Monday, July 9, 2012

Israel 2012

Friday June 29 G‘town-- in the air
We were able to leave at a decent hour since our plane wasn’t until 9:45.  I had hoped for an upgrade to JFK, but it didn’t happen.  We went to the Admiral’s Club and I bagged some muffins for breakfast.  At JFK we went to the club in terminal 8 where we checked mail, etc. and had some celery and carrots before heading to terminal 7 and another security check, drat. We shared a McDonald’s salad for lunch. We had a middle seat and window for the overnight portion on a British Airways flight. 

Saturday June 30 in air from JFK to London – Tel Aviv.

At least BA has free wine!  I chose the pasta entry – blah except for the cheesecake which was really good.  Phil had a chicken curry dish.  I slept a little bit and so did Phil, I think.  We were served a muffin and juice for breakfast.

In London we had to change terminals as well and get seat assignments for the last leg. My bag was a tiny bit too big for the bin, so they made me check it.  I took everything out and stuffed it in my back pack and one of the little bags.  In the meantime, I lost my boarding pass!  All was ok, though. Once again we had middle and window. This time BA served us breakfast but this time with eggs, and steak.  In the aisle seat was a little boy, Alexandre, age 7 who lives in London but was headed to Tel Aviv to spend the summer with his grandfather.  He spoke better French than English and also Hebrew.  I played the dots and squares game with him, then a family card game and finally a math game.  I did manage to sleep a bit.

Upon landing in Israel, we had to wait for my bag.  We then found the ATM and got money without a problem.  Since it was Shabbat, the only way into Tel Aviv was by taxi which was about 200 shekels or $50.  The cabbie didn’t know how to find the hotel, the Galileo “Boutique” hotel.  We did a lot of driving on little streets, but finally found it.  It was in the Yemenite old district, and didn’t look very good from the outside, and the narrow reception area had a Coke machine and barely room to turn around.  However, our room was fine.  There was only one floor of rooms up one floor. I got an iron from the desk. 

Tel Aviv

We then ventured out to walk to where we would catch the tour group to Jerusalem. We walked to the beach area which was really alive and packed with beach goers.  We enjoyed the walk toward the Old Port of Jaffa and managed to find a geocache. Jaffa is where Jonah took off from before he was swallowed by the whale.

On the way back, we found a geocache near a sculpture of what we thought was the whale but turned out to be a harp!  We picked up pizza slices for 30 shekels and returned to eat them on the rooftop of our hotel/  It was quite nice; we were the only ones there and we could see the sea!  After eating, we went to a nearby gas station and got what we thought was milk (turned out to be yogurt).

Sunday July 1 Tel Aviv – Jerusalem

We ate out breakfast in the room and dragged out suitcases to the Mercure hotel to wait for the tour bus to pick us up.  It was a bit of hurry up and wait.  We had to wait again at the bus depot.  Turns out they had us booked for Bethlehem, not Jerusalem but it was fine.  Our tour guide was good and nice.  On the way from the Mercure to the bus depot, the guy behind us sneezed all over Phil and talked loudly on his cell, and in addition the man had been very late for the bus.

We rode to Mt. Scopus Hotel in Jerusalem where the passengers got sorted out for the various excursions again.  We bought coffee and used the internet before starting the Jerusalem tour.  We drove around above the old city where we could see Gethsemane and the Mt. of Olives before descending to the Old City.  We parked under the wall, and walked through Mamilla, a modern, upscale shopping mall before entering at the Jaffa gate.

