Went to a big city yesterday. It's funny. We live in Jerusalem, which while not as big comparably to NYC of course, is a busy, grubby, crowded city. The streets are narrow and windy - there are no expansive avenues. As Natan put it, Jerusalem streets feel like they were designed originally for donkey carts. The bus system is vast and busy but there's no trains yet - light rail is being built with the expectation of it being in use in 2-3 years. Busses close up shop here at around midnight. This is a real comedown in life for us. Another shocker is no bus maps, at least we haven't found one yet. You have to get to "know" your local busses over time - sort of like the bank "getting to know you," in order to get a credit card. There are lots of shops and cafes but few 24/7 operations. When you have those late night munchies, you have to know where to go.
SoTuesday, we went to Tel Aviv. TA is a real city, with big streets (albeit with center medians replete with plants and treets and some,) and if you're really lucky, have an espresso joint on the corner. There were lots of people walking around and they had that "Je ne sais quoi" of city people worldwide - can't even explain it, they just looked better, more sharply dressed (anyting tho will beat some of the shlumpy, dressed up, religious crowd around these parts in J'lem). Interestingly enough, despite the big city air of Tel Aviv, the tall buildings (real skyscrapers, albeit spread apart across the skyline), people on the move, there is also the beach aspect of the city. It is a city built on sand and no matter where you are, the beach is never far away. The weather is hot and to our Jerusalem bodies, it felt much more humid and much hotter than what we are accustomed to of late but like New York, people walk around in all states of dress and undress, perhaps even more so because of that beach thing. We walked on the "tayelet," the boardwalk along the ocean. This of course, led to people wanting to be on the sand, which ultimately led to people wanting to be in the water but we found changing areas and indulged those needy swimmers, Akiva being most enthusiastic upon seeing the sand, sea and surf. Bathing suit styles range from small to micro, and often underwear, regardless of how seethru, will do just fine (and I'm not just talking about babies in states of undress). Like Europe, the bikini reigns but I find the sight of women of all ages in bikinis, regardless of shape, to be heartwarming and I mean that.
We spent some time earlier in the day looking at pianos. Contrary to what Ralph K and I thought before we left, Israel is a small country and nobody has owned up to piano rental as opposed to purchase. Natan and I are getting to know the different makes of pianos, mostly European, although one can find Yamaha and Kwai as well but the European pianos are quite good and we went to a place that had alot of beautiful, older, restored pianos. Piano shopping was followed by food as food is always the antidote to the exhaustion of spending money or even just preparing to spend money. As usual, coffee was necessary and sandwiches and pizza for those who felt that pizza was important. We ate sitting on the boardwalk, in the small area of shade that we found.
We drove home feeling content. We had been in a city. I was slightly depressed to remind myself that for all of the dirt and grime that makes Jerusalem comfortable for me, Tel Aviv is much more what I am accustomed to. What can you do? At least I'm not in New Jersey (with apologies to all of you suburbanites).
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