Rehovot, Israel -- AAAAAAH! Ok, we made it to the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem 20 minutes before the bus to Rehovot was supposed to leave--enough time to buy tickets and flowers and call Daniel before we head to the Lowengrubs, right? No, the bus left more than 10 minutes early and we barely were able to get tickets in time. Ugh! That’s Egged (Israel’s bus system) for you.
Anyway, this marks the end of our stay in Jerusalem, and we must admit that it was everything we wanted/needed. This being the second time we were here since 2007, we took it a bit easy and didn’t try to overdo the site-seeing. We did do all of the usual stuff though like go to the Kotel (Western Wall) for Friday night services and eat lots of shwarma- mmmm! I think we really know the city well and Betsy says that it almost feels like a home away from home now.
On Wednesday, it was off to Machaneh Yehuda , Jerusalem’s famous outdoor market. I think that it is Betsy’s favorite part of all of Israel. The strong smell of spices, the bright colors of produce, vendors shouting TOOTIM, BANANA, BANANA! (strawberries and banana) and the hoards of people clawing their way through the crowds, and of course the lemonana (mint lemonade). Then we took a nice stroll along the Ramparts Walk en route to the Kotel. The views were amazing as we could see all of the Old City.
Thursday, we went shopping for Shabbat and bought challah, lots of deli, grape leaves, salads, wine, and a poppyseed babka (Betsy thought it was chocolate inside and enjoyed it until she found out that it was really poppyseed). We also bought Betsy a siddur (prayer book) with both English and Hebrew. Then it was Burgers Bar for lunch (I got the chicken sandwich) and off we went to draw the Chords Bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava. It is pretty controversial here because it clearly does not fit in with the Jerusalem stone that wraps every other building in the city. I liked the structure, but I can’t decide if it belongs here or not. Betsy thought that it was great except for the huge, pointy mast that was just awkward.
Friday, it rained. It seems like everywhere we go, the bad weather follows. Lets just say that it doesn’t rain in Israel too often and we were lucky enough to be here while it did. During a break in the weather, we headed to the Montefiore Windmill and wound our way through the interesting neighborhood and developments near there, Yemin Moshe and K’far David. It really is a beautifully serene place just opposite Mamila Mall and the Old City. That evening, we went to a relatively empty Kotel (because of the wet weather) for services. I joined a Minyan singing Lecha Dodi and stayed with them for the remainder of services. Betsy got right up to the wall and said some prayers with her new siddur and then joined in some singing at the end. All-in-all, it was a much better, more meaningful experience for both of us than previous times. We happily strolled back through the Jewish Quarter, awaiting the deli we had back at the hotel.
After a relaxing Shabbat, we headed out to Emek Refaim again to find a place for drinks until we regained our appetites for a late night shawarma . We found a nice looking bar/restaurant, but when we started to get served we realized that it was a restaurant and not a bar. The service was very slow, but we made the best of it.
Today, (after one more shawarma) we made it to the Lowengrubs in Rehovot! And that means Passover is coming and there is much to do before Monday night. We are very excited and are happy to be with “family.” And we are also looking forward to the great food and the Seders. Chag Kosher V’Sameach—To those of you celebrating, have a wonderful holiday!