Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Flat Moo Comes To Town - Part 5

Hallo, Effurryone!

Caspurr the Courageous, here - Commander-in-Chief of the Impurrial Guard, King of the Tigger-Tabbies.

As We purr-omised, this Post is going to be about the Visit of Flat Moo to the Old City of Jerusalem!

There is a lot to see in the Old City, so We spent the whole day there with Moo.
First of all, we took her to see the City of David archaeological excavations. Now, as We discovered on our furrst day of touring with Moo, it is furry impawtant to have a purr-fessional guide. We love Our Home Town, and We know quite a lot about it, but there are often all sorts of things that are new to Us also. By the greatest stroke of Good Fortune, Cleopatra, whom, as you may recall, We met at the Israel Mewseum, was able to put Us in touch with her Esteemed Colleague, Sara, one of the Guardian Cats of the City of David:

And by equally good fortune, Sara was able to make time, despite her extremely busy schedule (this being the height of the Tourist Season), to show Us around the archaeological excavations and explain effurrything to Moo, who had neffur seen an archaeological excavation before and who was fascinated to hear how layer by layer, the earth is stripped back to discover the historical remains underneath, going further and further back in time.

Here she is, having a closer look at part of the ancient city wall. The bit with smaller stones that you can see behind her dates back to Roman - Byzantine times:


One of the most exciting discoveries in the City of David excavations is a Large Stone Structure which the archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar believes was the Palace of King David. Not effurryone agrees with her - but We like to think she is right.
Moo furry much wanted to have her photo taken in the place believed to be the site of King David's Palace, but it was fenced off in such a way that only a cat could access it - which is exactly what Trixie did:

Later on in the day, however, Moo was able to have her photo taken with Trixie in one of the courtyards of the Southern Wall excavations, which were carried out in the late 1960s and early 1970s by Dr. Mazar's grandfather, Prof. Binyamin Mazar:  

Psssst. Don't tell a soul (because Mummy doesn't like people to be able to guess her advanced age), but as a student, Mummy took part in one of the last digging sessions of the Southern Wall, as well as one of the first seasons of the Ophel/City of David excavations.

Now it was time to enter the Old City Walls. The City Wall in existence today was built in the 16th century CE by the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. It had seven gates - but an extra gate, the New Gate (no prizes for guessing why it is so called) was added in the 19th century CE - and one gate, the Golden Gate (known in Hebrew as Sha'ar Harachamim - שער הרחמים - The Gate of Mercy) has been sealed for hundreds of years and, according to Jewish tradition, will miraculously open when the Messiah comes.

We entered the Old City by the Zion Gate, where, in 1948,  there was a failed attempt by Israeli forces to break through into the besieged Jewish Quarter of the Old City, during the War of Independence. It is called Zion Gate because it faces Mount Zion, where King David is supposed to have been buried.

Here you can see Moo just outside the Zion Gate. If you look carefully, you can still see the bullet holes from the War of Independence!


And here she is wandering the picturesque lanes and alleys of the renovated Jewish Quarter:

Jerusalem is a furry special city because it is holy to THREE great religions. We took Moo to see the Holy Places of all three, of course.

Here she is on the Temple Mount. The Muslims call it Haram esh-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary. It is the third holiest place in Islam, after the cities of Mecca and Medina and there are two furry big mosques there - Al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock, which you can see in this picture:

Muslims believe their prophet, Muhammed, flew here by night on his magic horse, El Burak and landed where Al Aqsa now stands. They also believe you can see the footprint of his horse in the huge rock which is in the centre of the Dome of the Rock. 

But 1700 years before that, King Solomon built his Temple on this hill and that is why We call it the Temple Mount. And according to Jewish tradition, the Rock is the Foundation Stone of the World. Some believe that is where the Holy of Holies was in Solomon's Temple. Others say it was the site of the altar. It is also believed this was the site where Abraham prepared to offer up his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice.

We also took Moo to see the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is the site of the Crucifixion, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus, according to Christian belief.

We have no idea who those people are who walked into the picture!

There is a lot to see in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, including lots of little chapels belonging to different denominations, some of which can only be reached by narrow, winding stairs - which made things rather hard for Moo, and exhausting as well.

By now, it was getting quite late. We had left the best till last. We  wanted to show Moo the Western Wall at night, when it is all lit up by projectors.
The Western Wall is the last remnant of the Temple. It was actually part of the retaining wall of the Temple Mount which is the holiest place in the world to the Jewish People. Since this is the month of Ellul, the last month before Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, when it is customary to recite special purrayers of repentance, known as selichot, there were rather a lot of people there, despite the lateness of the hour.  

Here you can see Moo and Trixie, with the Western Wall in the background and behind that, the golden-topped Dome of the Rock.

