Thursday 25 April 2013

Tel Aviv top ten

Regular readers will know that Tel Aviv is the place I most like to be. For those of you not familiar with the city, here, in no particular order, are ten of the many reasons that I love to be in Tel Aviv.

Let's begin with the cakes at Cafe Idelson 10 at 117 Dizengoff. I have been coming to this cafe for several years now. It is open every day, has friendly staff and most importantly, the best cakes in Tel Aviv if not Israel - and cakes are my specialist subject. The coffee is good too, but its the cakes that put Idelson firmly in my top ten. My favourite is the pistachio mousse, with elegant light green stripes set into the cream coloured mousse and a couple of maraschino cherries hidden in each slice. I can taste it now. Oh, and the strawberry tarts pictured below are pretty fantastic too!

pastry by idelson 10

The Bauhaus Center at 99 Dizengoff  is a place of pilgrimage for me. I first came to the Bauhaus  Center about 8 years ago and took part in one of their Friday morning guided walks around some of the city's wonderful Bauhaus architectural heritage. As well as organising walks there are regular exhibitions on a range of architectural themes (not just Bauhaus) and it is the absolute best place in Tel Aviv and probably Israel to buy books on the architecture and history of the city, as well as a range of cards, posters, gifts and gadgets to take home to remind you of your visit. I love it.

Israel by Yekkes

Walking along the beach from Tel Aviv to Jaffa doesn't cost you anything. I love walking along the sea shore from the Frischman beach, a few minutes away from busy Dizengoff, almost all the way to Jaffa. You get great views of the old port of Jaffa as you approach, and you can walk in the sea for much of the way if you like that sort of thing - and I do. You can pause for a rest on the rocks or on the benches along the promenade and there are plenty of beach bars to have a drink if you need refreshments along the way. Taking it easy and with a few stops to admire the view, take photos or check the sites en route, reasonably fit people can easily reach Jaffa in one hour. Taking this walk as the sun sets is a great experience, watching the colours of the sky change as night falls.

Israel ישראל by Yekkes

When you arrive in Jaffa there are many things to explore - the flea market, several cafes, historical sites and the artists quarter in the restored old city. The Farkash Gallery in Mazel Dagim Street in the old city makes my top ten due to its fantastic collection of vintage Israeli posters - all originals, but with copies of many available as the gallery own the copyright to many of them - cards, books and original art works by important Israeli artists. I especially like the collection of vintage Israeli advertising from the 1940's and 1950's and have happily parted with a few shekels to add some to my collection! It is a good idea to call before going along as once you've seen the window display you will want to go in.

Israel April 2013 by Yekkes

Seeing a production at the Cameri Theatre is another treatTel Aviv has a great theatrical tradition dating back to the first days of the city. It is home to Habima, Israel's national theatre, but also the wonderful Cameri Theatre. The company is internationally acclaimed and has a repertoire that includes drama, comedy and musicals. And you don't have to speak Hebrew as several times each week, the Cameri offers performances with English surtitles. On my most recent visit I saw a stunning production of the musical Cabaret, but have also enjoyed several plays here over the years. Performances start late at the weekend (around 9 or 9.30pm) so you can have dinner first - or buy bagels from the sellers who wait in the plaza for the performance to finish.

Regular readers will know about my passion for jazz and going to a gig at Levontin 7 is the next stop in my Tel Aviv top ten. Levontin 7 is the name (and address) of a small live music club with a cosy ground floor bar and a basement performance space in the more edgy part of Tel Aviv - Florentin. The basement room is sparsely furnished with a simple bar and basic seats but plays host to world class jazz (and other genres) concerts with artists such as Shai Maestro, Yonatan Avishai, Maurice El Medioni and Omri Mor having appeared there in the last few years. The tickets are cheap, the crowd is friendly and its another great night out in TelAviv.

Beit Bialik in Bialik Street (pictured below) is my favourite space in all Israel. Built in 1924 in the Eclectic style as a home for Chaim Nachman Bialik, Israel's national poet, it became the centre of art, literature and creativity in the new city of Tel Aviv. Decorated in vibrant blues, reds and greens as well as with beautiful Bezalel ceramics designed by Zev Raban, the house is a reminder of the great period of creativity that took place in Eretz Israel during the pre-state days. On Bialik's death, his house passed to the City which established it as a museum to the poet. Major restoration was undertaken at the beginning of the current century and the house is open for visitors. As well as the house itself you can see Bialik's letters and personal library, admire the furnishings and some of his art collection which includes work by Reuven Ruben. Bialik Street incidentally is a great street for a number of reasons - it has two more museums (Beit Ruben and the City Museum) as well as the Felicia Blumental Music Centre and a small Bauhaus museum in the next street - Idelson.

