Bad week for:
Layovers. To arrive at our final destination—Nice, France—Philippe, Daniella, Simone and I flew through Munich where we changed planes. When arranging our flights two months earlier and choosing a sunny destination for Hanukkah vacation, winter weather-related obstacles had never occurred to me. Due to a snow storm in central Europe, our outgoing flight from Tel Aviv was delayed 90 minutes, and we thought for sure we had missed our connection. Upon entering the Munich airport, a Lufthansa representative greeted 13 of us and rushed us from one end of the airport to the other, all in time to wait another hour due to the snow. By the time we arrived in Nice, it was well past midnight (Israel time), three hours late.
Appearances. On our second day, Philippe took the girls skiing to Isola 2000 in the Alps while I roamed around Nice. After boarding the bus to the Matisse Museum, a woman who looked around my age with heavily dyed blond hair tapped me on the shoulder. “Madame, voulez vous vous asseoir?” she asked me if I wanted her seat. Taken aback, I stuttered, “Non, merci,” and turned around to watch the road ahead and wonder what she was thinking.
Dieting. Being in France with Philippe is one never-ending food fest. Between the bread and butter, cheese and chocolate, he has no self-control, which means he is eating it—and we are eating it. I told him that if he loved French food so much, I would be happy to move here!
Good week for:
Les boulangeries. By the end of our third day in France, we had walked in and out of nine bakeries (along with several chocolatiers and patisseries) and had consumed four butter croissants, one almond croissant, five apple turnovers and eight baguettes between us.
Vonage. Days before leaving New York in August, we switched our VOIP (voice-over internet provider) company from Net2phone to Vonage in hopes that it would work better than it had four years earlier in Israel. Not only is the connection closer and static-free, but it also has a message recording system that transcribes the voice and arrives as an email. While in Nice, I got a message from Dahna and, even though she called with sad news, hearing her voice made me smile. Keep on calling!
Winter clothes. Unlike most people who come to this coast for the beautiful beaches and sunbathing, we came for the mild winter climate, to visit the neighboring villages, learn how perfume is made, walk, see art and eat. Even though the sun shines every day, it’s quite cool—cooler than in Israel in fact—requiring us to wear our winter coats, scarves and gloves. The girls were excited to be able to don their UGGS without their feet sweating, finally.
Being Jewish. While sitting in a pizzeria in Ventimiglia, Italy after strolling through the Friday morning market, the conversation turned to the holidays. Daniella was surprised how Christmas is everywhere—Santa Claus, lights, music, trees—but that there was no evidence of Hanukkah like there is in New York and obviously in Israel. We laughed and agreed with her, explaining that this was reality in a predominantly Catholic country. As we sat down to Shabbat dinner that night in our rental apartment, we noticed that the family in the apartment across the street was gathering in the kitchen to wash their hands. Their patio door was open and a boy stepped out onto it, his yarmulke sticking up on the top of his head. Even though their curtains were drawn in the dining room, we could make out their silhouettes, standing and reciting prayers, probably over the wine and challah bread. Throughout the evening, we watched them, amazed that while surrounded by Christians we had Jewish neighbors.
As one week ends and a new one begins and with it Hanukkah continues and Christmas comes, I want to wish each and every one of you a happy and healthy and safe holiday. Whether you are in some faraway place or home with your family, may it be filled with peace.