We'll start with the highlight of our day again - we are not quite sure if it was the Kotel or seeing Donna. We'll call it a tie.
Shabbat was wonderful - we hung out with the Hartsteins, went on several walks, went to several playgrounds, played battleship, talked, laughed and relaxed. Motzei Shabbat (that's after Shabbat) Mike took Eitan and Noah to Burgers Bar - a hamburger place where you watch them grill the burgers, choose the sauce, toppings, etc. Believe it or not, only the boys got burgers as we were going out with Mo and Elisa. We went to a creperie and had a great time.
This morning we (meaning Sima) finished laundry while Mike took the boys and Ilana for haircuts (Ilana just got her bangs trimmed). We stopped at a bakery for donuts, bourekas, pretzels/bagels. We then went to a makolet (corner market) for plums and Bamba (think cheese puffs, but peanut butter instead of cheese - yuck!).
We then made the compulsory pilgrimage to that culinary hot spot - McDonalds. In typical Israeli fashion, it was supposed to open at 11:30 and we got there at 11:35 and had to wait 10 minutes for it to open. 3 Happy Meals and 3 Big Macs (no cheese) later, and we were all unimpressed. But, the little ones got to play in the McPlayground. We did have a McKebab (we have a picture prove it) - not recommended unless you are really hungry and you have already eaten your shoes and belt.
Then, the trip to Jerusalem. The drive was beautiful, but traffic is really bad. Once we hit the city limits, Mike's blood pressure hit the roof. Too many one-way streets, narrow streets, streets changing names without notice, motor bikes zooming in and out, and a general feeling of despair. Mike hit rock bottom in the parking lot of the hotel. It was a good thing we made it, as everyone else was worried that Mike would have a heart attack. Luckily, he/I didn't. We met Donna in the lobby (yeah!) and made it to our rooms. After settling in, we made our way to the Old City via the Jaffa Gate. It is still a bit weird that we avoided the Muslim Quarter completely (even so far as that when we are at the Cardo - the ancient Roman main street that has been excavated and now has art stores) - as soon as we hit the Muslim Quarter, we turned around. How did we know? You know - you can tell by the stones, the people, the smells, the lights, everything.
Donna put together a "scavenger hunt" for the kids. She wrote out clues about sites in the Old City and the kids took turns reading them and then we went to see them. It is amazing to see the Hurva Shul being rebuilt. As we approached the Kotel (Western Wall), the kids each wrote out notes to put in the cracks. Eitan was going to put in a prayer about his fish, but then decided to write "Moshiach Now". (To explain - Sima's Israeli cell phone must have been used by a Yeshiva girl before her, as she keeps getting text messages like "Meet at the chader ohel with your blue sweatshirt. Moshiach Now"; or, "Pizzas have been delivered. Moshiach Now" or "If you are not here in 10 secs, you cannot come in the middle - Moshiach Now" or "Don't forget your signing notebooks tonight - bring your key to Malky tonight and get 5 shek! Moshiach Now!"
One of Noah's teachers, Rabbi Rubenfeld, gave us a note to give to "the Kotel rabbi" named Shmuli. We were wondering how we were going to find him. Mike took the boys to the men's side, and Sima, Donna, Naomi and Ilana went to the women's side. Mike and the boys davened mincha in the inner room next to the Kotel Plaza. Afterwards, they walked over the Chabadniks trying to get guys to put on tefillin and Mike approached one and asked if he knew Shmuli. And, guess what, of course he did. He called Shmuli on his cellphone and 30 seconds later Shmuli showed up. Turns out that Shmuli and Rabbi Rubenfeld are best buddies and we had a nice chat.
We then made our way back up the Old City and by Donna's dorm and to a makolet to get drink and snacks. We exited (you never quite leave) the Old City via the Zion Gate and made our down the snake path. We walked towards the German Colony for dinner. On the way, Donna told us that she missed her brothers. Six witnesses! She said it and we heard it.
Emeq Refaim is hopping. We ventured towards the end of the street to Pizza Meter to find out that it is closed. We went back to Pizza Sababa. Everyone thought it gross that Mike ordered a piece of corn pizza; Eitan then wanted a bite and took such a big bite that he got Mike's finger too! After pizza, we just had to go to Aldo for ice cream (not sure what all of the fuss is about).
We then walked back to the hotel and bumped into Tom Green and his family. We learned that there was a katyusha attack in Kiryat Shemonah. We were just there 2 days ago. Tom knows several of Donna’ s relatives, but Donna didn’t!
That’s it for tonight.