My usual flights to Miami and DC went as normal, except that Sushi Maki in MIA changed their pad thai recipe for the worse (and gave a smaller portion than normal). My flight to Paris and then through to Tel Aviv were reasonably standard. The amenities were better than an American airline, but skimpy for a European airline, especially a more expensive one.Upon landing in Tel Aviv, I discovered that my sim stopped working, even though I last used it (accidentally) in March, and it's not supposed to expire until 11 months after the last usage. I figured it was something I could get resolved later, so I passed the phone stores at the airport and headed to the car rental counter.Again, drama. I rented online through Payless through Expedia, and Eldan is the service counter for Payless. This is confusing because there is a sign for shuttle to rental cars and also a sign for rental car center that doens't say Payless anywhere on it. As a result, I first went looking for the shuttle, couldn't find it, asked and was told that rental cars are all in the same area, went up to the counters and waited. When I was served, they explained that they have a lot of problems with Payless in that there is mandatory tax/fee for insurance that most rental companies charge as part of the rental, but Payless doesn't. They did offer me the opportunity to check out the other desks before I paid the higher price (the insurance was more than the car rental, doubling the price). Nobody else had automatic or was nearly as cheap out of the desks with short lines and I didn't have time to wait around in long lines to be disappointed, so I went with them anyway.I made it to my cousins' house no problem, and hung out with them for a while. It was New Year's Eve, which is called “Sylvester” in Israel, because it is St. Sylvester's day. It is a tongue-in-cheek reminder that this is a Christian calendar holiday. Unlike in the US, nobody really has the day or day after off, so the parties aren't as big, but there are still plenty of people out. We went to a cousins' friend's house in Tel Aviv for a while and hung out, mostly being amused by her crazy cat and each other. After midnight (too early to watch the ball drop, which felt a bit odd and anti-climactic), we went out for food. There were a ton of revelers out and about in the neighborhood and plenty of restaurants open with lines out the door and around the corner. We finally settled for one that had pizza and homemade pasta. I did stick by my rule of always getting the homemade pasta. While it was good if it was regular pasta, it also didn't have the toothiness I expected, so I'm not really sure it was as homemade as advertised. As we walked back to the friend's apartment, we saw the “Hasidic Party Bus,” which cracks me up. This is a van filled with religious men (not necessarily Hasidic) in their religious clothing that was blasting pop-sounding music. The van stopped, the guys jumped out and danced (the song was either Gangnam Style or a lyric-altered version, I couldn't really tell) and then jumped back in a kept going. Later, we saw another similar group handing out (or probably selling) CDs. It was pretty funny to see the guys all into the dancing and the music, but hey, good for them to do something fun like that.