I spent Shabbos in The Five Towns, thanks to a friend of mine from college. My flight was leaving on Saturday Night and I knew that I probably would not be able to make it to JFK Airport on time if I had to come from Upper Manhattan, or even from Brooklyn. So I spent a crazy Shabbos in the Five Towns, with, uhm, let's call him "Why" and his family who are all exactly like him
it's scary. And we went to Mo
, where we substantially upped the Weirdness Quotient (or at least i like to think we did).
Then right after Shabbos it was off to the airport, where they (todah la’Eil
) shunted me into the fast check in line (since Shabbos made me late), and I happily headed off to my flight to Switzerland.
The flight sucked.
Maybe I'm just used to El Al, with the video screens in the backs of the seats, and the multiple choices of movies and even a channel that shows you exactly where the plane is located in its journey, but I was not a happy traveler. There was no legroom, there was no overhead compartment room — so my bag was a number of rows away from me — and there was no way to know how much longer the flight was going to take. Luckily though, the kosher food was okay (i'm easily satisfied, easily amused and easily distracted) and I was sitting next to a Jewish guy who has had many trips to Switzerland and gave me some tips about trains and kosher food sources. And to top all the kvetching off, I had to run out right after Shabbos so fast (did I mention that MOChassid
was nice enough to give me and 'Why' a ride back to Why's house after Shabbos?) that I had no time to change and/or shower. So I was sitting there on the plane, not getting much sleep and being claustrophobic in my Shabbos clothes when I otherwise would have worn something more sleepable like a sweatshirt. And for some reason the way they circulate the air on these big airplanes always makes me sneeze. Bleah.
So, anyway, we get to Switzerland.
I walk off the plane, and passing down the corridor towards the baggage/customs/passport control I pass a number of signs. The first one says, more or less, "Welcome to Switzerland! Try some of our world-famous Swiss chocolate, right here in the airport!"
The next one said, "Welcome to Switzerland! Buy one of our world-famous Swiss watches, right here in the airport!"
It was so stereotypical I almost dropped my carry-on luggage right there ROTFL. I half expected the next sign to be a picture of Heidi running to her Grandfather on a Flowery Alpine Mountainside. "Heidi!"
"Grandfather!" ahem. Where was I?
So I get off the plane in Zürich, Switzerland. And for the first time in my life, I'm in a country where I don't speak the language. They speak four languages in Switzerland — German, French, Italian, and Rhaeto-Romance — and I don't speak any of them. And I do not
like feeling like a barbarian. Eating in one of the 5 kosher Indian restaurants on the same block in Manhattan where I don't know what sauce goes with what food is bad enough; in Switzerland I didn't even speak the language! Thanks to Lipman
, though, I was able to not be a complete boorish American tourist, and say Entschuldigung, ich spreche leider kein Deutsch. Verstehen Sie Englisch, Hebräisch oder Spanisch?
(Sorry, I don't speak German. Do you understand English, Hebrew or Spanish?) But all that was a bit too complicated, so I ended up going around and saying Entschuldigung, sprechen Sie Englisch?
(Excuse me, do you speak English?), and almost everyone did.
So I went straight from the airport to the train, and passed by a number of amusing-sounding (such an immature American tourist
) Swiss place-names, such as Frick (where's Frack?), Stein-Säckingen (they sacked Stein?), and Mumpf. And then we got to Basel, where Herzl flavored
the Jewish State.
Lipman met me at the Basel train station, and then we took a trolley(!) to where him and his wife live. We talked about all kinds of stuff, including (of course) diqduq
, but (of course) not just limited to that subject. They taught me about German and Swiss culture, and we talked about Jews in different parts of the world, and Jewish internet culture, and what all those funny words on signs mean, and stuff like that. And then we had a traditional Swiss meal of fondue
— which is properly cheese, not chocolate — and then they were nice enough to let me take a shower and crash (i.e. nap) for an hour or two before it was time to head back to the train station. Train » Plane.
But before getting on the plane, I picked up some duty-free Swiss chocolate (the Lipman family told me which are kosher) and whiskey for friends in Israel. And I munched on the chocolate and fruits that they gave me for tzeida laderekh
Second flight was better than the first. Shorter, more space, and no annoying intra-plane breezes.
Arrived in The Land.I am now in Southern Jerusalem, a.k.a. the Valley of the Aboriginal Ghosts /עמק רפאים/ — if you are here too, drop me an email or a comment and we'll hang out!Checklist Checklist
— √Im Yirtzeh Hashem By You:Jameel
— lunch TuesdayTrep
— Friday morning