The hostel guest who joined me on my trip to Jerusalem is from Argentina, he planned to spend the day at the beach, but changed his mind and decided to go to Jerusalem for the Jerusalem Day celebrations. He told me there would be a lot of people dancing in the streets. The Argentine had been to Israel three times and speaks Hebrew, made the trip to Jerusalem much easier than if I had gone myself, he knew how to catch the Sherut, where the Central Bus Station was, etc. If I had gone on my own, I would have figured it out, I always do, but was nice having someone with me who knew the system, saved me time getting to my destination.
We arrived at the Central Bus station around 11am, found the Sherut, I put my luggage in the back and found a seat. The Sherut reminded me of the minivans used as buses in St. Lucia. The Sherut driver waited for the bus to fill up before we departed for Jerusalem. About an hour later, we were in Jerusalem. I went to my hostel to leave my bags, and the Argentine booked a room for Sunday at the hostel.
The Argentine I met at the Chef Hostel in Tel Aviv acted as a tour guide, he had been to Israel before, he knows Jerusalem and how to get around the city. Our first stop after I dropped off my luggage was the Mahane Yehuda Market down the street from my hostel. We looked around the market, sampled a few things, I will have to go back later this week to buy a few things.
|Lynnae at Mahane Yehuda Market|
We headed to Jerusalem's old city after the Shawarma lunch. From what I had already seen of Jerusalem, I preferred it to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem has more character than Tel Aviv. Walking up to the gates of the old city was impressive, I saw the wall surrounding the city, as we crossed the intersection leading to the Jaffa Gate. I started taking pictures, the Argentine told me it would get better as we got closer, the view did. On our way to the Jaffa Gate a Palestinian man approached us, he invited us to a Jerusalem day event, he said it was all faiths, Christian, Muslim, Jewish.
The Palestinian told us some of his story. He asked me where I was from, I said Arizona,he asked Phoenix? I said yes, right outside of Phoenix, a city called Mesa. He said he had been to Phoenix, traveled to the US 26 times, to 44 states, each time without a passport. He said he had traveled around the world without a passport. His story reminded me of the Palestinians plight, a people without a homeland. He has taken the Palestinian struggle in stride, is making efforts to build peace between the Palestinian and Israeli people.
|Me & Palestinian Peace Maker Outside Jerusalem's Old City|
|Lynnae with Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat & his wife Beverly Barkat|
On our way to the Jewish sector, we stopped at different sights along the way, there was a church, some cafes, and other sites. We ultimately went to the Western wall, the most sacred place in Judaism. There was a security checkpoint to get to the wall, the instructions said one should be dressed modestly before entering. My Argentine friend told me the customs, he said I could write something on a piece of paper and leave it in the wall, he showed me the women's side of the wall. I picked up some of what to do by observing those around me, walk backwards as you leave the wall. There was a language barrier between me and the Argentinean man, I interpreted writing something on a piece of paper to mean, writing a prayer, that's what I did.
We went to a cafe in the Arab sector of the old city after the Western Wall. We had walked a lot, it was a hot day, was time to take a break and relax, I got a lemonade icy drink. We talked to the owner of the cafe and sat there for at least an hour I would guess. The Argentine explained many of the Arab shops were closed, some of his explanation was lost in translation, but it comes down to the continued struggle between the Palestinians and Israelis was my take away.
|Lynnae at the Western Wall|
We spend some time walking around the Arab sector, taking pictures, we were waiting for the evening when more Jerusalem day events would take place. We went to another cafe, my Argentine friend needed to charge his camera, he bought a cappuccino too. As the sunset more and more students streamed into the old city, with their Israeli flags. I saw groups of Black Israelis, a sight I do not usually associate with Israel, not what we see on TV in the West.
|Two Black Israeli Teenage Girls|
|Israeli Teenagers Streaming into the Old City through Jaffa Gate|
We went to Jerusalem's City Hall for the Jerusalem Day concert featuring singer Noa and Israel's Philharmonic Orchestra. The crowd was singing along to Noa's music, I did not understand a word, I do not speak Hebrew but I enjoyed the music and the atmosphere We stayed for part of the concert and then returned to the Old City for the Western Wall celebrations.
|Noa & Israel's Philharmonic Orchestra|
|Israeli Teenage Boys Celebrating at the Western Wall|
I checked into my hostel room after midnight, I am in a mixed dorm, that means men and women. In my room, there are three men from Australia and me, I make it a mixed dorm. The all female dorms were full, I met a couple of the Aussie guys and they seem like nice people. I am up and it is past 4 am in Israel, my hostel mates are out partying, I have no idea why I am not tired, it is late and I had a full day. I am going to get some sleep, tomorrow will be more low key, I may go on a free walking tour of the city, I will definitely sleep in late, no rush to wake up early tomorrow morning.
Day 1 in Jerusalem, Jerusalem Day Photo Album