Sunday, October 30, 2011

Wow! Inadvertent Blogging Break

I really didn't intend to break from the blog for that long. I just couldn't motivate myself to write. I have been a little down and listless and behind on lots of school and life tasks.

So, here is a whirl-wind update:

I am still in Israel, in the same apartment, in the same MA program.

I decided to take a fourth semester (why my program insists on calling our terms semesters when there are three of them, I have no idea) to finish my degree. I will be taking a couple of classes and TAing a BA level course about Israeli Politics. I am looking for another roommate because beloved E. has returned to America.

I have a boyfriend.

He is nice and likes me lots. We occasionally have disagreements, but we're trying just enjoy being with each other. It is truly an adventure.

I went to the UK with my parents, then they came to Israel for three weeks. 

A full account of the English family wedding and adventures will follow.

I have no idea what I am doing with my life. I just want to have fun.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Italy 5 - Holy Places Day!

It was Sunday in Rome and we had an invitation to a baptism at St. Peters. We rushed to the Vatican perhaps a little too enthusiastically because the Lambert camera was left behind in the taxi. Sad!

In any case, the theme of our last day in Rome was Holy Places.

Driving to the Vatican. This taxi driver now has a very nice camera. I hope he uses it well.

Arriving at St. Peter's Square. I cannot relay to you, gentle reader, the immensity of the buildings and square. The Vatican is tiny, but everything is built on a huge scale. To me it made it feel palatial or political rather than sacred and contemplative.

We wandered frantically trying to figure out how to get in. We asked a very serious Swiss Guard (their outfits are ridiculous so they have to be serious) and he just pointed back to the square. Thanks, guy.

Finally we went through "security" (Italian security pales in comparison to Israeli security) and wiggled past the huge line for the Vatican Museum. Didn't make it there. Next time, Sistine Chapel, next time. 

Up the stairs!

So beautiful and huge!

Breathlessly watching the end of the baptism.

Lamberts looking on.

While the Lamberts greeted their friends and the newly baptized baby, I wandered around ogling the art.

My passionate love of mosaics cannot be overstated. In Florence we saw some truly stunning examples.

After elbowing through a group of Japanese tourists and some German sightseers, I finally bellied up to Michelangelo's famous Pieta.
It is stunning, even behind bullet-proof glass. Such a beautiful Mary.

Also, I want to know why Mary is so young in this one. I know she's supposed to be young and dewy, but she's holding the body of her grown (and recently crucified) son. 

Further down, a peak inside the dome and a look at the altar. It really does make you feel miniature.
Also, so much gold! Sparkle!

Floor grating over a tomb.

This might be my favorite picture. You see that fuzzy table in the far room? With the white blurry guy sitting there?

The Bishop of Rome.
The Papa.

Whew. I needed some fresh air after that excitement (and mass was starting so they kicked us out).

The square set up with chairs for mass.

Windswept nun!

Contemplating the colonnade.

Here I am, holding the Pope-a-tron screen!

After some souvenir shopping, we continued into town to eat lunch and see the Pantheon.

Egyptian obelisk on crazy Baroque fountain of twirliness.

Lord and Lady Lambert are so lovely and picturesque in my furtively taken photo!

Self portrait with a stranger behind me!

In front of the Pantheon!

At the restaurant. I don't remember what I ate, but I tried on G's hat!

Then back to elbow our way into the Pantheon.

It was so peaceful and serene. Gorgeous Rome Classical architecture.
Also, this was the largest free standing dome until the Renaissance. HUGE!

Then we hiked over to see a Gothic church (very unusual in Rome). 
And I can't bloody well remember the name of it!

Fantastic blue ceiling with angels etc. and fantastic trim on everything. I liked it much better than the Baroque golden twirly insanity of some of the other churches.

The colors were so lovely, I couldn't capture them accurately. The blue and teal were so deep and saturated.

Some of that fantastic trim.

Having a very Israel conversation with the bust.

Following this, the Lamberts returned to our villa (er... hostel) for a siesta.
I soldiered onward to my favorite holy site of the day, the Great Synagogue of Rome.

Two slow-walking dudes.

After I took this photo I kind of zoned out and forgot to follow the directions that G had given me. I ended up strolling all the way to the Tiber and then down until I found the synagogue. Along the way two tourists stopped me to ask if I knew where the synagogue was. At first I was a little confused. Why would they ask me? Am I that "Jewish" looking (er... yes.) But then I realized:

Covered + pale + dark hair + HEADSCARF = Married Jewish lady.
The reason why I don't wear head scarves in Israel. 
People will ask about my husband, or just assume that the closest man to me is my husband. 

Anyhow, the tourists attached themselves to me until we arrived at the synagogue. Then the woman preceded to follow me through the whole museum and tour. Oy.

Anyhow, I took some pictures as I meandered down the banks of the Tiber.

Woo! Moorish-ish architecture! Funny pointy domes and arches! Hurrah!

