Archive | April, 2011

A Glass Wonderland

14 Apr

Blown Glass Sculpture by Chihuly

Blown Glass Sculpture by Chihuly.

Today I went with a couple of friends to the Litvak Gallery in Tel Aviv to see the exhibit of blown glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly. What a treat to see his astounding works of art done in blown glass. Some of the pieces were huge, many featured incredibly rich colors and striking patterns. Some of the sculptures were mounted in windows, others outdoors. The museum installation was artfully done, enhancing the appeal of the sculptures. After browsing through the exhibit we had lunch at Toto a delightful Italian restaurant downstairs. It was a thrill to be in the museum district in Tel Aviv and I hope to return soon and explore that area some more.

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Herzliya in Bloom

11 Apr

Spring is here and I’m enjoying all the flowers that have begun to bloom, many of which I’ve never encountered before.

Click here to view these photos on my flickr photostream.

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A Big Sigh of Relief

10 Apr

I’m pleased to say there is a happy ending to my little fender bender in Petach Tikva last Thursday. By Friday I’d decided to call the woman whose car I hit and offer to pay her for the damage. I didn’t call till today as I wasn’t sure how observant she might be of the Sabbath, so waited till the first day of the Israeli work week. She was quite pleasant on the phone and to my relief she basically said to forget about it. She has a buyer for the car who is taking it as is and she repeated again, “It was such a small bump.” She thanked me for calling her and we said good-bye on good terms.

Whew!

By The Beautiful Sea

9 Apr

Elevator Beach in Netanya

Elevator Beach in Netanya (click image to see more photos of Netanya)

Netanya is a town about 12 miles north of us on the coast. I’ve been there¬†many times but only to go shopping at Tiv Taam, a large Russian-owned grocery store. Then I read somewhere that Netanya has a wonderful seaside promenade that stretches for miles and affords beautiful views of the Mediterranean. Brad and I decided to see the town and the lovely views for ourselves today.

Netanya is just under a half hour drive from our house. We didn’t even bother to look up the route to the promenade. It’s really a no-brainer: just head for the coast. Brad managed to get a perfect parking spot just steps away from Elevator Beach, so named because there is an elevator there that takes one from the promenade that runs along the top of a cliff down to the beach.

The beach was not too crowded, but it’s early in the season. It was a partly cloudy day and breezy. When the sun was out it felt warm but when the clouds came in you felt you needed a light jacket. The really nice thing about the beach here, and also the ones in Herzliya, is that they are not junked up with tacky tourist shops and bars. There were a few cafes along the way but for the most part we enjoyed some charming landscaping: lovely flowers, walkways dotted with pergolas and lookout points.

The town of Netanya was not so charming. Aside from the unimpressive town square with one of the word’s ugliest fountains, the town seemed to be made up of bland rectangular concrete apartment towers. One after another after another. We saw many signs printed in Russian, a testament to the large Russian emigrant population. We also heard much French being spoken and saw many signs in French as well. Since we were there on the Sabbath it was a rather quiet day; many restaurants and most all shops were closed.

We had lunch at Pearl of the Sea, one of the cafe/restaurants on the promenade. The Pearl had a worn look to it and the waitstaff were a bit lackadaisical. I ordered my first shakshuka ever and it was actually pretty good. While we were sitting at the cafe overlooking the Med we saw a paraglider pass by. (Remember, the restaurant is situated atop a tall cliff.) After lunch as we continued to stroll along the promenade we saw many more paragliders.

Curiosity about Netanya sated, we headed back home. I’m sure we’ll go back again.

Sweet Sixteen

8 Apr

That’s how many years Brad and I’ve been married. We celebrated tonight at Tavola restaurant.

A Long Tale Of Woe And Frustration, The Telling of Which Makes Me Feel Better

7 Apr

It all started yesterday afternoon when my MacBook Pro suddenly became unresponsive. It wasn’t frozen…I could move the cursor but my clicks weren’t working. I could not open any folders, files or windows. Could not close any windows that were open. Could not launch any programs. Could not quit any programs. My mouse and trackpad were totally nonfunctional.

I shut down and restarted twice. Still unresponsive. I searched the internet for solutions. Plenty of folks had reported similar problems but no solutions were forthcoming.

Panic began to set in. Why do these things happen when I’m in the middle of a freelance project? I posted a message of desperation on facebook. My brother posted a link to an Apple Store in Tel Aviv and wondered if they have a genius bar. A bit of research revealed that there are no true Apple Stores in Israel. They have what are called iDigital outlets that are authorized resellers. The iDigital store in Tel Aviv does not do repairs but there is a “lab” in Petah Tikva that can repair Macs.

Then Brad reminded me that I have Apple Care support on my laptop. I wanted to get on the phone right away to Apple but had to wait a couple of hours till it was 6 a.m. Pacific time. After talking to two techs (I got disconnected from the first guy), doing a safe reboot, running disk utility, repairing the hard disk and repairing disk permissions I was still having the same problem.

I decided to make the trip out to Petah Tikva after all. I would need to ride in with Brad the next morning so I could have the car. While I was in Tel Aviv, I could run over to the camera shop and get the sensor on my Nikon cleaned, then drive over to the iDigital lab.

It was one of my more ill-fated decisions ever.

