Day 13: Haircuts and Perfection

Trip Start May 19, 2009
Trip End Jun 16, 2009

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

(Day 13, Jerusalem) Sunday is a workday in Jewish Jerusalem, so it was back to regularly scheduled programming: sightseeing, in what is called the National District, a hilly ridge in West Jerusalem, where national institutions and government offices are located. We started at the Israel Museum (passing through the usual security and weapons check--did I mention we had to do that at the movie theatre, too?). Although the main exhibits were closed for renovation, we wandered through the rest. First, the Shrine of the Book, a distinctive white building housing the Dead Sea Scrolls, shaped liked the top of the ceramic canisters they were found in. Then two temporary exhibits: one on masks from around the world, and one called "Bizarre Perfection," which was really fascinating, and much more up my alley than the art and archeology that was closed to visitors. This exhibit comprised some exquisitely elaborate works, including a full-scale kitchen made of millions of glass beads (which took five years to complete), and a huge, seemingly off-white wall hanging made of thousands of tiny yearbook pictures, a stepladder apparently splattered in paint (but actually inlaid with precious materials, etc. (pictures here: click links on left side) Finally, we took a walk around the outdoor sculpture garden, but it was getting hot, so cut it short.

We walked a short distance to the Knesset, Israel's parliament. At the gate, security was especially tight. We were not allowed to bring our cameras. In fact, we put just about everything we had in this giant numbered sack, which was zipped up and sent through the x-ray machine, while we went through the metal detector. I thought I'd be getting it all back on the other side, so I put my wallet (with chain) in the sack, too, but no--it was being stored for the duration of our visit. Good thing Kevin had his wallet still, or we'd be hard-pressed to pay for lunch at the cafeteria. (As at many eating establishments in Jerusalem, it was kosher, meaning it served either meat dishes or dairy, but not both. This one was meat, thank goodness.) We joined the English tour after lunch, which took us into the plenum, where the legislature meets, and showed us the art and other features of the building. Both the Israel Museum and Knesset (like Yad Vashem) did not allow photos inside, unfortunately, so pictures of those places are not here, of course.

After retrieving our stuff, we headed through the large park and rose garden that sits next to the Knesset on our way to the Supreme Court. Normally, we might not be interested in going, but it figured prominently in an Israeli film we just saw ("Lemon Tree"), where a Palestinian woman goes to the Supreme Court to appeal a decision to destroy her beloved lemon grove. Alas, we missed the English tour, and the building was by then closed to the public. So we settled on some pictures, hailed a cab, and headed downtown.

We went to the Ben-Yehuda St. pedestrian mall ("the midrechov," a combination of the Hebrew words for sidewalk and street), which this time, unlike Friday night, was busy: cafes, bookstores, convenience stores, etc., people sitting outside relaxing, collecting for charity, heading places. Our mission: getting haircuts. We found a small two-chair, one-man salon and got the job done.

Last stop for the day: the Cinematheque, the repertory cinema I used to love going to when I was here in '86-'87. Back then, it was the only cinema that didn't have commercials before the movies (long before it became common in the U.S., so seeing ads elsewhere was a surprise to me) and that had assigned seating. Moreover, situated where it is, it has a tremendous view of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Hinnom Valley from its plaza and downstairs restaurant where we had dinner on the patio (this one was dairy, so I had a salad and an arak-amaretto-mint cocktail), jazz standards wafting about us, as the near-sunset light gave meaning to the term "Jerusalem of Gold," as it is often called, for the way the light plays off the sandstone that fronts nearly every building in the city. Perfection--again...

We decided to see "Betrayal," a British film from 1983, although it didn't really matter what we saw so much, as we just wanted to check the place out. As it turns out, we did not have assigned seats after all (although we did at the very modest, small local multiplex two days earlier). The hall, one of four, was large and comfortable. After the movie, a lovely nighttime view of the floodlit Old City walls, a cab home to Baka, and an evening on our laptops, the latest "Israeli Idol" auditions on the tube.
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weekilter on

Rich hair pix?
No pix of Rich's freshly shorn locks? :)

Stewart22Darlene on

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