P1090462 by Yekkes

The Eretz Israel Museum is a huge complex of galleries in the north of Tel Aviv which is home to a huge collection of art, as well as archaeological, ethnographical and other treasures. It is also home to some of the most interesting temporary exhibitions in Israel, if not the world. The current offer includes Ethiopia, Land of Wonders (poster below); Land of the Bible, an exhibition of photography from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and a further photographic exhibition on the story of the (sadly now demolished) Herzeliya Gymnasium. There is also an excellent shop that sells catalogues, items associated with the temporary displays, books, jewellery and other items. One ticket covers entrance to all of the exhibitions and there are special prices for children, families and retired visitors.

Israel April 2013 by Yekkes

Another free activity is to admire Tel Aviv's amazing architectural heritage. The city is a World Heritage Site due to its huge collection of Bauhaus buildings from the 1930's and 1940's - many designed by German, Austrian and Czech Jews driven out of Europe in the years leading to the Second World War. These beautiful, functional buildings are the reason that Tel Aviv is sometimes referred to as the "White City". Many of the Bauhaus buildings have been restored and the already mentioned Bauhaus Center can direct visitors to the best examples of this style. More recently there has been renewed interest in the pre-ceding style and period - the Eclectic architecture of the 1920's. These buildings have been less well looked after although many are now protected in the way "listed buildings" are in the United Kingdom. I have written recently about the Eclectic style whilst I have also posted about some of my favourite Bauhaus buildings before.

Israel by Yekkes

Thursday 18 April 2013

Safed - Art, food and a fantastic view!

Many artists have been inspired by Israel's cities, nature and history. There have been long established artists colonies in a number of Israeli cities including Ein HodRosh Pinna and Jerusalem, but one of the most well known is that of Safed. During the 1950's and 1960's, it was the capital of Israeli art following the establishment of the colony in the old city. Many leading artists chose to live and work there, including such luminaries as Moshe Castel, Yosel BergnerZiona Tagger and Menachem Shemi and today many buildings in the artists quarter bear notices acknowledging artists who lived or spent time there. 

During those two decades, Safed was quite different to the city of today and was also home to some of the country's best night clubs attracting important musicians and singers including Naomi Shemer who made her debut performance here! And at least one of my friends remembers going to some good parties there when she was just a little bit younger!

The city is somewhat different these days. The artists are still there and there are a number of small, excellent private galleries too, but the clubs and the parties are long gone as the city has become visibly more religious. The religiosity of the city is not new as many famous Rabbis lived and worked here, Safed is the home of the Kabbalah and there are some very old very beautiful synagogues here too - all worth a visit and many with some interesting stories! My favourite is the Yosef Caro synagogue located within the art market. It has a long and illustrious history including being destroyed in earthquakes in 1759 and 1837 but survived a katyusha rocket that arrived courtesy of Hizbollah in the 1980's, a piece which is on display. The synagogue also offers a terrific view across the Galilean hills - something we will come back too a little later, but here is a taster in the meantime (see picture below). 

Israel ישראל by Yekkes

It is three years since I was last in Safed and one of the main reasons for my return was to visit the Yitzhak Frenkel Museum which had been closed last time I was there. Getting in to the museum was a bit of a challenge. The website says the museum is open all year - but it wasn't. However, I did manage to have what turned out to be a private view, courtesy of the extremely helpful, friendly and knowledgeable Yakov Hadad. Yakov has his own gallery almost next door to the museum and it is a must see for anyone visiting Safed. It is located in Moshe Castel's former home - which is attested by a notice on the outside of the building. Yakov has works by Frenkel and his pupil Shimshon Holzmann as well as some interesting Cameroonian works in wood. Yakov's gallery is easy to find at 148 Arlozorv Street in the Artists' Quarter. You will recognise it from its beautiful main door (pictured below).
Israel ישראל by Yekkes

But back to Frenkel who was born in Odessa in 1899 and came to Eretz Israel in 1919. In 1920 he established an artists' co-operative in Jaffa but a few years later returned to study in Europe, becoming one of the most important artists at the Ecole de Paris and a contemporary of Chagall, Soutine, Modigliani, Mane-Katz and others. Returning to Eretz Israel in 1925 he taught in Tel Aviv before settling in Safed in 1934, before the establishment of the artists colony.

