Shoshana and Karl arrived for the last phase of our vacation, so our entire nuclear family is intact. As I write this, Sho, Karl and Ephy are all crowded into our small apartment. Terri has just made an Israeli scrambled breakfast for all of us, and who knows, perhaps some of these new culinary skills will be reflected back into our American lives.
Yesterday Shoshana and Karl arose after about 3 hours of sleep following their 20 hour journey to join us. That long because they had an 8 hour layover in Istanbul. We decided to make Jerusalem the focus of the day, but first there was the need to see our own little area of Paradise. So we walked along the Yarkon River to the Mediterranean Sea and sat at a pleasant bistro for coffee.
From there we headed off first to the Sheirut (shared taxi) for the number 4 line, then the Sheirut to Jerusalem. We arrived to a sun drenched day. Ephy and Karl split off (don’t ask) and met up with us later. We arrived promptly at the Jaffa Gate to the old city and had a pleasant conversation with one of the perennially stationed guides who turned out to be an Armenian who is married to a Jewish woman and living in the Jewish Quarter. We took the usual path to the Western Wall where we reconnected with Ephy and Karl. As we walked along the wall, we realized that they were letting tourists up to the Dome level and we hurried over to ascend. Terri and I had attempted this a half dozen times only to find it closed, but here we found it wide open just as our entire clan assembled.
We spent an hour strolling around the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa. The only wrinkle in an otherwise perfect day: I began shedding my shoes to enter the Dome, but I was immediately stopped by an Arab guard who told me, “Muslims only.” I briefly thought about claiming to be Muslim, but decided not to make a scene. But the guard decided to make a scene for me loudly speaking about what “Sharon had done in 2000.” Although call of reason suggested to me that I would like to talk to this guy, I realized that this would be among the many things beyond my abilities. So we walked off to more areas of the Temple Mount. Eventually an Israeli security guard shooed us back into the city, and I was delighted that this put me through a new gate I had not experienced before. We traveled a bit in the area of the Via Dolorosa and heading south came to a different tunnel-entrance to the area of the Western Wall. From there we briefly exited the city via the Dung Gate so that Karl could have a view of the City of David (he was hoping to see more since he had prepped for our trip by reading the Shanks book on the subject). But we didn’t have that sort of time and January weather isn’t really conducive to a walk through Hezekiah’s tunnel.
We backtracked through the Dung Gate and made our way through the Jewish Quarter stopping for lunch at a Felafel/showarma stand. From there it was a matter of a little shopping along the Roman Cardo (I finally the found the pocket edition of Siddur Rinat Yisrael I had been seeking) and then through the Armenian Quarter to the Tower of David. Karl was hoping to visit the Citadel, but it was already closing time.
We walked to the pedestrian mall at the intersection of King George and Ben Yehuda. Sho and Terri went shopping, Karl, Ephy and I spent the time listening to street musicians (better than usual, especially the saxophonist) and talking about the themes that come to mind when one visits Jerusalem. Call it of rabbis and Judaism and such. 🙂
We had dinner in a dairy restaurant (I had the “Mediterranean Pizza”, a concoction of a flat bread, sprinkled mid-Eastern cheeze, olives and tomatoes).
We got back to Tel Aviv about 9pm and enjoyed desert at our favorite fro-yo place (Igloo) and collapsed about an hour later. It was a very pleasant day.