batyatoon: (jerusalem cat)
batyatoon ([personal profile] batyatoon) wrote2010-12-02 09:32 pm

What I Did On My Vacation to Israel

by B. Wittenberg, age 35 1/2

a list in four parts

1. En Route
  • was not subjected to the backscatter-or-gropedown security measure, thankfully
  • failed to sleep on the plane
  • watched all but the first 1/3 of Salt
  • changed planes in Madrid, with a two-hour transfer time
  • discovered that I do not know how to say "I cannot remove my hat for religious reasons" in Spanish; was fortunately saved by an understanding security person
  • lost 7 hours owing to the curvature of the planet

2. In Ramat Beit Shemesh
  • hugged my brother and sister-in-law and nephews and nieces a lot
  • was alternately attached to and eyed at a shy distance by youngest niece
  • visited an Israeli mikvah for the first time in my life
  • began reacquainting myself with Israeli produce (oh, Israeli tomatoes, how I have missed you)
  • re-met my oldest nephew, age 13, whose bar mitzvah was the entire purpose of the trip; discovered that he is, in fact, made of awesome and win
  • danced at the bar mitzvah party Thursday night; saw my mother dance too, which was lovely
  • was unable to avoid political discussion with my brother; sigh
  • also had lots of fun non-political conversation with my brother; yay
  • also got to talk to family members and friends of family that I haven't seen in ages; more yay!
  • heard my oldest nephew read his Torah portion flawlessly and deliver a very thoughtful speech about it
  • told lots of clean jokes with my younger nephew and nieces
  • watched stars from our rented apartment's balcony
  • ate the best pizza in the country on said balcony with family
  • discovered that a lot of the hedges around the neighborhood are rosemary; was sadly unable to bring any home

3. In Yerushalayim
  • spent about half the time not recognizing the place because it's been twenty frakking years and a whole lot of new stuff has been built; felt heart leap repeatedly at recognizing places that haven't changed
  • visited the Kotel haMaaravi, prayed, and left a note for God; saw hundreds of fellow Jews and others doing the same
  • wandered the Rova; saw the Cardo, the increasingly inaccurately named Hurva Synagogue (which was still a ruin the last time I was there), and the Machon Mikdash
  • ate Israeli street food (falafel one day and shwarma another)
  • shared some of said shwarma with a very friendly stray cat of the Old City, one of dozens I saw (and even more I didn't) but the only one I interacted with; taught youngest nieces that a cat should always be petted head to tail, and that after petting a stray cat one must always wash one's hands very thoroughly
  • bought a pomegranate the size of my two fists in the Old City, unbelievably juicy and sweet
  • rode the #17 Egged bus around town
  • visited the Israel Museum in the company of [ profile] kimpire, [ profile] nightface, and Shear (if you have an LJ name I don't know it! this should be fixed!), and spent an afternoon hanging out with the latter two
  • hung out in the Midrechov; tried espresso with ice cream in it; bought earrings
  • had dinner with cousins in the Mamilla mall
  • went by our old apartment from when I lived in Jerusalem as a young teenager; discovered that one side of the building looks exactly the same and the other side is completely unrecognizable
  • visited the Mahane Yehuda Shuk (open-air market); saw pomegranates the size of footballs and pineapples the size of baseballs and mutant eggplants and dragonfruit and gigantic slabs of halvah; bought a cup of fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice
  • did the underground tour of the City of David archaeological dig; discovered that my nieces and nephews have unbelievable reserves of energy

4. Going Home
  • woke up at 2:00 am to get to the airport by 3:15 am for a 6:00 am flight oh god
  • discovered that the bust of Ben Gurion at the eponymous international airport looks a lot like an Oan
  • was interviewed by El Al security, who remind me why I hate the TSA; this is how you do rigorous security, guys
  • slept on the plane a lot
  • watched Toy Story 3; cried in all the usual spots
  • changed planes in Barcelona; had Sondheim song running through head for hours
  • gained 7 hours owing to the curvature of the planet
  • discovered on arrival in New York that our luggage was still in Barcelona; have since recovered it
  • came home and slept the sleep of the longest day ever

All in all: a week wasn't anything like long enough. I want to go back.

[identity profile] 2010-12-03 03:09 am (UTC)(link)
discovered that the bust of Ben Gurion at the eponymous international airport looks a lot like an Oan

In oy-est vey, in blackest night
No kishke shall escape my bite!
Let those who would mix milk and meat
Beware my power! Alright, let's eat!
agonistes: a house in the shadow of two silos shaped like gramophone bells (amazing adventures of kavalier and clay)

[personal profile] agonistes 2010-12-03 03:16 am (UTC)(link)
pineapples the size of baseballs

But did you get a personal pineapple?
ext_3294: Tux (Default)

[identity profile] 2010-12-03 04:13 am (UTC)(link)
Mmmmmm, shwarma. I only discovered this dish this summer... I need to go back to that little place.

And oh how I wish you could've brought your security home with you!

Glad to see you home safe.
ext_3294: Tux (Default)

[identity profile] 2010-12-03 04:15 am (UTC)(link)
I gotta ask... what does it say under the cat?

