a nice history of the island and then took their tram tour. In the gift shop we found The Jekyll Island Club, a mystery written by our Yardley friend Brent Monahan.

We got to tour two of the cottages which are each about 8,000 square feet with 6 or 8 bathrooms. Very extravagant for this time at the turn of the century. The club's members were the creme de la creme of corporate America. Rockefeller,  J P Morgan, Crane, Pulitzer, Gould and other millionaires were the originals. They owned the entire island and they with their families, hunted, swam and played during the winter months escaping the cold weather up north. This lifestyle lasted until the Depression and finally fell apart during WWII.

The island was completely private back in the day and most of the owners and guests arrived by private yacht as there was no bridge and no motorized vehicles allowed on the island. Bicycling was popular as were red bugs, a precursor of the dune buggy.

The state of Georgia bought the island and now operates it as a state park. There are several chain hotels as well as rooms at the club. Several restaurants are open to the public in the historic district.

Restaurants and shopping are available on the island, but all on a small scale. We love that it is remote and quiet, especially now that school has started here and the large water park has closed for the season.

After our tour we had lunch at the grill of one of the four golf courses. Then we drove around the island stopping to see the Horton house which is a vacant tabby structure. Next was a stop at the Driftwood Beach. I had read about it, but it was better that expected. Dead trees are everywhere and it is like walking through an eerie forest on the beach. So beautiful! Jeff brought down our bag chairs from the car and we sat in the shade for a long time enjoying the scenery and the sound of the surf.

On the drive home we saw several fearless deer who posed for us.

Back to the hotel to change and then we dashed out to dinner at the Driftwood Bistro. This is a local favorite with southern cuisine that was good in a casual atmosphere. Later we went back tot he hotel and walked out to their beach. They have a long, wooden boardwalk that takes you over the sand dunes and is beautifully landscaped and lit at night. There is seating along the way. The pool area is beautiful too with lots of seating and a fire pit.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Early this morning we packed up the car and took Sirius to Camp Green Dog. We headed south on I-95 and then Route 17 to St. Simon's Island off the southern coast of Georgia. We met Jan and Harvey and stayed overnight with them in an apartment they had rented for a few days. It was a pretty property with beach access, although we did not go to the beach or pool. We did go to the downtown street and had lunch at Brogen's with was recommended for their burgers and onion rings.

Then we walked to the pier and took a trolley tour which was entertaining and educational. We learned much about the Spanish invaders who threatened the English during the Revolutionary War era. We visited the marsh where the battle depicted in the movie Glory took place and also the old lighthouse.

We rode down a beautiful drive lined with ancient live oak trees creating a tunnel and gorgeous scenery.

We met up with Jan and Harvey and went to Iguana's for dinner. They are known for the best fried shrimp and we all found that to be true. There was a short rain storm which gave a beautiful rainbow.

After some walking on the pier and an ice cream we witnessed a magnificent sunset.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sweet Home Alabama

We got home on Tuesday afternoon and Brian arrived on Saturday. I had time to do laundry and go kayaking on Saturday morning with Sue, Bob and their kids who were visiting from New York. 

We enjoyed spending time with Brian and were invited to two Passover Seders where we ate, drank and did a lot of laughing. On Sunday Brian and I went on a dolphin watch and saw so many dolphins from our zodiac. It was just us with Captain Matt and we had a great time.

On Wednesday we went to Charleston and the three of us took a carriage ride around the city.

Saw the beautiful old buildings and picturesque mansions.

Then we had lunch at Hyman's, a city landmark, and walked through the City Market to do some shopping. Brian left on Friday morning and I am looking forward to his next visit.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Going Home

Our last day in Israel is bittersweet. It has been a long trip, almost a month, and now it is ending. Today is just for us and we have several things on our agenda. It was another gorgeous sunny day as most have been. We went to breakfast and sat outside soaking up some sun and fresh air.

Then we walked along the Tayelet, promenade, bordering the beach and Meditteranean sea. There were many sunbathers, joggers and bicycle riders. We saw groups playing volleyball and passed a huge lap pool with every lane filled with a swimmer.

The sights and sounds of Israel are amazing. The flowers seem brighter here and they fill the air with their fragrance. Bakeries are everywhere with beautiful loaves of bread on the shelves and magnificent aromas wafting out into the street. Near the sea you can smell the water, although Jeff says it is rotting seaweed. Every sense seems heightened here and  I love it all and will miss it so.

After we walked a long time we headed inland to see the Agam fountain in Dizengoff Center.

The whole area is tacky, but the colorful fountain is a landmark. There is shopping all around the city and this area has large complexes and lots of people milling around. We walked again this time heading to the Carmel Market. This is a huge place with clothes and home goods in the front and food stands after that. I had my last glass of fresh squeezed orange juice for this trip. I bought some halvah to take home since it is impossible to find near our house.

