I know G-d rested on the Sabbath, but we rested on Thursday … sort of. Everyone but me (up at 7:30am) slept in until almost 10:00am. By the time we got out the door and moving it was probably after 11 (yes we missed breakfast but I did manage to snag a cup of coffee in a “to go” cup from the dining room before they shut down).
View of Old City Toward Jaffa Gate
We made our way over to the Jaffa gate, as in addition this being a “rest day” (aka no guide) it was also a designated shopping day. So through the gate we went, down the narrow streets, into the Arab market.
Narrow "Street" in Arab Market
We perused the goods, and purchased a gift with very little negotiating. Then Sammi spied a pair of earrings she wanted, I asked the merchant, “How much?” He replied, “180 shekels” (roughly $47). Sammi said, “Mom, that’s too much and turned to leave.” And the price dropped to 150 shekels. I yelled to her and she said, “Mom just forget it.” So I turned to the merchant and shrugged and the price dropped to 120 shekels. I told Sammi and she said, “Mom, stop!” I turned to the merchant and apologized and the price dropped to 80 shekels. Well, this continued, and we ended up paying 30 shekels ($7.90). Probably still $2 too much but hey – it was worth the entertainment. Sammi though really did hate the whole process.
Chotchkey Stuff in Arab Market
From there we navigated to the Jewish quarter and the Cardo (main shopping street, lots of Judaica shops). Everyone was getting hungry at this point and it was almost noon, so we left the Cardo and found a shwarma/hot dog place and had some lunch. Nothing special – basic street food for about 20 shekels for two hot dogs, a shwarma, and an order of fries.
Pinky Enjoying Shwarma
Then it was back to shopping. Many chotckeys were bought, some sweatshirts, and three tee shirts for my nephews. I’ve been on the hunt for some tallit clips for a friend’s daughter who will become a bat mitzvah this year but so far, no luck (don’t worry Lisa, we had success today). Everything we saw was too “big” like for man not something color-wise or size wise that we would like for a girl. Finally it was time to head out, and we navigated our way back through the Arab market and out the Jaffa gate.
What do we find?
An outdoor shopping mall! I kid you not, just outside the ancient old city of Jerusalem is a shopping mall with stores like Billabong, Gap and others. We spent some time walking through, mostly because we needed a restroom, then we headed back to the hotel.
Chris was shopped out at this point, so we dropped our stuff, changed our shoes, and the girls headed out the Mahane Yehuda – a market that would give Richard Lenoir in Paris a run for its money. Actually, it’s more like the Bastille market on steroids.
Pastries at Mahane Yehuda
Fruits and Nuts
Who knows what this is? I sure don't!
First stop, a wine store for something to toast in the New Year (which of course we didn’t end up drinking), then Marzipan for some of the amazing ruglach (chocolate and cinnamon this time). Oh, and of course we visited every candy store we saw in search of Kinder eggs (they had the “Joy” variety but not the kind with toys in the middle). We found baklava, and fresh hot pitas to snack on too. But they sell everything here, fresh fruit, dried fruit (yes, we bought figs and strawberries), chickens, cleaning items, nuts, olives, cheeses, halvah, it just goes on, and on, and on. Finally, our feet were giving out – we had walked from the hotel – about 25 minutes, mostly uphill, and decided to head back. Along the way we tried to find a cab, but none seemed available, and the one that was, didn’t want to go only to our hotel (too short a ride I guess), so we hoofed it all the way back.
Before we returned to the rooms for a rest, I spoke with the guy from the previous day who recommended Baba and asked him to recommend an Italian restaurant (figured we’d cut Sammi a break). He told us Macaroni was about 15 minutes away (back the way we had just come actually) and was doing a New Year’s Eve special, appetizer, dinner and dessert plus wine or champagne for 150 NIS a person (roughly $40 a person). More than we wanted to spend, especially since we probably couldn’t eat all that food, but figured, what the heck. He made an 8:00 reservation for us.
Then it was time to rest and relax for a few hours before heading out. The strangest thing happened though. My last night in Italy, Shannon and I watched a movie in German (or so we thought – still not sure what language it was), trying to figure out the storyline. It obviously took place during WWII but we came in late to it and flipped through it too many times that we really didn’t catch on. Well, the same movie was on here. How strange… I didn’t catch the beginning again, but saw enough this time to figure out most of the story line (I thought impressive considering I had no idea what they were saying). At the end though, we waded through the credits, picking out some of the stars and got on IMDB to figure out the movie was the movie was Zwartboek (aka Black Book) a Dutch movie from 2006. I may actually rented it to watch at home, if it has English subtitles.
