Andrew's Israel Journals 1986-1993

[IMAGE of Jerusalem]


1986 1990 1993 1995 1997 1998 2000-1 2000-2 2001 2003 2004 2005

12:30am 4-June wed Mom's Apt Jerusalem
I finally arrived at Ben Gurion Airport at 6AM having left NYC at around 1, an 11 hour flight. The plane was quite full, but not uncomfortably so. The food was OK, the movie was "Maxie," which I thought would be Moxie, having heard the guy on the squawk box announce it in 3 languages. A Lubavitch rabbi availed me of the opportunity to put on tefillin, which I accepted, having not already done so in the morning. There always seemed to be men praying in the back of the plane.

The plane ride was by and large uneventful, I can't say the same for my sherut ride from Tel Aviv to my mother's house in Jerusalem. The driver was not one for waiting in a line of traffic, driving down the wrong side of the road or straight through turn lanes at any opportunity. We almost hit a cow in the road, which would probably be a good match for the Mercedes limousine we rode in. The limousines look luxurious on the outside, but they're just like Checker cabs or any other airport limousine on the inside.

The driver corrected my pronunciation of my mother's street, TcherniHovski, not TcherniKovski! It's really with a ch sound, but he probably figured that my Hebrew was hopeless.

I got to my mother's apartment in one piece and she showed me around. She has a nice picture window view of the city, her apartment is on a hill on a residential street which has traffic on it at all hours.

Everything here is a little alien. Cars, doorknobs, window shades, toilets, electric fixtures, and of course, all the street signs and consumer packaging. Of course Israel has all of its architecture that isn't like that in the west, but I'd seen it in pictures, so it seems more familiar than the modern things which are foreign.

Upon arriving, the order of the day was to eat a bit and then get my hair cut off as soon as possible. After a short nap, we took a walk in old Jerusalem, it was plenty interesting, but I was a little too tired to take it all in. After coming home and eating, I collapsed into bed at around 8PM, slept until 11:30, got up to talk with my mother, whose sleeping schedule has also been a little strange the last few days, and we're going to watch the end of today's World Cup soccer game, watch the Israeli national anthem on TV, and maybe go back to sleep.
2:15am wed

6:30 am 8-June Sun Harry's Apt Haifa
I've been running around quite a bit over the past few days. I still haven't gotten accustomed to the time change. It is especially difficult because if I stay out in the midday sun, I get extremely tired, come home, sack out at 4pm, and end up waking up at 4am when the sun starts coming out!

Anyway, last Wednesday, I met Brian Redman at Hamashbir in Jerusalem at around noon. We walked around looking for a place where he could use his AMEX gold card to get some money to buy a guitar. We bumped into Sari, the woman he was staying with, on the street. She went home and we found a place where he could get money. He had to wait for the money, while I went back to Hamashbir to meet Aviva, the woman Brian is traveling with. I met Aviva on my second try, and we waited for Brian, bopped around a bit more and went to Sari's apartment. She lives in an apartment in the basement of an older house near a yeshiva. The rooms and doorways were pretty oddly shaped, it was cozy. We hung around and shot the breeze until 4, then I had to leave to catch a bus back to my mom's apt. Brian walked me to the bus stop, I got home and after a short meal and nap, we went to see a kabuki production of Jason & Medea by a U of Illinois theater group. It was interesting and well done, but not as impressive as I'd imagine real kabuki would be.

On Thursday morning we took a bus ride out to visit my mother's friend Martin Baskin who is at Kibbutz Ma'aleh haChamisha. He has been there for over 15 years, and he showed us all around and had a lot to say. The kibbutz has about 200 families and has been around for about 50 years. It produces candy and fertile eggs mainly, and has a profitable guest house and radio message relay station. The kibbutz was very pleasant, like a big bungalow colony. There were people from all over, volunteers from Finland, England, Australia, etc. We left the kibbutz at about 3 and took a 4:30 bus from Jerusalem to Haifa, about a 2 hour trip. There I met my mother's friend Harry, whose house we were staying at for the next few days. We had a bite to eat and saw "Kiss of the Spider Woman" at a local theater.

On Friday, we took a ride in Harry's new car, actually a 3 cylinder Subaru nanovan. We first drove up to Rosh Haniqra, which is Israel's border with Lebanon. It's right on the Mediterranean and the water is a beautiful green. There's a nice little grotto - a network of caves - which is accessible by a small gondola ride.

On the way back to Haifa, we stopped in Akka, which had a shuk and an old Arab section. We ate a snack at a restaurant overlooking the water in the old section, it was like being somewhere far away.

On Saturday, Mom and I took a walking tour of Haifa that proceeded down hill from near Harry's house to near sea level. We saw the Bahai center - Haifa is the holy city of Bahai - and the Haifa Museum, which was pretty interesting. We saw some gardens and a smaller museum, and the guide talked about the history of Haifa and the various tree life we found. I really conked out after that, I really should stay out of the midday sun.
705am Sun

9-June Monday 7:20 Harry's Apt in Haifa
The police came by at 6AM to cart Harry away to the draft board. He was supposed to report last Monday, but he wasn't up to it. He was going to go this morning anyway (really!) but he got to go escorted by a policeman instead. One advantage was that I had been awake for a few hours, so now everyone is awake - everyone being my mother and Barbara, who stayed over last night. I just listened to the Israeli news in English and then switched on Radio Cyprus, which was playing "Marlena on the Wall," - just like WERS in Boston. The radio in Cyprus and Jordan is quite a bit more American-style than Israeli radio. I think I'll go to the Technion this morning, Mom and I have to be back in Jerusalem by tonight to catch the Basel Ballet doing Giselle.

9-June Monday 3PM on the bus
I went to the Technion this morning and I looked around. I found the EE building and even found some student terminals for "techunix" but I didn't find any actual UNIX users so I eventually just bought a T-shirt at the bookstore and bailed out. The bus only came once an hour, so I didn't want to hang around. Mom and I got to the Haifa central bus depot in time to catch the express to Jerusalem, but they ran out of seats just as we got on, so we are on the local instead. It stopped at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv just as I started writing this...

Later that day... After reaching Mom's apt, I decided to check out a notice that said that chess was played weekly down at the American Cultural Center. Apparently, the American Cultural Center has been replaced by a health club or something, and I could find no sign of chess. So I walked towards Ben Yehuda and here I sit, watching all the girls go by. My trip has not been without interesting sights. At the Technion, I saw a SUN CITY T-shirt that did not also have the words "I ain't gonna play." It hasn't been too tough getting used to seeing loads of kids in green carrying uzis and rifles all over - on streets on busses. There's always a guy searching your bags as you ENTER places, never as you exit. Theft is not nearly as great a worry as terrorism. There have been a few bomb blasts in the past week. This seems to be the norm. Less dangerous, overall, than American cities, I guess.