Moo was furry impurressed and decided she also wanted to go and purray at the wall and leave a note there. This was rather awkward, considering that she - like Us - lacks opposable thumbs and can't write. It is true that Our Human had accompanied Us, as Official Photographer, but Moo said that what she wanted to write was a Secret, and she wouldn't share it with ANYONE.
In the end, she decided to go and whisper her secret purrayer into one of the cracks in the Wall. So We don't know what it was that Moo purrayed for. But We are sure her purrayer was heard.

After that, We all decided to go and purray too.

And then We walked back through the darkened streets to the Jaffa Gate and Mummy caught a taxi and brought Us all safely home.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Flat Moo Comes To Town - Part 4

Hallo Effurrybody!

Yes, it is MOI  -  Queen Trixie, Empurress of Jerusalem, Israel and the Entire Middle East, Guardian of the Boudoir, Alpha Kitty Extraordinaire, and I am here to tell you some more about the Visit of Our Guest, Joanie's Travelling Cow, Moo.

As you know, Moo has been with Us some weeks already, and she has been enjoying herself so much that - with the purrmission of Joanie and her Human, the Lady Ellen - she has decided to extend her stay for a couple of weeks more. We are so pleased - We think she might enjoy a trip to Tel Aviv while she is here.

However, first of all, I must tell you about My Birthday Party/Black Cat Appreciation Day Pawty which took place on Friday, August 17th, up in the Enchanted Forest, overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem (We will be taking Moo to the Old City later this week).

The Enchanted Forest is furry near to where We live and it is also furry near to the Armon Hanatziv Promenade, which is a popular tourist site because of its panoramic view of both the Old City and modern Jerusalem.

The pawty was due to start at 6.30 pm, but Caspurr and Shimshi and I took Moo up there slightly earlier, in the late afternoon, so that she could enjoy the view. While We were on the Promenade, We met one of the Promenade Pussycats, who kindly pointed out all the sights to Moo and whom We invited to the Pawty.

Moo was furry impurressed by what she heard and is really, really looking forward to seeing some of those sights at close quarters later in the week.

After that, We made Our Way up to the Enchanted Forest.

Moo tasted the grass there and said it was much juicier than the grass she had sampled in Independence Park earlier this month. Of course, We have been experiencing some furry hot weather, which has, not surprisingly, affected the quality of the grass - but naturally, the Enchanted Forest (being, well - Enchanted!) hasn't been so badly affected. And the wild catnip which grows there has actually produced a bumper crop (MOL).

Moo was intrigued by the Stone Frog and she and I posed there for a joint Selfie.  

Can you see the Stone Froggie in the background? You have to be at exactly the right distance to appurreciate its Frogginess. Too far - or too near - or in the wrong light - and it just looks like an ordinary rock.

Do you know why?

Because it's Magic. And this is an Enchanted Forest. At night, by starlight, it comes to life. But on Friday, the Magic starts at sunset, with the Sabbath.

So it's a furry good thing that my pawty took place on a Friday evening, as the sun began to set, and that Moo could enjoy all the wonders of that special time and place.

Not to mention the lovely food - the cod canapés and the salmon sushi and the tuna pies and the chick-hen casseroles and the Cream Cheese Cake and the micecream and the special Grass Cake for Moo... And of course the drinks - the niptinis and the catmint juleps and the silvervine wine, et CATera, et CATera, et CATera.

And now all of you can enjoy it as well.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sunday (Birthday) Selfies

Greetings, Effurrybody!

It is I, Queen Trixie, Empurress of Jerusalem, Israel and the Entire Middle East.
We are taking a break from touring with Moo (see last three posts) to make Our Furrst Attempt at taking part in a Blog Hop. We have neffur done this before, and Our Human will furry likely make a Mess of it, but We are highly meowtivated to make the attempt.

We are going to attempt to join the Sunday Selfies blog hop hosted by The Cat on My Head.

We have neffur posted a Sunday Selfie before - but since today is My Birthday, there could not be a More Suitable Occasion. 

So, fursst of all, here is the Birthday Portrait.

Oops! No. Purrhaps one where you can actually see my face would be prefurrable (mol).

Yes, that's much better, isn't it?

Now, it says We are supposed to display their badge.

Okay. We think Mummy has got it right so far (paws crossed).  We shall see, later on, if She managed also to do the second part of the link.

Now, for the second part of this blog.

