We woke up late this morning, and didn't check out of the hotel until 10 am. It's nice to feel so lazy after being on such a strict schedule with the JWRP. We drove to Akko, where we stopped and took a few photos of us on the Seawall Promenade, right near the lighthouse. Patrick seems to think this means we "visited Akko," but I have to respecfully disagree. I say we stopped at Akko. I think to say we have visited, we need to either enter one of the well-known sites, stay the night, or spend money (like a meal or a souvenir). What do you think? (Please comment here on the blog, not on Facebook, so everyone can see your opinion).
We drove on back to Petach Tikva, stopping at Netanya for a gas fill and lunch (gas fill was 260 NIS, or 45$, can you believe it?!). On the way, I spent most of my time on the phone with various family members, trying to arrange for a change in schedules. Galit's kids had a bunch of different events tomorrow, so we changed seeing them tomorrow for seeing them tonight. We were going to have dinner at a restaurant on the beach, but the only time they had was 5 pm, so by the time we arrived in Petach Tikva at 4 pm, I hustled into the shower and we rushed to meet them at 4:45. I didn't even have time to wrap their presents like I wanted to. Patrick didn't care, but that is so like a guy. To a woman, presentation is everything.
We pulled off the side of the road to meet them about 5 minutes behind schedule, but they were not there yet. They pulled up shortly thereafter, and we followed them (at breakneck speed, I may add) to Manta Ray, this awesome restaurant on the beach between Tel Aviv and Jaffa. When we got a table outside, I was surprised to find it so comfortably cool and breezy. Easily the most enjoyable outdoor meal I can remember. The mezze here were way better. Avant garde ceviches, endive with camemberto (which tastes more like a mild feta than the camembert that we all know and love), spinach with couscous and diced shrimp, calamari, etc. Mmmmmmm. Even the kids (Kim and Tom, 13 year old boy twins, Ben who is 11, and Mia who is 7) ate the calamari. The boys of course teased their sister with the fact that she was eating Squidward (of Spongebob fame). They are very cute. I wish we spoke more Hebrew or they were willing to try out their English, as almost our entire interaction was with Galit and Harel.
We had dinner, followed by gelato and a walk through Jaffa's Old City. I was interested to see some places opened up after Shabbat ended, but not many. I really just enjoyed reconnecting with my cousin and her family. 15 years is much too long to go between visits. I am blessed with financial stability, and if you cannot use that to stay in touch with family, not much else matters.