Friday, July 20, 2007

The Bus (Part II) - by Frankie

from last post... ... Once you are successfully aboard the journey begins. My ride involves a trip through a religious and poor neighborhood. Most men wear black suits and high black hats. They ride the city buses unhappily but with no other choices. These characters are skillfully careful to avoid looking, touching, or "G-D forbid" sitting next to a woman. This creates a volleyball type of rotation that invites you to almost cheer for the guy to find a suitable place to sit.
My goal each morning, is to find a side seat. The seats are signle and no rotation is necessary until reaching my destination. One can watch a person move certain muscles that give clues of their immediate departure. Passengers will wait like cats eyeing to possiblility of winning a side seat. No canes or walkers here. It seems safe enough!
Half the people on the bus are with you every day. They commute to work, school, or whatever needs calls them daily. The bus fills quickly as we wind through the streets of "Fiddler on the Roof Land". One feels literally thrown back to the 18th century. The community husltes and bustles about the streets and ultimatly lands on my bus. The packages and purses hit me and annoy me with each bump and turn. Not to worry, I do after all have a side seat. "Excuse me but the stroller wheel is crushing my knee." "The stroller's wheel is now breaking my left toe!" "Hello!" "Oh well too busy with morning prayers!" It is only one toe, I do have 9 more!
This morning the driver was in a very low mood. He moved and jerked the bus so fast my teeth rattled. Some drivers are people friendly and some wheel around akin to the Daytona 500. Everyone seems to survive the journey and arrive safely for another workday. My thoughts turn to my work and then a tingle of fear enters as I anticipate the wait for the ride home.
The summer heat is not pleasant if the sun beats down on your bus station. Bring lots of water and sun glasses are a must. Soon the journey home begins. "wow - there it is!" Mr. Driver: "why no air conditioning?" "Is it really broken?" "NO THANK YOU" " I will wait and wait for the next ride!" Maybe a pillow would be helpful as well!
There is more to this story, much more, but maybe another day - Good Night!

The stories about the bus are meant to bring a smile to your face. Most of the time the ride is pleasant, on time and usually I can find a seat. The public transportation is very affordable and alternatives exist if the bus is not your thing. I do not worry about accidents or bombs or any misfortune when on the bus. It is just another Israeli experience to tuck within you heart as you go about life in Tel Aviv. Read More...

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Bus (Part I) - by Frankie

Riding on the bus in Tel Aviv is an experience worth a few short stories or maybe even a war novel or two. Someone once told me an Israeli would break your leg racing you to a seat on the bus. He would then put you on his back and transfer you to a hospital for help! This was meant to be a joke (so I thought). As it turns out, it is not fiction but a fact. Every day happenings while on the bus create unforgettable memories.

The buses in America serve a population of carless or less prosperous classes of people. There are ofcourse exceptions. In Tel Aviv the workforce of every class are arriving at their destinations from early morning to late at night as they return home. The drame begins as the hundreds of busses leave their central bust stations (Tachana Merkazit) and wind their number 1 to 1000 numbered vehicles throughtout the city and it's surrounding areas.

Bus stops or stations are located en-masse around all neighborhoods of the city streets. Every passanger seems well aware of their bus number and where to be, and when to be there. The stations usually have four seats very close together. Some stops are a block or two long as 20 buses stop within this same statsion. People wait as long as it takes. They "jockey" into position to gain a good seat or even a bad seat or even a decent place to stand. The morning rush hours can test your nerves hoping your number arrives on time. Is there really going to be a place to sit? you ask yourself.

It seems every number arrive 5 times and your bus just vanished. People jump on and off and get in your way so you can not see your bus coming down the street. "ah!!" "There it is!" "Excuse me!" "Please, may I pass?" "oops!" "sorry" "Hey, wait!" "Driver, PLEASE WAIT!!" "Oh, well - only 30 minuts until the next one!" My boss will be thrilled as I phoneher with the bad news. "Why didn't you leave earlier?" She screams. Oh well, 6:00 AM seemed plenty of time for an 8:00 AM arrival, who knew?

The bus community is a combination of men, women and children from all walks of Israeli culture. The rich and poor alike utilize the public transporation. Front seats are for "old people". The step up to the seat would challenge a soccer star of great talent. The walkers and canes fly as the younger passangers scurry off the seats of choice. These is a sign to inform all about the status of the front seat "rules". The knock on the head from the "sweet old lady" will give a good idea of its meaning!
Once you are successfuly aboard the journey begins. My ride involves a trip through a religious and poor neighborhood. They ride the city buses unhappily but with no other choices. These characters are skillfully careful to avoid looking, touching or "G-D forbid", sitting next to a woman. [more travels with Frankie on the next posting... fun on the bus?! -- oh yeah!!!] Read More...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

All about breakfast

This morning we are going out for breakfast. There are many cafes in the City that serve the morning meal, but for us there is a special place. On the corner of Ben Yehuda and Jabotinsky is the "Benedict". In the menu we can read in English and Hebrew the story of the birth of Eggs Benedict in 1894 at the Waldorf Hotel in the 'other city', New York. Hence the name for the place: "Benedict".

The ambiance here spells fun. It starts with the friendly smiling staff and extends to the physical facility. Outside there are many tables in a veranda type atmosphere. Inside we will dine in a room that makes you feel you are being catered to in a luxurious kitchen.

Your server will first bring you a menu and ask if you would like something to drink. We open our menu and find an eclectic variety of choices to enjoy. The menu in English and Hebrew contains breakfast from Israel, France, Greece, England and Texas (eggs and steak). We can also dine on three gourmet varieties of Eggs Benedict, the specialty of the house. The "Classic" made with ham, the "Royal" made with smoked salmon and the "Florentine" made with creamed spinach. All three served on toasted brioche, with two perfectly-cooked poached eggs and topped with hollandaise sauce. These dishes are served hot with salad, variety of warm rolls, coffee and juice (cost about 45 to 50 NIS - July 2007). We were served by Hila, a brightly dressed 25 year old, with a smile to start you off in the morning.

If we are still not satisfied we may order a Mediterranean salad with various fresh vegetables, herbs and feta cheese. We may also choose french toast or pancakes. The 'Benedict' also has a wide variety of cheeses, potatoes, bacon, sausages, ham and smoked fish.

You will never be disappointed with breakfast at the 'Benedict'. This classic little restaurant has all the assets of fine dining for breakfast. Remember, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Enjoy it at the 'Benedict' - 171 Ben Yehuda - Tel: 03-544-0345.