Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Village Museum

Wow, what a place! So peaceful, colorful and interesting! On a clear, beautiful day one could spend some very happy hours here; there's a lot to see, learn.. and capture with the camera.

The Village Museum ('Muzeul Satului') of Bucharest, is an open-air museum with some over 300 small peasant households from all over Romania. It borders the superb Park Herestrau with its lovely Lake Herestrau located in the northern, elegant part of the city.

park and lake Herestrau

entrance to the museum

The place is organized like a real village with original houses and shaded paths . The houses (wooden /mud/thatched roof houses ) have various patterns of fences, gates, benches and windows mostly made of quality wood. Some of the houses were open to visitors and one could see furniture,rugs and traditional decorative items dating back to 18th and 19th centuries.

Like in any other village one will find here churches, windmills, water-wells, barns, sheds . I also came upon a boat , an inn, and some domestic animals(the cats and hens are adorable).

Maramuresh church

water well


This Village Museum is a Must -see when in Bucharest. The place is a delight to the senses and it it is for everybody: child and adult. It introduces the visitor to Romania's rural life and architecture in a fascinating way.

my ' inserted' head on folkdancer's body

Saturday, November 12, 2011


I've just returned from a visit to Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, and wish to share some of its sites and pictures with you. I'll start with a far- from glamorous spot - the good, old train station 'Gara de Nord' (a replica of Paris' Gare Du Nord).

Gara de Nord (Northern Railway Station ) is Bucharest's main railway station and the largest in Romania. It was built in 1872 (!), and it serves both domestic and international lines.

The station is connected to the city by several bus/ trolley lines and a Metro station; it is also connected to the airport by express bus 780 and by train.

main entrance to the station

Adjacent to the station building - a small plaza dominated by a statue in memory of railway heroes; across the main entrance, there's a tiny park where gypsies find refuge among their rags.

heroes' monument dominating the station plaza

green little park, gypsies and rags

Within the building, there are offices (police office, left luggage office, public relations office, ticket offices), ATMs, information desk, fast -food eateries (Mc Donald's, KFC, and others), mini-markets, booths selling newspapers/phone cards/tobacco.

long hall with offices

hall with eateries, selling booths, cafes

The station has 14 tracks and 8 platforms; some 200 trains per day leave / arrive here.

train platform area

'Gara de Nord' has a rather bad reputation which I think is exaggerated. The station is clean and appears to be quite safe. Like in any crowded place, one has to beware of pickpockets and dubious people. As simple as that. The same applies to its immediate surroundings.The taxi drivers are a bit of a problem, but if you ignore them they let go of you.

I couldn't resist the high rate offered by a money change office outside the station, and... it went ok. I got my money and nothing bad happened to me. Thank God.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


On a very hot day, if you happen to be in a city which can offer you a view of some snow covered mountain (like Granada, with its Sierra Nevada mountains) or a city offering you a view of the sea (like Tel Aviv with its Mediterranean sea) , then chances are you'll psychologically and even physically feel a little better, cooler.

The other day I had some business to attend to on Geula street in Tel Aviv. It was hot and humid, but as I entered the street and saw the sea at the other end of it I felt as if the sea breeze was reaching and caressing me. It was all I needed at that moment.


This street is placed between two very long, parallel streets: a central, commercial, busy street (Allenby street) and the beach street with its big hotels (Hayarkon street) that runs parallel to the sea. It has a mixture of old, new, and renovated buildings , some shops, and two four-star hotels :Abratel and Savoy.

old building at Allenby-Geula corner

Geula street ('Geula' meaning Redemption) has a story which revolves around a former small hotel named Savoy, located at a very short distance from the beach. In 1975 a group of terrorists came by sea, at night, and took control of the hotel, its guests and staff. A counter-terrorism unit was sent to the place. The terrorists were killed and one taken prisoner, but there were also eleven victims in the action: seven guests, the porter of the hotel, and three soldiers, one of them a highly ranked officer .

In 2008, a brand new four-star hotel was built on the place of the old one. Its front bears a plaque which tells the above story mentioning the names of the victims.

Savoy new four-star hotel

entrance to Savoy hotel

commemorative plaque

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Regards from Safed

Safed (Tzfat - in hebrew) is a small but special town located in the mountains, in northern Israel. It is a place where the spiritual meets the physical. It takes about four hours from my home to get there by bus , but the trip is very rewarding.

The town is blessed with mountain good air, picturesque landscape, and a highly spiritual and mystical atmosphere. It has historic sites like the Citadel at the top of the city with ruins dating back to the Crusaders and Mamluks, an artists' colony of stone houses in which artists live and work, art exhibitions , a variety of hotels and guest houses to accomodate the domestic and foreign tourists , shopping areas, healthy living centers.

shopping street

The "Artists' Quarter" in the old town is a major attraction of Safed. The cobbled narrow lanes, the stone houses with their artistic doors and windows, and the various art galleries - are very inviting to its visitors.

cobbled alley in the Artists' Quarter

ceramic work of art on the outer wall of a house

artistic door

tourists in the galleries' area

Safed is considered one of the four holy cities of Israel together with Jeruusalem, Hebron and Bnei-Brak. It has lots of synagogues, holy sites, religious institutions , and ,of course, a significant religious population.

