Mike Bruesewitz: My favorite things in Israel
FEB 11, 2014 3:22p ET
I have been living abroad for a little over three months now and I have to say my experience has been great. Basketball has not exactly gone my way, as playing time has been hard to come by. I am on one of the best teams in Europe and am getting better every day, not to mention getting paid to play basketball. Living in Israel has been truly a great experience and I am thankful everyday for the path I have chosen.
Some of the best parts of living in Jerusalem have been the people, food, shuk, beautiful women, and Shabbat. Israeli people are incredibly warm and friendly especially towards Americans. Nearly everyone in the country speaks English, or at least enough to get through a short conversation. Also people are very willing to help if you happen to stumble upon someone who can only speak Hebrew or Arabic and translate everything to English. This is a huge bonus in living abroad and has really helped remove feelings of isolation and loneliness that almost everyone living overseas experiences. Most restaurants have both Hebrew and English menus which is a bigger deal than most people think since I kinda like to know what I am about to consume.
The food over here is amazing. I am a true Bruce Brogtrotter at heart and it seems that on every corner there is a mom & pop bakery turning out incredibly pastries and cakes and saturating the air with warm goodness. Aside from bakeries, Jerusalem has a very diverse culture and many of the restaurants and grocery stores seem to have something from all corners of the world. I have tried so many delicious meals over here I really can not tell you which is my favorite. My only advice if you visit is to try it. Grocery shopping actually makes sense as well. In the states all the processed food is cheap, while fruits and vegetables are the most expensive items in the store. I can get three bell peppers in the states for something around five dollars. In Israel three peppers will set you back 1 shekel (3.49 shekels= 1 U.S. dollar). So being a cook and a pro athlete trying to stay on a pretty regimented diet, this place is a dream come true.
One of the best Shuk's (open/farmers market) in the world is in the heart of Jerusalem. It is right at the beginning of the Old City and has over 150 different vendors who sell fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese, hummus, baked goods, belts, yamakas, almost anything you could ever want. Since they do not have a one stop shopping place like Target or Walmart this is the next best thing, if not better. As you stroll by a vendor and show even the slightest interest in something they instantly start shoving that product into a bag until you say stop. They are master salesman and if you are a spineless consumer, the Shuk is no place for you because you will never get the best deal and end up with a bunch of stuff you never even intended to buy.
Now do not get me wrong, the girls in Wisconsin are beautiful and I believe UW just got rated one of the most attractive campuses in the country. I find it rather hard to believe we did not receive the award last year especially with this guy walking around (shameless promotion I know but its my blog so HA). There is something about all these women in Israel just stand out. It could be their beautiful bone structure, a melting pot culture bringing all the best genes together or the heavy dose of vitamin D (sun) they get from not living in a frozen tundra. The issues I have encountered with females in Jerusalem is either a language, religious or most commonly boyfriend issues. Usually I think that I can still score with a goalie present, but these goalies are military trained, I have slept with a gun under my pillow type of goalie who should probably be left alone.
I believe the entire world should celebrate Shabbat/day of rest. Jerusalem being one of the most religious cities in the world Shabbat is kind of a big deal. Almost the entire city shuts down at 2 p.m. Friday and does not re-open until 7 p.m. Saturday. It's almost as if the entire place turns into a ghost town. The reason is because everyone is resting, duh. Now the reason I love Shabbat and think the whole world should celebrate is because its like having Thanksgiving every week. All day Friday, the chef of the house (usually women, not being sexist just how it works over here) spend the entire day in the kitchen and put their heart and soul into a giant meal with all the fixins. Usually the entire family comes and often times guests are invited (aka me, otherwise I could not tell you about how awesome this tradition is). I grew up as the baby of four kids in a household where family dinners were a staple, so this tradition makes me feel like I'm back home in Minnesota.
If anyone is tired of the cold and feels like experiencing some of these wonderful things Israel has to offer please give me a shout as I would love to be your tour guide for Jerusalem. Also I recently watched Adam Sandlers "Don't Mess with the Zohan", and I must say has a ton of accuracy with many of the nuances that happen while living in Israel. I only recommend the movie if you have lived or visited Israel, otherwise like most of Adam Sandler's recent movies they are not quite up to par as these instant classics.