This Is the Abridged Version
June 29, 2010
I’ve photoshopped my fingers to the bone, and can’t think how to go about describing this trip other than in pictures and captions. (Our favorite literary genre!) If I had more time, I’d write a shorter post. Sorreee!
Tel Aviv Day One
Some cities are easy to map in your mind. (Omaha::Manhattan; Dodge Street::Fifth Avenue.) Some cities I will never be able to map mentally, no matter how many times I visit. (Paris, Washington–curse you, diagonal spokes!) Tel Aviv is one of the easy ones. You have Hayarkon Street, which hugs the Mediterranean Sea. In the north of Tel Aviv, at least, the streets and avenues are either parallel or perpendicular to Hayarkon. It all makes sense, and if you keep track of where the Mediterranean is, that’s West, so you can suss East, North and South. Plus, there tend to be lots of people around who are more than willing to direct you, in effortless English, to your specific destination. (They would also like to know where you are from and what you are doing and how you like Israel.)
Seussian trees in a park above the beach near our hotel. It’s HOT. Can you tell? This was a continuing theme. Hot & dusty. A Biblical climate.
At first I thought it was the jet lag. But I blinked and these ladies were still there, strolling around with their hair color in progress. Whatev!
Cats are to Tel Aviv what squirrels are to New York. The kids never tired of seeing street cats perched on motorbike seats or napping under parked cars, or just sprawled on a cool spot of sidewalk. It seems wrong to call them strays, when they are so blithe and well cared-for. A missing ear here or there, and the white ones are all smudgy gray, but generally in fine fettle. People feed them, and not just scraps. We saw bowls of milk and cat kibble on the sidewalks in the morning.
A friend who was in Israel visiting his grandbabies drove down from Benyamina to take us to the beginning of the North for a day.
Cesaria. A port town built by Herod with a beautiful ampitheatre. (Whilst photoshopping I noticed that I was sitting next to my age.)
Zichron Yakov. Built by Baron Rothschild; feels a little bit like a village in France. Lovely Dane-designed playground and a most excellent ice cream shop. I discovered the Israeli designer Maya Negri, who designs stuff that looks good on real women and even middle-aged ones.
Meanwhile Back in Tel Aviv
A bedazzled recycling bin. These are on every street, although usually not bedazzled.
The closest I came to being in a yarn shop, Marietta, on Dizengoff (or Arlozarov). It’s only open from 10-1, and I kept passing by when it was closed. Some excellent knitting in there, from the looks of it.
With stockings, I’d almost look frum!
A leafy cafe.
Yes! We were with Orna & co. As we trailed her around her home town, we heard cries of “ORNA!” The shouting would be followed by a huggy reunion. We got used to it!
One of Orna’s friends lives in this amazing building. She wasn’t home, so we took pictures of the entrance.
More of a Gee’s Bend/Denyse Schmidt building.
Tel Aviv is known for its many Bauhaus apartment buildings. I didn’t take pictures of them. So Google!
This building looked like a Yoshiko Jinzenji quilt to me. All those whites/grays and the pop of color.
To Market, To Market
Nice to see friendly faces. Other Ann has one of these, no?
Even late in the day, the market was overwhelming. Here, as Shabbat approached, we saw some religious guys wrapping tefillin on passersby, who said quick prayers. We sat on chairs to rest and peoplewatch for a while.
A few feet away. Not clear what this man was doing apart from being photographed. Flowers and bottled water–not clicking with any ritual observance known to me.
Here come the Krishnas. A lot of religions on one corner, just saying.
Masada Et Cetera
Another day, we went to Masada. Tragically, I left the KayCam in the car. Better photographers than me have been to Masada, so no worries. Despite the 110-degree plus heat, it was thrilling to be there. The story is nearly unbelievable, on many levels, including engineering. Yet it’s well documented and the archeology supports it. When is the Colin Ferrell movie coming out, or has it come out, and I’ve missed it? THIS….IS…..MASADA!
The Dead Sea. Everybody who goes to Israel goes there, it is some kind of rule. It’s a curious experience. Water that does not behave like one’s previous experiences of water.
The best I can do is to say that it’s like floating on one of those foam pool rafts. But without the raft. The water holds you up and it’s so strange that if you’re not careful you will unbalance yourself and topple over face first. Which would be bad. Water this salty is nasty, and stings. After 20 minutes or so of unearthliness, you’re done.
“It’s a dry heat.” Yes. It is.
Now With More Old Testamentiness
After Masada and a warm float in the Dead Sea, it’s a sandwich and Ein Gedi. Now, this is what a Biblical place name should look like! Caves in stone cliffs. Goats (Ibex).
There’s that frum lady again.
By this time, late afternoon, the adults were trembling with fatigue. The kids, naturally, were up for a camel ride. Luckily there are camel rides at the gas station.
The pavement was so hot that the poor thing had a rug to kneel on for the mount and dismount. He (or she) did not seem at all bothered to be riding children around a parking lot.
The Finest Dairy Case In The World
No trip to a foreign land would be complete without a thorough inspection of the supermarket. Orna nearly wept at the dairy case. You can get any dairy product with almost any percentage of fat, from 0 to 12 to 60, with granola, without granola, with olives, without olives. It’s kind of crazy. But I could see how you’d miss it if you were exiled to a nation with skim, 1 percent, 2 percent and whole. In America, there is no 12 percent yogurt, and our lives are poorer for it.
Orna also claims the baking products are superior and more varied. I liked the packaging.
I recognized the face as that of Theodor Herzl, the George Washington of the modern state of Israel. But Orna had to translate and also explain the joke to me. Herzl famously said, “If you will it, it is not a legend. ” This grafito says, “And if you don’t will it…..well OK then.”
Is anybody still here? Because although this is a really long post, I’ve still got Jerusalem. Jerusalem being a major point of the whole trip. 13 more images! Stay strong! Grid your lions!
Schoolgirls on a field trip.
The Western Wall.
I have complicated feelings about the wall, which I didn’t expect. I’d like to see egalitarian practices respected, or at least tolerated, in their own section. The authoritarian atmosphere was alienating. That’s all I have to say about that.
The archeological tunnels are a must-see, so well presented and guided, a world treasure. That part of it was nothing short of gobsmacking. I want to go back again in a few years and see what they’ve dug up in the meantime. Amazing amazing amazing.
A vegetarian’s long wait for a real Jerusalem felafel, with french fries in it, was over at last.
The door to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Inside, 6 churches, each with their own domain and boundaries. Another way of agreeing to disagree, I suppose. We went into all 6. Our guide did a wonderful job of explaining the story to three wide-eyed kids. They’d heard it before, but to hear it in that place was another thing. Women covered themselves as at the wall, but here, voluntarily. No enforcers rushing over to gleefully chide a momentarily bare-armed 13 year old. (Yes, I got a bit New Yorky at that point!. No, I’m not letting it go!)
A Kaffe Fassett moment in a street of souvenir shops.
This man is just taking tea back to his shop, but I also saw vendors loading these hanging trays with cold drinks.
Green door. Blue shirt. Tired boy.
The only knitting photo from the whole trip. Gee’s Bend, meet the Temple Mount. Seems right.
Thanks for bearing with this! Back to our regularly scheduled program!