The morning started off rather nicely with no hint of the horrors to come. The weather was sunny and pleasant. I dropped my camera off just after the shop opened at 8 a.m. and was told it would be ready at 10 a.m. In the meantime I walked over to Neve Tzedek, my new favorite neighborhood, and had a lovely cappuccino at Lulu’s Cafe. I practiced my newly-learned Hebrew phrase when I ordered, asking for “Cappuccino gadol im halav dal.” (large cappuccino with skim milk) The waiter responded in English “Is that for here or to go?” “Arrrrgh,” I thought, but laughed and said, “How did you know?” He smiled and said, “Just a guess.”

Picked up my spiffy cleaned camera at 10 a.m. as promised and then I was on my way to Petah Tikva.

I’ve been to P-T before but the iDigital lab is located in a totally different area than I’d been to before. And it didn’t help that I turned the wrong way onto Route 4, the main road to my destination. I got myself turned around easily enough and made the correct turn onto Jabotinksy Road. I was looking to make the third turn onto Shenkar Road.

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? But Jabotinsky Road has a very odd layout: There were two lanes going east and two lanes going west but in between those lanes was another set of lanes separated by a cast iron fence, one lane going east and the other going west. Was I allowed in the center section? It appeared to be for buses and HOVs, so I stayed on the far side of the center lanes. The trouble with this is that it was nearly impossible to see the street names of the cross streets. There were no street signs overhead, one had to peer way across four lanes of traffic to see the street signs, which are difficult enough to read normally.

Naturally, I missed my turn. After going several blocks with out a chance of a left hand turn I was finally able to make a Uie (great crossword puzzle word) and head back towards Shenkar Road.

Turned onto Shenkar successfully. I thought I was supposed to take the first right, so I did. I had been warned I’d be in an industrial area and indeed I was. I began scanning the myriad signs for iDigital. The road was narrow, all parking spaces were occupied and there were cars parked illegally on the sides of the road.

Then it happened. I felt more than heard a scrape. My right rear panel had bumped up against another car’s front panel. I heard a blood-curdling screech. My blood ran cold. Dear God, had I hit someone?

I came to a halt and jumped out to see what had happened. The woman whose car I had bumped into came over to me in near hysterics. When, finally, I could understand what she was saying, I discovered that I had only made a “little bump” but it was a new car and she was trying to sell it.

By this time I’m extremely flustered. The woman continued to screech and howl. My fingers felt like jelly as I tried to find my cell phone, a pen, a piece of paper to write on. Then people began yelling at me to move my car because I was blocking the road. But there was no where to move to! I moved a bit further along the road but I was still in the way.

Then a parking space freed up. It was a narrow and awkward space that I would have to back into. I’m terrible at backing up under normal circumstances but I was doubly nervous about this maneuver. All I needed right now was to bump into another car as I was backing into the space. Somehow, I managed to take it slowly. An impatient driver went past after I’d pulled into the space yelling what must have been obscenities at me.

The woman and I exchanged information. She kept saying she didn’t want to go through insurance companies. She said she wanted me to pay for the damage on the spot. I wasn’t so sure about that and did what I’d been instructed to do by the Embassy in case I’m involved in an accident.

Eventually that nerve-wracking scene came to a close and I could continue on my mission. I had turned one street too soon. iDigital was one block further on the right, though they didn’t make it easy to approach their building. As I drove down the road near the building I saw that my only course of action was to go down a road with a Do Not Enter sign. I found out later that the Hebrew wording underneath the sign said something to the effect “Unless You Are Conducting Business with a Company”. Even so, the entrance to the parking lot was blocked by a gate. There was a sign there with the iDigital phone number on it, so I called them and had to ask them to open the gate.

Whew, I was finally there! Went inside and up to the third floor. Presented my laptop to the tech at the counter.

Have you guessed it yet? It was working fine. No hint of the problem that was still there in the morning before I left the house. The tech said I could leave my laptop there for them to run a diagnostic on it but I declined. I stepped off to the side to test out the computer before leaving to make sure the problem would not reoccur. A man entered the room and asked politely if I was waiting to speak to a tech. His kindness began to restore my faith in humanity.

Upon leaving the parking lot I had to call iDigital and ask them raise the gate. I got on Route 4 to go home and then had the horrible feeling I was going in the wrong direction. I pulled into a gas station to inquire about the way home (We still don’t have a road atlas of Israel and I just had a useless google map I’d printed out in haste this morning.) The young lad behind the counter started to help me in his broken English, then a customer behind me jumped in and offered good directions to get me back on track. Ah, score another plus for humanity! His directions were good and I made it home without further incident.

And my laptop is still working fine.

Hoopoes, Here, There and Everywhere

4 Apr

One of the delights of walking around my neighborhood are the sightings of hoopoes along the way. I often, but not always, see them in pairs. They seem somewhat tame and have allowed me to approach rather closely. They are difficult to capture on camera without a blur as they are constantly moving and pecking into the ground. When they are startled they raise their crests and fly away. I’ve yet to grab a shot of one with its crest fully opened but I did manage to get a shot of one in flight (a happy accident).

Click here for more of my photos of birds in Herzliya.

A pair of hoopoes in Vriesland Park

A pair of hoopoes in Vriesland Park

Hoopoe in Flight

Hoopoe in Flight

Hoopoe

This hoopoe is keeping an eye on the strange woman with a camera

Hoopoe

Beginning to open his crest