10-June Tues 6PM Israel Museum Jerusalem
I did see the Basel Ballet performing Giselle last night, it was a 9PM performance and I was truly exhausted, having come in on the bus from Haifa earlier and not wanting to take a nap for fear that I wouldn't be able to wake up to go to the ballet at all. I went to where there were supposed to be some chess games going on, since there weren't I wrote the previous page (oh yea, oops) and headed off to the theater that had the ballet. It was a fine ballet, but I was really too dead to enjoy it. It would have been a better ballet if it started at 6. Anyway, this morning, Mom and I went to the supermarket to go shopping. It was pretty well stocked. All the labeling was in Hebrew and I'd flip over the package and there's be more Hebrew. Oh well.

After lunch, I headed for the Israel Museum, about a 5-minute bus ride from my mom's apt, right across the street from the Knesset. By golly, what a museum! An area dedicated to the Dead Sea Scrolls & kindred writings, a sculpture garden, and a big museum filled with sculpture, painting, archaeology, all kinds of stuff, Israeli, Jewish, and otherwise. There was a good tour all around the Israeli and Jewish stuff today. There was just scads of interesting stuff. There were two 18th century synagogues that were salvaged from Italy and Germany after the Jews disappeared. The Italian one was ornate, powder blue and gilded; the German one looked like what might have happened if you let Michelangelo paint the inside of a barn. I enjoyed it a lot, maybe I'll even come back to check out more.

Sunday, 15-Jun 3:30 PM Yad Vashem
Tante Simma and Uncle Boomi came by on Wednesday and stayed through Shavuos, until last night. There is an Ashkenazi shul and a Sephardi shul right across the street from each other a short walk from Mom's house. The Sephardi shul is brand new, the interior is not even painted yet. Both shuls were full, at least 100 men each, with women seated out of my sight above. I didn't do anything exciting over the past few days, just lots of eating. It was fun having Tante Simma and Uncle Boomi around, they're pretty fun and interesting. They were living here between the 1940's and late '50's I guess, about 20 years. Uncle Boomi told me in detail about the fight for Jerusalem during the '40's and how the military had to establish supply routes and fight the Arabs. Both of them spoke a lot of Yiddish to Mom and their stories were so funny that it didn't matter that I didn't understand half of them.

Today I changed my flight reservations to TWA to Boston. The woman at the TWA office handled things quite expeditiously, to my pleasant surprise. I almost stood there waiting for them to stall after they were already finished. Service around here is pretty slow and indifferent, often enough, especially when you have to wait to get something from someone behind a desk.

Anyway, after my episode at TWA, I took a bus here to Yad Vashem. I spent a few hours looking at exhibits about the nazis and the people they destroyed. The visitors seemed like half European Jews and half schoolchildren. Actually I can't really tell if the Europeans are Jews, but there don't seem to be many Sephardim. I suppose that's because most of the tourists are Europeans. I don't quite know why the place is called Yad Vashem, but there is an inscription that reads: venatati lahem beveti uvechomoti yad vashem... asher lo yichdat - yesheyahu 56 - And to them I will give in my house and within my walls "a memorial..." that shall not be cut off. - Isaiah 56:5

Sat 21-Jun 550PM Mom's apt
Dear Diary,
It's been a week since my last report.
OK. Dear Seminary,
Last Monday I went folk dancing at YMCA, pronounced like it's spelled. Most of the dancers were about army age, about 20. About 30-40 people. Zvulun Zvuluni ran the reel-to-reel tape, a skinny Sabra in his late 30's probably. Lots of young girls, a few young guys. One young girl from the army whom I found particularly attractive; she wasn't the prettiest. She was from near Tel Aviv but was stationed here in Jerusalem and staying in a soldier's house. I don't know whether that means in a barracks or in the home of a local soldier. Probably the former. Anyway, she shlepped me through (a few) of the couple dances and when I bailed out on a fast dance, she did the rest with a skinny kid who was more familiar with the dances, probably in the army also. It wasn't as good a dance as the MIT Israeli dance, if you want to compare, but it was dancing and it was fun. I went again on Wednesday, at the ICCY, same leader, similar crowd, similar dance, had fun again.

On Tuesday, I guess, we went to Tel Aviv and Yafo. Tel Aviv is a real city, New York style. No delusions of sanctity, for sure. Boxy buildings, busy streets, nice beach. We went to hit some museums, first the Tel Aviv museum, where the morons charged us 3 shekels a head to come in at 1:45 even though they closed 2-5. We got our money back. We went over to the Bet Hatsfutsot - the Diaspora Museum at Tel Aviv Univ. Interesting place. Chronicle of a dying civilization, I guess. Everything there was constructed by the museum, which means that they can show whatever they want without having to worry about availability - a pretty bold idea, really.

By the way, in the 15 minutes I spent at the Tel Aviv Museum, I could tell it was excellent. I bought a record I'd been looking for for a while, Sephardic Pesach songs by Yehoram Gaon. I heard it once on the radio and really liked it.

On Wednesday night, before dancing, I called Danny Branniss, hacker at Hebrew University Jerusalem, Givat Ram Campus. He said that sure, I could come over any time. I told him I'd be over next day. Mom & Harry went apartment hunting in Netanya so I went downstairs to Bella's to pick up a flat of eggs. She said that the egg lady hadn't been by yet but invited me in for tea. We talked, she showed me a lovely folk dance that she'd taught to elderly people, the dance of the birds, complete with elbow flaps, knee circles, and clapping. She invited me to come with her and Shlomo to the book fair at Liberty Bell Park. That was fun, though most of the books were Hebrew. I saw some chess books translated from English and some science fiction by Roger Zelazny, etc., but I didn't buy anything. Bella showed me how to get to the ICCY and she showed me around with her car in general, as we had to pass the President's house and go through the ritzy old German Quarter. Btw, I bought a couple of records by "Natural Gathering" earlier in the day.

Thursday morning, I was off to the University. At long last, hackers! Danny's a sweet guy, an immigrant from Argentina. Also hanging around were Mulli and On, both sweet too. They took me out for lunch and snacks, insisting that they would pay here and I could pay west of Greenwich. Danny and I shot the breeze all day, me trying my best to not get in the way of his work - I don't think I succeeded too well. After work, Mulli took me and Danny to Danny's house and eventually, Danny's wife came home, and later, Danny drove me home. Next day - Fri - I called Danny and he told me that I left my sunglasses at his house, so I went in again to have lunch and I picked up the glasses. The busses had already stopped running by 3 for shabbat, so I took a cab home.

