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January 25, 2008 10:38 PM   Subscribe

Help me plan a really romantic date...

in Israel.

If you recall, a while back I asked about how to get to israel to visit a friend. Since then, Life Has Happened [so inconvenient!] and now I have pretty high hopes that this can be more than a friendship.

I just don't know what to do.

I've been single for a long time [I know you old folks [calm down!] won't agree that's possible, but it is].

I'm nervous. I haven't dated for so long because I've been waiting for something extraordinary, and... this feels extraordinarily scary.

So, here's the situation:
I'll be in Haifa, Israel. It will be late february or early march. I will have a negligible budget, but she knows that. She's a vegetarian, but it's Israel, so presumably no problems. It will be my second day in the country.

I want to appear suave and worldly for just one night. I want to look like a guy with a plan, for just one night. I want to know the tastiest, quitest restaurant and then find a place to go swing dancing and after that I want to walk by a little shop that sells the best ice cream and stumble upon a park with flowers that just happen to be in bloom.

I want to have exact change for the bus - for two.

I need your help, internet.

Maybe the flowers could come first. It's up to you.
posted by Acari to Human Relations (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

skip the dinner and dancing thing - it's been done a million times. get a copy of the lonely planet, find something interesting, but not too touristy, in the area (zoo, water slide, hot springs, bungy jumping, park with a carousel, whatever) ideally something she's never done before - if it's new and interesting to her you'll undoubtably get points for being different from all the other guys.

actually, swing dancing might be ok, but seriously, bungy jumping is better.

oh, hey, are there any super high end hotels in halfa? in singapore me and my friends used to put on swim trunks under tshirts, walk into the ritz carton like we owned it, and head straight to the pool, which as in many 5 star hotels is like a little piece of manicured-gardens and wet bar heaven, where we would spent the afternoon. it was really nice surroundings, and with a partner in crime, theres the thrill of doing something forbidden and not getting caught. you'd need to do some reconnaissance beforehand though, try it out and make sure security isn't to tight, figure out where the pool is so you can walk straight there, etc - if you got busted it might not be such a great date (though it wouldn't kill ya if you both arent too easily embarrased and you have a plan b)

anyway, the main thing: dinner and dancing is pretty much standard - i've always gotten great milage out of doing something a bit out of the ordinary.
posted by messiahwannabe at 11:00 PM on January 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm an old pro at the pretending-like-I'm-staying-at-fancy-hotels game. It's great!
I never thought of it as a date activity, but that's pretty clever.

We will have a month together to do all kinds of fun stuff like that, and I'm pretty sure that things won't be too predictable. We'll be hitchhiking and staying in monasteries and diving in the red sea and going to egypt to visit relics on mount Sinai and stuff.
I'm not knocking the thinking outside of boxes, but I really want one night that is a definite *date* date. To clear things up in my mind, if nothing else.
posted by Acari at 11:10 PM on January 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

To be honest, for a first date your plan sounds perfect. How much more romantic could it be to be taken out for a wonderful dinner, dancing, and then a flower on the way home? Having my date sneak me into an expensive hotel to use their facilities for free would be a definite turn-off for me. Maybe once we've been dating for a while, and are "serious", then I'd go along for a lark, but not on a first date. That just reeks of cheapness; "You're not worth the price of a nice hotel." Sorry I can't recommend any places in Israel, but my inner romantic is swooning at the thought of my date having exact bus change ready in advance and taking me to dinner in a quiet little restaurant. There is a reason that some things are "classic" (such as so-called cliched first date activities) - it's because they are good.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:20 PM on January 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

fair enough, though theres something to be said about being stealthy about such things - your splashing around in the pool, getting all touchy and stuff... your eyes lock... suddenly your kissing. much less awkward and forced then a "date"!

unless you're all-but-sure she wants to get romantic with you of course, in which case i suppose dinner-and-dancing could clear things up one way or the other. but myself, i'd maybe do things the other way around though, you know, be suave and smooth and guy-with-a-plan but not in a specific date-like way (at least not so early on in the trip if it's not very very clear thats what you both are expecting) but just sorta be touchy feely and extra-friendly, let some tension build, and then, when the moment feels right and you're kinda wondering if maybe she wants you to kiss her, do.

