Just to finish up on Saturday night, I took the girls to the local cafe. A cafe is not quite a fancy restaurant, not quite a pizza place and not quite a coffee bar. It has a little of everything. The one we went to was (and is) called "Cafe Cafe." Apparently, there is a shortage of names here, so they simply reuse words to express complex ideas. The food wasn't bad, in fact, the girls LOVED their personal pizzas and the Belgian waffle (the list of what was in it was so big that Maddie got full just reading it). I loved my beer. And then my milkshake. Sleep was hard to come by. But, behold, it was the second day of our trip.
This morning, I awoke extra special early, mainly because I didn;t want to and the fates would think it funnier this way. So I did some reading, waited for Mr. Sun to poke out his shiny head, and then played with the niece and nephews. The rest of them decided that our morning walk would turn into a late morning stroll. We went out a bit after 11 and headed a few blocks over to the shuk (pronounced shook, but spelled completely differently). While there I found that the indoor bazaar (spelled bizarre) had only 6 different stores, but 800,000 iterations of each. The smell of fresh old food was overpowering. The kids found a candy store and proceeded to beg for money to buy stuff easily accessible at home. But with more cachet because it was sold in Israel. We escaped the indoor portion, and wandered through the outdoor shuk and the pedestrian (and I mean pedestrian) mall of Ben Yehudah Street. We were required by law to stop into EVERY jewelry and artwork store, and at least 75% of the clothing stores even though we had no particular need or plan to buy anything. We wandered until we found a restaurant that didn't offend too highly (we chose "Luigi" which was a bit more formal than a simple cafe, but still, a lighthearted romp through the senses) and then we swooped in. The best dish was the gnocchi with a rose sauce (color, not flavor). I had an iced coffee and some soup. Nice work, that. After lunch, we continued wandering around, and stopping in places which charged too much for the kinds of stuff that we are hoping won't mortify our friends when we say "isn't it nice? we thought of you when we bought it." As we walked back, we stopped off to hear the world's worst Elvis impersonator sing for change. Not American change -- he returned the quarter because he said he couldn't use it. He also said he was from Hollywood. I'm sure that they are glad he from there and not simply there anymore.
During the trip, friends called and asked to meet us in the mall. Thus a plan was born, a plan which involved my driving a car. We came back to my sis-in-law's and stowed our gear, got directions, bribed the GPS machine so it would work, and prepared for our assault on the mall. I'll skip the traffic because I view the traffic as a good thing. It forced everyone to slow down to the level I was ready to drive at.
The mall was (and is) a mall. Let's start with the positive. I ate at McDonalds. That was interesting. The Texas Burger was ok, not great and the fries were way too salty. Also, I couldn't hear anyone talk. My Hebrew is just barely passable when I can hear what I am responding to. In this case, I fell back on English quickly, and fortunately, the entire food court was there with m. There were loads of choices, most of which served the same things, but the idea of eating in a McDonalds was too enticing. It scratched an itch -- if that's what non-kosher eaters value then I can understand why NASCAR racing is so big. Lots of bluster and smoke, and nothing interesting really there. But when you get to the end, the exhaust fumes are overpowering. Hey. Don't judge.
The girls wan't "Happy Meals" not because they had any interest in the food, but because the idea of getting a Smurf stuffed toy along with salty fries and premade chicken nuggets was too tempting. I don't feel the need to eat at a McDonalds anymore, so this was a real victory. The bucket list has been updated.
The rest of the mall is the same as any other shopping mall. Too many clothes, shoes and jewelry stores and not enough space for the husband/father to take a nap. The allure of everything's being kosher was powerful, but it was offset by the state of the bathrooms. Not so much clean. It is comforting to know that even when I don't really speak the language, I can be bored and annoyed in a foreign mall. And no, it isn't a local mall and I'm foreign. I am an American and it is foreign. True fact.
We worked our way out and drove back (the GPS, staying happily about 10 seconds behind reality) and are now winding down. By that I mean I am taking all the pictures off the various SD cards while the wife has the kids at the park.
Tomorrow, our touring begins early so I hope we sleep this evening.
It is a few hours later than when I wrote this and I'm rereading this to see if the entire McDonalds episode was a dream. It wasn't because I barely slept. But I wanted to add in a note. There are typos in these posts. I'm on vacation, using a netbook that I have to share, and only typing when I am tired and bleary eyed. Excuse the typos -- in fact, please see hem as something endearing which accentuates the authenticity of the experience.