When you’re not the victim of violent crime

This may not be the best option for everyone, but in this case this citizen fought back against violent crime in South Africa, and it worked really well.

Technically Autumn, and yet

I popped out for a walk after a relatively sedentary morning. It’s technically Autumn, but still pretty hot.

At the same time, those clouds have returned so there is a seasonal change on the way. Thank goodness. 🌦️

Modiin-Maccabim-Reut, Center District, Israel

Music while we waited for our train

One of the things I like about Israeli train stations is that most of them have pianos that commuters can play while waiting for their trains. We had a short wait for our train home after our visit to the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History today, and we were treated to a mini-performance.

By the time this creative commuter finished playing, he’d attracted a small audience of fellow travelers who sat around him to listen to him play.

95 Rokah Blvd, תל אביב יפו, Israel

A preview of the The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History

We visited the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History with our kids today. It’s a remarkable museum, well worth visiting, with or without kids.

We took a train into Tel Aviv to visit the museum during its trial phase. Here’s an explanation about this from the museum’s website:

The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History in Tel Aviv, located adjacent to Tel Aviv University, will open fully this upcoming September.

As of July 2, the museum has been open for a trial run to test crowd flow and to get feedback on the exhibits, according to Professor Tamar Dayan, the Museum’s chair.
“For the trial run, we open for about four hours a day and we limit the number of visitors because we first want to finish the exhibitions properly and then we want to work out any kinks there may be,” Professor Dayan said.

The museum houses over five and a half million specimen.

My wife, Gina, booked tickets a few weeks ago. We arrived around 11:30 for the afternoon round of visitors.

The museum’s exhibits are spread over three levels (there’s a fourth planned, I believe), and it’s a terrific explanation of Israel’s ecology, and natural history. Each section is themed, with explanations in Hebrew, English, and Arabic.

One of the more interesting exhibits is on the third floor. It’s inspired by how birds construct their nests. At least, that’s what I understood from this one. It didn’t seem to have English explanations of several aspects of the exhibit.

We took our own lunch. There’s a deck with both outdoor and indoor seating where you can sit, and eat as you make your way through the exhibits.

The museum is really well thought out. The exhibits are fascinating, and I like how they’re put together. Our kids really enjoyed exploring different facets of Israel’s natural history, and its varied ecosystems.

One aspect of the museum that I really like is how we have insight into the work behind the scenes. The biodiversity section (a fascinating exhibit in its own right) includes windows into the team’s storage area, and even a section where a team member was working on a new extension of an exhibit.

This sort of approach is a great way to involve visitors in what the team’s doing, and a terrific way to show us that this is an evolving project. This was a fun visit, I look forward to visiting again some day.

Klausner St 12, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel

Life’s a beach …

I’m not really a beach person but this is pretty.

Tel Aviv-Yafo, Tel Aviv District, Israel

Somehow the clouds make the heat less oppressive

It’s mid-Summer in this part of the world. It’s generally pretty hot, as you can imagine.

Somehow, having some cloud cover makes the heat a little less oppressive.

Fallen pods

It looks like the remnants of Spring are going away, as Summer digs in here in Israel. These pods have been falling from their trees for a couple weeks now. We had especially hot weather yesterday, and it seems to have accelerated the process. This morning, ground near these trees was covered in these dried up seed pods. I wanted to capture the scene before they’re swept away.

Walking through the narrow streets of Rome

Even though I was in Rome for a team meetup, we had a free day on the Friday. I took a train to the central station in Rome with one of my colleagues, with the intention to go visit some of the attractions we’d read about on foot.

We were happy to see the various sites from the outside. We didn’t want to spend our day waiting in lines. Our first stop was the Colosseum.

As you can imagine, it’s a pretty popular tourist destination. One of our colleagues mentioned that it isn’t really worthwhile waiting in lines to see the inside so I took some photos of the outside instead.

From there we walked towards the Altare della Patria, via a series of ruins. There was some work being undertaken along the route so the pedestrian walkways were pretty busy. The ruins are pretty spectacular in themselves. I just kept thinking that they’re almost scaled up versions of the smaller ruins we’ve seen here in Israel (yup, the Romans left their mark here too).

The Altare della Patria is a pretty spectacular structure. It’s pretty over-the-top, and apparently locals refer to it as the “Typewriter”.

It’s a little difficult to get a sense of the scale of the building from the photos, but it’s really big.

At that point in the day, it was time for lunch. We walked for a little bit to move out of the overpriced tourist zone, and settled for a small cafe in an alley somewhere nearby. I definitely achieved my goal of eating pizza in Rome, and the pizza I had was pretty good.

As much as I enjoyed the ancient remnants of the Roman Empire, I think the blended modern-ancient architecture of modern Rome appeals to me more. We walked in the rough direction of the Pantheon through narrow streets. I loved walking through those streets, peering down narrower alleys. This stroll was a real highlight of the trip for me.

I was surprised when we arrived at the Piazza Navona. After walking through these narrow roads, this huge square suddenly opened before us.

It’s pretty much what you expect when you think about some European public square, complete with ornate fountains, and cafes along the edges. I really like the space, although I don’t feel like my photos quite do the space justice.

From there, we made our way to our hotel, but not before stopping off at popular Gelato spot called Frigidarium. We were told that this is the place to get Gelato. We weren’t the only ones who heard this.

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The famous Frigidarium Gelato spot

The Gelato was good, sure, and it was worth the visit. I think I agree with my colleague that the Gelato spot near our hotel was just as good, if not better. Still, if you’re in the area, I can recommend it.

From there we continued back to our hotel, passing Castel Sant’Angelo, and making our way through Piazza San Pietro, in the Vatican City.

It was a great way to spend the day, and get to know Rome a little better. It’s certainly my favourite way to explore a new city.

You can find more, higher resolution photos from the day here.