Trip Start Sep 09, 2012
3Trip End Sep 20, 2012
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Alas, our time in the holy city of Jerusalem is now over. We are packing and getting ready to have our last Israeli breakfast (they're impressive!) at the King David. We’ve got a private car/tour coming to pick us up at 9am to take us down to the Dead Sea and Masada and then we’ll make our way south to Eilat where we’ll cross the border to Jordan. We’ll spend the night in Aqaba and head to Petra tomorrow morning.
But Jerusalem . . . well it’s been quite warm (high 80s and low 90s)
Staying at the King David set the tone for our visit. From the moment you come through the doors one can feel the history of this place. Years ago when I first visited I only saw it from a distance and never imagined I’d ever be staying here. The service is wonderful, the atmosphere what I imagine it must have been back in the 40s and 50s. We did even take advantage of the pool one afternoon.
So upon our arrival, we made it out to the old city to get our bearings and just get a sense for the place. I’ll mention now that I came thinking and hoping that I would have memories of my time here over 30 years ago. I admit that the only place that happened was in the old city. It remains pretty much what it was back then. The rest of the city has not waited for me and has moved on with its development and growth.
We managed to have some kid grab us and direct us to the rooftop of some pilgrim’s hotel for a view from the rooftop. It had a wonderful perspective of the Dome of the Rock
The second day we made our way to Ein Karem which was the place where I lived back when. I didn’t recognize any of the roads there and realized that I had no idea how much time it would take to get there. When I lived here I only took buses so when it took only about 10 minutes to get there I was pleasantly surprised. At first we were unable to locate the monastery entrance. We visited the church of John the Baptist and I looked around and recognized nothing. I figured that it had probably been razed over the years. Following my instinct, I told Paul that we should walk around the complex to see if maybe I could recognize something. We went down some streets that I didn’t recall. We walked up and down inclines. And just about the time I was going to give up, I rounded a corner and recognized that little segment of street that ended in the entrance of the Monastery and “Terra Sancta Youth Hostel”. It was a pleasant surprise to find and brought back memories of some great times of my youth back in 1979.
We tried to get to Hadasah Hospital to see the Marc Chagall windows, but after a bit of a taxi journey there and wandering around the hospital halls and floors when we finally located the synagogue, there was a notice that it was closed until October
The visit to the Western Wall was quite an experience. Our first visit was on the day we arrived in Jerusalem on Wednesday. It was relatively quiet so we found space and time to just pray there. I was overcome by emotion during my short time there. But being the good, private person that I think of myself as, I suppressed it as much as possible. I was far more memorable visit than in my youth.
We also did the tunnel tour. Tunnels have been dug to reveal the length of the Western Wall to spots much closer to what would have been the holy of holies of the Temple. It was a very interesting and educational tour. It shouldn’t be missed. Kind of exciting to think of yourself meters underground looking at remnants of the wall that was only “discovered” when these tunnels were dug.
We also walked most of the Via Dolorosa and ended up at the Holy Sepulchre. It was less hectic and crowded than I remember from the ’79, but there was a steady stream of pilgrims from around the world. Spent some time at the church wandering into nooks and crannies, chapels and altars.
We also managed to do a walk around the old city on the old city walls. The remparts walk was interesting in that it gave us a good sense for the size of the old city and how it must have been defended in the old days. The sun was intense, but we did a good job of covering a good portion of it.
Lastly, the night before we departed we took a cab to the Mount of Olives and were able to take some photos as the sun set over Jerusalem.
Enjoy the photos and look for one last blog when we are back in Israel (after our trip to Jordan)!