Monday, May 20, 2013

Day 2 Back in Jerusalem, Holy City Walking Tour

I woke up a little after 8 am this morning, about half an hour before my alarm was set to go off.  My plan was to go on the Holy City walking tour that started at 9:30 am at Jaffa Gate outside Jerusalem's Old City.  I decided to go on this walking tour and see the things I had not yet seen in the Old City, round out my trip to Israel.

I left the hostel around 9 am, I talked to one of my hostel mates for awhile before leaving.  I was hoping I gave myself enough time to get something at the corner bakery and make it to the Jaffa Gate before the tour began.  I stopped at the bakery, got a few pastries, went to the ATM, then had about 15 minutes to make it to the tour's meeting point.  I walked quickly down Jaffa street towards the gate, checking the time on my cell phone from time to time.  I made it to the meeting point 2 minutes before the tour was scheduled to start, plenty of time to get my ticket, these tours rarely leave exactly at the scheduled time.

Our tour began outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City, our tour guide pointed out that the view outside the  old gates was once the desert, now it is Western Jerusalem, with trees, buildings, etc.  Our guide gave us background on the area, I cannot remember it all, so I will not try to recount all of what he said. After the background information, we went to the Church of the Eternal Dormition, where it is believed Mary fell into an eternal sleep.  I had already seen this church on my own, the guide provided the historical information, so it was not a waste of time returning to the same place.

Lynnae at Dormition Abbey

From Dormition Abbey we went to the statue of Kind David, the tour guide asked who the man holding the harp was, I said King David, I had already visited the site, I knew the answer.  Also, our tour guide had asked earlier why we did not answer his questions, I responded, because we don't know the answer, everyone in the group laughed.  I figured since the guide wanted participation, if I knew the answers, I would answer.  Our guide also forgot the word for sling shot when talking about the story of David and Goliath, I told him, he gave me a high five. We visited Kind David's tomb and the Room of the Last Supper, our guide explained nobody knows if these are the real locations, but it is about faith. 

Woman praying at Kind David's Tomb
Next, we went to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, I had gone to the outside of the church, but had not yet gone inside.   Inside we saw more of the stations of the cross, these stations mark where Jesus carried the cross when he was condemned to be crucified.  The church is believed to be the site where Jesus was crucified, our guide showed us the hill, now part of the church where Jesus' crucifixion is believed to have happened. There was a slab of rock, where it is believed Jesus laid before he was placed in the tomb, the church also contains the cave where Jesus was resurrected.  There were lines of pilgrims to see the church, the line for the cave had a 1.5 hour wait time.

Rock believed to have been on hill where Jesus was Crucified 

Lynnae touching Rock where it is believe Jesus laid after Crucifixion 

Lynnae at Tomb where Jesus was Resurrected 
After the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, we followed Jesus' steps along the Via Dolorosa, visiting more stations of the cross.  At station six there was another slab of rock where it is believed Jesus placed his hands, rested, while carrying the cross along Via Dolorosa.  The stations where Jesus carried the cross along Via Dolorosa are marked with a cross, this is believed to be the path Jesus walked to his crucifixion.

Station of the Cross 

Station of the Cross where believe Jesus touched his hand after stumbling

After walking the Via Dolorosa, we went to lunch.  We had a meal of hummus, falafel, many other spreads, I cannot remember the names and pita, a typical Israel meal, I have had often.  Today's falafel at Abu Shukri restaurant, was the best I have had yet, the mint lemonade was outstanding too.  The Temple Mount was our destination after lunch, our tour guide wanted to get in line early, he expected long lines.

Lynnae at Lunch
The line was not bad for the Temple Mount which opens from 1:30 to 2:30  in the afternoons for non-Muslims.  We got past security without incident, but I was stopped by the Temple Mount's Islamic police, they determined I needed to cover myself.  The tour guide prepared me in advance for this and men with capris length shorts were also forced to cover their exposed legs with a shawl. I did not bring a shawl, so I had to buy a 20 shekel shawl from the Temple Mount authorities.  The Islamic police repeatedly told me to cover myself after I had put the shawl on, I figured they wanted me to cover up the area exposed by my Gap  V-neck shirt.  Apparently the sleeves on my shirt were too short too.  At some point, the Islamic police stopped telling me to cover myself, but they followed our group the entire time.

Lynnae in front of the Dome of the Rock 
I wandered away from the group and  asked a group of women to take a picture of me in front of the Al-Aqsa mosque, since I was on the Islamic police force's radar, they came over to me after my pictures were taken and told me I had to stay with my group, a lie.  I could have gone to the Temple Mount without a group, there is no requirement to tour the outside of the Temple Mount with a tour guide.  The women I asked to take my picture did not appear to be Muslims, I think the Islamic police did not like the idea of me taking a picture in front of the mosque, who knows why they bothered me, again. I apologized for straying from the group, told the police I did not know.

Lynnae in front of Al-Aqsa Mosque
Our tour guide gave us free time to take pictures atop the Temple Mount, I took some more, the Islamic Police did not approach me and demand I return to my group, I was no near the mosque anymore either.  Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the Dome of the Rock, it is Muslim controlled and only they can enter.  The surrounding area is beautiful with a great view of the Mount of Olives.  As 2:30 pm approached, our group reassembled and left the Temple Mount. 

Mount of Olives
After the tour, I went to buy tickets for the tunnel tour beneath the Western Wall.  The tickets were sold out for today, I will go on the tour tomorrow at 9 am, I may go to the Israel Museum afterwards  depends on the time, I have a flight to catch tomorrow night. I walked to the cemetery with Oskar Schindler's Grave after  I bought a ticket for the tunnel tour, the cemetery was closed, I may go back tomorrow, I have not yet decided.

Entrance to Cemetery with Oskar Schindler's Grave
I walked back to my hostel after going to the cemetery with Oskar Schindler's grave, I did not do anymore sightseeing today.  I relaxed in the hostel, did laundry and went out for pizza with one of my hostel mates this evening. 

Day 2 Back in Jerusalem Photo Album

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