that's just me though, i'm guessing there will be many many different opinions in this rather complex subject ;)
posted by messiahwannabe at 11:25 PM on January 25, 2008

ps. this is a bit un-pc, so sorry if i offend... but in my experience, a guy should think thrice before taking a womans advice about dating. they usually mean well, but for some reason the advice i get from women always seems to go horribly wrong! i remember when my good friend e****, lovely girl, clever and very kind hearted, told my friend t** to write the girl he had a crush on a letter. A LETTER! killed his chances permanently, poor guy, and i think the girl kinda liked him up to that point.

for instance, i dont know why, but buying flowers makes you seem like a simp to a girl. tried it several times, wont do it again.

i often spend little or no money on a first date: motorbike lessons through the ricefields of bali: free. walk through the park: $1 for the carosel ride. cooking a meal together: cheaper than eating out! etc etc etc it almost always seems to go over well. especially if it's not 100% clear that you two are a romantic item!

if she's at all adventurous, and you're under the age of, say, 30, i really dont think she'll think you're cheap for suggesting a sneak into a 5-star pool.

i'm happy to agree to disagree though, so please dont take my opinions as a personal attack oriole.
posted by messiahwannabe at 11:38 PM on January 25, 2008

Response by poster: Before we get too far off track [off track note: I asked her on this date in a series of *gasp* letters written in puzzles and invisible ink that she won't be able to decode until she gets them all. So I guess I'm doomed ;)] I want to clarify here:

I'm looking for specific advice about this city so I can plan something to do in Haifa.
Yes, I'll look at guidebooks, but I want the inside track on something spectacular, if anybody happens to know. She's been there before and has family that lives there, so I'll have to really pull a rabbit out of a hat to impress her.

If your idea is super dlux amazing because you live there and have just opened up a secret vegan bakery with a dance floor, please metamail me in case she finds her way to this page within the next month somehow.
posted by Acari at 12:06 AM on January 26, 2008

Best answer: I lived in Haifa for a while and I didn't do a lot of fancy eating there but probably the most romantic place I could recommend would be Hashmura 1872. Not really that extensive for vegetarians but a good menu nonetheless and it's in the old German colony in a refurbished stone building. Also nice for dramatic night views of the Baha'i terraces.

The only "vegetarian" place I really went was Yotvata, which is not really romantic but the food is good. If you're looking for something unusual, you could eat at Yotvata, take the cablecars up to the top of Mt Carmel. It's the kind of thing that she might not have done even if she's been to Haifa. You could also take the Carmelit (a barely used straight-line subway system) which is kind of odd and quirky.

If you take the cable car, there are a few things close to the exit that are interesting, like the Cave of Elijah and Stella Maris, but you might be less interested in that sort of thing if you're already doing a tour of those types of sites elsewhere.

I would recommend walking the promenade on Yefe Nof and viewing the Baha'i gardens. Not sure what's in bloom at that time of year, but for a nice dramatic effect you could show up at sunset, just as all the lights come on. It's a very romantic site and a great view of the terraces and the whole city.

I also like the sculpture garden on Hatzionut, but it's not exactly the kind of place that it's easy to just stroll by.

Another nice walking possibility is to go down to the Beit Hagefen Cultural Center on Hagefen St. They sponsor art rotating themed art projects that are set up in the area through the Wadi Nisnas and you should be able to pick up a little pamphlet with a map of the current pieces. You could try to get one ahead of time and then just casually happen to walk by the wall-paintings and bizarre sculptures as you make your way through the Wadi.

Best ice cream, for me, was a gelato shop in Mercaz Ha'Carmel off of Hanassi Ave. -- I don't remember the name of it, but it's about a block up the street from the Carmelit exit.

There is also a zoo up in the Mercaz but I never went there so I don't know if it's worth visiting or not.

I want to have exact change for the bus - for two.

