Homer's Travels: 2022 Fall Travels, Part One - Israel - Jerusalem

Friday, November 04, 2022

2022 Fall Travels, Part One - Israel - Jerusalem

We entered the old city on foot.  Old Jerusalem is divided into quarters: The Jewish, Arab, Christian, and Armenian.

Dome over the Holy Sepulchre.
To beat the crowds we first headed to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  We got there before the line to visit the location of Jesus' burial got too long.  It was very impressive.  The church is unlocked and locked each day by an Arabic family who have been doing it for generations.  We saw the immovable ladder as we exited the church.

Bullet holes - the reminders of war.
Next we walked through the Jewish quarter, passing a synagogue destroyed during the Arab-Israeli war (you can see the bullet holes), on the way to the location of the Last Supper.  As we entered the room a church group from Brazil started singing.  In this case it was not special.  This was a solemn location and singing was not permitted.  We had to ask people to move so that we could see the room.  It was annoying.  As we left we passed a group celebrating a Bar Mitzvah - lots of more welcome music and dancing.

Prayers tucked into the cracks of the Western Wall.
Next on the schedule was the Western Wall, the closest point to the second temple.  It is smaller than I expected.  The wall is divided into two parts - one for men and one for women.  The Wife left a prayer in a crack in the wall.  I didn't.

It was a hot day and I know I wasn't drinking enough water.  We were walking a lot (five to ten miles in the heat), I was overheating, and a bit dehydrated.  When these things combine I turn surly.  My normal reaction is to become quiet and, if possible, distance myself from people.  We were walking the Via Dolorosa when a shopkeeper tried to get us in his shop.  Our guide asked me if I wanted to go in (he was hoping I would say no).  I said nothing and looked at the Wife and the other tour members to see if they wanted to visit the store.  Our guide took my silence as an insult to him.  It was a bit testy for the next half hour or so as I walked ahead of the group to distance myself.  The guide eventually caught up with me.  I explained my situation and how I was trying to prevent something worse from happening.  I don't think he bought it and he seemed to think it was all about him (a common trait for this guide frankly).  This turned out to be the one and only personal blow up I experienced the entire forty four days.

Our next stop was the Israel Museum where we learned about the Dead Sea scrolls and where I sat down and cooled off.  I didn't register much at the museum but I didn't miss too much as I'd seen some of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Amman, Jordan a few years back.

We were all exhausted by this time and we still had one more stop on this hot day.  We were going to have street food for lunch at the Mahane Yehuda shuk.  This open air market is full of food vendors and our guide bought tickets that allowed us to sample food and drink from four or five places.  Instead of allowing us to pick what we wanted to try, our guide picked for us (which we considered a bit irritating really).  By this time we all wanted to sit down but street food is made to be eaten standing up.  While I get surly when I'm too hot, the Wife gets faint.  I noticed her get a concerned look on her face and I pointed at a table and chairs outside a booth and told our guide to get us water now.  I think he heard the worry in my voice and got a cold bottle of water and the Wife was able to cool off.  In the end we ended up skipping the last stop since all we wanted to do was get back to our hotel to recover from the crazy busy day.

The light show at the Tower of David citadel.
After chilling out at the hotel, we went to an evening light show at the Tower of David citadel.  The lightshow was cool but with little narration in any language a lot of the history in the show was lost to us.  After the show we wandered around the shops.  For days we'd been asking our guide about shopping.   He kept telling us that shopping in Bethlehem was much better so, since we trusted our guide, we limited our shopping to just looking.

The next day we would be exploring Bethlehem.

Photos can be found in my 2022-09 Israel Google Photos album.

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