I promised to talk about my time when I'm not playing, and seeing as how I've had a lot of that lately... here is a recap of our trip last week. Since the league was still putting the finishing touches on the Tel Aviv Sportek field, a group of Pioneers (whom I will only refer to by nickname... your job is to figure out who I am talking about) and myself headed up to Jerusalem on Friday. Now there was one other opportunity for the players to head to J-town, but seeing that it was on Saturday and the city officially shuts down on shabbos, A-mo, Buts, Chopper, Epps and myself waited for an off day where we could really soak in the entire town. And being that I had lived outside Jerusalem for a combined three years, I was designated tour guide, which was fun because I got to choose the spots to visit. And those spots all contained food.
Now Epps has been to Israel countless times, but for A-mo Buts and Chop,this was there first time in the holy city, so I needed to make an impression. The first stop on our tour was to the famous Shuk (open market). Now for those who aren't familiar, think *Aladdin*, only without the stolen melons and crafty monkeys. Everybody yelling that their prices are the lowest, their fruit the freshest, and their meats the most kosher. Its a lot of fun to see, haggle, and taste on Friday afternoons when everyone is rushing to prepare for shabbos. We took the necessary picture next to the smelly fish stand (a classic) and headed for the center of town to catch some lunch that didn't smell like bread salmon apricots.
On the way to lunch we stopped at the back end of the Shuk for one of Jerusalem's most famous places. Its not the Prime Ministers house or the Knesset (Parliament), but some of the most important decisions of the Middle East take place right there. Cinnamon or Chocolate? (Always Chocolate).Blueberry, or apple? (Always both). I'm referring of course to Marzipan,home of the best rugalach in the world. It was awesome getting to introduce these guys to their first Marzipan experience, and watch their eyes melt along with the gooey interior of a freshly baked batch. It is honestly an honor to buy them their first few. But they are on their own tab now.
Next stop on the food tour was to the best shwarma place I know in Jerusalem: Maoz, right at the top of the Ben Yehuda concourse. Now I'm sure this will spark a raging debate about how foolish I am, that Massov, or Melech or whatever is better shwarma, but... you don't like my taste? take it up in your own blog.
Four shwarmas and one falafel later (Epps wasn't man enough to handle the real deal) , we roll ourselves to the edge of the old city, outside Jaffa gate. Here my job as actual tour guide begins. For those familiar with theold city, we started at Jaffa, and walked through the Arab Shuk towards the Temple Mount, where everyone has the best deal... and they need 'just a minute of your time.' Three dollars for "Pearl Jam" T-shirts in Hebrew, random olive-wood camels, and of course 'antique' chess sets, and we are headed to the Jewish quarter of the Old City. We walked and walked, hitting all the major spots (the Western Wall, the Via Dolorosa, etc.) and all the major time periods as well. Attractions from thousands of years of history,dating from the First Temple (the original walls of Jerusalem dating from 1000 BCE) to the Temple Mount's Western Wall (From 500 BCE), the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at 400 CE, to the Cardo (A roman pavilion still used today for shops) at 600 CE, all the way to the ultra modern outer wall, built by the Turks at around 1500 CE. Getting to see 2500 years of life is a pretty unique experience, and I was honored to be able to go and show the beauty of the Jewish State, and its holiest sites and holiest city.
But back to food. So we tiredly, achingly, sun drain-edly (I know thats not a word) walked back to 'modern' Jerusalem, where we sat for lunch and drinks at a jazz cafe. I cant think of another place that encompasses so much; to be able to go from Cardo to Coltrain, the City of David to Miles Davis, in one afternoon. Thankfully Shabbos was right around the corner, so I was able to rest, but these are some of the things we have been able to do while playing ball over here... Shavua Tov everybody!