Day of rest

March 17 2007

Erev tov... It seems that my body took the notion of Shabbat, the day of rest, just a bit further than I anticipated.  For the second time in a month, jet lag hit me hard on an overseas trip.  As such, any grandiose plans I had for today went out the window.

On the other hand, I've spent more than five hours walking around Tel Aviv-Yafo (Jaffa) today.  It was a glorious day, about 17-18 degrees Celsius at the high.  For me, that meant walking along the beach without a coat -- some of the locals, though, were out in wool outerwear and gloves.  Kind of funny.

I had lunch in Jaffa, sitting on a bench overlooking the Mediterranean sea.  Lunch was yummy chicken shwarma in pita, followed by a fruit smoothie.  There wasn't that much to choose from in Jaffa -- most of the shops were closed today.  The falafel will have to wait for another day.

I can't recall visiting Jaffa 25 years ago, but it was certainly there -- since it's been there for over 4000 years.  I paid eight shekels (~US$2) to take the history tour at the visitor's center.  There I learned that Napoleon captured Jaffa in 1799 -- no idea!  Seems like he's still there, at least in spirit.

Old Jaffa

For some reason, the short tour triggered an intense historical curiosity.  Upon returning to the hotel, I read wikipedia articles about Israel for over an hour.  Unsurprisingly, almost every page I read had a flag set that "The neutrality of this article is disputed."  There appear to be at least three or four sides to every historical data point.  Even wikipedia can't solve world peace.

I took my second walk of the day to find dinner, surprised by how few people were out and about post-Shabbat. Things will probably be more lively tomorrow.

Biggest observation of the day: There sure are a lot of run-down buildings in this area.  Along the beach, I walked past a building the appeared to be abandoned -- crumbling plaster, leaky roofs, boarded up shops.  Yet one shop remained open.  Elsewhere, I walked under exposed wires, loose conduit, and tripped over empty cable tubes protruding from the sidewalk.  A lot of buildings seem to look like this one:

Near Old Jaffa

Tomorrow, my work here begins.  That's right -- Sunday is a work day, and I'll be off and running.  Now things should get really interesting.

(Yes, I have many more pictures -- just not the time to upload them yet...)

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