As I mentioned earlier, today is My Birthday. I am six years old today. However, you probably all know that this coming Friday, August 17th, is Black Cat Appreciation Day, and that I, too, am a Black Panfur kitty. We think it is furry, furry impawtant to purrmote the magnificence of Black Cats, who are often the furry last to be considered for adoption. We can't imagine why, although We have heard that in the United States, black cats are considered to be omens of Bad Luck.  Such foolishness! In England, where Mummy was born, it's the other way around. Black kitties are believed to bring GOOD LUCK. And not only in England, but throughout Europe and Asia! But We want ALL black cats, throughout the Whole World to be recognised as the Bringers of Good Fortune which We are, so Black Cat Appreciation Day is furry, furry impawtant. Therefore, instead of celebrating My Birthday today, We are going to have a joint celebration of those two miaowmentous occasions on Friday afternoon at 6:30 pm Israel time (just in time for the start of Shabbat, actually) up at our favourite picnic/barbecue/pawty location, in the Enchanted Forest overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem. You are all invited, of course - and Moo will be there too. 

So We are going to wrap this up for now. Later in the week, We shall be posting about some more of the places We have been taking Moo. And We shall also be helping Mummy post about her vacation last week.

And finally, here is the blog hop list.  So goodbye for now, or as We say in Hebrew - Lehitra'ot.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Flat Moo Comes To Town - Part 3

Hallo, Effurrybuddies!

The Little Purrince Shimshi here - Master of the Queen's Mischiefs!

You're all dying to hear more about Moo's adventures, aren't you?
Well, here goes.

Moo was furry keen to see what effurryday life was like in the streets of Jerusalem, so earlier this week, We took her downtown, to "The Triangle".
This is a spot in the centre of town bordered by Jaffa Road, King George V Street and Ben-Yehuda Street. These used to be the three main streets of Jerusalem, back in the Bad Old Days when Jerusalem was divided between Israel and Jordan. We have heard that in those days, what is now a modern Capital city was a sleepy, provincial-like town. But now, the Triangle is a bustling pedestrian precinct, with lots of shops - many of which cater mainly to tourists - cafes, restaurants and pubs. What's more, it's a popular spot for street mewsicians, like the one in the picture below.

Moo loved it! She could hardly keep from dancing to the mewsic - or maybe We should say Moosic (mol) - and these little humans just widened the circle to include her and make her welcome:

The Triangle includes many little sidestreets and narrow lanes. In some of them, there are private houses and even synagogues. One of these is Yavetz Street, a little lane known to Jerusalem residents as "Bahari Alley", because it has been home since the 1960s to the Bahari family's famous shop selling pitzuchim (פיצוחים) - one of those untranslateable Hebrew slang words meaning nuts and seeds, such as pumpkin, watermelon or sunflower seeds. At one time, there used to be two such  shops belonging to the Bahari family, in the same short, narrow street - due to a quarrel between two of the brothers, who could not get on with each other.

Anyway, in this little alleyway, We met these sweet kitties, who were sharing a tub of cottage cheese put out for them by one of the residents of the street.  We stopped for a chat with them and asked them for suggestions where to take Moo next.

They thought Moo might be interested in the Italian Mewseum and synagogue in Hillel Street, just a short walk away. I didn't really want to see another mewseum, but Moo and Trixie liked the idea and Caspurr is so easy-going, he didn't really mind where We went, so that was decided.

Mummy knows the Mewseum and synagogue well, because She has several times purrformed there with her Caterwauling Club.

Outside the Mewseum, We met the Guardian, Laila.

We explained to her who Moo was and what she was doing in Jerusalem. Laila wasn't in the least bit surprised. It turns out that she knows Cleopatra, whom We met at the Israel Mewseum earlier this week, furry well indeed.
 She and Cleopatra are both on the Mewseum Cats Committee  and Cleopatra had already told her about Moo. So she had been expecting Us and was furry happy to give Moo a purrsonal, guided tour - the highlight of which was the beautiful synagogue. The synagogue was originally located in Conegliano Veneto and after the Second World War, it was transported to Israel and reconstructed in Jerusalem, where, as well as being a part of the mewseum, it is also in regular weekly use by the Italian Jewish Community of Jerusalem!

Here is a picture of Moo, in front of the Ark of the synagogue.

After our guided tour, We decided to take Moo to Independence Park. To get there, we crossed what is popularly known as "Cats' Square" (כיכר החתולות - Kikar Hachatulot).  Nobody seems to know what its real name is. Mummy had to look it up. Officially, it is called Maccabi Motsri Square, after a Palmach commander who was killed in Israel's War of Independence. Why it's called "Cats' Square" is also something of a mystery. It might be because there is a large cat population in the area, due to the many restaurants and eateries in the surrounding streets. But some people say it is because before the neighbourhood was cleaned up and gentrified, there used to be a lot of not furry respectable ladies working there, and the local residents referred to them as "cats".

(Trixie says that is furry insulting to Us Felines.)

Anyway, as I said, We took Moo to the park and she enjoyed grazing on the grass there, while We had a pleasant rest in the shade under the trees by one of the pools.

After We had rested, it was time to head back home, where, after a snack or two, We were all of Us (#MooToo) in need of a nap.