[personal profile] hms42 2010-12-03 05:30 am (UTC)(link)
Sounds like you had a good, but way too short trip.
newredshoes: radio tower on top of the world (Default)

[personal profile] newredshoes 2010-12-03 05:30 am (UTC)(link)
Fun fact: there is an exact copy of that bust of Ben Gurion in our work lobby. I think he looks like the Mayor of Munchkinland.

Also, I am pleased that I recognize some of the things you're talking about! It sounds like you had an absolutely wonderful week -- as it should be! <33333

[identity profile] 2010-12-03 02:42 pm (UTC)(link)
You know, that would make sense if the Mayor was an Oan (although in the original illustrations, most of the inhabitants of of The Emerald City looked like Oans.

And Emeralds are green...waitaminute...

[identity profile] 2010-12-03 05:33 am (UTC)(link)
I wish I could have gone with you.

Though I probably would have stopped you from getting on the bus ... not that taxis are intrinsically safer, but, y'know. I worry.

I'm glad you're home. We should really do a group trip one of these years.

beable: (Default)

[personal profile] beable 2010-12-03 03:58 pm (UTC)(link)

I would be inspired to go back for something like that.

(The group trip, not specifically stopping people from getting on busses that is)

[identity profile] 2010-12-03 08:06 pm (UTC)(link)
Someday. :) We'll have to make it happen.

[identity profile] 2010-12-03 07:03 am (UTC)(link)
Next time you go, I may beg a favor.

[identity profile] 2010-12-04 01:54 am (UTC)(link)
My mom is buried is somewhere in the Hebron/Kiryat Arbah area. It is highly unlikely I will ever get to visit it. I would very much like someone to go there (I'm sure I could go through a local agency or something to find the exact cemtary/plot/etc) and put a stone on her marker for me, and possibly say kaddish (though I realize that may not be appropriate, so.) She made aliyah in 1996 and passed in 2007.

[identity profile] 2010-12-17 02:51 am (UTC)(link)
I would be fine with asking your brother about it. I appreciate you being willing to try in whatever fashion that works - just let me know if he's amenable, and I'll contact the right agencies to try and track down her plot location.

[identity profile] 2010-12-03 07:51 am (UTC)(link)
Avir harim zalul kayayin
Ve-rei'ah oranim
Nissa be-ru'ah ha'arbayim
Im kol pa'amonim

U-ve-tardemat ilan va-even
Shvuyah ba-halomah
Ha-ir asher badad yoshevet
U-ve-libbah homah

Yerushalayim shel zahav
Ve-shel nehoshet ve-shel or
Ha-lo le-khol shirayikh
Ani kinnor.

[identity profile] 2010-12-03 01:35 pm (UTC)(link)
discovered that the bust of Ben Gurion at the eponymous international airport looks a lot like an Oan

When I was doing a scavenger hunt for work, I discovered that the bust in the library has a flat head that is perfect for balancing foam stress-ball owls on. They wouldn't stay on Golda Meir's head, though.

[identity profile] 2010-12-03 02:52 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm curious about the preferable form of rigorous security! What was the interview like?
beable: (Default)

[personal profile] beable 2010-12-03 03:57 pm (UTC)(link)

There was an article about it recently in comparison to the TSA model:

beable: (Default)

[personal profile] beable 2010-12-03 03:55 pm (UTC)(link)

discovered on arrival in New York that our luggage was still in Barcelona; have since recovered it

When I was in Israel 18 years ago, I flew back through London (overnight) to Montreal. One of my bags arrived properly in Montreal the next day. One of them went to New York City (not sure which airport). At the time I was envious - I wasn't to visit NYC until 10 years later when I first went to visit Merav there (and met you) - and it was VERY SAD That my luggage was better travelled than I was (it did eventually make it back to me)

Ben Gurion Airport also has the distinction of being the only airport I have deliberately slept in overnight. At the time, I was flying home after having spent almost 6 months living in Israel, I was almost out of money, this was before I had an credit card or some other way to draw it easily, and I needed to be at the airport at 5:00 am on a Sunday morning. So I caught the 1 bus from my kibbutz to Jerusalem early in the evening (around 8 or 9) and then - having nothing else I could do with ALL MY LUGGAGE with me - caught the first bus to Ben Gurion, and then slept on my bags on a luggage cart (theft protection, "did you pack your own bags" protection, and more squishy and comfortable than a chair) until the check-in for my flight was opened.

I'm glad you had such a wonderful trip!

beable: (care cthulhus)


[personal profile] beable 2010-12-03 04:02 pm (UTC)(link)

I clicked on yuor OAn link to WIkipedia (first time I'd heard of them)

My first thought was that the one in front on the bottom looks exactly like Ben Gurion.

It's not terribly surprising. Sir Wilfrid Laurier (on the Canadian $5) looks an awful lot like Spock.

This is my proof that the Vorlons have been to Earth, and they love messing with us.

[identity profile] 2010-12-03 05:47 pm (UTC)(link)
I really enjoyed reading this, and wish we could see you more often in person.

[identity profile] 2010-12-05 12:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Yes! Come back! We didn't spend nearly enough time together. And you didn't meet my wife or my daughter.