Monday, February 19, 2007

Friday in Jerusalem

Last Friday I was in Jerusalem...

Everybody told me I shouldn't go, that there was lots of tension because of the ramp going into the grounds of the Dome of the Rock.

The only tension I saw was from the very few people dashing rapidly through the square by the Wailing Wall. Prayer sayers were in the minority - a thing that I have never seen before. There were reportedly 3000 police and soldiers in the old city. I think I must have seen about 2897 of them, mostly lining the ramp or positioned at the entrance to the square. The other people who were out in force were the media vultures, waiting for a violent clash that never happened.

Any tensions I had were assuaged by lunch at the American Colony Hotel. Actually it was hight tea, complete with crustless whitebread sandwiches with cucumber, tomato, smoked salmon or lettuce all, of course, with butter. There was a very flat, very sweet scone, strawberry jam, sweetened whipped cream, and a date biscuit that would have been very nice with a sharp cheese. Beginning of season strawberries were the finishing touch.

The location was wonderful, but the service was pretty awful, and not at all up to a hotel that is under the Relais Chateau label. We had to ask to give our drink order and only ever received part of it, and I had to make 3 requests for milk to go with my tea. This is not up to the standards you would expect of a 5 star hotel. The worst of it was the waiter who laid the table and threw the napkins down... And when I say threw I mean just that, mine slid all the way to the far edge of the table.

Maybe he was suffering from local tensions too...

8 comments:

burekaboy — said...

wow, that's pretty disgusting for a relais chateau status; usually they are jumping through hoops for you at that level.

glad to hear there were no incidents. we heard all about the police on the news here. no news is good news.

so ... how were the cucumber sandwiches? lol.

aja said...

Hey BB,
The state of affairs for service generally here is pretty darned appalling... But this beat the band!

I love cucumber sandwiches - but I wished they also had cress... I have to say the scone was pathetic... It was like they had only ever read about them but never tasted the real thing... Their loss.

Anonymous said...

I had lunch there 2 years ago and the service was faultless. Maybe the situation caused tensions between the staff and certain guests. CF

aja said...

Hi CF,
The situation may have been part of it, but I also think it is a general lack in the service industry in this county. Very few restaurants have international standard service here... 8^P

lolalilu said...

Hey Aja,
glad to see you were roaming around my part of the woods (I grew up in the Old City) I've never eaten at the American Colony hotel since they are not kosher, but there used to be a great english tea house in Jerusalem that served proper tea (the scones came with fresh clotted cream!)

aja said...

Hey Lolalilu,
Ooh ooh ooh!! Real fresh clotted cream ?!? I love Jerusalem and don't go there frequently enough. But maybe if I knew the name of your English Tea House I would make even more of an effort to get there! Actually, usually my efforts are thwarted! And what a cool place to have grown up. Actually, the 2 places I really wanted to live in were either the fleamarket/old city area of Yafo or the Old City in Jerusalem. I ended up in Yafo, as you can probably tell 8^) But the Old City still holds a very special place in my list of where else I could live places...

lolalilu said...

Unfortunately the english tea house closed a few years ago...
Since you are such an avid fan of markets, you should really try Mahane Yehuda on a thursday or friday. I love it.
And I totally agree with you - The Old city was the right place to live. Very cool and unique.
(Dare I write this? Here goes: Maybe one day I can show you around, if you'd like)

aja said...

Hey Lolalilu,
Firstly apologies for not replying sooner - completely remiss and rude of me.

I'd love to see Jerusalem from the perspective of someone who really lives there. I've been given the usual Ulpan tours, but they show you the structure, not the actual workings of the city.