The Frenkel museum is housed in what looks like a small cottage, but once inside it is almost labyrinthine with one room of artistic treasure leading to another. The collection includes self-portraits, Biblical scenes and family portraits. I loved the picture in the final room of the gallery which shows the Frenkel family group playing musical instruments. There are many images of his children and of their mother, Ilana and many scenes of Safed - clearly both major loves in Frenkel's life. I also liked Frenkel's unusual portrait of French mime artist Marcel Marceau - unusual in that Marceau appears more than once in the same picture perhaps indicating the different lives of a mime. Thank you very much Yakov for showing me around!

One of my first stops last time I was here was the General Exhibition - the central venue in the Artists' Quarter where the work of many of Safed's artists is exhibited and offered for sale. I remember being fascinated by the work of Miriam Mehadipur. Her work makes strong references to Persian as well as Jewish art and tradition and includes many geometric patterns and floral motifs. Her paintings often feature a male and female couple and are deeply romantic. Some of the figures are pictured in a womb like space, growing together and protecting each other (see below - Song of Songs). The paintings are large, with deep, thick colour and many are enhanced with the beautiful carved wooden frames - the work of her Persian Jewish husband, Menachem.

I was lucky enough to meet Miriam this time. She explained to me that although she is not religious, she is spiritual and that this is reflected in her work. She also told me that she had painted in this way before meeting her husband and that she was unsure where this link came from. Miriam has a small gallery in the Artists' Quarter where visitors can see and purchase her work - including small prints of some of the larger pictures.  She is an extremely friendly and sympathetic person and I was lucky enough to share her husband's home cooking with her and another friend on the roof of the friend's house. Great food, great view, great art! You can see more of Miriam's pictures on google image. Miriam now has a new website with pictures of her work and her beautiful Safed home here.

Still on the subject of food, Safed is lacking in good quality restaurants. There is pizza and falafel aplenty, but for something different, try Ronen'sYemenite Food Bar in the old city (pictured below -with Ronen). The speciality is a Yemenite flat bread called lachuch, which is filled with the excellent local cheeses, tomatoes, onions, herbs and most importantly zatar. He also offers salads, dips and his flyer boasts a "rich wine cellar!" Together with my Persian treat this was easily the best food I had in Safed. You can also buy discs of spiritual music here as well as books and even the Yemenite headgear worn by some of Ronen's staff.

Israel April 2013 by Yekkes

The Mikedem Fine Art Gallery is just a short step from the food bar. The gallery is filled with work by contemporary Israeli artists, currently including that of Leonid Balaklav. Balaklav is a religious Jew and emigrated to Israel from Moldova in 1990. His work is extremely moving. I was especially drawn to a family group with a mother nursing an infant whilst two older boys play chess. There is another boy, a little younger than the chess players, but with the most haunting expression. The gallery owner told me that Balaklav says that when he paints children, he is really painting himself. You can see a small version of this picture here. be prepared to have your heart broken with the boy's expression and your sense stunned by the Israeli light that Balaklav has captured. 

You can also see some of the sculptures of Zvika Lachman in the gallery. Zvika is probably Israel's greatest living sculptor and is currently working on a project with the Mikedem Gallery to provide a number of sculptures for the Ghetto Fighters Museum at Kibbutz Lohammei HaGetaot.  The Mikedem is another friendly place. I went in to make a cheeky request for help with a bus timetable (don't ask - long story!), got the help which was gladly given and then spent an hour chatting with the owner about Israeli art, the history of Safed, the music of Avishai Cohen and much more!

There are hundreds of small galleries on Safed and art is everywhere. That includes garage doors, external electrical supply cupboards and just about anything else you can paint or place a sculpture on. One of my favourites is below.