There had been a meeting of AMIX - the Israeli UNIX group. Arno Penzias was in town so he gave a talk. Sorry I missed it, oh well. Danny gave me a souvenir imprinted folding clipboard from the AMIX meeting. It has an AMIX/UNIX logo, an AT&T logo, and an Isratel logo - neet.

By the way, I met a Boston Israeli dancer at the Book Fair - Larry Winer. That was kinda fun.

Shabbat is coming to a close soon. I bought some schnitzel to cook for dinner yesterday. I sautéed it like it was chicken breast. It was gamey - feh! Today, I've been taking it easy, reading, going over chess games, and snoozing. I'll go out when it gets dark.
Sat 645PM 26-Jun

Mom's Apt Sun 1205AM
I went out when it got dark, actually at around 10, at half-time of the Brazil/France soccer game, which was tied 1-1 at the time. I figured that I should go down to Ben Yehuda at least once on a Saturday night. Well, I wasn't disappointed. Ben Yehuda on Saturday night is like Washington Square or Harvard Square, but different, of course. I bumped into Larry Winer, whom I saw at the book fair, he was with two women, no, we bumped into two women he knew. We hung out at a cafe, and talked, watching the many people go by. We bailed out at 11:30 so we could catch busses home. The bus was filled with revelers as Saturday is the big night out, since Friday night is Shabbat. I'm at home and I'm going to watch the 1AM soccer game, it's about time that I started going to sleep later, as I must crank my biological clock forward 7 hours to get to Eastern Daylight Time.
1AM Sun

1155PM Mon 6/23
I went to the Old City today. Spent a lot of time running around the shuks and paths. Bought some saffron, a couple of T-shirts and a needlepoint kipah. Haggled for the T-shirts, it was kind of fun to haggle, but frankly I'd rather pay sticker price. The guy asked me for 20 shekels for one T-shirt! (~$15!) I bargained him down to 19 shekels for 2 shirts, which was probably a shekel or two more than they're worth, but I'd had enough, I wanted the shirts and the two shekels didn't matter. Considering the price for a hand needle- pointed kipah, the T-shirts weren't expensive anyway. I bought the kipah at a trendy shop in the Cardo - an old columned marketplace corridor right near the wailing wall. Too ritzy to bicker. The price wasn't bad and I liked what I got and couldn't find it anyplace else...

I met an American guy who invited me to go to a religious class tomorrow afternoon. Should be interesting. I spent some time at the wall, got hit up by a few beggars whom I felt obliged to oblige. As I was walking down the steps to the wall I fell down and smashed my left arm pretty good, there's a bump, nothing serious. A religious guy behind me, after asking if I was OK, suggested that I was overcome by the loftiness of the venue. Maybe so.

I turned on the radio as I started writing this, an Israeli station, I suppose, Hebrew woman DJ, rock music. "The Queen and the Soldier" - again, good old Boston folk music. Now Peter Gabriel is on. Jethro Tull is playing in Tel Aviv right after I leave, too bad I'm not staying.

After spending some time at the University yesterday, and meeting Dave Eckhardt - Mr. BITNET, I ventured over to Suri's house and we hung out and talked while she wove a tallis. Well, she started, anyway. She stopped partway through, and after potchking with the loom, she managed to create nightmarish problems for herself. I talked to her today and it sounds live she resolved them somehow, adjusting the thread tension by shimming it with shmattes and newspaper. She's preparing to go to Santa Cruz, we spent some time talking about integrating life, work, and religion, and about dealing with family, self, and going out on your own, risks, learning, etc. It was fun to shoot the breeze, for me, at least.

I'm going to clean up and go to bed. Only two days left here.
12:15AM Tue 6/24

1255AM Thurs 6/26 Mom's Apt
I leave in four hours, everyone else is asleep. I figure that the longer I stay awake now, the better off I am when I get home with respect to jet lag, i.e., I'll get more sleep on the plane if I stay up now. Anyway, I have what to talk about.

Yesterday morning (Tues), Mom and I went to see Uncle Benny in Cholon, a suburb of Tel Aviv. He was going to change some money for my mom. The bus took an hour. We went up to Uncle Benny's apt, it was nice. I didn't get to see his shul. The rest of the relatives were in Stom, a resort/spa town. [Much later, I found that they were saying "S'dom," i.e. Sodom. A resort/spa town.]

When we got home, I set off to meet Jeff Seidel, the American guy who took me over to Ohr Same'ach yeshiva. It was real nice, I took a class on Bamidbar 13, where the Jews are contemplating going into Israel. I spoke up a few times, and I felt like I belonged. I met a young guy named Kalman who was a tutor there. Very hospitable, nice people. I met a guy named Richard from Brookline, whom I've probably bumped into somewhere before. Nice place, Ohr Same'ach.

Then I stopped by Suri's, who was just on her way out to Ohr Same'ach (near there) where her folks live. She'd finished the tallis. She's going to Santa Cruz in August. Then I went home and pigged out on Mom's schnitzel and fish.

This morning I went out to say goodbye to Danny Branniss, I hung out there a few hours, had a nosh, read a UNIX magazine and said goodbye. I came home and Mom and I went out to Katy's Restaurant, where we had a nice French dinner, her veal was a little better than my duck. The meals took an hour to get to the table, the place operated at a real leisurely pace, as though you were supposed to have something important to discuss before they interrupted you with the main course. Anyway, it cost less than $60 including VAT and tip, which is excellent, except that Mom only pays $220 a month in rent, so $60 is a lot here.

I'm pretty much ready to go, the alarm will go off at 4:30, the sherut is due at 5, my plane leaves at 7:30.

Mom asked me about what I thought of Israel, what I would tell people at home, etc. It's not an easy question at all. I don't have any brilliant answers, if I said anything brilliant, it probably wouldn't be what I felt, it would be to say something clever for its own sake. It's an interesting country, and I do consider coming here but I would be giving up a lot, causing an abrupt change. People are here for many different reasons, from purely religious to social, to guilt, to escape, and all kinds of reasons around or in between. I wonder how many people are here to make it a better place to live, or what do they feel their contributions are? It seems to be a rough place to live in a lot of ways. You have to have connections to get anything done. That doesn't reflect my idea of an ideal society. I guess no-one says it's ideal. It definitely is a special place for Jews, though. There's no denying that.
120AM Thursday

De Gaulle Airport 9AM EST
The flight from Tel Aviv was pretty empty and uneventful. I met a UN MFO guy named Dan, an American army guy who is stationed in the Sinai but is going home to Providence for a wedding. I woke up at 4:30 this morning, after about 3 hours of sleep. The sherut ride took about 45 minutes through the dawn. It was a pretty ride, and I had no hassles getting checked in. I just hung around De Gaulle Airport for about 3 hours, talking to Dan and to a woman from Haifa whose daughter lives in Brookline. The woman came to Israel from Rumania 25 years ago, and her English was quite good considering that she recently learned it in class. (We're lifting off.) We should be in Boston in 6 hours and 40 minutes, about 4PM.


