Travel the B Side
Travel does not always go the way you planned or the way you want.
Most people don’t see that as you either read superlatively good reviews in magazines or see the best-posed shots on Instagram.
But how about the B- side of travel? Those days when you say what the hell are we doing here?
To be honest, Israel was not my first pick for a holiday. In fact, it has been way down on my list of places to go. If I’d had my way, we would be in Indonesia today. On our way to Borobudur tomorrow.
But Lucy has wanted to come here for a long time. And she holds what could only be classified as a resentment that we have denied her access to her Jewish roots.
In all fairness she has access we just don’t practice it and many her friends seem to. This she has classified as bad parenting in terms of her religion. And she has a point.
It’s not easy as Glenn is not remotely religious and I’m a spiritual mutt.
I try and do the meals for the holidays, but I don’t know the prayers. I am not a member of a Temple. We don’t live a Jewish life.
This year the only Menorah in the house was a stuffed one Wally ate the felt candles off of.
So, we planned this trip for Lucy. It’s why she is the only kid on the trip.
We thought OK, we’ve been crappy Jewish parents, but to make it up to you we are going to take you to the Holy Land. On top of which I found some legitimate Jewish cousins, including a Rabbi on 23 and Me!
Either she was so excited, or she ate something on the plane, but she started getting sick after dinner the night we landed.
By the next morning, she could not leave her room.
So, on day one Glenn and I went off alone in search of Lucy’s Jewish roots.
That’s actually a lie. On day one we do what we always do on day one of any trip we take, we go off in search of asthma inhalers for me.
See, I am really distressed at how much they cost in the states. My insurance allows for one a month. If I get two, and I need two as I usually leave one somewhere or forget it at home. And like to keep one home and one in my purse. The first one costs me $35 and the second one costs me $100.
But, anywhere else in the world they are three to six dollars depending on the country. And most places are pretty good about selling them to you.
I have the whole act down. I go in with an empty one. I say I can’t breathe, they take pity on me and bingo, I get one for 5 Euros or a 10 Pesos or whatever.
The biggest score yet I think was Peru when I came back with 10.
So, the first morning I asked the concierge where the nearest pharmacy was. Off we went through the back streets of the Jaffa, the oldest port city in the world dating back to 7500 BC. in search of my asthma inhalers.
It’s a fascinating part of Tel Aviv (Which all in all I did not find a fascinating city) but the sidewalks dated back pretty far in some places.
Ten minutes into the walk I missed one of them and twisted my ankle. It immediately swelled up. I thought great, now I am going to be limping for the next nine days.
Lucy is home throwing up and I can’t walk.
I hobbled to the pharmacy where my performance did not go over well at all. I didn’t show him my ankle, which I probably should have but I didn’t want anyone telling me to stay off it. I’m pretty stoic when these things are concerned.
I tried my well-rehearsed asthma song and dance several times to no avail. The pharmacist held firm. I needed a prescription from a doctor.
I said, “Where am I going to find a doctor? I don’t know my way around here.” He walked me to the door and pointed to a black door directly across the street.
We went over. It didn’t look like a doctor. It looked more like a bookie was inside. We entered. There were people waiting. I was limping, I think I gave it a certain air of authenticity
It was quite dark and there was a pretty girl behind a desk who seemed to be running things.
Think Arabic Sophia Vergara. I told her I needed a prescription for an asthma inhaler.
She asked me how many. I said two. I didn’t want to be too piggy. If I had been smart, I would have requested an x-ray of my ankle while I was at it.
After I handed Sophia a hundred Shekel bill she wrote out a prescription. And that was that.
Maybe Elizabeth Warren should take a trip over here and visit some doctor’s offices.
Back to the pharmacy I hobbled and got my prescriptions. The pharmacist never looking for a second as if this was unusual.
By the time we left, I felt triumphant with the whole inhaler situation. But it was getting hard to walk.
Glenn hailed us a cab as by then it was time for lunch.
I had booked a place that was on every list called the Kitchen Market. It’s above a market in a mall.
Though this does not hold it back from serving innovative, excellent food.
No closer to Lucy’s roots, but an amazing sea bass and a half bottle of Sancerre and we were happy.
I forgot about my ankle until I stood up.
The Uber canceled when it was one minute away.
We somehow found a cab and had no idea what we wanted to do.
Though we wanted to see the Bauhaus buildings they are famous for here. Many of them happen to be on Rothchild Blvd. a street Glenn had been hearing about since childhood.
He had huge expectations. I had none as no one had ever told me about it.
We got there and I decided ankle be damned I would walk up and down Rothchild Blvd. and be happy or as close to happy as I could be in pain.
There are some wonderful buildings, but the street is in terrible disrepair.
It looked like Marine Drive in Mumbai to me. I happen to love Marine Drive, but it’s full of buildings no one takes care of.
Why these Bauhaus buildings were not being looked after properly was a tad upsetting.
At one point, Glenn stopped a woman who appeared to speak English and asked her if she lived here. She said proudly in a very American accent that she used to.
He abruptly responded with it’s a dump.I so knew this was coming and I so knew it was the wrong thing to say.
She was horrified. She loved it. He said this was the famous Rothchild Blvd. how could they not take better care of it? It’s supposed to be one of the most elegant streets in the world.
I wanted to run but my ankle wouldn’t allow it. I would have sat but there was nowhere to sit.
She gave him a look full of daggers and took off across the street.
It took us twenty minutes to find a cab and an hour to make it across town back to the hotel.
Lucy was still sick. My ankle was swollen and throbbing. I figured if I stayed off it for one night, I might be able to get it working so it wouldn’t ruin the rest of the trip.
I canceled the dinner reservation I had worked hard to get. Tel Aviv is
We ended up with drinks and bar snacks in the hotel lobby and went up to watch the news.
We could have been New York really. But it had been a long day. And I didn’t want to leave Lucy alone in the hotel.
So we decided to end it and go to bed. Tomorrow would be better.
But it kind of wasn’t. We woke up to find out that our friend the great Sonny Mehta had died the day before.
I adored Sonny. He was without question one of the truly divine men I had ever known. I was honored he even paid any attention to me at all.
He read this blog – for years. As long as I’ve been writing it. I couldn’t quite believe it. Every time I saw his name in the open column, it amazed me.
One of the greatest publishers of all time took the time to read this silly blog.
And I know he did as every time I ran into him or had lunch with him, he could recite things I had done.
And to be totally honest his was the first name I searched for when I went down the list of who had opened it that day.
Sonny was a legend and he will be missed deeply.
So, you can run, but sometimes you trip and sometimes just being out of town or somewhere exotic does not assure a great time.
But even if you are limping and your kid is throwing up and a friend dies – you keep going.