Another rainy, gray morning. Maddie had promised Talia that they would go buy stuff on Ben Yehudah so I tagged along while Julie slept in. The wind kicked up and the rain was on and off. Bottom line, it was cold. We stopped in to a bunch of small stores and tried to buy something in each one, and be very thankful to the proprietors. All that niceness was very draining so we had to get something to eat. Had to. We went to Moshikos. Because Moshikos. I actually tried some charif on my felafel and it was delicious. Of course, washing my hands in cold water and drying them by blowing cold air on them, then walking around holding the felafel in my cold hands probably made the spicy sauce more reasonable. But it was delicious. We wandered back to unload all that we bought.
I guess all this seems rather superficial and in a way, it is. The essence of the trip was to visit with Maddie and eat anything I could. To a lesser degree we got to spend time with family and friends and support the economy by taking taxis and buying some stuff. Even as we sat in the apartment, not having seen the "important" things, I really feel like this has been a successful trip. We did get to catch up with wonderful old friends. We did connect with family and we did eat everything that wasn't tied down (and some that was). We met new people and saw things we hadn't seen before. We haven't killed each other or broken major laws. Mostly, we just soaked in the whole experience of being in Israel and it felt good.
After we came back, Julie started out on her junket to Talpiyot -- the Emanuel something or other. I really don't understand it but apparently they sell stuff and she buys stuff so everyone is happy. And I napped, so really, everyone is happy. I can't tell if the napping is a vestige of jet lag, is a sign of my advanced age, is a perk of having nothing to do and no pressures, or is because I was wrapped in a blanket, staving off the cold so my body decided to conserve energy by sleeping. The end result matters. I slept. Yum.
Upon her return, we prepped for our final evening out. A last dinner in Jerusalem requires something heavy duty. Tonight, industrial strength waffles that you can only get at a factory. Not a bar. That would be ridiculous. So we cabbed to the Waffle Factory (not the Waffle Bar, God forbid) in Cinema City. In Israel, many places have English names. In Hebrew, the name is more complex -- it is "Sinema Siti" so you can see how that would be confusing. There were no tables available so we wandered around a bit until one opened up. At one vendor, I bought a smarmy shirt. The t-shirts were full of puns more than smarm but I found a way. Like finds like.
I had a pizza and beer and, sitting amongst the birthday parties and barber poles (this is a theme restaurant and barbers are the theme?) I really felt like I was at a non-kosher family, junky restaurant. Except for the beer (Stella). And the sweet potato soup. And Julie's fancy crispy gnocchi salad. Mostly, though, it was low brow and delicious. Then we began the traditional argument over dessert. When one has the option of six toppings and two children one would think that each child would get to choose 3 toppings. This is not true. It took a Solomonic insight but I adjudicated and we agreed that each party would get to choose 2 toppings and then 2 would be agreed upon as a demilitarized zone of toppings-in-common administered by an impartial parental body. And peace reigned in the Waffle Kingdom.
Behold the power of beer.
While Julie nursed her decaf cappuccino (ha!) with 1% milk [no skim here] the girls ate their diabetes platter. Waffles topped with chocolate sauce vanilla ice cream and 5 different candy bars and cookies topped with more chocolate syrup. I got a contact carb coma and nutritionists in the vicinity of Alderaan felt a disturbance in the force. They stumbled through their collective stupor until we found a cab. A side note -- I can't eat the desserts here because this country was founded on blood, sweat, and tree nuts. So with all the bakeries, ice cream places, and factories which churn out waffles topped with yummy stuff, I eat none of it. I found one place (Coney Island bakery on Yafo, I think) at which I ate a parve donut. And please speak not of such exigencies as "candy" which lacks chocolate. What's even the point of that?
Our taxi took us to the Kotel. We hadn't visited it yet and it is important to go if only for a brief visit. The driver wanted to charge us a flat rate of 70 Shekalim (17 dollars). We opted for the metered rate and he was less than enthused. I was afraid that he would intentionally take back roads in order to inflate the overall charge but we arrived and the meter still only read 50 Shekalim (12.5 dollars). So there you go.
Being at the Kotel, no matter how often I go, and what time I arrive, is unnerving, and exhilarating. It makes everything that I believe and which defines me very real. It isn't about stories or myths, but about a very real place. Seeing the people there who, regardless of their personal beliefs and practices all are united at that wall is humbling. We are part of a very special chain and sometimes it takes touching a wall to remind us of how both important and small we really are. We have to pack now, and get ourselves ready for an early wake up and a cab to the airport. I will take notes and write up a summary at some point after our return. I think you for your patronage and attention thus far and hope I have represented my trip and all that I ate while on my trip, faithfully.