1986 1990 1993 1995 1997 1998 2000-1 2000-2 2001 2003 2004 2005

Thu 3-May-90 Hotel Comprador Paris
It's been a long day. We spent all day yesterday in NJ, I drove to JFK around 3PM EDT, we took a 635PM flight here nonstop to Paris and I've been up all this time, save for about a two hour nap.

The time at Janie's went surprisingly quickly - Miranda is adorable at about 3 weeks old - a real cutie and she squirms all over when you hold her. Dylan's a cutie pie too - really sweet though he gets a little annoying when he's cranky - maybe he takes after his uncle Andrew. I had a good time seeing Nat Howard, Moshe Morgenstern, and the Reisners. Daddy and Steve too, and I met Steve's sister Kate, who was nice.

That's all a million miles away now, well, 5000 or so anyway. We arrived around 7:30 this morning, we had not much problem getting out of the airport, a cabbie took us into Montmartre during the morning rush. After he dropped us off, it took us at least an hour to figure out that our hotel was on rue Cité Rougemont, which is around the corner from rue Rougemont. Oh well, now we know.

The Hotel Comprador is a little place with rooms that have beds baths, tv's... FF 240 ($70) bought us a room about 10x10 with a bath and a window. Sort of dreary, but not really too bad. We wondered why the Israeli travel agent recommended it in particular, as there must be many pretty much like it. We soon found out.

Anyway, it's situated pretty conveniently close to the Seine and all. After getting in, Mom and I took a quick nap and then walked down to the Tuilleries and the Champs Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe. We saw some cool French dudes with swords and machine guns and stuff stand quietly at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There was a quiet ceremony at 5:30PM there, after which we took the Metro back to the hotel. I then dropped off Mom, who was bushed and I headed out to find the Church of Ste Germaine des Pres, which has a rue del'Abbaye behind it with a culture center with international dance tonight. Alas, it didn't, but I had fun walking home from there anyway, passing Pont Neuf - a cool island in the middle of the Seine. It was way cool, but would have been cooler if I'd realized that Notre Dame was on the far half of the island. I'll see it tomorrow, I guess. Sacre Coeur too. I did see this cool buttressed church, St. Eustache, I think. Also on the walk back, I meandered through the Ecole des Beaux Artes - cool! These Parisiennes sure had a handle on urban architecture! Dude! A handful of people asked me directions today, of course, I couldn't help, for a variety of reasons. I guess I was asked because I was so busy looking at everyone, whereas most city people are on their way somewhere.

Anyway, I got back to the hotel on foot, pretty easy considering what a rat's nest of streets Paris is.

We were hungry (it being around 9PM) so we set out to eat. The hotel is on the corner of rue de la Bergeres, as in Follies Bergeres, it turns out, which is a block or two away. Also very near are many kosher restaurants and other food establishments - Moroccan, Tunisian, Israeli, etc, etc, etc. NO WONDER the Israeli travel agent sent us here, it's cheap, convenient, and in the middle of a Jewish neighborhood.

After searching for food for at least an hour, we finally settled on a modest Thai place called "Bien Bien," where we ate some good duck, squid, and pad thai. Not overspiced - well prepared and modest. Very much like Paris.

We came back to our room and I'm here writing. I really want to share my stream of consciousness impressions of Paris, but that will wait until I'm less exhausted.
Midnight Fri AM 4-May

930PM Sat May Trocadero Cinematheque
I'm waiting in the theater for a film in a series of Israeli Cinema to start. We waited for over an hour for tickets in a madding crowd of French Jews. I just took out the pad in order to incite some activity, and it seems to have worked.

It's the next evening. I'm so far behind. (midnight Monday morning May) Anyway, last night's movie was called biglal hamilchama hahi (Because of that War), about Yehuda Poliker, an Israeli musician who is the child of a holocaust survivor, and the stories of his family. It was shown as part of a Cinema Israelien Festival of La Cinematheque Francaise. It was a long day - we slept pretty poorly and got off to a late start. In the afternoon, we made our first journey north out of central Paris to visit Mom's old roommate from the absorption center - Carolyn. After a somewhat confusing train ride, we had a pleasant visit with Carolyn and her husband Jonathan. They have just moved into a new apartment and they were having it cleaned and everything there was still in boxes. I didn't have much to say - Mom talked with Carolyn. Right after that, we went straight to visit Simone.

Simone has just opened a shop in Paris, a nice small women's wear shop, full of summer dresses and blouses and skirts. Simone's son Michel was there helping out. Michel is a nice guy, a recent Electronics MS graduate, with a specialty in Biomedical. His English was pretty good, and he wants to improve it and get into technical sales. Maybe he'll come visit in Boston. He works as a tour guide for children's groups, he'll be coming to the US in the summer. Michel was occupied in the evening - he went out with his sister - it is apparent their family is one of those where some of the pairs don't get along. So Mom, Simone, and I went to the theater where we waited standing for about an hour and a half having not eaten anything substantial all day. The film didn't start until 9:30, the wait was hard but the film was excellent, I was less hungry afterward than before. After the film, after saying good-byes to people in the theater for half an hour, we finally drove back to the Jewish quarter of Montmartre (Giora - Simone's friend drove us madly through the streets of Paris on Sat nite, including a heartstopping pass at the Arc de Triomphe roundabout). The Jewish quarter was very crowded as the Follies Bergere (same area) was letting out. We ate an incredible couscous dinner at a Tunisian (Jewish) restaurant - Les Ailes (Eagles). This was real kosher Tunisian cuisine. Couscous with tripe, lamb, beef, etc. Pickled cabbage, cucumbers, peppery sweet pickled lemon rind (mmm!), fava beans (all as antipasti), a lemonade (lemon soda) from Tunisia called "Boga" in really funky bottles (refilled, no doubt).

Paris is alien enough - here we are dropped into Tunisia, and I go to the bathroom and there's a copper "cos" for washing your hands like in any religious Jewish place. Mind boggling. Anyway, the food was delicious and way copious. We went home and slept well.

So finally I get to today, our last day in Paris and I was hoping for a grand finale - at least I would have accepted on if it came to pass - I'm not one for great (short-term) expectations. I was NOT disappointed.

