I've been home from my most recent trip to France and Israel for just three days and am having trouble believing that it wasn't all a dream! It was a wonderful trip - the only thing that could have made it better was to have more time to see Israel, but that just means that I must return!
I flew into Tel Aviv at night - it looks like any big city down below...
and in the Ben Gurion airport...
The bouquet of flowers that Netanella greeted me with were just spectacular! It brightened my hotel room for my whole stay.
The next morning, I looked out my hotel window and saw the area in daylight for the first time, and it looked like some place I had never been before (actually it looks a little bit like Tuscany with the cypress trees.)
Breakfast at the hotel was like nothing I've ever seen before! Lots of pastas and potatoes... (and hard-boiled eggs)...
An amazing array of salads...
and several feet of cheeses! Not a typical breakfast for me! There was a separate area for breads, fruits, and pastries. They sure know how to eat in Israel!
Netanella picked me up to go the her store for the first time. I stayed in Rehovot and the shop is in Holon. Another thing I learned about Israel (besides the different breakfast foods and that they feed you VERY well) is that there is a lot of traffic - lot of people in a small country! The drive took anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes depending on the day of the week. Friday and Saturday were great because that is the weekend, but Sunday morning is crazy with traffic because everyone is back to work. I kept losing track of what day of the week it was!
This new skyscraper complex in the distance is the beautiful home to Netanella's shop.
See the little oval blue sign in the lower right corner of this building? That is her store, extending across that whole right end of the building.
WOW! Netanella's store is huge and beautiful and filled with so many wonderful things. I was there four full days and still don't think I saw everything! I'm going to do a separate post about her store. It's worth a closer look!
The classroom was perfect. Don't you love those pink chairs? She spray-painted them!
I met Netanella (and Keren and Yael) four years ago at the La Dolce Vita retreat that I go to every year in Tuscany, Italy. I saw her again at CHA, the trade show in California, and then again in Italy this past spring with more friends from Israel (Ilona and Lee). We talked about me coming to teach at her shop someday, not knowing for sure how we would make that happen. It was a dream come true, a bucket list item, when it did work out and the plan was formed last fall. She is the most gracious hostess and took such good care of me!
The classes were designed as a full day event each of the four days - each person signed up for a full day from 8am to 7pm with two classes that I taught with a lunch break in between. We had 27 or 28 people there each of the four days. I was a little worried whether I would have the endurance to do such long days with so many people and, even though I have taught so many places for so many years, I was a little nervous about whether they would like me and the classes. :) Self-doubt can be a sneaky thing! I am so, so happy to say that it was wonderful and perfect. I went home each night from the day with my heart so full of love and happiness. It might sound crazy but it was truly a "God-thing" - I wasn't even that tired at the end of a day. Everyone was so sweet and welcoming and warm. I am so blessed to have so many new friends - and I'm not just saying that - it was such a blessing to me.
Here's the classes from each day...
I didn't think I'd need it because I'm used to talking to groups, but it was so good to have a microphone so that I wasn't hoarse by the end of talking for four straight days!
We joked that it was the BEST first class that I EVER had in Israel... but I mean it - I will never forget you all!!
Day two: Netanella introduced me each day in Hebrew and everyone there spoke Hebrew to each other but did super good at understanding my English and talking to me in English.
The BEST second class I ever had in Israel!! :)
This was the BEST third class I ever had in Israel! :) You girls are great!
Day 4: Just like the last child who doesn't get as many photos taken of them, so it is with the last day - when I uploaded my photos, I couldn't believe that I didn't have more from this day!
They were wonderful and the best way to end the four days! We made Debby-dori books each day and it was so much fun to see all the different books and how they turned out!
Thank you to every single person who sacrificed a day from work or away from your family to come and spend a day with me! I love you all! The biggest thank you to Netanella and her staff who couldn't have done more to make it an amazing time! xoxo
Next post will be a closer look at the store... you will wish it was in your neighborhood!