The tour began by David’s citadel, went through the muslim quarter to the wailing wall and finally to the Christian quarter where we spent a lot of time in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher which Helen the mother of Constantine had declared to be where Christ was Crucified and buried.
Old Jerusalem Tour Part I
Our group had lunch outside a store that the guide recommended.  Phil and I ate falafels.  We walked back to the Jaffa gate and Phil and I took a cab to the Capitol Hotel Jerusalem.  It was in the middle of the muslim section, not far from Herod’s gate. After we got them to turn on our A/C – internet never worked in room, we ventured out to look for a cache near the Damascus gate.  We couldn’t find it because some guys were setting up a tarp there over their stall, so we walked through the old city to the Dung gate.  We looked for one cache inside the wall but gave up.  We then spent a long time looking for one outside the wall.  Finally Phil found it.  The evening light was lovely so we continued our walk.  A cabbie tried to give us a ride.  When we refused he yelled “F—k you!” and drove off.  We ended our walk around the outside of the wall at the Jaffa gate and walked though Mamilla,

Old Jerusalem Part 2
When we came out at the other end of the mall, I wanted to find a place to eat.  I went off to get out of the traffic noise and call Eucalyptus (not open) and when I came back Phil was talking to two cute young girls!  They had asked him to take their pic. We finally ate at a restaurant called Candyland – huge Greek salad and a tahini, egg sandwich.  Really good!

We took a cab back to the hotel.  Cabby overshot the street and we directed him back correctly.

Monday July 2 Jerusalem – Haifa
We ate breakfast in the hotel and packed.  Then we went for a walk, looking for the cache we couldn’t find.  Phil wanted to do the part of the Via Dolorosa we had missed so we went in the Damascus gate and tried to find our way to Herod’s gate.  When we got lost, an old muslim man led us through really desolate lanes, coming out at St. Anne’s church.  When we walked up the Via Dolorosa we actually missed all the signs for the stations!  When we came out at the Damascus gate we once again looked for the cache – no luck.  We had just enough time to go to the Garden tomb.  It was wonderful.  Our guide was an older man from Texas, who gave a Christian witness.
The Garden Tomb
We had the hotel call a cab to take us to the bus station to get a bus to Haifa.  We figured it out and took the nearly two hour trip to Haifa, where we got a cab to the Technion which is on Mt. Carmel and very gated.  The guards did not know where we wanted to go, so finally I had the cab driver call the office and he got us there and checked in.  As we were checking in, Lenore Blum and her husband Manuel (who is a Turing Awardee) and Renee McCauley were checking in.  We were able to unpack, walk for milk,  and I ironed all my clothes.  We then went to join the working group bus down to the reception in town.  Then we went to the German colony for the committee dinner.  Tons of food.

ITiCSE Reception and Dinner in German Colony Haifa

Back to the Technion and we were exhausted.

Tuesday July 4 Haifa and Sea of Galilee Tour
We took a very early cab with Renee down to the Colony Hotel where we met up with the tour groups for our tour of Galilee.  The guide was abysmal but the tour stops were really good.  We stopped at the church of the Beatitudes, then the Church of the Multiplication, then back to the river Jordan at the base of the Sea of Galilee to see where Jesus was baptized.  Returning to Capernaum we had lunch at a restaurant right on the lake.
Church of the Beatitudes and Sea of Galilee

Church of Multiplication, Jordan River and Sea of Galilee

On returning to the Technion, the keynote was Michael Rabin, a Turing winner.  I was on a panel on K-12 Standards with Steve Cooper and Judith Gal-Ezer.  Renee and I went to snacks and wine afterwards.  Phil had a cold and didn’t feel well.

Wednesday July 4 Haifa.

Full day of meetings.  Lenore Blum was the Keynote.  I met Phil for lunch with the conference in the student union.  My panel was right after lunch on assessment of community based projects for social good, led by Paul Leidig and with Mikey Goldweber.

At the end of the afternoon, I went back to change and we took the conference bus to Acre (Akko) for the banquet which was held at a beach club right on the water for hors d’oeuvres.  We moved inside for more food and dancing.  I was really tired when it was over.

Banquet at Akko
Thursday July 5 Haifa

Another long day of meetings.  David Harel was the keynote. I had a meeting with Renee, Mikey, Mats and Michael Casperson about the future of ITiCSE and Informatics Europe..  I skipped most of the sessions, and hung out with Phil.  We went to lunch with the group and began packing.  Renee and I got falafels and wine to take back to our room for supper.