Israel ישראל by Yekkes

I came away from Safed having made some new friends, with a couple of prints in my bag (purchased of course!) and having sampled some great food. I promised earlier to return to the view of the Galilean hills. ell, I have to confess, that the view is probably my favourite piece of "art" in Safed and possibly in Israel. Those hills roll on and on to the horizon and as the sun begins to fall the changes in colour and light are breathtaking. Photography in fading light is not my forte, but I hope the picture below gives just a hint of how beautiful it is.
Israel ישראל by Yekkes

Sunday 7 April 2013

A Saturday walk in Jerusalem

Jerusalem is a great city to discover by foot. A good time to do this is Saturday morning when much of the busy traffic from weekdays is absent for Shabbat. Yesterday morning I spent a couple of hours strolling the area around Jaffa Street - one of Jerusalem's main thoroughfares. It is especially pleasant to walk on Jaffa Street at the weekend these days as since the inauguration of the light railway, cars are prohibited from some stretches.

This part of the city has seen much history and bears many reminders of the the past. Some of these are physical such as the many blue plaques that attest to former important and famous residents or to significant events that took place here. Many were during the period of the British Mandate from 1922 - 1948 when the British were in control. Several of the plaques commemorate incidents that took place during the struggle for independence. More dramatic reminders of this period include the bullet holes still visible in the original Jerusalem Municipality building at number 10 Saffra Square (pictured below), adjacent to Jaffa Street. This building is located at the meeting point between the eastern and western parts of the city and the ground floor was once the home of Barclays Bank. The  metal work on the front of the building still carries the Barclays "BB" logo to attest to this.

P1080844 by Yekkes

There are also reminders of an earlier period in and around Jaffa Street. Before the British arrived in 1917 towards the end of the First World War, the Ottoman Turks had held sway. A number of buildings remain that show reference to this period. One of my favourites is in Helene Ha-Malka Street. Pictured below, this apartment building has beautiful Ottoman style ceramic details around the windows, openings to the balcony and upper levels in classic blue and white vegetal designs. Whilst taking the photograph below and admiring the ceramic details, two passers-by stopped to see what I was so interested in. In one of those chance but rich moments that travellers often have, I became engaged in a short conversation with this couple about the building and about how we often don't see things if we pass them every day. They took a photo of this little gem before moving on!

Israel 2013 by Yekkes

Tel Aviv is world famous for its wonderful collection of Bauhaus buildings. But I wonder how many readers realise that Jerusalem also boasts many outstanding examples of this architectural style, several of which are a short step from Jaffa Street. One of my favourites is the Makower House at 8 Shmuel Ha-Nagid Street (pictured below). Real estate investor Mr. Makower commissioned architects Alexander Friedman and Meir Rubin to design an upmarket apartment block at the junction of Bezalel and Shmuel Ha-Nagid streets. The block is extremely dynamic with large rounded balconies, convex and concave elements and a stairwell enclosed with a glass box ladder. These two architects designed many important buildings in Jerusalem including the Yeshurun synagogue a little further along the same street, completing that project in 1936, two years before commencing on the Makower House which was completed in 1939.

Israel 2013 by Yekkes

Back on Jaffa Street itself, is the gloriously curved number 34 (pictured below), built some time around 1935 as a business complex. Unfortunately the architect is unknown (unless of course you have information - please post a comment if you do!). This three storey building occupies a large site along Jaffa Street and a small segment of Helene Ha-Malka street. The ground floor is occupied by shops with significant glass frontage enabling the traders to display their wares to passers by.  The upper levels have much smaller windows slightly recessed and are framed by ledges and cornices that provide shade. It is thought that the Russian Patriarchate commissioned this building, evidence of this being the Patriarchate's signet at the upper level on that delicious curve. Speaking of delicious, you can get coffee downstairs at Coffee Bean, although I must admit I am a Cafe Hillel man myself - and there is a branch on the opposite corner!

Israel 2013 by Yekkes

To avoid a detour into cafes, coffee and cakes, let's move on to another less well known dimension of this most surprising of cities. Some readers will be aware of Israel's large Ethiopian Jewish community and possibly of how they came to be here, rescued from danger in Africa in two major operations. However, there has long been a Christian connection between Ethiopia and Eretz Israel and this again can be seen in Jerusalem's built heritage. On my Saturday morning walk, I veered away from Jaffa Street, past Heshin Street's Russian Orthodox Church with its onion domes, along Shivtei  Israel and into Hanev'im Street which is home to a spectacularly decorated building that houses the Ethiopian Consulate at numbers 38-40. This building has seen better days but still carries the Lion of Judah, Amharic inscriptions and Ethiopian decorations about the facade's windows. Built between 1925 and 1928 for the Empress Zewditu, she never actually lived here. She was a remarkable woman, the first female head of state in Africa in the 20th century, ruling from 1916 -1930, enabling reforms but suffering from many political intrigues within her court. She died of diabetes in 1930 although there is some conjecture about the circumstances of her death.

