Continuing our story with the trip to Jerusalem…
We drove to the Mamila Mall/Jaffa Gate parking lot and got out to make our way to the Kotel (Western Wall). We prayed and wandered about watching the multitudes of tourists from China, Italy and Russia as well as the usual stock of Israelis. Inside the sheltered part of the Wall there has been excavations done over the past years. A glass observation deck has been set into the floor to show how deep the wall is. Over half of the Kotel remains submerged after millennia of abandonment.
At the Kotel Plaza we happened upon an IDF swearing-in ceremony. Young soldiers were receiving their weapons (M16 rifles) and their Tanachs (complete Bible of the First Testament). For all Israel’s supposed secularism, its Army is pretty religious with its additional law of serving only Kosher food to the soldiers.
Walking through the Christian quarter we saw a cassocked priest making his way through the streets. Often nuns can be seen throughout the Old City as well as Islamic religious leaders and the like.
In the Christian Quarter there is a shuk (marketplace) where all sorts of goods can be bought. Many stalls and stores cater to the tourists, providing them with souveniers such as authentic Arabic nargilas or hookahs as well as the traditional t-shirts, coffee mugs, postcards and jewellery. As the day gets late and the sun begins to go down the stalls slowly close up shop for the day, to be locked up until dawn the next morning. These Arabs (presumably Christian) were engaged in a game of backgammon as the dwindling crowd of passers-by filtered through the long and ancient stone street.
The entrance to the Jewish Quarter from within the heart of the Old City is decorated with murals and artwork.
For those hungry as they walk through the bustling streets of Jerusalem… This man stood dishing out free samples of falafel with hummus on wedges of pita, trying to lure customers to his restaurant. Now that’s street food!
When it’s all said and done and a long day has been enjoyed in the city renown for spirituality and tourism… Only this t-shirt can declare what really went on.
Until next time!