There were some rumbles of thunder this afternoon. A cooling breeze. Very sore feet. And a fine welcome back to our rooms. That must mean it was a good day. Can we keep putting together a string of good days together? I think we can – we are in Jerusalem.
We got an extra hour of sleep this morning – but I didn’t take it advantage of it too much. I just woke up around 6 and enjoyed some quiet. I did have to post more pictures from yesterday – internet was a bit slow for me. But it all got done this morning – and we are back early tonight, so I am getting a jump on the reporting for today. Sweet.
We started the day meeting in the lobby at 8:30. We almost all made it by then. But we were off on foot in a few minutes for the day. First stop was around the corner from our hotel – in front of the Tower of David Museum. Andre shared an overview of the Old City, with its four quarters. The history and why’s and current state of affairs for the people living in the small area of the Old City. It is amazingly congested. Or course, I can’t remember the stats. I think it is 40,000 people are living in the .35 sq mi area of the Old City. It is densely populated.
We soon took off through the Armenian Quarter (with some great explanations) to the Jewish Quarter. The Jewish Quarter is the newest and cleanest of the sections of the Old City. We saw the Cardo (main north/south street in any Roman city), the copy of the Madaba map (from Jordan), and then up and through the Jewish Quarter. When we got to the lookout over the Western Wall Plaza, we discovered no line for the Temple Mount. So the day’s itinerary could flex a bit because we were heading up to the Temple Mount. We obviously made it through security quickly and soon found ourselves up on top of the plaza enlarged by Herod the Great, which was home to the Second Temple – now to mosques. It was surprisingly a little crowded. Nothing to get in our way, but even with no line, there were many folks. Most were Muslims who don’t go through the same security line.
We spent some time on the Mount discovering its history and significance. Then, we had some free time to roam around and take some pictures. After that, we were on our way off the Temple Mount, and into the Muslim Quarter. We stopped for fresh squeezed pomegranate and/or orange juice – or a combination thereof. It was delicious.
We briefly took a look at the Western Wall but were on our way to the Archeological Gardens, one of my personal favorite spots. It was getting warm and folks were beginning to melt a bit. It’s not that it was so hot, but being on cement and stone makes the reflected light rather uncomfortable. Another movie about what pilgrims did in coming to one of the three feasts required by the Law.
Then off to discover the remnants of the destruction of the Temple Mount by the Romans (70AD). Most stones lie as they fell 2K years ago. Some have been moved so the consequences to the pavement below can be clearly seen. We saw another replica – the stone calling for the blowing of the trumpet to announce the beginning of holidays and Sabbath. We may get a glimpse at the originals of some of these things at the Israel Museum.
As it heated up….we slowed down. Really slow. Lunch was next – but it is clear up in the Jewish Quarter – which is quite a ways back up a bunch of stairs. But we did finally make to the Jewish Quarter’s version of a food court. Some had a burger or a bagel sandwich or schawarma. It was fine. At least we could sit in the shade for about an hour and regroup. We found Magnum bars – but I couldn’t find the white chocolate one, so ended up with some mixture. Mixing is never good in a Magnum bar.
After lunch we headed to the Western Wall Tunnels. Well, I use the word “we” rather loosely. Three of us didn’t head down into the tunnels…our fear of tight spaces winning over the prospect of seeing the tunnels. So I became tour guide – easy restroom stops, shopping, shopping….and more walking through the interesting corridors of the Old City. We enjoyed the Cardo shopping experience. No, we didn’t buy anything, but we got some great ideas for future forays into the marketplace.
We met the group at 3 pm outside the end of the tunnel tour. We did visit a couple of churches of the flagellation. Oh boy. Hey, we could sit in some cooler spaces for free. When the group made it back, we were off down the Via Dolorosa to St. Anne’s Church – and Bethesda. We sang together and enjoyed seeing the place where John 5 takes place.
Then through the Lion’s Gate (or St. Stephens Gate) and a short wait for the bus to come retrieve us. It was the first time to see the bus today, and we could have walked back – but we were beat. Beat up. Hot. Tired. And…ready for an outside tour of the Old City. Well, we saw it, but there was no comment. Tomorrow is another day.
Tomorrow we are up on the Mt. of Olives – walking down the Mt. of Olives, Garden Tomb, Hezekiah’s Tunnel…oh boy, another full day. Can’t wait.
Just back from dinner and an evening outing. Dinner is simple here. Has a home-cooked feel to it. Very tasty – and with variety. Last night’s choices were lasagna and meatloaf (delicious) and eggplant. Tonight, the most tender chicken ever, beef (like a thin piece of beef wrapped around ground round) – and pasta I think. It was delicious. Not the extravagant feast of 45 selections – but each tasty and good.
After dinner, Jeff, Erik, Seanna, Kelly and myself headed out to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. I missed a turn and we wandered for a while. A long while actually. But it was interesting. Made it to the church and snuck around here and there. They barely made it to the tomb, but I just didn’t do it. It was dark and I just wasn’t ready for that.
Then we walked back and enjoyed the view from the promenade outside the Jaffa Gate. It is sprinkling now and then, but lightening and thunder is fairly regular. Can’t decide if I want to open my window a crack so I can hear it tonight (over the AC). Hmmm….
Anyway, I think I will hit the sack early tonight so I can be nice and rested for the day tomorrow. Another full one.