The synagogue was absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, due to security concerns, it is forbidden to take any pictures on the premise. The museum was fascinating and included some of the most beautiful example of Jewish ritual objects. Stunning tapestries, embroidery, torah covers, inlaid tile floors, clothing, silver world. It was spectacular. My favorite was a torah cover that was embroidered with the holy temple of Jerusalem, except that it looks like the Jewish ghetto of Rome.
The synagogue was built in the Art Nouveau style, reusing some of the architectural details from the Five Synagogues building in the ghetto. The center of the ceiling is the stunning and unique square dome.

After the synagogue, I made my way toward the Forum, stopping at the Victor Emmanuel II memorial. Apparently the Romans hate it, rather like the Parisians hate the Eiffel Tower.

Again with the militarized police and their fixation with their hats. These two were supposed to be guarding the monument. Or something.

I popped into a funny little round church, just in case I needed more churchy goodness.

I do LOVE mosaics.

This stained glass was in a little chapel off to the side, but I rather liked it.

Just outside was the Roman Forum.

Trajan's Column

YGirl, with a different style of headscarf.

That little round church.

The Forum. It is so huge.

I returned just in time to hug Lord Lambert before he drove back to Napoli.
G and I went to a lovely wine bar for dinner. The food was yummy, the atmosphere was loud and happy, The wine was very tasty and I definitely ate a whole mozzarella by myself. 

We saw this balcony on the way to the wine bar and I just loved it so much. G. promised I could have one.

We stayed that night in Rome and continued North to Florence the next day! 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My apologies.

I am sorry, dear readers that I have been neglecting this blog. Sometimes it is hard for me to pull myself out of my  stress and procrastination to post.

I have been working on school projects and been setting up meetings with professors. At this point, I need to be dialing up the networking to try to get jobs. I've made some decisions about the future and though my goals are a moving target, I think I am getting closer to knowing what appeals to me in this field.

Israel is lots of fun, but I need to travel around it a little more. The city I live in is nice, but it gets boring. I want to  experience different parts of the country and meet lots of people. I want to improve my Hebrew as well. I might even learn some Arabic. One of our professors speaks stunningly beautiful Arabic and it has made me realize how useful it would be to be able to communicate independently.

Next week I hope to go to Jerusalem for Tisha B'Av, the day of mourning for the destruction of the First and Second Temples.

I find it so moving to hear the reading of the Book of Lamentations overlooking the walls of the Old City. I have some disagreements with the politicization of the day by the Israeli religious right wing, but I feel that personally it is useful to have a particular day devoted to mourning for the difficulties of our people. Last year in Seattle I attended an event with the Burundi refugee community on this day to talk about memories and exile. They were so struck by the Jewish propensity to formally remember these kinds of days and hold on the culture.

Also, it has been scorchingly hot, even at night. It is hard to sleep when it is so hot!

Hmm... That's a little morose. Let's see how I can cheer this up. I am happy. That's pretty cheerful!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Italy 4 :Saturday evening in Roma

After sunset on Saturday, the Lamberts and I headed into the city to see the forum and eat in Trastevere, across the Tiber.

Forum! It looks really ghostly in the twilight. The stone is really red.
So different from the Roman ruins in Israel.

This is where the chariot races were!

Does anyone else have the soundtrack of Ben Hur running through their head?

We finally got down to the River. It was so beautiful! 

This is a picture from one of the bridges across the Tiber. The funny square dome is the synagogue! It was really moving to see it like that, among lots of Catholic buildings with crosses on their domes and roofs. Then the synagogue with its square dome and no cross. It's a very proud building, right on the bank of the river. I went to tour it on Sunday, but they don't allow pictures for security reasons.

The Lamberts contemplating the intricacies of the map.

We were lucky enough to go on a day of a festival. There were shops and booths and restaurants set up along the river. 

Lambert fashion shot!

I tried on a big hat. It would have been like a parasol for me. I should have bought it.

This one's for DS, in Israel. He insisted that I eat tiramisu. So I did. Delicious!

Then we walked back the same way we came on the river, until we crossed over a different bridge.

We went up to one of the buildings and saw a poster of Gilad Shalit. The poster says:
"Rome wants its citizen free"
Gilad has been held in captivity by Hamas for more than five years without any Red Cross visits or humanitarian aid. Hamas said that they are willing to release him in return for more an a thousand Hamas and Fatakh members that are held in Israeli prisons. Many of them are self-proclaimed terrorists who have vowed to continue attacking Israel if released. The movement to free Gilad Shalit is led by his brave and resolute parents. 

Back on the forum! The think that's Constantine, but we aren't sure.

Then, over to the Colosseum!

G and YGirl, Gladiators! With purses.

Now I am a kindly hostess showing off my new Colosseum:
YGirl: Isn't it lovely?
G: Oh, I simply adore it!
YGirl: We paid extra for the aging and weathering. It look more authentic that way!
G: Divine, darling!

Lamberts! Again with the map, making sure we don't get lost.


We ended up wandering around until we found a taxi to take us home to the hostel. Lovely time!
Stay turned for Italy 5: Holy Places Day!