an evening excursion

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I’d been working hard all day Monday, and was just about to take a walk with Nechama in the park behind our home, when Noga came, and was happy to join us. It was the first day the temperature had gone down a bit, after a week long heat wave. An opportunity to stretch my legs and release the tensions of work. As we walked around the park, I felt lighter and freer. What a pleasure. Fortunately, we didn’t run into any dogs along the way. Nechama doesn’t care much for dogs, and usually hides behind bushes or climbs the nearest tree if we meet a neighbor walking his or her dog. Turns out, this new neighborhood I live in has a sizable population of dogs… most of whom are attached by leash to their human friends. But this time it was an easy walk for all concerned.

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Then, as we got to the edge of the park, Nechama decided to take a shortcut back to the house. Noga and I remained on our own, looking out at the beautiful scenery in the late afternoon. A cool breeze blew. We watched the local ‘light train’ as it came into the station, a bit down the hill. Noga said, ‘you know, we could just get on that train, and continue our walk downtown, if you’re in the mood for it’.

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Well, the idea hadn’t occurred to me, but we had no plans. And the days are still long. It sounded like a good idea. The ‘light train’ is a relatively new addition to our lives in Jerusalem, and it really does make transportation easier. I said sure. And down we went to the station. The train goes by every ten minutes or so. We knew we wouldn’t have long to wait, and we didn’t. It was all very easy. We caught the next train downtown. We found two seats together. It was quite pleasant. Noga asked me if I’d ever taken pictures inside the train, and I told her yes. I’d even posted a few in earlier blog posts.

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Ben Yehudah Str.

The train took us to Jaffa street, and from there we made our way to Zion square, which brought back many memories. But things have changed in the last few years. Jaffa street, which was always the main thoroughfare through town, is no longer open to motor vehicles. Only the train operates on that street, and the side walks have been widened to accommodate pedestrians. It doesn’t resemble the street we knew and visited for so many years. Ben Yehudah str., another important avenue has also been closed to vehicular traffic. It is completely reserved for pedestrians. Which is actually a good thing, because those streets which are still accessible to cars are so overloaded that one often moves at a slower pace than a horse’s gait, and it’s irritating.

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the choir in good spirits

We chose to walk down Yoel Moshe Solomon, ‘cause I’d heard that they’d decorated the street. There were colorful umbrellas above, and I’d been looking forward to seeing them. It was getting a bit dark though, by the time we got there. We’d spent a bit of time in a department store first, looking for an electric grater, which we didn’t find. I had doubts that I’d be able to photograph the umbrellas that I’d read about. All the same, I gave it a try.

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that man could sing

The shops and restaurants looked pretty much the same as they’d always been. We saw quite a few people enjoying the evening. Locals and tourists. Most of the shops were open. I thought I might want to visit a record store I remembered on Hillel street. I was careful to use the words music discs instead of records when I told my plan to Noga. But even so, I was out of date. She explained that the store had closed quite some time ago. People don’t buy a lot of records anymore. But she did tell me of one place that had survived. You still can buy a disc there.

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Noga reads me the menu

Cats’ corner was still there, though, at the bottom of Yoel Moshe Solomon, and I did see a few cats there. But all the little booths where you could once buy jewelry and hookah pipes, and incense, and colorful clothing from the far east had disappeared. It looked like they were building something new there. The cats had grown a bit shy. We continued up Hillel and then down through Ben Yehudah. Aside from meeting some people we know, we also had the pleasure of listening to an impromptu performance of a choral group in the middle of the pedestrian mall. While going up Hillel str., I noticed that the building that used to house the video store had been converted to a restaurant and music venue.

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Jerusalem’s Port

The place is called Jerusalem’s Port. Jerusalem, a landlocked city, has a water complex. We often dream of having a stretch of beach. Tel Aviv went to the trouble of calling one of their stretches of beach, ‘Jerusalem Beach’, in our honor. And now it seems we’ve gone one step further and invented our own port. There were posters on the wall describing different performances scheduled for the coming weeks.

