A Solemn, Quiet Place

We slept in a bit today as we were worn out and sore from all the walking yesterday. Breakfast was awesome again, with the addition of a couple of different salads. One of our favorite items is the halvah with freshly-roasted pistachios on top – so yummy I want to bring some home.

We took the light rail from Jaffa St. to Yad Vashem, an easy 20 minute ride to the end of the line at Mt. Herzl. 6.90 shekels for each person one day – pretty reasonable cost and speedier than sitting in traffic. Yad Vashem is a solemn, quiet place with unusual architecture meant to echo the cold and inhumane conditions of concentration camps. The main exhibition hall is free and there are several squares (the Warsaw ghetto square), etc. that in the summer would be quite beautiful with fragrant flowers. This was a Monday about 11:30am and we were astonished how very crowded the museum was with large numbers of Israeli students in tour groups and groups of people from other countries, all being guided through the multitude of video, audio, and print exhibits plus artifacts (shoes, suitcases, household items, jewelry, documents, letters) chronologically depicting the rise of antisemitism through the implementation of the final solution. Sobering to walk through and see how it all happened, with some analysis of the historical precedents and how various governments actually perpetuated myths about Jews. As one looks back 70 years, the experience of being at Yad Vashem (different from other holocaust museums around the world), is painful and heart-rending. It is exhausting to go through the museum and there really is nothing more than a few small ottomans in a couple of rooms where one can even sit down and take a break. At the end, one can go to the bookstore and gift shop and also to a cafeteria that serves passable snack items.

After the museum and a rest, we got back on the light rail to the Mahane Yehuda open-air market. Not so pleasant in winter, but we had a great light lunch at Azura where we ate silky-smooth hummus and tahini with fresh bread and a plate of baked eggplant with beef and pine-nuts in a savory, cinnamony tomato sauce. The tahini was so good that I asked the restaurant owner where he got it and I was directed to a stall where, supposedly, I got a jar of the “best local tahini”. I’ll reserve judgment til I get home and try it out in some recipes.

Back home around 5pm for a rest, then wine and snacks at the hotel. Dinner was at Chakra, an 8 minute walk from our hotel. Fortunately we were coached that the restaurant is below King George street down a steep driveway behind a round building. The food and atmosphere were great. We shared a whole sea bass with an herb pesto and mushroom risotto. We got a complimentary focaccia that was among the best we’ve ever had, thin-crusted and brushed with a delicious seasoned olive oil. We also ordered a bottle of Rioja wine by Lopez de Haro that was really tasty. Dessert that all four of us shared was a “snowball”, whipped cream mixed with bits of sweet meringue and fresh strawberries and raspberries- decadent and delicious.

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