The city is famous for the graves of 'tzadikim' (righteous holy people) whose spirits are believed to protect the city (It's Safe in Safed, as one would say).

This time I visited only the cemetery where my favorite tzadik ,rabbi Abraham Fish, and his wife rest in peace.
It is before the High Holidays when we ask for a good New Year. Praying by the tzadik's grave is always a great privilege, especially at this time of the year.

religios pupils heading to the graves

On the way out of Safed down to the main road, I took two pictures that I think are very beautiful and I hope , dear readers, you'll like them too: one includes a distant patch of blue which is the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kineret) seen from above , and the other shows the sun setting behind the mountains.

Sea of Galilee in the background


See you again next year, dear Tzfat!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Forest of Martyrs and ..Picnics

Two months ago I attended a commemorative event in one of the Martyrs' Forests near Jerusalem. People had gathered there in the early afternoon hours for a ceremony that was planned to start at 16:oo pm. Each participant (there were about two hundred people) was offered a new white cotton cap and a red fresh rose. The white of the caps and of the plastic chairs facing the stage of honor, the red of the roses, the yellow of the scorching sun, and the green of the trees around - that was quite a sight!

surrounding trees

offering flowers to participants

The spot , named the 'Dorohoi woodland' (Dorohoi - a city and former county in north-east Romania) is dominated by a six-column monument - symbol of the six little towns of Dorohoi county whose Jewish population has undergone persecutions during the Holocaust.

the six-column stone monument

young boy at the ceremony

romanian ambassador delivering a speech

Not far from this memorial, there are some long wooden tables and benches - indication that the spot is a popular place for picnics and recreation.

Life with its little pleasures goes on, parallel to what the monument stands for, namely, martyrdom.

long wooden table and benches

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Wrestling Rabbi of Bnei- Brak.

Wrestler-bodybuilder- rabbi- author of religious books - diamond cutter - entrepeneur- donor - businessman - all this in one fascinating figure, that of rabbi Raphael Halperin.

Last week the rabbi (87), a former professional wrestler, died at his home in the orthodox city Bnei- Brak, surrounded , probably, by his large family (12 children from two wives and some 50 grandchildren and greatgrandchildren). May his soul rest in peace!

rabbi Raphael Halperin (Web pic.)

In 1988, Raphael Halperin, a man of many talents , opened an optical store in Bnei-Brak in a charitable attempt to sell eyeglasses at low prices to the many needy residents of his city. (Bnei Brak is considered one of the poorest cities in Israel). This optical store is located on the main shopping street of the city - the rabbi Akiva street - on the ground floor of an old building. A few stone stairs lead from the street down to the store. In front of the store, a huge sign in hebrew -"Optica Halperin" - welcomes the potential customers. Inside, it's quite spacious and the young staff seem to be polite and helpful.

Huge sign : Optica Halperin

the optical store

The rabbi Akiva street, long and rather narrow, is now being upgraded , so everything looks kind of messy - especially the traffic, What immediately attracts a stranger's eye are the many charity boxes of all sizes and shapes scattered along the street, men dressed in black attire, women with long skirts , long sleeves, stockings, head coverings or wigs, and... lots of children. It's very hot and humid outside in August, and I feel particularly sorry for the not so lightly dressed little girls and boys.

big charity box

waiting for traffic lights to change

youngsters in orthodox outfit

little girl- long sleeves-white stockings

'Optica Halperin' has gradually become a chain of more than 120 stores! (with branches even in New-York and Los Angeles ). It still boasts of offering good stuff and service at low prices.
Anyway, its founder and CEO, the wrestler-rabbi Halperin will always be an inspiration to many of us.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Made in Moldova

One of the latest 'hot' things on Youtube comes from Moldova, the small country "sandwiched" between Romania and Ukraine (see web map above) which emerged as a republic following the collapse of USSR in 1991.

The capital of this country is Chisinau and the official language is romanian, known as moldovan. Several other languages spoken here are: russian, ukrainean, gagauz, bulgarian, polish.
Its main touristic attractions are vineyards (the country is known for its superb wines) and remote monasteries cut into limestone cliffs.

I must admit I'm very impressed by the dancing virtuosity of the two moldovan kids in the video clip below, but I'm not happy with their moves which I consider too adult for their age; I'm also not happy with what seems to be a tattoo on the girl's upper arm.
The video was filmed at a wedding with the tiny couple of dancers as main entertaining attraction.
What say you, dear readers?