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It turned out that there would be a performance of flamenco music and dancing that very evening. We decided to go. It was only after I’d bought the tickets that I realized the performers were Israelis. That was a bit of a let down. I’ve always enjoyed flamenco music. But the idea of Israelis playing flamenco music, and dancing… I just couldn’t imagine how that might sound…

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As it turned out, though, I was too much of a pessimist. The music was fantastic. There were two men, each of them playing guitars. And two women who danced some of the time. One of the men sang as well. Not all of the time. But he was electric. His voice pierced through any reserve I might have had. When we left, a few hours later, in the middle of the night… the music stayed with us in our heads. The dancing was good too. I’m not really a connoisseur of dance, but what I saw impressed me. The food was good too. The only problem I had, was that I had to take advantage of the few breaks, to go outside and have myself a smoke. Can you imagine that? A performance hall where they don’t let you smoke. It almost makes a person prefer listening to a record… but then… records have gone out of style, I heard.

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60 responses to “an evening excursion

  1. Such a pleasant, peaceful, evening. Thanks for sharing the great photos. Loved the umbrellas!

    • I used to go out quite a lot to listen to music in the evenings, and have a few drinks, or something to eat… but since the no smoking rule, I haven’t gone out that much. My own home is usually good enough entertainment for me. But I might loosen up a little now. Thanks for your comment, Bruce.

  2. What a nice excursion…and I like how you’ve captured the umbrellas.

  3. It looks like a wonderful evening, and so blessed by spontaneity!What adventures you had with Noga. My favorite photo–and they are all fascinating–is the first, with the umbrellas. Magical, Shimon!

  4. What wonderful images! I love those umbrellas! Shabbat Shalom!

  5. What a splendid promenade you have taken us on, Shimon. Your photos area so atmospheric: so much so, I can quite believe in Israeli flamenco. But those airborne brollies – they are just wonderful; the evening light adds to their magic I think. The carefree mood of this outing is most engaging. I feel as if I’ve been with you.

    • Yes, it was the first time in a long time, that I just went out to enjoy the city… and it worked out so well, I think I’ll be doing more of that. Thanks for the comment, Tish.

  6. What a pleasant surprise adventure. Thanks for taking us along.

  7. What a lovely day! Sad how things change sometimes, though! We sold our stereo system and records 2 years ago and I still miss it, even though we can play music on our IMac and through a memory stick in my car.
    On the other hand, I’m glad you enjoyed the Flamenco show: it can be very dramatic and passionate. I took dance lessons for 5 years and loved it and even had a go at Flamenco guitar, which is very hard, but beautiful.
    I look forward to reading about your next adventure.

    • Truthfully, I’ve been in town many times after the changes… But for some reason, I kept thinking about how it used to be, this time as we walked around.. How wonderful, Fatima, that you studied dance and Flamenco guitar. I studied classical music, but it taught me to love music itself… and in the years that followed, I learned to appreciate quite a few different genres.

  8. Oh Shimon, what a great post….Flamenco music and dancing are two things I absolutely love…..from early childhood I found everything about this particular art form so exciting.
    What a great afternoon, evening, night – and I must say that Noga looks as beautiful as ever, and I love to think of dear Nechama making her way home. What a clever, resilient, self sufficient little cat she is.

    I hope your weekend goes well and that the cooler weather prevails. Janet. xx

    • Now, isn’t that something… that I’m not at all surprised you love Flamenco music and dancing. What amazes me is that we come from such different cultures and have so many tastes in common, Janet. I wish you would have heard that guy singing. He almost blew me out of my chair. He was so right there! The weather cooled down a wee bit, and now we’re having another heat wave. The third this year… But I’m enjoying myself with the help of a very fine air conditioner, and some wonderful black grapes. Sending you my best. xxx

  9. ….the colours, the smells, the tastes, the sounds and sights are all here for us, of that city of cities, the golden, the beautiful (beach or no beach). Thank you for taking us along!

