For those that don’t know what beta testing is, it is when one tries something out you think is ready for people to use, eat, sell, buy, etc. and given we are The Startup Nation, it permeates into our daily lives.
And so, the day before Yom Hashoa I found myself, hanging out with a handful of other bloggers, photographers, writers and artists in Mahane Yehuda, The Shuk, in the middle of Yerushalayim.
Actually, my wife and I got sidetracked and showed up late. We planned to park at the Har Herzl Light Rail stop and take it to the Shuk. The Light Rail is free to park at if you take the Light Rail and we usually do this because traffic and the cost of parking in Yerushalayim is not cheap.
Unfortunately, it being the day before Yom Hashoa, the parking lot was filled and the roads around Har Herzl were blocked off so we ended up paying to park on Agripas Street by The Shuk and then went to meet up with about 25 people gathered together to test a new scavenger hunt from Tali Kaplinski Tarlow and the IsraelScaventures team that, as you may have guessed, involves The Shuk.
Having not been part of a scavenger hunt since my college days last century, I had no idea what to expect. From the sounds of it, neither did some of the other people, which was good, because why should I be the only one clueless to it all.
We were introduced to the game, the rules/directions, given a time limit, you know how it is with Jews and time, and given a packet of items and a digital tablet.
The game plan and ideas was taken from various sources, but Joel Haber (funjoel) was involved and having previously gone on one of his Shuk tours I knew we would be in for some fun and education about The Shuk.
The Shuk and Yerushalayim in general is a mix of everything and everyone, young and old, different religions, tourists and locals from many different countries, old time stalls and brand new ones, and restaurants of all types and flavors.
As we broke into our teams of 5-6 people we were each given a role on the team. Obviously, you need a leader, but you also need a navigator to find your way through The Shuk, spotters to help find things and also someone to go talk to the stall vendors. Hebrew, while helpful, is not necessary.
What is necessary is your ability to make deals, take photos/videos, think creatively and want to have fun. It is also hard to concentrate with all the great smells of food, fish, and spices surrounding you the whole time so try not to get carried away and better to do your purchasing afterwards, after all you do want to be the winning team, right?
I won’t give away all the game targets but one thing you need to know is that to accomplish your goals, at least one of you will need to be the outgoing extrovert of the world. If you are a group of introverts you will find this a bit hard to accomplish as you do need to introduce yourself and talk to many people to compete the targets.
Knowledge of The Shuk is helpful but not required. For instance, if a stall is closed, how would you know where to go to find a specific item or get a photo of something? Not to worry, there are way too many items to find and we were told no one had completed all the items on the list yet in playing. As an aside 2 teams that day did get/find all the items, but they are Yerushalmies that regularly frequent The Shuk.
After we returned to the home base and found out who won and gave our beta feedback it was time to eat lunch and my wife and I went to Memphis Burgers (get website link/address) on Agripas street and enjoyed excellently grilled burgers with onion relish toppings and house sauce and for those in Israel they are on 10bis so it was like eating for free (yes I know we pay tax on the benefit).
I wrote this post after we went into Yom Hashoa and last weeks trying time between the rockets and Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut it was not lost on me, how great it is to walk around and be part of such an old city and to recognize that no matter what has happened, עם ישראל חי, the nation of Israel lives.
Next time you need something to do in Yerushalayim, go dip into the old and new thanks to Scaventures and of course The Shuk vendors who truly have a sense of humor not found anywhere else in the world.