Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Emily's a Winner, Baby, That's No Lie

True to Murphy's Law, the weather cleared up the day after Em left. She had arrived here in Israel on the 15th, and I took her back to Ben Gurion late Sunday night, the 22nd. We had a fantastic time while she was here - some much needed sister-bonding - and the weather was mostly overcast, chilly and rainy. Saturday was full of thunderstorms and hail, and in a country that needs the rain, I'd like to think that Em's presence was the boost the clouds needed to open up and give. It's easy to be optimistic after the fact; in truth, I felt bad that she wasn't able to experience Israel in its heatfilled glory. I felt a little like when Mom and I went to Ireland in the middle of a heat wave in May - how can you truly experience that country unless you get caught in a downpour?

But, back to Israel: four of the seven days she was here were productive and filled with (fairly relaxed) sight-seeing. Monday we walked to the Old City, entered through the Lion's/St. Stephen's Gate, walked around the Tower of David Museum then out Jaffa Gate. We walked through the mall, then up Schlomzion Hamalkah to Kadosh for dinner. Em had gnocchi with a mushroom cream sauce and I had a grilled cheese with blue cheese and figs. For dessert we shared a Napoleon, my latest dessert of choice.

Tuesday we didn't do much of anything other than go to the post office, where I picked up two parcels from Mom, one of which was my Christmas Stocking - Hershey Kisses and yummy teas! (The roomies and I are having almost-daily tea parties.) I'm still waiting and hoping for my gift from Gramma. Fingers crossed. We also went down to Hertz with Bea and picked up the car...

Because on Wednesday we roadtripped to the Galilee! Bea, Emily and I were up and gone by 7:20, drove north and travelled along the eastern shore of the Kinneret. We stopped at a little spot that Bea knows so that she could fill a bottle with Jordan water - her mad driving skills warrant another post entirely - then we made the rounds. First stop: Tel Hazor! Then, down to Tagbha, the Church of the Multiplication of the loaves and fishes, then to Caphernaum, the Primacy of St. Peter, and the Mount of the Beatitudes. Since we didn't have enough time to make it to Mount Tabor, we decided to stop in Tiberias for a walk-about and some coffee. As we sat in a cafe, I realized that we had forgotten to pay for parking...yup, a 100 shekelim ticket was waiting on our windshield.

We were home by 8pm and up again the next morning by 4:30 to roadtrip to Masada and the Dead Sea; Tessa joined the three of us for this trip. The goal was to watch the sunrise from the top of Masada. Instead, the sun rose as we were still on the highway, it was still glorious and, as it turns out, the cablecar at Masada doesn't start operating until 8am in the winter. Ordinarily, it starts a half hour before sunrise. Climbing the Snake Path - an hour and a half hike - was vetoed by all but Tessa, since we were exhausted to begin with and didn't want to be completely knackered before the day had really begun. Masada was incredible, much bigger than I had imagined. By noon we were at the En Gedi spa for massages, exfoliating facials and a quick float in the Dead Sea. We managed to get the car back on time by 5pm, despite running into nasty traffic once we were back in Jerusalem.

Friday morning Emily and I dragged ourselves to Tmol Shilshom for brunch and came back to the kfar right afterwards. I was worn out but Emily was feverish. We rested and relaxed, gabbed and read, surfed the internet and chatted with each other and folks back home. By Saturday night we were both rested enough to brave the rain and hail; we went for a gorgeous dinner at Canela, beside Kadosh on Schlomzion Hamalkah. We shared seared whitefish on a bed of rice to start, then Em had chicken breast stuffed with mushrooms and I had the duck. MMM, duck.

Sunday saw us back at the Old City. First, we walked the ramparts then Emily visited the Kotel. Next, we went for an overpriced falafel lunch in the Arab Quarter, did a little shopping then we wandered in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Again, this was much bigger than I thought it was when I was there back in August. We then went up to Ben Yehuda to shop for some more souvenirs. Emily was packed and ready for the sherut which picked us up at 7:45pm.

So, there's a grocery list of our time together. There are new photo albums and some wee films for you to check out. Em and I were pretty addicted to the films and watched them over and over. To close with today, here's my own little academy-esque speech: Thanks, Dad and Laura. Thanks Em, for your divine spark. I believe that, often, what it is I sense I'm missing or needing arrives when I need it most - and Em's arrival and the time we spent together was amazing, well-timed and a much-needed connection not only with her but with home. I'm reminded that being away from home for so long affects us more profoundly than I could have imagined. And I can imagine a lot.

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