In the afternoon, we made a too-short trip to the Musée d'Orsay, which houses French artists from 1850-1900. We took the cassette tour - cool. Then at 6PM, Jacques duMerc came to pick us up at the hotel to bring us to his home in St Cloud in his new little convertible. Fun. The family is Jacques, who works for the Min. of Transportation, Marithé (our cousin), Laurent - their quiet, sweet son who is studying aeronautics or optics, and their daughter Valerie. Valerie, what a sweetheart. The whole family is very sweet - our visit was quite pleasant. The food was great - melon and French prosciutto, lamb, cheese, strawberries and cream, and wine, wine, and wine. Mmm. Before dinner, Mom and I transcribed the words to "Careless Love" by both Bessie Smith and Jimmy Rushing so that when Jacques could play in a band, a singer could sing it. We also listened to tapes of Jacques playing in Dixieland bands, complete with a lovely vocal scat by a secret vocalist. After dinner, Valerie and I talked about America and the New Age movement. Valerie seems to be extremely gentle - simple and innocent. She is interested in the New Age and its sensitivity and its soothing music - She played me a CD soundtrack of a movie called "the Blue Water" (I think) with soothing music that accompanied scuba diving scenes. We talked about her impressions of the United States, the musical and other popular fads, and "New Age" stuff. I tried to explain that I preferred more dynamic range, but it was a difficult concept to communicate given the limitations of language, time, and company. Much too soon, we headed back to the hotel in Jacques' car. The whole evening was lovely, very sweet, and oh, Valerie...

Jerusalem Sat 12 May Tel Or 9PM
I'm sitting in Tel Or, waiting for the Shlomo Bar Habreira Hativit concert to start. The fiddle player just walked by, who sort of reminds me of the fiddler in Beau Soleil. This should be fun though I will probably not recognize much of the music, the hall is about 20 meters square, maybe 200 seats, I'm up front, it's half full so far, people are trickling in. It's Lag B'Omer tonight and tomorrow, Jerusalem is becoming a city of smoke and fire.

I've been spending lots of time at HUJI with Ric Wheeler and Danny Branniss and Amnon and Shai. The first night here, Mom, Harry, and I went to a nice new grille restaurant called Sammi's, Wednesday I went folk dancing at Mt Scopus, mostly kids, kinda full - I didn't know most of the dances. Thursday I went out to dinner with Ric, Shai and his wife, a guest speaker woman from France named Valerie, and Amnon. We went to an OK place on the edge of Yemin Moshe near the Old City wall. Yesterday, Friday, Ric and I hiked around alot, to the new Jeru. History Museum in the Old City, to his apartment up on the Promenade, and back home. Today I hung with Ric a while, we went into HUJI to read mail and such, then we went to meet Alissa at Yesh v'Yesh, where I pigged out on the sephardic equivalent of cholent.

The place is still filling up slowly, they're playing with the lights and trying to find a buzz (I hope). Shlomo Bar was singing a bit backstage a few minutes ago. Here they are... 5 guys, strings, dulcimer, Shlomo Bar on drums, electric bass, and fiddle.

He played lots of familiar tunes, shecharchoret, dror yikra, yeladim v'simcha, shedemati, elli elli, the other yeladim song (children celebrating in the street).

Monday 22 May Tchernichovsky
I'm sitting waiting for the 22 bus to take me to Mon nite dancing at Tel Or. I spent the day at HUJI Givat Ram as usual, with Ric and Shai and Amnon. Tomorrow morning I'm going to catch the 7AM bus to Haifa, Yossi ben Asher and I have an 11 AM meeting up there at IBM with Dalia Malki, Ron Pinter, and Moshe Bach. I'm on the bus 22 which accounts for the improvement in my handwriting. Enough, I guess, for now.

The dancing was fun - I'm sitting at the 22 stop near the bottom of the King George Mall (midrechov). The dancing was run by Avner, and came in three 4-shekel groups, of which I stayed for two. It was fun. One guy bawled me out in rapid Hebrew for (I think) dancing in the center circle without being sufficiently cool. I didn't have the presence of mind, I'm sad to say, to tell him in loud slow English that I didn't know what he was talking about and that it was probably all for the best. Funny moment - a woman asks me if I knew a couple dance - atah yodeah? and I say I'm not sure, she asks me where I'm from, I say Boston, Massachusetts, and she says "I love your accent." !

27 May Sun Heathrow London
Sitting on the plane, a TWA 1011. Never seen so much security, Xray before checkin, several (more than two) passport/ticket checks, Xray after checkin, open inspection of all carry-on, body scan and full body frisk for everyone. Yow, impressive.

Landing was big fun, all sorts of adventure. Thursday night, Laurie Zardecki picked me up at Heathrow, no problem. We went out walking in Marlow, where she lives, or is that Wycombe, no Marlow, Buckinghamshire (I think). We ate good Indian food with Laurie's friend Carole, and took a walk down the Thames. Interesting sights! Cows and sheep, small locks on the river, clouds in the shape of the British Rail logo (really!) a little smoldering fire in a woodpile in a field that I extinguished by chucking the logs in the Thames (how clever!). It got cool, we went home, Carole went home, we slammed down some Chilean wine that we'd bought at the "Odd Bins" store, and we slept well. Laurie lives in a nice flat, not really flat, really a 2nd and 3rd floor townhouse.

Next morning, we went to ISC in Marlow and I saw/met Doug Miller, Greger, Zia, and the rest of the IUK crew - nice digs, nice folks, Greger was talkative, Doug was tense. They claim that their mail and net works but it doesn't. Laurie and I were bushed from screwing around the previous eve so we knocked off work early.

Carole was really bushed from doing real work, so she didn't join us for the evening's activities, which were way cool. Laurie and I watched cricket for an hour, JO England beat New Zealand 213 for 4 Howzat? So Right! LBW not out. It was great fun to watch, some guy named Gooch (the England Captain) was 113 not out or something. He had a Don Johnson beard and they all wore white sweaters, vests really. So, after the good guys won, we went out toward Windsor, to see the Queen's summer place. It closed at 8, so we couldn't go in, but it was pretty impressive from the outside. We hung out there for a while on the Thames and watched groups of teenagers hanging out (mild mannered ones) and also, swans and ducks, also mild mannered.

Windsor got kinda dull, so we continued walking toward Eton, and we walked past Eton College. The main entrance said "no visitors" but there were other entrances, so we went in. Cool! Neat buildings, loads of space - lots of fields, playing and otherwise. We saw kids playing soccer and a couple with bat and ball playing baseball (!). We walked by some practice wickets for cricket where we got to see the stumps close up. After all that, we walked all the way back to the car in Windsor and drove off to have some Thai food. We got there just in time, the food was good, except that poor Laurie found a little centimeter worm crawling around her plate! (This after previous episodes of a similar nature with both Laurie and Norman). She took it better this time than last time, and we went home for a long nap.

Next morning, we woke up and did chores in Marlow with Carole, before heading off to London. We stopped for tea, the jewelers, shoemakers (which was also a fishing tackle shop) and several others, before we went to the formal wear shop, where I purchased a natty blazer and boater hat. Totally cool! After that, we were off to London.