Continuing with the Ethiopian connection, I proceeded along Hanev'im Street turning right into the aptly named Ethiopia Street which is home to another of Jerusalem's secret treasures - the Ethiopian Church. This large circular structure, completed in 1893, is accessed through a narrow doorway, with Amharic scriptures overhead, into a pleasant courtyard. The exterior of the building is undecorated but imposing due to its size and circular shape. However, the interior is a riot of colour and decoration with pinks, blues and greens on the walls, ceilings and dome. There are also many icons of saints important to the Ethiopian Church and Amharic scriptures throughout the building. The interior is cool, quiet and peaceful and apart from a gently napping cleric, I had the whole place to myself. The picture below gives a hint of the beauty of the interior.

Israel 2013 by Yekkes

The final stop on my walk is a ten minute stroll, back onto Hanv'im Street,  along King George Street, crossing Jaffa and Ben Yehuda Streets until reaching the Old Bezalel Building at 10-12 Shmuel Ha-Nagid Street, close to that lovely Bauhaus building. I have written before about the Bezalel School for the study of fine arts, its founders Ze'ev Raban and Boris Schatz and its continuing legacy. Today the building acts as the Artists' House, hosting exhibitions of contemporary art as well as being a sales gallery. The House is open on Shabbat and I spent an enjoyable thirty minutes chatting with the helpful and interesting lady in the gallery who told me about the sculptures of Aharon Bezalel, a Jew born in Herut, Afghanistan and who came to Eretz Israel in 1938. His bronzes are exquisite - but a little out of my price bracket!

The building dates from the Ottoman period whilst a few items from the original Bezalel School can be seen in the lobby, including doors designed by Raban. There are also some interesting carvings on the pillars at the foot of the steps leading to the entrance and the building is known for the large menorah on its roof - pictured below. 

Israel April 2012 by Yekkes

Oh yes, and just across the road from the Artists' House there is a nice looking cafe. It is closed on Shabbat so I didn't get to sample its delights, but I swear it was fluttering its eyelashes at me - just look at those shutters! I sense a theme emerging since I had a similar architectural experience in Tel Aviv. No doubt its a sign that if you treat the city nicely, many more secrets will unfold.

Israel 2013 by Yekkes

Thursday 4 April 2013

A day in Petra

Many people know about Petra from its appearance in the Harrison Ford film, Indiana Jones. I have never seen Mr. Ford's movie, but I have wanted to visit Petra for a long time. Yesterday I finally did. I crossed the border from Israel into Jordan near Eilat and two hours later was at the entrance to the site, which was recently voted one of the new seven wonders of the world.

Petra was built in around 200 BCE by the ancient civilisation, the Nabateans. They are thought to have come from the Arabian peninsula, possibly Yemen and were accomplished people, open to external influences and with skills in trading. There are remains of other Nabatean cities in the region, including at Mamshit and Shivta in Israel.

The city is approached through a 1,200 metres deep and very narrow gorge known locally as the Sik. The Sik is a stunning natural feature with many unusual geological formations, water channels cut into the rocks during the Roman period and best of all, rocks of deep red, pink and every colour in between. As with architecture, many of Petra's best features are a long way above eye-level, so look to see the amazing natural patterns in the rock, perfect stripes, ficus and oleander growing high up as well occasional carvings. There are also some votive niches carved into the rock and these once held statues of the many Nabatean gods - a technique used in Catholic countries to display representations of the Madonna.

The highlights of Petra come after one has passed through and emerged from the Sik, but there are many interesting sites as one approaches the famous gorge. These include ornate tombs of middle class people, clearly visible textual carvings - some of which resembles Hebrew (the Nabateans' language may well have been related to Aramaic) and more interesting and unusual rock formations. One of the more interesting tombs on the way to the Sik is pictured below.

Petra, Jordan, April 2013 by Yekkes

Is it just me or do those columns at the upper level of the picture above look a bit art deco-ish? Of course, there are many ancient Egyptian influences in art deco so maybe we owe something to the Nabateans too!

