Traveling there & here: Part 2

Having lived in NY for a number of years where the closest thing to a moose is some animal that escaped from the Central Park Zoo, worrying about moose vandalizing our motel room seemed rather cute to us, but it was no joke to the motel owners.

Since learning about the Wyoming raccoon-moose caper, we visited any number of cities in the US, each having their own local issues. It seems that this summer, if you do not mow your lawn in Canton, Ohio, you will go to jail, according to a new law there. In Manhattan, NY, the big things are recycling and cleaning up after your dog.

Here in Israel, my wildlife issues consist of mosquitoes and spiders, but traveling around Israel is a relative breeze, due to a very good nationwide bus system. Finding a place to stay has also been relatively easy, since nearly everyone’s living room couch is really a day bed: remove backrest, add sheets (or not) & viola: instance guest room!.

On our annual visits to Israel for the past number of years, we seldom managed to get out of the Jerusalem area, but after I made aliyah, I made a concerted effort to take my ulpan in a non-Anglo area, in order to be forced to practice my new language skills on the locals after school as well as in class. In the end, I traveled several times each week, rotating between Netanya, Tsfat, and Ra’anana quite a bit, regretting that I had not bought stock in Egged.

Israeli’s put their American counterparts to shame when it comes to home hospitality. I went to a class in Ra’anana and the instructor offered to let me spend the night at her house, since the class ended after 10pm. I went to a business meeting in Yokneam, and a fellow attendee offered to let me stay with her that night as well, rather than travel back late at night.

I learned to keep my toothbrush and extra unmentionables in my backpack, since I never knew if I was going to be back at “home” that night. My first 2 months in the country, I never slept more than 2 consecutive nights in any one location, mostly because everyone was trying to help me, and usually, that meant letting me sleep over rather than wait out in the dark late at night for a bus. Early morning busses usually allowed me to get back to ulpan on time from just about anywhere in the area.

I am not sure how the Israeli hotel economy survives, but I can understand now why they charge so much. In all of the time I have spent in Israel over the years, I have only spent one or two nights in a hotel as a paying customer. Right now, I don’t even know what the going rate for a hotel room is, and thanks to many new friends from Haifa to Askelon, it looks like I won’t need one anytime soon.

I am very happy to report that my rookie year in the national sport of home hospitality is going fairly well. We actually did not have to put anyone on the floor during the klezmer festival last year, but business has picked up since Pesach.  We just had around 20 “pop in” for a Shabbat meal. Their madrich is the son of one of our closest friends, and he called on Thursday night, just to make sure we were home.

Next month, friends from Askelon will be in Carmiel for a son’s graduation ceremony and hope to make a long weekend out of it. Hotel Stepansky is officially relocated & open for business. 

Gotta run. Our friends who are staying at the Rimon Inn just invited us out to eat. The only question is where? Tsfat is known for many wonderful things, but not for fine dining.