Tuesday, November 3, 2015

POSTCARD FROM JERUSALEM October 27 - Nov 1, 2015

An "uneventful" (see below) hour trip by sherut (10 passenger vans) to the Central Bus Station, then a cab to The Diaghilev Hotel, dropped our wheelie and walked to the Sarona neighborhood. We had seen some of the restoration with Jennifer when it first opened in 2014 but it has since added a market place to rival anything in the US or elsewhere. A real class act!

Looks like office building
Restaurants, food items, numerous kitchen stores, produce, a lovely tea shop
Tea shop
and on. We started with brunch/lunch at a delicious all day breakfast place. It even serves bacon and yes, I resisted the temptation opting for Mexican eggs instead! Benedicts is a chain that we had eaten at in Herzliyah with Daniella and Simone on a prior trip.

A German company selling olive oils, vinegars and liquor 

Sarona was originally a Templar Settlement that began when the Templars arrived in 1871 some 40 years before the city of Tel Aviv. The Templars were devout Christians from southern Germany who were primarily into agriculture and small business. They arrived with the first diesel engine and water pipes that brought  water into homes. Unfortunately they were also members of the Third Reich. The fascinating history is too much to write here but is available on line @ http://saronatlv.co.il.

The plan to preserve 36 historical buildings was approved in 2006.  The were demolished.

One of several concept cafes

Her "do" a real concept!
They now house clothing boutiques, jewelry stores, galleries, restaurants, etc. surrounded by lush gardens and paths. The entire complex was envisioned by 3 real estate development companies and a PR firm. It was renamed Ganei Sarona or Sarona Garden. It is now a neighborhood and the 4th most popular place in TA on TripAdvisor. There are plans to grow it even more.

After spending several hours at Sarona, we took a very long walk and ultimately met the Langs (minus Benj) at TYO, a beautiful Japanese restaurant. Unfortunately too busy visiting to remember to take pics! Jennifer and family left for home due to it being a school night and we attended Passage to Bollywood, a show at the Suzanne Dallal Center in Neve Zedek. The dancing was incredible as were the costumes. They were still jumping and clapping during the curtain calls. An amazing group!
Jackets made of cut paper in breakfast room. Beautiful!

Next morning we checked our bag at the hotel and walked to their sister hotel around the corner as we did last two times we stayed at The Diaghalev.  Another small boutique hotel, The Rothschild serves a fabulous breakfast (purple shakshuka made with beets) and is also an art hotel.

We took a cab to the Florentine neighborhood where we had taken a graffiti tour on a prior trip. Marc called our attention to an article in the Jerusalem Post re a new graffiti gallery that had recently opened.

Under 1000
This was not the Florentine we toured on a prior trip. This is a very gritty section of Tel Aviv with very little graffiti not ruined by taggers, those who scribble their names on the art. Either the article in the Post got it all wrong or the people we met with and what we saw with our own eyes did. A permanent gallery called Under 1000 sells a combination of street artists and artists like Kadishman and nothing is over $1000.  It is in a former carpentry shop and has recently doubled in space with works  arranged from floor to ceiling and intermingled, the famous with the infamous! We learned that all street artists are trained artists who choose to do much of their work on buildings, fences and walls. They are recently being accepted into galleries in Israel as well as in San Francisco.

The gallery that held its opening night recently with some 2000 guests is down the street and is only
The Street Art Gallery
temporary at the whim of the building's owner. The man who opened it up especially for us as requested by the gallerist in Under 1000, was obviously disappointed that we did not make a purchase. The gallery building was an old synagogue with high ceilings and is owned by Daniel Siboni, a French fashion and street photographer. This temporary show at The Street Art Gallery was only up for less than 2 weeks so we were lucky to catch it. The artists shown were the cream of the current crop of street artists and several of the works did sell on opening night. I can appreciate them but have no desire to own them!
The side of the building. Note $10,000 reward sign from NYC!

 The lettering piece below was done by one of the only women graffiti artists and she does them at home and puts them up. It is too dangerous for females to be out there at all hours.

Even a sign with hours for prayer.

Nearby is a very old, still used synagogue. The men were just leaving as we approached.

  I am happy to say that my husband followed me in and out of streets and parking lots looking for unmarked graffiti. We walked around puddles through real grit but we found them!

Following are a few of the better known ones!

Detail to show drawing skills

Dede is considered one of the best. His most recent work.

Another by Dede

Wonky Monky

Possibly Dede

In Neve Yacov.

Baby K

We were the last ones on the sherut so had to sit in the back with 4 seats across. Very cozy! Shortly after we left the bus station, I noticed the man next to me, probably in his 40s and wearing a black kippah, had put his hand on the seat between us. Silly me, I thought that he must be religious and didn't want to have his thigh brush against a female (of any age)! A few minutes later, I realized his fingers were slowly crawling up my thigh and with that I changed seats with Herbie. The man immediately folded his hands in his lap! Guess he wasn't into men, just old ladies!

"Borrowed" from a website!
The Temple Mount as seen from the Hurva
Built in the early18th century as The Beit Ya'acov Synagogue, it was destroyed in 1721 by Arabs, rebuilt and destroyed again in 1948 by the Jordanians. It lay in ruins for so many years it became known as The Hurva, meaning ruin. It was finally rebuilt according to the original and completed in 2010. It is a magnificent building both inside and out and is currently being used as a synagogue and a place for yeshiva boys to learn.

Marc made arrangements for a private tour which he led himself. It was before his weekly Wednesday night dinner date with the three younger kids but only Chana Tsipora and Shalom Simcha were with us. We took the elevator to the upper levels and climbed the outside winding staircase. As the sun set we could see the Temple Mount with the Dome of the Rock and Al Aksa Mosque, the area that is currently in dispute, glistening in the distance.
Synagogue arc

Looking down on the students from the top level.

Shalom Simcha and Chana Tzipora with model of Hurva.

Since we were already in the Old City, Alexander met us as we meandered in the alleyways, currently guarded by armed soldiers
Alexander invites us in!
 to show us his abode. It is in the Arab Quarter and is a group of rooms in a home. The owners rent out the extra rooms to Yeshiva boys and it is the same place Zalman lived before he got married. It is difficult to describe but suffice it to say nine guys share the space, part of which is carved out of the stones beneath the house. The only bathroom is barely big enough for one person let alone nine and the shower contains approximately
30 bottles of one soap or another.

His space!
Many people in these dangerous times call for guards to lead them through the dark alleyways to their homes, especially those who live in the Arab Quarter. We saw a family with the mother pushing a stroller and a couple of older children accompanied by two guards dressed in black. They carry guns and can be hired by calling a number. There were several soldiers in strategic areas and we felt relatively safe.

Shalom Simcha in big brother's hat!

Marc and kids marching thru!

While walking to dinner, I was able to grab a few fun photos. I had to be careful not to lag too far behind, however, as we did not have any guards with us and we left Alexander behind. Marc does not seem fazed by what has been happening and he just walks at his usual very fast pace!

How does a salad assemble itself?!

New style "do" I guess!

They are very pretty ladies!

The photo at left shows that if we smile at peaceful Arabs, they smile back. We walked by a second time and I got another smile as she remembered me.

Then we ate at a Burger Bar, a relatively good fast food joint. There are so many of them it's almost like Starbucks in the US. I was able to get a mushroom wrap with all the trimmings of a hamburger and it was actually quite good if I do say so myself!

By the way, all the above took place in two days!

Our final week to come...

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