Sunday, May 22, 2011

Buildings from the inside

We took a pleasant diversion from trying to figure out the significance of Obama's speech (and Netanyahu's response) by means of Batim MiBifnim (Buildings from Within), the annual two day event in which scores of public buildings, studios, businesses and private apartments throw open their doors to thousands of the curious - us included. We arrived at a project on a rooftop in Florentin where a group of artists had put together a creation built of wood scrap and other discarded junk. Not exactly a completed building, more an exercise in creative recycling.



Inside one of the newly created rooms a candelabra made out of upturned salt shakers.


In an old flower mill turned into a design studio we found another creative use for an ordinary household object.


Later, on Rothschild, I noticed that someone had knitted some socks onto the feet of Dizengoff's horse.



On Rabin Square, Tel Aviv's equivalent of Cairo's Tahrir, the newly renovated 'ecological pool' (water lillies, fountain, goldfish and all) revealed what had been hidden from the public and the public seemed to be lapping it up.

The Middle East is in turmoil, Obama and Netanyahu trade speeches in New York on the outlines of a Palestinian state but here on a warm Saturday morning in Tel Aviv all seemed tranquil.

Tonight there was a demonstration outside the US embassy though - perhaps the beginning of less tranquil times ahead?
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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Up Up and Away (yes)


Yes, we had to get up at 3.30 a.m., gulp a Turkish coffee on the Rooftop and hit the road. But by about 6.30, this was the scene. Moran , our trusty 'pilot' is shooting blasts of hot air into the balloon that will take us over 'bitronot Ruhama' (the Ruhama Badlands). Anticipation among the ballooners - a mixed bunch of young couples, friends, a father and daughter (and us) - is running high.  



 With the balloon beginning to rise, we clamber into the padded cubicles that make up the basket - and, almost imperceptibly, the whole contraption rises into the air.
 

At first you are at tree top level.


Then, without noticing, a little higher, and able to make out the patterns on the mosaic floor of a Byzantine church. 


And before you can say Phileas Fogg, you are several hundred metres up and looking down on a smaller balloon (the honeymoon flight) and across a wide vista of shifting clouds, the landscape suddenly illuminated by the rising sun (worth clicking on this one).


Sderot and Gaza are a short distance to the west, Hebron is slightly farther to the east, but in this elevated state you are aware only of the glories of nature. Up, up and away from the follies of mankind. Escapism, pure and literal.


From above, the landscape might have rendered by an abstract artist.



Two mules run across the newly harvested wheat fields. Moran takes us down, reminding us to hang on tight and bend our knees and we shudder to a halt across another empty field.


Exhiliarated and ravenous we toast each other with  plastic cups of Cava, sit down to a hearty breakfast in an idyllic spot before heading back to the Rooftop - and the follies of man.