Sunday, June 03, 2012

Back in Jerusalem

I tried to go to sleep last night, thinking that with only four hours sleep on the plane, I should have no trouble falling asleep.  I was wrong.  After two hours of unsuccessfully imitating a person asleep, I got up and took an Ambien.  After that, I fell asleep and didn’t get up ‘til 7:30 am.

I think part of the problem is the heat.  It’s already summer in Israel.  The high today was 30 C; or about 87 F.  That’s not really that high, but the sun is much hotter here.  It’s hard to explain.  Even at night in Tel-Aviv, I definitely needed the fan.

Ofer gave me great directions, so I had no trouble reaching the lawyer this morning.  He advised me to stick to the boulevards, as the shade from the trees would keep me from dripping with sweat by the time I got there.  That only partially worked.  It was definitely cooler in the shade, but after 25 minutes, I was definitely sweating.

I was a little nervous at the lawyer’s, so when the receptionist buzzed me in I said “I would like to see the Mr. Peled.”  “Good morning,” she responded coolly.  In my anxiety, I had forgotten the social niceties.  “Good morning,” I answered.  “Do you have an appointment?” “Yes,” I told her.  As soon as he was free, I went in to see him.

We chatted while he worked out some legal arrangements for me.  It took longer than it should, but that’s only because it involves Israeli banks.  45 minutes later, I was on my way.  This was another half an hour walk, but I figure I definitely need the exercise.  I headed down to Ben Yehuda, where I noticed they’ve finished construction on the building next to the one my father lived in.  I was worried they might tear down “his” building, but I was pleased to see they’ve only patched it.

At the bank, the lawyer had arranged for one of the officers to handle my transaction, since my father had had difficulties last time.  It was a typically Israeli bank:  the tellers and the officers are on a first-name basis with many of the customers.  “Oh, so-and-so, how are you doing?” she said to the woman in front of me in line.  She teased her about all her paperwork and then explained to the man behind her that they know each other from the nursery school (presumably where both their children go).  Then she turned to the teller and asked her if she was going on the branch-wide trip to the Galilee at the end of the month.  The branch will close for a long weekend, while all the employees who wish can go away together.  One of the tellers asked if there would be karaoke.  Finally, it was my turn, and the bank officer covered all the legalities of the unusual transaction.  After much explanations, it was done and I left.  I definitely had an easier time of it than my father did a year and a half ago.

It was so hot that I knew I shouldn’t mess around; I went to the market and picked up a big bottle of water, and then headed to the café my mom and I had frequented on our last trip. Unfortunately, it was full, so I headed back to Kikar Rabin where Ofer’s apartment is and had a “toast” in the bookstore café under his building.  After that, I picked up my luggage and followed Ofer’s direction to the train station, where, counter-intuitively, I got the direct bus to Jerusalem.

Less than an hour later, I got off the bus and grabbed a taxi.  The hotel I’m staying at isn’t really in Baka like I thought, but just south of it in Talpiot.  I’m about three blocks from the Haas Promenade (Tayelet).  The room is nice sized with a good sized bathroom, and has a small fridge, a hot water maker, and a small tv.  There’s also AC, for which I am truly grateful.  I took a shower, then a quick nap.

Around 4 pm, I headed out to find where the archives are.  They are only about a 20-minute walk from my hotel (which is why I chose this hotel:  it’s the closest and cheapest hotel to the archives).  After that, I headed toward the Greek Colony, where I lived in ’98-99.  I stopped at the Aroma Café on Emek Refaim and had a large kafeh hafuch (café au lait) and pan aux chocolate and read the paper.  Then I walked through the German Colony passing a new place called “Waffle Bar” that specializes in Belgian waffles and will certainly challenge my plan on losing weight on this trip.  My goal was the Jerusalem Cinemateque, where I picked up a film schedule for this month.  I’m hoping to catch up on some movies I missed because of work.

The view of the Old City from above the Cinemateque never fails to take my breath away.  I may not like the religious or social politics of Jerusalem, but it does have some very nice features. 

On the way back to Talpiot, I picked up some apples for snacks, and then went to the industrial section of Talpiot.  I was looking for a place my Israeli roommate introduced me to thirteen years ago.  It’s a “skewery,” a place where they cook meats on skewers over charcoal.  I got a chicken skewer with some hummus, tomatoes, cucumbers, and red cabbage salad.  After that I walked back to the hotel.

Tomorrow will be my first time using the Israeli State Archives, and I’ve heard they can sometimes be difficult.  Hopefully, everything will go smoothly.

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