Goodbye Jerusalem, Hello Tel Aviv

Trip Start Apr 23, 2010
Trip End May 08, 2010

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

How can any country truly call themselves civilized if they are missing the one thing that makes the wheels of industry turn? The thing that inspires the masses to create? Hell, the one thing that makes getting up in the morning bearable? Getting simple filter brewed coffee is very difficult in Egypt and Israel. Sure, you can get Arabic coffee, strong with cardamom, in Egypt, and any type of cappuccino or espresso creation in Israel, but when you ask for filter coffee, you get a weird look, and often are delivered a cup of hot water and a packet of instant coffee…We are tired of instant coffee

It seems that we did Jerusalem backwards. Our first afternoon was spent wandering. Our second day we spent on a guided tour. Our third day we visited the Tower of David Museum. If you ever go to Jerusalem, this museum should be your first stop, as it is an incredibly informative primer for the history of Jerusalem. Located in Crusader Citadel next to Jaffa gate, this museum gives a great education on the history of Jerusalem.

The museum is set up with a recommended route that encompasses the whole citadel. The route starts with an animated movie, done in a style that could only be called “Pythonesque” (all that was missing was a foot coming down from the heavens and squishing the invading Romans) . The movie gives a overview of the history of the city, from its founding up until 1948. From the movie, you move to the top of the citadel, and are greeted with an incredible view looking down over Jerusalem. From this vantage point, you can see all of the major sites within the city walls, with placards that point these out (along with all of the major hotels).

Winding down the walls of the fortress, the route through the museum leads you through a series of rooms, each of which covers a particular era of the city (usually defined by a particular empire that had control of the city at the time). Starting with the Canaanite period, the rooms include The first temple period, the second temple period, the Roman and Byzantine periods, Islamic, Crusader, Ayyubid, Mamluk, and Ottoman periods. The final rooms start with the British mandate, and end with the 6 day war…absolutely fascinating, and incredibly informative. In addition to including art, dioramas, and artifacts, each room has scale models of Jerusalem during that particular period, so that you can see how the city grew and evolved…this should be your first stop if you ever visit.

This being our last day, we wanted to once again visit all of the most sacred sites. We began again at the Western Wall. There were several Bar Mitzvahs going on at the time, with young men reading the Torah. It was sad to see that because the wall is segregated by gender, the mothers, grandmothers, and aunts of the young men being Bar Mitzvahed, had to stand on chairs and peer over the dividing wall to watch.

From the base of the wall, we passed through additional security to the top of the Temple Mount, so that we could enter the Al-Aqsa mosque pavillion (the dome of the rock). Apparently the Temple mount was not closed the 2 previous days, but rather, the Muslim guards were telling us that the entrances we were trying to use on our previous attempts were closed to us. Non-Muslims are only allowed to enter the Temple Mount through 1 particular gate…now we know. The Dome of the Rock is the 3rd most sacred site in Islam, and is the holiest site that non-Muslims can visit, as Mecca and Medina are forbidden.

According to Islam, the Dome is built on the rock that Mohammed flew from when he made his way up to the heavens to join Allah. Although we were not allowed in the actual mosque (an Australian tourist tried to burn it down some years ago, after which no non-Muslims are allowed to enter…thanks jerk), we could walk around the pavilion and view the exterior. It is a beautiful building covered in mosaic tiles, and topped with a large golden dome; Probably the most defining feature of the Jerusalem skyline.

After the mosque, we wound our way up through the alleys to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. As it was still early, the church was not as much of a mad house as when we visited it 2 days before, and got to see a lot of the details that we had previously missed.

From the church, we would our way back to the Jewish quarter, had bagels and mint tea for lunch, and decided that it was time to say goodbye to Jerusalem. Exiting past the Western Wall, we determined that this was a place that we would need to come back to, as we did not spend nearly enough time here. If you ever are going to come this way, make sure that you schedule at least 4 days for Jerusalem, and even then, you will only get a taste.

Packed the bags in the car, drove for 1 hour, and we are in Tel Aviv. Although less then 80km away, Tel Aviv could not be more different then Jerusalem. A beach city on the Mediterranean, the city seems to have more in common with Miami then Jerusalem. After a nice dinner on the beach, I decided that I wasn’t going to write the blog that night (I’m allowed a day of when on vacation…right?), and instead wrote it this morning. Friday we will explore Tel Aviv, update our pictures, and generally get ready to fly home Saturday morning….its been a great trip, but we are ready to come home…and get some real coffee.
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Scott on

Thanks for the update. We figured you were taking a day off ;-) I'm sure your somewhat sad that the physical part of the adventure is coming to a close.....but keep in mind the richness of your memories will be with you forever. Give us a buzz when your return to the homeland.

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