Israel five

August 31, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Posted in Daily blogs and thoughts | Leave a comment

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saturday is Shabbat in Israel, and many businesses are closed.  Because we are in a hotel, the restaurant is open, although they don’t cook food to order.  In other words, the Omelet stand is closed.  The elevators run on their “Shabbat programming.”  In explanation for the un-Shabbat-aware, Orthodox Jews won’t drive, handle money, turn electric appliances on or off or press elevator buttons.  The hotels in Israel have “Shabbat Elevators,” which are programmed to stop at every single floor in a consistent up and down route from Friday at sunset to Saturday at sundown.

If you don’t mind pressing the buttons, you may want to avoid the Shabbat elevators if you’re in a 25 floor hotel.  It’s a long wait.

Since Shabbat is a day of rest, we decided to rest at the beach directly behind the hotel.  In the hotel district in Tel Aviv, you just grab an empty beach chair on the beach and an attendant comes and collects payment for the chair rental.  It was 28 shekels (about $7) for two lounge chairs and an umbrella.  The umbrella’s pretty much a necessity, it’s 99 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.

The Mediterranean sea was wonderful.  The temperature must have been about 90 degrees, and rock jetties built around the swimming areas keep rough surf to a minimum.  The beach was crowded, but it is a vacation destination and as I said, most of the shopping is closed on Shabbat.

Jodi had brought a bag of pretzel sticks and we had two litres of water, so we enjoyed lunch at the beach.  If you’ve ever sat at the beach in 99 degree heat, you know the salt in those pretzels is a delicious treat.  We finished our water in the first hour, and Jodi went to a beach stand to get some more.

As the day wound down, we left the beach around 6PM.  There are public showers (really just pipes with nozzles) where the beach meets the walkway, and we learned something new about Israeli’s.  Or maybe they were tourists.  Whoever they were, the concept of waiting in line for their turn was sort of alien.  So we just guarded our turn to use the water with our backs and elbows.  In Rome, do as the Romans.

For dinner, we met friends from back home, Wendy & Rafi and returned to visit our friend Benny at his fish market.  On the way to Benny’s, I found a tobacco shop that sold refill cards for my Israeli telephone.  With the instructions and phone prompts being 100% Hebrew, I couldn’t figure it out.

Back to the hotel by midnight – we’re checking out tomorrow and meeting up with our tour group.  I made a quick stop at the front desk and one of the kind ladies working that night negotiated the Hebrew automated phone service and recharged my cell phone for me.

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