Sunday, January 24, 2016

Bus stop, wet day

And now for an interim report.

Today's scheduled walking tour of the Old City of Jerusalem is brought to you by umbrellas and boots. Maddie and I got up, said good bye to Elijah and ran downstairs to the local store to get water and toilet paper. We had plans -- big plans. Anyway, we got back upstairs and everyone assembled for the day's walk to and around the old city with our tour guide, David. If you are looking for him, his name is David so that should narrow it down. And he has a hat, so that should help. We walked down to the Jaffa gate amidst rain and winds and at around 9AM met our guide. It was already only 42 degrees with rain. We mentioned how we would like to see things off the beaten path and primarily indoors. He seemed amenable to that.

We walkeda around the corner to the Tower of David museum. I have been to the old city many times, and have entered through that gate most every time, but I have never been in that museum. The entire history of Jerulsaem is laid out with models, pictures, architecture and explanations. Parts of the tour are outside, with stunning views completely ruined by rain and parts are inside with incredible exhibits completely ruined by the prospect of having to go back out into the rain. But at about 9 bucks a person, we were out of the rain for a while, and I learned a thing or two (some people say that "scallions" are named such because they were grown in Ashkelon/Ascelon -- that's cool).

After that we walked through the byways of the old city and even saw an actual column dating from the Roman legion times (it was being used as the base for a street lamp, but it wasn't one of those reproductions by the Antiquities Department -- this was the real deal). The roads are narrow and confusing and navigating them amidst the others walking, the occasional moped and half obscured street signs was made more difficult by the rain and wind which ruined a few perfectly cromulent umbrellae (that's the plural). Julie said that they turned into "unbrellas" but I looked it up and that's not a word. We stopped off at the courtyard to our guide's house so he could discuss the architecture and age of various homes, and explain the history of the area. We walked through the lower market, the Cardo, and saw columns from 2000 years ago. I believe that the cat sitting next to one was similarly as old.

At this point, Talia's feet decided that she could no longer rely on them. Her canvas sneakers had absorbed their fill of rain water so they decided to give up. The rest of her quickly followed suit. We decided that the girls would head back to the apartment afterlunch so they could dry off properly. Julie and I would continue to walk around because we are old and everything already hurts regardless of the weather. Before we stopped for lunch, we went to the guide's mother-in-law's house. We got to go in to her residence in the old city and see what a house there looks like. She was wonderfully welcoming, her house was beautiful and Talia even managed to smile a little bit. A sofa and heat can do that, I guess. She spoke with us about the decision to make aliyah and the kinds of places and lives people lead. It was really very nice and much more informative and intimate than any formalized museum or tour ever could be. She also invited Maddie to come by and stay over if she wishes (Maddie also knows her grand daughter so it was comfy-cozy pretty quickly). I think that of all the "touring" that was a high point.

When we went back outside, it had gotten worse. The wind was whipping up dangerously so we decided to go back to the Jaffa gate area, eat at Aroma cafe and then all head back to the apartment. Wading back into the old city, even for me and Julie seemed foolish. The guide understood. At Aroma, Julie and Maddie got some hearty soups, I got a tuna sammich and a double espresso, and Talia got a chocolate danish and hot chocolate. To top t off, she dropped in some of the complimentary mini chocolate bars that they gave us. The prospect of returning to the apartment invigorated her. The girls left the meal and took the light rail back, and Julie and I decided to walk back. The walk from the Mamila area isn't bad -- straight up Jaffa Road, but the wind and rain had intensified again. I have walked through many storms and have experienced heavy rain, but never more consistent and brutal winds. We finally made it back and dumped a whole bunch of stuff into the dryer, pumped up the heat and hid under our respective covers, promising to come out in May.

More updates as events warrant. (MUAEW)

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