After rest and relaxation, we headed out for our 8:00 reservation. Now I’m going to digress in a moment, so bear with me. While we were walking, we were stopped at a traffic light, waiting for the crosswalk signal to change when this older couple (i.e., older than us, maybe their 60s but I’m not saying they’re old, just older than us – okay?), anyway, this couple navigate around us, to stand in front of us at the light, so they can be the first to cross the street. Whatever?
Of course we catch them at the next light. Anyway, this couple stops to ask someone, “Where is Macaroni?” and he shakes his head, so I reply, “That’s where we are going, come with us.”
The wife responds, “Did you get an address?”
Me, “It’s on King George – up ahead on the left.”
Her, “So you got the same non-address we got,” and she walks behind us – barely, and stops to ask someone else where it is and that person shrugs.
Then as we all continue down King George, and they’re behind us, I can tell they’re trying to pass us again – like it’s a race or something – what the? Her entire demeanor was just rude.
As we approach the restaurant, there’s a gentleman outside, setting up a table as I open the door to enter, he greets me. I tell him who we are, and that we have a reservation and as he’s replying, this woman totally shoves by me without saying excuse me and pushes her way into the restaurant!
And before you wonder – yes she was American. Yes her behavior was ugly.
And she’s not the only one we’ve encountered on this trip. I can’t count how many times people (Americans) have shoved by me to get in the elevator without giving me an opportunity to get off. Or while I’ve been talking to or paying a vendor, how many have interrupted us, waving their money or to ask a question. Even when talking to the desk clerk at the hotel about making a reservation at Macaroni, a woman stepped up and interrupted us because she wanted a reservation there too. I just don’t get it? I’ve witnessed “ugly American” behavior before, but this is all just plane rude. Would these people think this was acceptable to do in the States or do they just behave this way abroad? Anyway, I guess we were spared this on our last trip because we came just after the last Lebanon war and so many Americans canceled their trips (plus it was November and not holiday break), we barely saw a handful of Americans last time.
Anyway, before my blood pressure rises, that woman was part of a large group (like 13) of Americans sitting on the first floor of the restaurant. (I have another story to put here but let me finish this thought), so the gentleman I was speaking too says, “We put you upstairs where it’s nice and quiet. The hotel called and asked us to.” I tell him I love him and we excuse ourselves past the loud group and head upstairs to a tiny room, with enough tables for us and one other Israeli family.
Okay – my other story – the other part of seeing all the Americans, is seeing all the tour buses. They’ve been everywhere. They drop their passengers, who swarm the site, the museum, the hotel front desk, the elevators, whatever, where ever it is. Now don’t get me wrong, I think travel is good and however you can afford to go, and however you feel comfortable to travel, you should do it – even if that means large group tours. But unfortunately, the other side of that sentiment, is those of us who aren’t on the large group tour, get pushed aside, and must endure the loud, sometimes obnoxious voices of your 40+group as we’re also trying to enjoy a site, browse a store, use a restroom or elevator or check into a hotel. And let’s face it no hotel, restaurant, site, store is going to gear up to accommodate this occasional swarm of people, so we all must wait and wait. We’ve taken to calling these people Nematoads (hope I'm spelling that correctly) based upon the large group of hungry anchovies that swarm the Krusty Krab in the very first SpongeBob Squarepants episode (Becky came up with that when trying to explain to Sammi why these buses bothered me, “Sammi, it’s like the nematoads in Spongebob.” Sammi got it.).
Okay – enough of my bellyaching. Anyway, dinner was fine – with our pay one price option we each got an appetizer, dinner, dessert, drinks and a bottle of red wine (which was drinkable though I don’t remember which Israeli wine it was). We started with only two appetizers though, a hot one with goat cheese (as described on the menu but it turned out to be roasted veggies topped with goat cheese – still sweet and good), and focaccia. For our entrees, Chris had a pasta with mushrooms, I hat pasta puttanesca, Becky had Pasta Bolognese (it’s not a kosher restaurant) and Sammi had pizza. For dessert we had two apple pies, a nut pie and a crème caramel. The desserts left a little bit to be desired (ice cream on the side might have been nice). Was it worth $40 a person? Probably not, but it was New Year’s and we the food was decent and we had a good time.
We walked back to the hotel and got into bed, and though we were up at midnight, to kiss each other, we then went to sleep and saved the toasting for the next morning.