Walking again we headed to Jeff's schwarma place. He liked it so much he was determined to try it again. We passed through the old Neve Zedek neighborhood seeing many historic houses built by the early immigrants. Finally found the place and Jeff enjoyed the lamb schwarma almost as much as before.

Next adventure was finding a bus to the Museum of the Diaspora. This great museum is located on the campus of Tel Aviv University in Ramat Aviv, a suburb just north of Tel Aviv. Jeff used his phone app to find the correct bus and where the closest stop would be. Worked like a charm. We rode out to the large campus and found the museum with no problem. Signage is very good in Israel.

Spent a few hours walking around the permanent exhibit which we remembered fondly. It starts with the destruction of the second temple and follows Jewish communities around the world. One area has large models of synagogues from around the globe. Rituals, holidays and everyday life in varied communities are shown. We enjoyed  a music presentation by Leonard Bernstein and several other videos and movies. All in all we found the exhibits a bit tired and shabby. A few displays were broken or not lit and it was difficult to find your way around. Still happy that we went. Afterwards we walked on the campus watching the students lounge on the lawns and we admired several large sculptures. Got the bus back to our hotel.

Now we rest a bit and then it is time to pack. We took everything out of our suitcases and completely repacked. Hoping our checked bags will not be overweight. Took a short walk for dinner and I had Hungarian blintzes. I had been looking at this place every day and thinking I would like it. Turned out to be kosher and dairy so Jeff was not interested. I had eggplant and cheese inside fluffy blintzes. It was piping hot and delicious and served with a small salad. Jeff had pizza on the run as now it was getting late.

Back at the hotel we gathered our suitcases and Jeff went to collect the car and fill it with gas. We drove to the airport, returned the car and took a shuttle to the departures terminal. There we waited in the security line for about an hour. Finally got to our gate, onto the plane and here I am at 6:23 Israeli time. We are on Delta and it is a nice plane. Jeff and I are in the window, middle seats and had dinner on board. Very few religious people on board and no one praying in the aisles, yet!  We have taken naps and each watched a movie. Only six more hours to go!

Back in South Carolina and it is so good to be home. There is nothing that compares to sleeping in your own bed. We were thrilled to see Sirius and he was so happy to greet us and go home. He must have had fun running with the dogs and is now ready to retire to his couch and snuggle in our bed. He did come home with hookworms and a few ticks, but that is all fixed now.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Under the Boardwalk

Woke up in our comfy Tel Aviv Hotel. It is called the Port Hotel and near the port, north end of the city. Also one block from the beach with the Tayalet, promenade, that goes all the way to Jaffa.

We went for breakfast and found a delightful room with indoor and outdoor seating. Nice display of foods and we were happy. We got in the car and drove a half hour to Netanya. We were surprised to see how the city has grown.

We walked along the main street with shopping, cafes and tons of people.

There are wide plazas and colorful flowers are planted in beds, pots and planters. Fountains spew precious water and there is even a panda jumping pillow for the kids.

At the beach end we walked along a promenade that looks over the Mediteranean. There are more flowers and cafes here.

The city is built high on a cliff with the beach below. A large elevator is ideally located near the action to take you down to the beach.

We met Hana here and proceeded to a shady cafe on the beach. 

All around us were families, teens and everyone else enjoying the hot day and many were swimming. A father and son were playing kadima near us. This is the popular Israeli paddle and ball game and you always hear click, click, click on the beach or at a park. Lots of bikinis and speedos. Hana said there is a separate beach for religious people further north where they can swim on separate days.

We enjoyed sitting and talking, and, of course, eating. With only one day left I have a lot of hummus and tehina to eat. Afterwards Hana drove us to our car and we all went back to her apartment. It has been so many years since I have been there and it looks the same. Meir had driven in and was there to greet us. He is taking his mom for some medical tests tomorrow.

We spent a short time talking and then had to drive back to Tel Aviv. Traffic was heavy, but we kept moving. Saw this bird in the grass, a common myna.

After a short rest the phone rang and it was Hannoch and Shulamit. They had driven in separately to see us one last time on this visit. They suggested we walk a few blocks to the old port which is now a renovated entertainment area. Apparently it is the newest place to be in Tel Aviv and we didn't even know about it. They have taken the abandoned warehouses and turned them into chic restaurants and boutiques. There were people everywhere walking, talking, riding bikes, jogging and eating. There was a special place for kids with a carousel, crafts  and superheroes.

We walked a bit and people watched. Shulamit and Hannoch had picked out a tapas place for dinner. We sat outside watching the sun sink into the sea and shared some interesting "small plates." 

Hannoch had been on a 12 day business trip to the US since we saw him and we wanted to hear all about his adventures. We had a few stories to share also. After a long time of chatting we enjoyed the sunset and found the best place for gelato to finish off the night.

L'hitraot. Goodbye for now dear friends.