Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Have You Been to Carmel?

An hour after I arrived at Tel Aviv, the first thing I did was have all my available US dollars with Shekels (officially, New Israeli Shekel), the main currency of Israel. Why? Because before going to the apartment, my friends (Joy and Ricky, husband and wife for 15 years!) thought I had to pass by and see the HaCarmel market. And maybe buy something. HaCarmel is the city's major food market. You can enter the market, which is the whole stretch of HaCarmel Street, from Allenby Street.

But before we proceeded to the market, we stopped by a money changer shop at Allenby and had my one hundred dollars changed. I insisted that I would be given all the coin denominations, as well as the paper bills. Just wanna have me acquainted with the Israeli currency, that's all.

Happily, the teller obliged.

My pockets got full of 5, 10, and 50 agorot (100 agorot makes up a shekel). They come in brass color. Also 1 and 5 shekel coins (silver-colored). And 10 shekels (in gold and silver). The paper bills come in 20's, 50's, 100's and 200's.

Got my request so I profusely thanked her.

Now, on to Carmel.

My friends knew I would love Carmel(more popularly called). The market literally has everything (aside from the usual meatstuff, fruits, vegetables) you might need. In some corners you will find inexpensive clothes and footwear being sold. Other stores sell quality kitchen and cookware, dinner sets, and other miscellaneous items.

That part of the market opposite to the Allenby entrance is where you can check out a shop selling fresh cut flowers. In that area is also where freshly baked bagels, borekas, cookies, wheat bread and other bakery items are sold.

There were a few Asian Stores located along the stretch of the market.

Despite being a first timer, I had had my shekkel's worth - thanks to my friends who would tell me if buying an item would had me ripped off or not. But overall, they said Carmel's prices are way cheaper than anywhere else.

In the end, I had bags full of bagel, instant noodles, spices, rice, mozzarella and much, much more (You can't expect me to remember everything I bought during my first Carmel experience!).

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