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Weekend in NYC

18 Mar

Every once in a while, Brad and I like to shoot up to NYC, an easy 3-hour trip from the Baltimore area via train or bus. We didn’t realize it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend till we’d made the hotel reservations. Neither of us are crowd lovers and I don’t enjoy parades that much as I’m too short to see anything unless I’m right in front. We found plenty of other things to occupy ourselves with. Ate several delicious meals. Saw some great sights. Endured wicked cold temps and strong winds. In short, we had a blast.

Matzoh Ball Soup at Bubby's

Matzoh Ball Soup at Bubby’s

New York by Gehry

New York by Gehry

One of the highlights of the weekend for me was a visit to Jane’s carousel, a vintage carousel recently installed in Brooklyn just steps away from the Bridge. What makes it so special is that the carousel originally stood in Idora Park, Youngstown, Ohio, and holds a firm place in Brad’s childhood memories.

Vintage carousel in Brooklyn

Jane’s Carousel

Riding the carousel was almost as fun as walking back to Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

More pictures from this visit can be found on my flickr photostream.


Visita Dolorosa

22 Sep

Contrasts in the Shuq

Today we made what will probably be our last visit to Jerusalem. My very first full day in Israel was spent visiting the Old City of Jerusalem and I was thoroughly enchanted. We’ve made several trips since then and even had a couple overnight stays just outside the Old City. I had thought I might pick up some final souvenirs but I found myself passing the vendors by. I was more interested in just soaking up the atmosphere in this city full of contrasts: old and new, sacred and profane, Christian, Muslim, Jewish religions.

Jerusalem skyline with the dome of Hurva Synagogue

Though we’ve visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher many times, we made our first visit to the nearby Church of the Redeemer. We decided to climb the 178 steps up to the top of the Church tower and were rewarded with fabulous views of the Old City. The climb up the narrow spiral staircase was tiring and a bit claustrophobic; going down made us both dizzy. As we continued walking though Jerusalem I felt a profound sadness, knowing I will probably never return to this ancient city again.

Eighth Station of the Cross on Via Dolorosa

Giving “Same Old, Same Old” New Meaning

29 May

Last Column Standing at Beit She'an

This is the only column left standing erect after an earthquake in 749 CE devastated the city of Beit She'an. All others were toppled to the ground. Some have been set aright by restorers.

Columns toppled by an earthquake

Many of the columns toppled by the earthquake have been left as they were found by the archaeologists who excavated Beit She'an.

Sacred Compound

Sacred Compound

Public Lavatory

Public Lavatory

Mosaic Tile Floor in the Sigma Concourse

Mosaic Tile Floor in the Sigma Concourse

We visited Beit She’an National Park and saw the remains of a city with a 4,000-year-old history. Today what I found most amazing was not the antiquity of this particular site but the fact that this is the fifth or sixth site we’ve seen in the last six months — each boasting at least a 4,000-year history. And all these places are within a few hours drive from home. Why, one of them is within walking distance! And there are countless more sites for us to visit further north and further south.

Is it possible to become jaded from seeing such astounding sites on a regular basis? Well, I sure hope that doesn’t happen to me. So far, I’ve been more and more impressed with each site I visit.

City Girl For A Day

24 May

I spent the entire day in Tel Aviv today making a few stops in different parts of  the city.  I drove in early to get a good parking spot at my first stop…and wouldn’t you know, I missed my turn. Luckily my wrong turn took me to the neighborhood where my Italian class is held so I was able to get back on the right road without too much difficulty. My first stop was a meeting to discuss a freelance job designing a logo. The meeting went well and I can’t wait to start on this project, which I can work on from home – yay!

After my meeting I headed to Dizengoff Square. I had been there just last Saturday and noticed a sign advertising an Antiques Market that takes place on Tuesdays and Fridays and I wanted to check it out. I also wanted another chance at photographing the Cinema Hotel. Today’s shots turned out much better than those on Saturday.

Sign advertising Antiques Market at Dizengoff Square

There are not many English-only signs in Tel Aviv.

Cinema Hotel

Cinema Hotel

I arrived a bit early for the market so I thought I’d grab an early lunch. I really wanted to eat at the restaurant in the Cinema Hotel but they are only open for breakfast until 10 a.m. They recommended Cafe Amelia just around the corner. Good recommendation. My tuna sandwich on Moroccan bread was yummy.

A Fine Lunch at a Sidewalk Cafe

A Fine Lunch at a Sidewalk Cafe

Finished lunch and the Market still wasn’t open so I decided to find a book store. I’ve been searching for a road atlas of Israel but have been having trouble finding one in English. I also wanted to stop in at SuperPharm to buy a bandaid for the blister that had begun to form on my heel. It was time to explore Dizengoff Center — a huge and confusing shopping complex near Dizengoff Square. It’s confusing because the stores are spread out between two buildings and there is no directory or map of the stores. I visited four book stores but could not find the atlas I’ve been looking for. And I eventually found and limped into the SuperPharm and purchased my bandaids.

Finally time to hit the market. It was fun. Lots of antiques and collectibles, vintage clothes, coins, stamps, postcards, etc. I made one purchase: a dreidel made of…well I don’t know what it’s made of. Some kind of metal but certainly not precious since it only cost 20 shekels (about $5). I’ve seen many different types of dreidels here. The one I got is a top but rather a flat one. Plus, it appears to be loaded! It always lands on the same side.

Antiques Market at Dizengoff Square

Antiques Market at Dizengoff Square

A Different Kind of Dreidel

A Different Kind of Dreidel

After the market I walked back to my car and then drove to my Italian class. I’m getting to know that neighborhood really well! Class was over around 4:45 p.m. Time to join rush hour traffic back home! I got a few chances to honk my horn loudly — driving is such fun over here. Home by 5:20 p.m. and welcomed back by two hungry kitties.

A Glimpse At Vintage Tel Aviv

22 May

Ben-Gurion's Kitchen

A Peek into David Ben-Gurion's Kitchen

Staircase in the Cinema Hotel

Looking down the staircase in the Cinema Hotel at an original film projector in the lobby.

Houses From Within is an annual event offering tours and access to public and private buildings in Tel Aviv-Yafo. I scoured their website on Friday, trying to choose which of the more than 100 locations I would visit the next day. My choices were quickly narrowed down to two locations where I felt comfortable driving to and finding parking: the Ben-Gurion House and the Cinema Hotel.

I arrived about 10 minutes late for the 10:00 tour of the Ben-Gurion House. But it really didn’t matter! The tour was in Hebrew only. (Just because the website descriptions were in English does not mean the tours would be conducted in English. Silly me!) I was given an English-language brochure and conducted a self-guided tour through the modest and compact house built in the 1930s and lived in by Ben-Gurion until his death in 1973. All the furnishings and decor were original but spare and modest. I would say most of the house was devoted to library space. My favorite room was the kitchen and my favorite things of all were the cool retro floor tiles.

A short walk from the Ben-Gurion house brought me to Dizengoff Square, site of the Cinema Hotel. The hotel was originally Cinema Esther, built in 1930 in the Bauhaus style. One of Tel Aviv’s first movie theaters, it is now a charming boutique hotel which pays homage to its origins by displaying original film projectors, movie posters and theater chairs. Film classics are screened in the lobby where popcorn is served.

There was quite a large crowd gathered to tour the Cinema Hotel. Again, the tour was in Hebrew only but this time there was no English-language brochure. I just tagged along with the crowd, usually walking ahead to take photos, but not wanting to venture too far off. The tour gave us access to areas that are usually off limits to non-hotel guests, including the marvelous view from the rooftop tanning lounge.