    • Oh Lance, it was a perfect evening… all the more so because it was unplanned. So glad I could share it a wee bit with my friends… as for the beach, I’ve been convinced long ago, that we can’t have everything, and life is so much kinder when we don’t try. Thanks.

  10. How I enjoyed being with you both, it all looks so warm and relaxing, I do love seeing people sitting outdoors drinking! Oh….flamenco music and dancing….how that must have had your blood pumping, the pictures are just wonderful, I love the colours. The umbrellas are rather marvelous too! Good old Nechama taking herself home, shame the cats are becoming shy though.
    Noga is such a beautiful woman, so striking with her stunning bone structure!
    It is a shame you couldn’t enjoy a smoke or two, that would have made it all perfect for sure.xxx

    • I think it’s only there, at the cats corner, that there’s been a change in the mood. If you go to any of the sidewalk restaurants around here, you’re liable to have a visitor make it clear to you that he or she expects the leftovers. But that particular patio was known for its cats… and that seems to be changing… As for Noga, she is truly a beautiful woman, inside and out… but I have to admit that though we’ve been friends for many years, I really haven’t had much success photographing her. But I do keep trying. And I do appreciate your sympathy for my no 1 vice, Dina. What a great friend you are! xxx

  11. As ever a lovely read. Wish I was there with you!

  12. The idea of a convenient train to downtown is delightful! I admit to a bit of envy. You captured the umbrellas beautifully in your photograph, Shimon. The street scenes had me almost actually feeling the warm summer evening air, smelling the aroma of eateries, and hearing the various hustle/bustle sounds of crowds enjoying pleasant experiences. The dancing/singing, even without a quick smoke, made for a grand finale to a really good day. I am happy for you and your friend.

    • Well, I have to tell you, Myra, we really suffered for that train. One day, we all discovered signs on the major arteries of the city, that they were about to build an urban train that was meant to improve our lives… BUT that we may be inconvenienced by this contribution towards progress. For ten years there was noise and dirt, and a lot of businesses went under in the center of town. But now… it is very convenient. So good to be able to share my beloved city with you.

  13. Such a fun read, Shimon. I love spur of the moment things; it sounds like you and Noga had such a good time.

    • I regret to say, that I’m a recalcitrant cat myself, Loisa, and usually not very enthusiastic about spur of the moment things. But this time, I chose to go along with my friend, and it worked out very well. Thanks for the comment.

  14. And a good time was had by all. Liked the colorful atmosphere which surrounded your evening.

  15. Thank you for taking us along on your excursion. I too like the umbrella photograph. I also enjoyed the slow, meandering pace of the post!

    • So glad you enjoyed it, Corina. It was so successful, that I’m sure there’ll be more. The summer is just made for those easy excursions… especially in the city where there’s so much going on. Thanks.

  16. The umbrella photo is terrific – as are all the others that follow. Thank you for sharing such a delightful evening with us. I would have loved to hear the music and see the sites and you provided me with that opportunity vicariously.

    • So glad you liked that umbrella photo, Mimi. The moment I saw it, I thought this is something I’ve got to share with my blog friends. But I have to admit that I miss out on a lot of activities I might like during the summer in Jerusalem. There is so much going on… and I do tend to stay at home quite a bit. But I’m hoping that this last evening will spur me on to more adventures. Thanks so much for your comment.

  17. Another wonderful insight into life on the streets from a very beautiful writer and photographer! Enjoyed this immensely!

  18. My son tells me that CDs and DVDs do not have the life span that we’ve been told and that records are coming back. I guess I’ll have to wait till i’m better informed. Interesting to see flamenco dancing in Israel. I’m going to show my lack in asking what do you call your language, and was she singing in that? Sounded like quite a hike for me. I’m pretty much chair bound now and would not be able, but nice to read of someone elses liberation. Hookah? You smoke them there? No, i won’t bother you about cigarettes, I will just sit here and feel bad for you. Loved the color cast on your pix from the ambient lighting. Nice.

