News alert -- Burgers Bar has been usurped! The new standard for burgers is Black Bar 'n Burger, a place that Noah was introduced to by his Petach Tikvah friends when he dined on a 450 g burger with them. Noah has been raving so much we all had to check it out and we all were happy as it turns out they have a mean veggie burger too. I had the popeye burger -- beef with spinach and pine nuts, topped with mushrooms. Noah had amazing chicken wings, Eitan had a giant hot pastrami sandwich, and Ilana had chicken fingers "to die for". But enough about dinner.
This morning I went on a major shopping excursion. Some of the loot was for us, but most was gifts to bring back. I started in Mea Sha'arim, where I browsed for quite a while in a big bookshop and some other small gift stores. The prices there are much better then the rip off prices on Ben Yehuda. Then I walked over to Yoel Solomon street which I remembered from last trip but up til today had been unable to find. Because of construction on both ends of this very short street, it does not really look like a street til you walk past the rubble to find the cute shops, restaurants and art galleries. I spent a good chunk of time in a game store called Gaya. It is an Israeli company that makes wooden games and puzzles, and they are addicting (more on this later). I also visited the 36,000$ Havdalah set that Mike and I love -- yes it's still there, and the store clerk seemed disappointed that I still wasn't buying it. I then had to hustle back to the apartment to drop off the loot and pick up the kids for our afternoon activities. I thought it would be best not to drag them along in the morning, so I left them a morning note with things on the list like shower, take your medicine, get lunch, clean up the garbage from the floor, take out the garbage and recycling, get your water bottles ready and be ready to go at 1:15! (much like home). When I got back to the apartment, I found garbage everywhere, a half eaten pizza they had ordered in still sitting out on the table, dirty dishes sitting out, no water ready (much like home). We got out the door, but later than I had hoped and we were late to our tour at the Davidson Center, which is an archeological site near the Dung Gate. When we got to the window 10 minutes late the woman told us that we missed the tour and couldn't go. I asked if we could catch up, and she refused to let me but tickets but told me to go ask the guide. So we walked over to the entrance, the security guard let us in and told us to catch up, and we made it! The archeological park is a huge area just outside the walls of the old city, starting at the corner by the Dung Gate and going south from there. Our guide took us to the Southwest corner of the Temple Mount, and described the Herodian masonry, showed us where Robinson's arch (or its remains) is, showed us the Roman street at the base of the wall -- it is excavated here, you can see remains of stores lining the marketplace, and you can even see large stones that were knocked out of the wall when the Romans destroyed the beit hamigdash. The guide then took us inside (thankfully, it was hot!) and to a three 3 computer recreation of the Temple Mount in the second temple period. The kids called it "Sims -- the Beit Hamigdash version". It was really cool. The guide can zoom in and out and go through doorways, move around structures so you can see them from every angle, and add features that show the locations during different times (like how the walls of the old city have moved). He could bring up photos from as things are today and put them right next to the 3-d representation in the beit hamigdash computer animation. He showed us the Roman marketplace/road, the stairs and entrances to the Temple Mount from the south side, and some of the structures on the Temple Mount including where the trumpetor stood. All of the information is based on archeological excavations, so there is not information on the inside of the beit hamigdash itself as it is not permitted by the Muslim's for us to dig in that site. The presentation was fascinating, and even got the attention of my archeology weary kids. After the presentation we walked around outside in the park, looking at some of the features that we had seen in the animation.
Next we walked back up the steps from the kotel and into the old city for a cold drink, before heading back down to the kotel for a "generations tour". This tour is right next to the site of the tunnel tours, and is mostly a walk through glass art that has names etched into it. Each room has different works of art, which represent the Jewish people at various times in our history. The tour was low on content, but the last part which was a story told by one of the soldier's who liberated Jerusalem in 1967 was interesting. After this tour we all davened at the kotel and our timing was great as the girls and I could stand right next to the wall without being pushed and jostled. It was Ilana's first time davening at the kotel (and she used her new purple siddur) and it was very special. We then headed up the stairs and just at the top, near all the falafel stands, there was Sara! Her group of campers had just arrived this afternoon, and was on a bathroom break before heading down to the kotel. With her were Bradely Goldmeier, and Lisa Ast who is also a madricha! They all looked happy and ready to have a blast. What fun to see them.
Now we left the Old City and had our Black 'n Burger dinner, and then I took the kids back to the game store from this morning. I could not get them out. They were in there for over an hour playing various games. And I left with even a few more games... Then back to the apartment, it was already past 10. I love walking in this city, but I have to say that after today, my feet are killing me. I could really use a foot massage... Mike?