We drove in Carole's Volvo, she drove around 100mph. Cool. Of course, driving here (we're in the air now), is on the wrong side, and I was continuously trying to get in the wrong side of the cars and wondering what people were doing going the wrong direction all the time and I was pretty much petrified of crossing the street without holding someone's hand. Anyway, we parked right across the street from Bush House. Bush House! Cool! Carole was a little surprised when I told her I wanted to go into the BBC gift shop (she didn't realize there was one) but being a radio junkie, I found it interesting. The selection was good but the prices were stiff, so I opted out. The T-shirt was dull, the beeb would probably say "discreet" but I'll be damned if I walk around with a BBC coat of arms over my chest - forget it.

So we hiked around, took the tubes (better even than Paris!) went to the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge (neet), ate (sort of) at a shitty cafe - we ordered tea and desserts, the desserts were so bad we asked to send them back, the manager bawled us out, so we skipped off having paid only for the tea, which was ok. That was a drag. We picked up some seats for "Miss Saigon" on Drury Lane, from a ticket agent - 35 each, yow! We saw the play, it was ok, not really excellent. Some of the actors were understudies and the plot wasn't too good to start with. The music was fair, the set were pretty good, some of the acting was good. I had the plot figured out about halfway through. Just seeing theater in London was fun. Before going back to the car, we went to a wine bar, which was fairly boring without wine - OK, really, I guess. We sat down by these two Portuguese guys, who engaged Carole and Laurie in conversation - I was pretty tired and they weren't interested in me anyway, and when last call came at 1130 or so, they invited us to go to a Flamenco bar - Carole and Laurie were up for it, but I wasn't since I was to fly today. A fortunate decision that turned out to be, for the night was yet young. Upon returning to Carole's car, we found it missing. To make a long story short, we fed a phone money for the better part of an hour trying to find a ride and where the car was (towed, probably, but it was too late to track it down) so we went to the Waldorf, changed some US cash into 50, hired a cab and rode back to Marlow. This morning, Laurie drove me to the airport without incident, and then, I assume, into the city with Carole to pursue the case of the missing car. All in all, nits and all, I had a great time in London.


1986 1990 1993 1995 1997 1998 2000-1 2000-2 2001 2003 2004 2005

Tuesday 11 May 1993 1:40PM London
I arrived in London this morning, landing at Heathrow and taking the Underground toward St John's Wood, and eventually back to Baker Street. I found a bite to eat, chicken curry sandwiches with apple & sour cherry juice, and just walked around a bit, heading eventually toward Oxford Street and I'm now in the library of the British Museum, chosen since I was in its neighborhood. Big joint, free admission, bitching library! I'm in a room with exhibits of all kinds of funky stuff. The Magna Carta, Canterbury Tales, stuff by Lewis Carroll, James Joyce, bibles, maps, one thing wilder than the next. The library room that I'm in is about 75 feet square, with 40 foot ceilings, and the walls are lined with shelves of leather-bound manuscripts. There are walkways halfway up the walls. Boy, the queen sure has a lot of cool books! I could spend all day here. I haven't even looked at the rest of the museum. I'm pretty weary from flight, jet lag, and walking. Did I mention that this place reminds me of the library in the "Beauty and the Beast" movie?

The next room is maybe three times as big, with display cases of oriental religious works, including one Hebrew one. It has a responsa written by Rambam! Also, a few spectacular haggadot and chumashim, illustrated and illuminated, just spectacular.

There is a chumash called the San'a Pentateuch, which has inscriptions in the shape of fish, and is decorated with Arabesque patterns, from Yemen. Illuminated by Benaya ben Sa'adyah, in 1469.

This big room is "the King's Library" (King George III), no wonder it's so impressive.

5PM- Sitting in Piccadilly Circus watching the cars go round. Had a bowl of Singapore rice stick in Chinatown - Leicester Sq. near Lee Ho Fook's from Werewolves of London. Five hours till flight, and leg weary. The statue in Piccadilly Circus is obscured by plywood, being renovated.

[pool drawing]

The pool is blue, surrounded with red tiles a foot square. it's this funny shape.

Friday Morning Dawn May 14 1993 545AM Club Hotel Tiveria
I'm not over jet lag at all, I suppose I've been up since around 2AM, maybe 3. The sky has been light for about half an hour, the birds are chirping away and scooting around. The sky is light overcast but I can see, I think, the entire Kinneret right off the mirpeset on which I'm now sitting. There's a pool and tennis courts before me five stories below, then the shore about 200 yards away. It's about 70° out, slightly cool to the skin, maybe 65°. Comfy in a flannel shirt. The sun is straining to peep through the clouds right about the hills slightly right of straight ahead, which means, I suppose, that we're on the western side of the Kinneret facing east, that doesn't sound quite right. A few small one-man boats are starting to putt around.

Mom, Harry, and I drove up here last night from Jerusalem. The normal way that is, through the west bank. A little weird, I guess, but that's the way you do it. We're staying with Chaya and Peter, who live in Be'er Sheva. He's from Cardiff, she's an American. I think this is a timeshare - nice little place.

Mom wants to go horseback riding later, she knows a guy near here who raises Arabians, should be fun if I can stay awake.

Jerusalem has changed in several significant ways in the past three years. They have a brand new huge shopping mall - the biggest in the middle east. (Mom just got up, it's 6:15.) The mall isn't monstrously large by American standards, but it ain't small either. 3 floors, with scads of stores. Surprisingly big and impressive. Been open for about a month, it's not really finished yet. But yow, definitely a huge investment.

Jerusalem now has cable tv! Baruch Hashem! Impressive too. About 40 channels, great reception, lots of cool stuff I wish I could get in the states. (You should see the Addams Family in Turkish.) There is a cool deli called Picanti that sells deli meats and salads, good kosher Italian (and Israeli) stuff at reasonable prices. There's a new soccer stadium: Teddy Stadium. Not bad, why would a person want to live in Tel Aviv?

May 19 1993 Thu 10AM
Mom and I are in the Knesset building waiting for a tour. Laurie Zardecki was here working this week, but she left this morning, even though she thought she'd be able to spend the day sightseeing, oh well. Let's see. Yesterday we went to Meah Shearim and bought a nice old antique besamim box in the shape of a fish, for Annette. I hope she likes it. We bought it off a cute old lady who had lots of funky old stuff in her shop. The day before we went shopping for produce in the Jewish shuk in Machane Yehuda. Last Monday, we went to visit Uncle Ben Zion and his new wife Ittl, I think her name is. Oh, it was Sunday, I think, but anyway. His new wife is a good cook, we had a nice lunch and I spoke to her in my extremely broken Yiddish and Hebrew. She also spoke Hungarian and Rumanian, which did me no good. The subject of the conversation was focused on whether I had a girlfriend and when I was going to get married. Not surprising. When we got home, I stopped of at HUJI to see Amnon Barak and Danny Branniss. On Monday, I guess I just hiked around downtown, Ben Yehuda & Jaffa Road & King George.