    • Well Bob, your son might be right, but I’ll kick myself bloody, if they do come back, because I got rid of most of them a while back. Still, I did go to the trouble of transferring my most loved pieces to digital files. The language that we speak here, is called Hebrew. The same language of the original bible. But the Flamenco singer, though a Hebe and an Israeli was singing in Spanish, and it was powerful. I am very sorry to hear that you’re chair bound these days. That sounds like a difficult challenge, The Hookah is a water pipe, and used to be quite popular in this area, many years ago. Now it has come back, though mostly through the young. I haven’t seen too many oldsters enjoying it. But who knows…?

  19. You are incorrigible Shimon. Of course we have heard if indoor places which are smoke-free and……..so have you!

    When say ‘light train’ do you mean the trams? They certainly have made many more outer Jerusalem localities more accessible to the central areas, they have also made interconnections easier.

    The message I pick up from your gentle strolling is that ‘time and tide wait for no man’, however, on the other hand, good entertainment to suit a range of tastes is timeless.

    • You’re right, menhir. I’m really a tough customer. And yes… we call it the light train, as differentiated from the train that goes between cities. But what it is, is a tram. It’s quite comfortable, and as you say, it’s been well integrated with the bus system, so that you can buy one ticket and get anywhere you want. And truly, I’ve watched these changes in the city over the years, and they weren’t a surprise to me… but for some reason, as I walked through the city this time, my mind went back to the days of my youth… and I was reminded of how much had changed. Thanks so much for your comment.

  20. Real walk down memory lane, even if there were a few changes along the way. Great post and images.

    • Thanks very much. Peter. You know, Jerusalem was pretty much a small town 50 years ago. Everyone knew everyone else. Through the years, I’ve seen it become a big city, but sometimes I remember how it was.

  21. Thank you for allowing me to accompany you on your evening walk Shimon. As ever the photographs are wonderful. I love those umbrellas!

    • Thanks so much for your company, Chillbrook. One of the pleasures of living all your life in the same town, is that you meet people you know, just walking down the street… It was a very beautiful evening.

  22. I loved this walk and then the train. Your photographs are really riveting and brightly decorated with floating imbrellas, 2 family members, musicians and dramatic presentations. Lovely like a book!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed this very subjective view of downtown Jerusalem, Robin. It was nice meeting you, and reading a bit on your blog. Best wishes, and thanks for the comment.

  23. A subjective stroll is just the right kind. It allows us the chance to stroll along with you.

  24. What a great evening you had, Shimon. I enjoyed seeing the sights you saw. I think Nechama must have sensed that you needed an adventure, so left you to it and returned home. 🙂

    • Yes, Nechama is sometimes frustrated when I leave her in the house and just go off. But usually if we part after doing something together, she is much more agreeable, Thanks so much for the comment.

  25. I’ve not yet visited Jerusalem but hope to do so in the future. I enjoyed your photos and the comfortable easy way you narrated your night out.

    • I too, hope that you’ll have a chance to experience Jerusalem with all the sights and sounds and smells. It is a city that has inspired love in many. Thanks for your comment, Cheri.

  26. I agree it may have been disappointing if the flamenco singers and dancers hadn’t been so good. You were hoping for Spanish or Mexican traditional dancers. Glad to know the Israelis did nor disappoint. We are not allowed to smoke on patios or outdoors around others.
    Thank you for liking my posts. Smiles, Robin

  27. Lovely to see Jérusalem and her people through your eyes. Your photos are colourful and very alive.

  28. I thoroughly enjoyed an evening stroll with you, Shimon. Interestingly, records are very much back in fashion here in the US. I once would have said America, but evidently that is no longer allowed. Others can impose their rules, but they cannot make me unhappy.

    • So glad to hear that you enjoyed this stroll here in Jerusalem, Melissa. Always very good to see you. I have heard that there are some young people who still enjoy records. I wonder if it’s because they can get some titles that are not available in CDs… Thanks for your comment.

  29. What I meant to add is that, perhaps records will return to Israel, too?

    • I have my doubts about their ever reaching popularity again here. Even CDs are going out now, as more and more people use digital files which they transfer to their computers and players without any disc at all.

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