City of David tour and Hezekiah’s Tunnels

Noah and I are back in the United States now! Wow, what a year in Israel. I’m going to try to put out a post or two about the first days back in Boston soon, but for now, here’s a final recap of the last days in Israel.

A couple weeks before we left, Noah and I finally took a much-anticipated tour of the City of David. We had been wanting to do a tour there since last fall, but schedules were always busy and we wanted to reserve a spot on an English tour in advance. Eventually, the end of our time in Israel was approaching so we knew we needed to go! We went on a Friday afternoon tour through the city and the water tunnels. In total, the tour was about 3 hours long. We got there early to look around the area before the tour started:

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The tour started with an overview of the area (which has a great overlook into East Jerusalem) and explanations about some of the ruins found in the area.

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The highlight of a tour to the City of David, however, is a trip through the water tunnels. King Hezekiah built these tunnels as a way to defend the city from the approaching Assyrian army in the 8th century BCE. Today, the tunnels still have some water (about knee deep, sometimes a little higher).

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Unfortunately, our trip through the tunnels wasn’t the greatest. We were behind a group that was singing very loudly and, it turned, included several blind people. It was great that the group was enabling some blind people to walk through the tunnel, but it made the trip through the tunnels very slow and I started to get sort of frightened after being in the small space for so long! I was definitely glad to see the sunshine when we got to the end!

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Besides the City of David tunnels, there were some other final activities and restaurant visits that we wanted to make sure to get in before leaving the holy city. A few highlights include…

birthday dinner at my favorite Jerusalem cafe, Kadosh:

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a final trip to the Old City to see the Tower of David Night Spectacular:

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a waffle from Waffle Bar:

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Saying goodbye to our beloved Jerusalem apartment:

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And a 4:00am trip to Ben Gurion airport for our departure flight:

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Goodbye, Israel. I will miss you so dearly. 

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Life Needs Frosting

I was walking by the [relatively] new Cinnabon on Emek Refaim last week and took a quick glance at their outdoor seating area…

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Yes, Cinnabon, I agree. Life does need frosting.

Here’s a quick recap of some of my [relatively] recents adventures with frosting dessert happiness sweet things.

YOLO is taking Jerusalem by storm. I bought a couple containers of YOLO at the store a while ago because I thought it was hilariously named. When I bought it, I thought it was just a coincidence that the name of this pudding-like dessert cup was the same as the trendy hashtag acronym ‘you only live once’. #YOLO. Hence, why I found this pudding cup humorous.

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Little did I know it was even more funny than I originally thought…

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Not a coincidence. 

Noah and I weren’t a huge fan of YOLO, but it seems to be on quite the marketing campaign as we saw hundreds of YOLOs being handed out for free last week at the Tahana Rishona.

The more exciting “frostings” in my life, however, have come in the form of waffles! I’ve posted about the dessert waffle situation in Israel previously. For those who missed it, basically warm waffles covered in ice cream, whipped cream, and various candy/chocolate/fruity toppings are a popular decadence around these parts. These sorts of waffles can be found on many dessert menus at various restaurants (such as the waffle we had at Landwer), and there are some big chains that focus on waffles (but still serve other foods). One of such chains is Waffle Bar which I talked about in my last post, and the other major chain is Waffle Factory which Noah and I visited more recently:

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I think I liked the waffle at Waffle Factory a little better than the one at Waffle Bar (and Waffle Factory has a really fun menu where you can custom order your waffle by choosing a certain number of components from the ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ toppings categories).

Any waffle covered in sweet sauce and ice cream will most likely be delicious, so I don’t know that there’s too much sense in ranking them….
That said, people still often talk about Babette near Ben Yehuda as being among the top waffle options. It’s a small, independent, one-location shop, and I think those factors contribute to the favoritism over some of the other waffle restaurants.

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Like Waffle Factory, you could choose exactly what you wanted on your waffle at Babette, although you could also select from a menu of suggested waffle-types. The thing that I really liked at Babette is that you could order your waffle ‘half and half,’ meaning two people could share a waffle and each order exactly what they want on their own half. This was particularly good for Noah and me because Noah is more of a fruit person while I’m partial to [as much] chocolate [as possible]. Somehow we manage to stay together. 😉

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This waffle was good but difficult to eat because it did not come on a plate (only the flimsy cardboard sheets that people eat pizza off of here) and the only utensil was a spoon. A+ for waffle quality, C- for ability to not get waffle all over your face.

Made In the City and WAFFLES

A couple weeks ago, Jerusalem had a “Made in the City” Festival. The festival was intended to showcase various forms of music and art from the different sectors of life around the city. The festival highlighted both Jewish and Arab cultural contributions to the city, and exhibits/shows were intended to draw people from both groups.

Noah and I went to one of the festival’s events called Just Singing. Just Singing was a concert featuring Jewish and Arab performers. In addition to music, the big appeal of this particular event was a FOOD TRUCK! Remember food truck days back in the lovely state of Minnesota? See here and here. The food truck at Just Singing was advertised as having been imported (?!) from the USA and having a menu created by Jewish and Arab chefs.

The event was held on Shushan Street. Shushan Street is located near the Ben Yehuda area, and the street is lined primarily with bars. This was my first time to that area, and it was definitely a different feel from the other parts of the city I usually spend time in! Check out some of this crazy graffiti/art:

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Of course, stopping by the food truck was essential.

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In addition to the food truck, several of the bars along the street were open and serving drinks:

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Eventually, we made our way to the stage area. At first, there was hardly anyone near the stage, but as soon as the performers came out, quite a crowd gathered:

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We stayed for about an hour of the music and then headed home, passing this great mural on the road:

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The mural shows a map of Jerusalem as the center of the world, and it’s based on an actual map from the 1500s, depicting the belief of the medieval time period that Jerusalem was, in fact, the center of the world. Even though our maps have changed, I sometimes think the notion remains.

In others news…WAFFLES!

Jerusalem has a thing for waffles. Restaurant chains called Waffle Bar and Waffle Factory abound, and dessert waffles are on the menu of many other restaurants. While you could probably find a savory waffle or two if you really tried, the basic Jerusalem waffle formula is as follows:

ice cream + whipped cream + delicious sweet waffle + toppings of choice = GET IN MY BELLY

I have partook in two waffles during my time in Jerusalem so far. The first was a banana/white and dark chocolate sauce/vanilla ice cream waffle from Waffle Bar:

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The second was a nutella/chocolate and vanilla ice cream/POUND of whipped cream waffle at Landwer Cafe at the Tahana.

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Waffles are pretty dang good. I think they are best enjoyed, however, as a ‘sometimes’ food. 🙂