Still waiting for a tour to start, there are lots of soldiers in green uniforms touring, some with tzitzit hanging out of their khakis. No weapons in here, of course. Lots of schoolchildren too, not much younger than the soldiers. A group of Russian tourists went into the Knesset chamber a few mins ago. I think we just missed a large English-speaking tour group when we got here, so it's been a while that not many English speakers have come through, so we had to wait.

I've only 4-5 days left here. Sunday I'll spend with my Bar Ilan Internet chess pals, and I hope to drop a package off with the Rabbi's daughter, and I'm still trying to hook up with Yoni Owen.

Yesterday was Yom Yerushalayim, but there didn't seem to be too many interesting activities around. Lots of war memorial stuff, sort of like veteran's day. Stuff at the kotel too, but I didn't get over there.

In a chamber at the new supreme court. 3 judges gray-haired men in black robes, each perhaps about 60. Four lawyers before them, also robed in black. A woman with brown hair half down her back, in black robes, standing addressing the judges with some fervor. Four people in the defendants box, listening. The judges seem to be participating equally. One of the lawyers is now conferring with a defendant as the woman lawyer continues to plead her case. 9 rows of wooden benches for spectators, of whom there are about 30, including one in robes. The chamber is a white walled arch-ceilinged vault, with only windows and a skylight for light, no electric lamps evident. The back wall is covered by a wooden lattice, light colored natural wood. Clean, beautiful design. The plea continues as we leave.

Sitting in a seminar room in the Mormon Center in Jeru, waiting for a tour to start. It's a new place, right near Har Hatzofim. Beautiful place, and unlike most places around here, they finished it before they opened it.

Fancy! The organ came from Denmark, 3000 pipes including horizontal Spanish trumpets, cost $1.5M. The whole joint is beautifully designed, sitting on the side of a hill with great views of the old city and greater Jerusalem from every room.

The Mormons caused quite a stir when they proposed their construction. Israel forced them to agree not to proselytize either in the city or on the tour, and for this reason, it's quite tasteful and inoffensive, and I'm sure it's still productive for them.

By the way, I notice in the Jerusalem Report that Eliezer Ben Yehuda's son was named Ittamar Ben Avi (of Ahavat Ittamar fame). He was an advocate of Hebrew with Roman alphabet, printing his bio and a weekly magazine that way.

23 May Sun 930AM
I'm at Mom's watching a Russian doc on TV of Bulgarian women singing, in their village and on stage. Andy Adler would kill to see it. I'm going to see the Bar Ilan ICS folks later, I believe. Yesterday was quite a busy day. We drove down to Masada and Ein Gedi, and I hiked around. Took the cable car to Masada, so sue me. If I hadn't had so much to do yesterday, I might have hiked. Masada was interesting, pretty much what I expected. Ruins and great views of the Dead Sea. Ein Gedi was a rather surprising oasis/waterfall in the middle of total desert, I wonder how the hell that happened. Very pretty, with more beautiful views of the area, desert, and sea. Mom came down with me and her friend Charlotte whom I'd met with her husband, Charlie, the night before. Mom and Charlotte schmoozed while I hiked, it worked out OK. Without getting a chance to rest, Shalva and I went out to see Shlomo Bar, who was awesome. We went to Pargod, a little arch-ceilinged hole in the wall with maybe 75-100 people packed, which it was. He asked for "no smoking," thank goodness. Unusual for Israel.

Shlomo Bar played a great set, with many old faves, shedemati, shecharchoret, dror yikra, shir l'shalom, and yeladim zeh simcha, as well as stuff I'd never heard, like "midbar medaber." Afterward, we went back to Shalva's apt in Talpiyot, we drank tea and talked, and I found my way home quite late.

Sun 23 May
It's now 11am, and I'm waiting at the bus station in Jeru on the 400 bus to Bar Ilan.

Some things I didn't mention... On Fri, Mom took me shopping in the Old City to the Arab shuk, and we ended up at the kotel, which was, as always, awesome. I listened to a few aliyot, and said a few brachot.

Yesterday on the way back from the Arava, we picked up a couple of cuties from Holland who were working for the summer at a kibbutz in Netanya. One was S. Korean by birth, having lived in Holland for 18 years. They were fun, and Mom took them for a little tour of Jeru before dropping them off at the bus sta. We took a little walk up at the tayelet. They had waited for two hours for a ride and were quite toasted by the sun.

24 May 93 Monday eve
This I write from the folk dance at the Matnas Community Center in beautiful downtown E Talpiyot. Right now, the dances are easy, the current one is of the fife and drum Tzahal variety. About 2/3 are familiar - Shalva is here, she lives in Talpiyot. There are about 100 dancers, 80% women. Typical Israeli, no holding hands. The hall is round, about 20 meters in diameter. They do 3-4 couple dances in a row, and so far, the couple dances are dull, which will change, I suppose, as the eve progresses. I hope I know enough dances to dance.

I went to Bar Ilan yesterday, and met 3 cool guys who are students there. First I met Gadi, a thin, black-haired cs/math student with a kipah, we had lunch. Later, we found Cheski, of similar build, with reddish hair, also with kipah, in the kollel, soft spoken as well. The third was Oren, bigger, black hair, no kipah, more outgoing. All three from the ICS, Cheski is known there as havakuk. All 3 around 20 years old. We hung out in the CS building at BI, played chess on the ICS and had a generally dandy time. Gadi left early, and Oren drove me and Cheski home after dark and shawarma. I caught a 400 bus filled with black coats "ein makom leshev" or something. It stopped alot once we got to Jeru, and I had to take a cab home because the busses stopped running. 10 NIS, about $4, no prob. Sorry I missed David Garber, who wasn't around.

Well, the evening of dance went pretty quickly, it's about 11:15, there are about 25 women left, half dancing. The dances aren't too interesting. Typical Israeli dance, no holding hands in line, never let a tape play till the end. Rami, the leader, is a bit of a rascal, but not too bad. Shalva left at about 10:30. Me and Rami are the only men left, it looks like.

It's 20 to midnight, and Rami has decided to teach a couple dance to 5 woman couples, for the last 10 mins. Shegon! (Rina - Spanish. Yawn.)

Thu London
On the "Thames Turbo" RR train from Paddington to Marblehead, change for Marlow. In the seats ahead, 4-5 little 12 year old public schoolers with black coats accented in yellow, a la the Prisoner - Eli would kill for one though he wouldn't fit. One of them is playing a fortune telling game with the other. The passengers are holding back giggles. "You're not going to have a Rolls Royce, You're not going to live in a mansion, You're not going to live in a shed, You're not going to marry Stephanie..." It's cute.

