Saturday, December 20, 2008
The Shuk Ha'Carmel, or Carmel Market is huge. Though on Shabbat you could probably walk those half dozen or so blocks in 15 minutes, it can takes hours to get through the market on a Friday morning. On Tuesdays and Fridays, a large craft and jewelry market extends the market outward by a few blocks.
You can buy anything at the Shuk. Anything! Not to mention that there are multiple stands of each type. I think there maybe six or more olive vendors, a dozen spice stalls and the same number at least of bakeries. Produce abounds, as do cheese cases. And it's very inexpensive. Have I haggled? No, but I will when I learn my numbers in Hebrew. Things are so much cheaper at the Shuk than in the stores that it's no big deal to get even more off. I have caught two vendors trying to cheat me by not giving me the right change. One vendor, when confronted, smiled broadly and put another loaf of bread in my bag and gave me back the sheckels I was owed. Is it a game to them, maybe?
The things I like most at the Shuk are olives (dozens of varieties), the pickles (again, so many) and the bread vendors. I don't know what half of the spices are at the spice stalls, but I can recognize most of the herbs and veggies. One spice vendor was trying to tell me, I think, that some of the spice mixes are for pickling and pickled salads. Just like in Kosher markets, the meat stalls form on side streets away from the main streets. But I can't bring myself to buy meat there. It seems like the temp is to warm for safety and there are flies everywhere. There is quite a bit of cheese, including dozens of varieties of feta. From super-salty to super smooth, I never know what I am going to get.
The photo is of Jeff drinking freshly sqeezed pomegranate juice.
There also seems to be another outer-lying clothing market, but by the time I reached it I was too tired to shop. I think the Shuk is safe, but there are so many people it's hard to say if there are any pick-pockets. My neighbor's nanny told me that the had her purse stolen on our street, so I am assuming it's possible.
I love the Shuk, but it's more of an adventure or a pleasure outing than shopping trip. I know when I go that I will always buy olives, but other than that, it's a crap shoot. I don't go with a list, and I never know what I will come home with. Maybe after I go a few more times, I will have a better idea of what's there and what I can get.
More photos are here:
There is also a big, American-style supermarket that we drive to every week or so called Mega. This week they are having a big Hanukkah sale, hundreds of items for 8 sheckels (get it...eight nights, eight sheckels). If you spent a certain amount and had a member card, you got box of Sufganiot (a jelly-filled doughnut served for Hanukkah). At Mega we buy milk, eggs, beer, water, wine, yogurt...typical daily stuff. You could get all of these (and toilet paper too) at the Shuk. But you really can't drive to there since the parking in Tel Aviv is terrible. So if you get a lot at the Shuk, you can take a wheeled cart.
On another note, we decided to skip Christmas in Bethlehem. They expect 30,000 people a day. There was literally, no rooms available either. We will, however, drive to the resort town of Eilat in the South for New Year's Eve. After a couple of days there, we'll head to Petra in Jordan. So our first vacation is finally coming! And believe it or not, after living in Tel Aviv for just a few weeks, I think we need it.