Petra, Jordan, April 2013 by Yekkes

It takes about 40 minutes from the entering the site before you get a hint of the prize at the end of the Sik (pictured above) - the monumental Al-Khazneh, sometimes known as the treasury. The walk is cool in the shade from the rocks but visitors must be careful as donkeys, horses and carriages rush up and down carrying visitors to and from the Al Khazneh and beyond.

Emerging from the Sik is surely the highlight of the visit as the narrow, winding gorge suddenly widens into a large square in front of a pink building over 40 metres high that has been there since the first century BCE. Until fairly recently, some Bedouin families lived in the tombs and had a long established presence here until the Jordanian government persuaded them to move to a "new" Petra close by. Although the Bedouin knew about the site, it had been forgotten in the west until in 1812 a Swiss traveler called Johann Ludwig Burckhardt "rediscovered" it. A good idea of what Burckhardt would have seen can be gained from the pictures David Roberts produced in the 1830's and later.

As with almost all of the other structures on the site, the Al-Khazneh (pictured below) is a tomb, probably for an important Nabatean king, although there is some evidence that it was used as a temple in later times. The architectural style of the building shows Hellenistic (Greek) influences and it is thought that the Nabateans were good at absorbing styles from a variety of cultures.

Petra, Jordan, April 2013 by Yekkes

Petra's tombs show a clear class structure according to size and external grandeur with the largest most externally ornate tombs being for royalty, important people and the wealthy. Interestingly the interiors of the tombs are not decorated - unlike those of the ancient Egyptians. However, some of them have natural decoration with incredible patterned ceilings, with swirls, stripes and speckles in Petra's pinks, reds and oranges (pictured below).

Petra, Jordan, April 2013 by Yekkes

Interestingly, almost nothing is left from the living quarters of ancient Petra, which are thought to have been located away from the collection of tombs on the hillside. However, it is believed that only about 30% of Petra's remains have been excavated and uncovered and that more homes may yet be discovered. Although there are very few homes to see, there is a very impressive auditorium or theatre (pictured below) in the heart of he tomb area indicating that daily life also took part in this area. This is located in the Outer Siq or street of facades, which may have been the main thoroughfare of the city. It resembles a Roman theatre but was in fact built by the Nabateans in the first century albeit with clear Roman influences. With the exception of a free standing front on either wing (now gone), the theatre was carved out of the rock. At its peak it was able to hold as many as 7000 people.

Petra, Jordan, April 2013 by Yekkes

It is possible to see a fair amount of the site in a day trip like the one I took, but to see most of Petra and to have time to contemplate and view in depth, it is probably better to stay overnight and it is easy to find organised tours on the internet. My visit was slightly extended when our enterprising Jordanian guide suggested that the seven of us might like to add a 45 minute look at some additional parts of the site - on donkeys! I happily went along with my six new friends who came from the USA, Hungary, Colombia and Guatemala and climbed on to the donkey with the help of an elderly looking Bedouin.

I had never ridden a donkey before and was grateful for the help of a small boy who walked beside me, occasionally jumping on to the back and saying "taxi! taxi!". He told me he was 11, although he looked younger, and that he liked school. I asked him the donkey's name and he responded by asking me where I was from. When I told him London he said the donkey was called Susan and was going to "have a baby". As well as feeling bad about riding a poor pregnant donkey, albeit with a lovely English name, I was also worried in case she went into labour before we reached our destination. She didn't, but there was other entertainment.

Two young Japanese women were happily sharing a donkey ride and laughing and waving to their friends who were lagging behind. Laughing and waving until the donkey bolted and rushed off up the steep hillside to their screams and the laughter of the Bedouin onlookers who gave chase and rescued them. These two women had another very elegantly but somewhat inappropriately dressed friend - wearing silk shorts and blouse, a floppy hat and exquisite shoes. Unfortunately she was terrified of her donkey, jumped off and tried to climb up the hillside in a state of distress. I felt sorry for her, but more sorry for the small Bedouin boy who was probably more scared than she was and was visibly worried, although I saw them both later on and they seemed recovered.

The big finish to the entertainment was also unexpected. With no warning, a male donkey jumped onto the back of a female and you can imagine the rest. Mass hysteria followed with people laughing, screaming, covering the eyes of children and looking on in total surprise at the finale to the visit. I was surprised that they still had the energy after carrying tourists all day!