I intended to see some Jewish things today, but forgot that it was Shavuos day #2, since motzei Shavuot was last night in Israel. Woops! So I dicked around White Chapel for a while, had some Indian food at a curry joint. Pretty good. Decided to slide down to Westminster. Popped into the House o' Lords. Cool! They were yacking about a new lottery. Boy these guys can yack. And nice digs, yow! Speakers behind each person's head, even in the "strangers' gallery!" Red leather all around. Gold leaf too. Blue carpeting, or red near the front. Really opulent. Sgt at Arms has a huge gold scepter.

Finally on the train to Marlow. Changed at Maidenhead, changed at Bourne's End. This one's a creaker, more of a twig than a branch. Sorta like the Erie Lackawanna. Still, got a first class cabin, we're still in England, after all.

The countryside is so lush it's very weird after Israel. Like another planet. Still rolling right along the Thames. Did I mention how green it is? Just passed the Marlow Rugby Club with its green rugby pitch. We're here, I guess.

Sat 29-May 9:30pm
Laurie was already home when I got in on Thursday night, since she managed to do the selling she needed when she was in Holland. Yesterday, she went in to work and I hung around Marlow, as the weather was its usual cool and wet. I was pretty tired last evening, Laurie spent it with her boyfriend, David, and I crashed early. She got back this morning and we decided to take the train from High Wycombe to London Marylebone. We got "Travel Cards" which seems to be the economical way to go. We started off at Harrod's in Knightsbridge. I got some cool books, a one on cricket, and Floyd on Brit and Ire. Oh boy x2! Laurie bought bagels, cream cheese (Philly) and lox (I hope - smoked salmon, at least) and though she looked for a birthday present for David, she couldn't find one at Harrod's. After Harrod's, we went to Chinatown (Leicester Sq) and ate at Wong Kei, a cool huge place. We had spare ribs, fair chow ho fon, and slightly overcooked crab in superb black bean sauce. Copious, delicious. We demolished it slowly and thoroughly and enjoyed it as well. After that, we walked toward Piccadilly, looking still for a present for David, and came up empty at Burberry and Aquascutum. As a last resort, we went into a pen shop, where she picked up a very fancy Waterman's ball point for him. Great heft, very nice. Mission Accomplished. So we progressed to Covent Garden, which is like a classier Faneuil Hall. We bopped around and saw some light opera on the steps of some building, part of some festival. Fun. It was after 5 by this time and we were pretty wiped out, so we bopped back to Marylebone and we jumped the Chiltern Turbo back to High Wycombe and then, of course, rode home in Laurie's totally bitchin' Lotus. Nice car. Got home, watched England tie Poland 1-1 in a World Cup soccer qualifier (England shoulda lost). Now I'll look at the books I bought and go to sleep. It's just about 945pm and the sky is just getting dark. Summer in the Arctic. Time for bed.

1030pm mon may 31
Today was my second to last full day in London. Laurie didn't have work since this was a bank holiday weekend. She got home from David's in the morning, and we decided to go out to Stonehenge and then to Bath.

Stonehenge is pretty interesting as a monolith, but there's nothing around it, so you just park, walk around and then go. Being a holiday weekend, there were lots of tourists around. It was pretty striking to see the famous stone circle. As you drive west, the lush and gorgeous countryside becomes somewhat more craggy, though it doesn't get as stark towards Bath as it must be beyond, in Wales and Scotland. Still, the ride was beautiful. We drove from Stonehenge to Bath, which is named after its ancient Roman baths. The antiquity of both of these ruined sites was somewhat reminiscent of Israel, though of course, while the Brits were painting their faces blue and dancing around idols, the children of Israel were engaged in practices that at least I consider somewhat more lofty. Back in Bath...

We toured the Roman baths, which against were reminiscent particularly of the baths at Masada, difference being that hot water flows in Bath to this day. The Bath tour was fun, though mobbed with tourists. After the tour, we walked around the beautiful old city, which reminded me of Geneva somewhat, though I'm no expert on European architecture. Laurie wanted to go to a favorite dinner spot there, "the Sumo Wok" (!), apparently a Mongolian fire pot sort of a place, but it being a bank holiday, they were closed until 7, and it was only about 5pm. So we decided to drive home, as it would be about 7 when we got back, we could eat then. One interesting note on the return trip on the M4 - it passed through the industrial town of Swindon, which is not distinguished except for the fact that its beloved footballers had won an important match at Wembley this very afternoon, and its fans were returning on the M4 as we were travelling east. There were three of four overpasses over the M4 in Swindon, each filled with cheering football fans waving at the returning faithful driving home, their cars bedecked with red and white kerchiefs and flashing their lights and honking their horns. As we drove the 75-100 miles back, the opposite direction was full of Swindontown rooters, they were continuously in view. They were certainly a happy lot, and it was an unexpectedly pleasant experience to see it firsthand, especially since I suspect that Swindon is a town that is no doubt decimated by the depressed state of the British economy and they probably have little else to cheer about.

Oh, on the way out of Bath I stopped in a sweater shop and bought some sweaters, a handmade white one and a couple of nice machine made ones too.

When we got home, we went to a nice little pub through the alley from Laurie's, the "Two Brewers" and we really pigged out. I had a rack of lab, and treacle pudding for dessert, and lobster bisque, and cider. We split some fried brie and garlic mushrooms, yum!

One lovely architectural detail I've failed to mention. Around Bucks, they build lovely walls of brick and cracked flint, they are really quite attractive. Flint is sort of agate-like - dull on the outside and quite pretty and lustrous on the inside. Coupled with brick, makes a lovely wall!

Tue June 13 93 7pm
At Maidenhead bound for Bourne End, waiting for the train to take off. Today I went into London for my last day here. I took a doubledecker sightseeing tour, something I should have done sooner. Stopped for a while in Hyde Park and Regent Park, which were fine, but the real prize was the Tower of London. First a tour by a Beefeater, more properly known as a Yeoman Warder, a guy who actually lives in there. He'll be wearing his fancy duds tomorrow for the 40th anniv of the Queen's coronation, but today, he was in his (still fancy) "undress costume." I saw the tower where they held Sir Thomas More (and many others) imprisoned, I think that was the Bell Tower. The Jewel House was the biggest attraction, where they keep the crown jewels, maces, salt dishes, punch bowls, and other such huge gold or jewel-encrusted things. Yow. Gold punch bowl the size of a small bathtub. Diamonds the size of golf balls. Not bad.

1986 1990 1993 1995 1997 1998 2000-1 2000-2 2001 2003 2004 2005