The bus should be NIS 5.50 per person, so 11 sheks should do. You could also take a sherut, in which case you don't need exact change. Not really sure whether a sherut counts as better or worse for "date" ride, though. I guess it depends on what kind of vibe you're going for.

Anyway, hope that's helpful.
posted by camcgee at 2:35 AM on January 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Acari, go here. There's a page on things to do in Haifa, and also a forum where you can ask questions. I'm sure they'll give you all the skinny there is to know on Haifa, and come February/March--you'll be all suavish and worldly for that one night.:)

Tell us how it goes...
posted by hadjiboy at 5:10 AM on January 26, 2008

Best answer: haven't been in haifa for some years, but there are some really upscale hotels there. i seem to recall the hilton (!) being swanky. Some of Haifa rests on the side of a large mountain/incline/hill thing, and the 'carmelit' is a funky sort of train that gets you to the top. That's where I remember the nice hotels being, with fantastic views of the port.

Definitely, definitely, second the Bahai gardens. Make sure to get the times they're open and plan accordingly. She's probably been there, but maybe you can coordinate some romantic stunt to pull off (eg, have some flowers there ahead of time, and freak her out when you 'pull' them from the carefully manicured beds, or whatever. dont get kicked out).

There's a science museum that's pretty much a basic science museum with soap bubbles and what not, but i remember it being fairly empty and having a GREAT time there with my friends, goofing around. Don't know if that's your style.

i'll let you know if i remember anything else. for food, i had rather unremarkable falafel at the train station. Ooh! the train to tel aviv was fun!

If you head down to Jerusalem (or even Tel Aviv), I'll have a lot more ideas. Plus, we can have a meetup :)
posted by prophetsearcher at 11:21 AM on January 26, 2008

"Before we get too far off track [off track note: I asked her on this date in a series of *gasp* letters written in puzzles and invisible ink that she won't be able to decode until she gets them all. So I guess I'm doomed ;)]"

ha! well, shut my mouth then! course e**** didn't suggest a a letter in the form of a series of puzzles in invisible ink ;) damn, that's pretty creative. have fun on the date!
posted by messiahwannabe at 8:50 PM on January 26, 2008

Best answer: Lately, a bunch of trendy restaurants were opened around Merkaz Ha'Carmel.
There are a couple of sea food restaurants, some trendy burger bars. I can recommend Giraffe - a Thai noodle bar. They have some very good vegetarian options.
I wouldn't go to Yotvata, their food is unremarkable and the restaurant is as far from romantic as one could be.
You will not have problems finding vegetarian entries in any restaurants in Israel. Even steak and grill places serve vegetable lasagna.

I third the Bahai gardens. It's probably the best attraction in Haifa, and many locals have never been there. And you could always take the train to Tel Aviv. It's an hour away and a lot more fun than Haifa.
posted by ye#ara at 10:55 PM on January 26, 2008

I fourth the Bahai gardens.

About the giving her flowers or not issue: don't do it if it's a situation where she'll have to carry them around for the rest of the day/evening/whatever - I hate not having my hands free/having flowers that are half-squished from hanging out in my purse.
posted by naoko at 8:40 AM on January 28, 2008

Response by poster: Dear Everybody:
Thanks for the advice and encouragement.
Super special secret thanks to the guy who just opened a vegan bakery with a dance floor and mailed me the details so that they wouldn't show up on the...

That's a pretty good note re: flowers getting squished. I will keep it in mind.
posted by Acari at 7:13 PM on January 28, 2008

Response by poster: so - update:

no plans stayed plannish, but change for the carmelit [ridiculous!] was indeed in pocket.

But yes.
Things could not have worked out better.
[things continue to be suspicously awesome]

thanks to everyone for advice and encouragement.
posted by Acari at 12:41 AM on March 5, 2008

Wild. When I mefimailed you a few minutes ago about an update, I had no idea you had posted an update here. I just found it in my RSS reader. Great minds, dude...
posted by prophetsearcher at 9:00 AM on March 5, 2008

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