Postcard from... Jerusalem


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The Independent Online

Since moving to Jerusalem a little over three weeks ago, there have been several unpleasant shocks to my system.

Neither Israelis nor Palestinians can drive. That's a fact. And the reaction to being stationary for more than five seconds is a constant blast on the horn until the hapless driver causing the blockage (usually me) eventually finds a way to get out of the way.

In West Jerusalem, Saturday is an unusually dull day. Everything closes for the Shabbat and, for non-Jews like me, unless you've got out of the city, or have a decent stock of Sudoku, you can be in for a very long day.

However, one thing at which the Israelis excel is breakfast. They take the first meal of the day very seriously and it can set you up for the whole day. In one restaurant on the Bethlehem Road, the "classic" breakfast is simply something to behold. Various pastes, cheeses, fish, eggs, breads and a fresh salad all find their way on to your plate and, if you finish it, well, you're a better man than me.

Locals throng to restaurants at breakfast-time and most do a roaring trade. In my early favourite, getting a table can be the biggest challenge. Before arriving here, I worried that my staple breakfast – a bacon or sausage sandwich, or a full-blown English – would be one of things I'd miss most (other than family, friends and cat, of course), but I have to admit the Israelis have done me proud.

When I'm next home, I'll have a serious decision to make – do I make baked beans, or a salad. I never thought such dilemmas would ever trouble me.