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Jerusalem Day 2

The next morning we took a cab to the Jaffa Gate again. The driver was nuts. He asked us where we were from, then proceeded to say he loved America over and over, and sang to Jim, “American boy…” He said “American people are extra extra extra large. Three extras.”

We went to the Tower of David Museum right at 10am, when it was supposed to open, and there was a sign saying it was closed all day! I was so disappointed.

So we just wandered and wandered for hours. We went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There were lots of people inside, some crying, lots of people kneeling and touching the Stone of the Anointing, where Jesus’ body was supposedly prepared for burial and also the 13th Station of the Cross. We went upstairs and there were people kissing something else under an altar. I wish I knew what it all was.

We had lunch at Pape Andrea’s which was recommended by Lonely Planet, and we thought the food wasn’t great, but the view was nice.

At 3pm we ran into the Franciscan monks doing the Stations of the Cross…where the stations ACTUALLY happened (or, at least where people believe they happened). A big group of people followed them around. They spoke in Latin, English, Spanish and Italian. We followed them around through the winding alleys from station to station, ending at the Church. It was a very cool experience.

Jerusalem Church
Inside of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

(click for larger)

Prior to that we went to the Western (Wailing) Wall and saw the Dome of the Rock. There was a wall separating men and woman. They had a cart full of white paper yarmulkes for men to wear. That was interesting.
Western Wall
Western Wall

The shops started to close around 2-3pm. We walked back to our hotel and everything was closed because of Shabbat. The guy at reception told us a few restaurants would open at like 9 or 10pm. We headed out at 9, hungry, to the old city and found NOTHING open – a ghost town! Finally we saw a beacon in the night… an open McDonalds. Feeling lucky, we decided to keep searching and finally found a couple other places that were open and had some Italian food.

At our hotel, we then experienced the Shabbat elevator. There was a light lit at the top of the elevator that said “shabbat” but we didn’t know what that meant. We got in and the elevator stopped at every single floor no matter what buttons we pushed! It was absolutely maddening since we were on the 16th floor. (When I got home, I asked a friend about it, and he said the elevator is set to stop at every floor automatically, so if someone who is observing shabbat needs to use an elevator, they can – because they won’t have to push any buttons themselves.)

The next morning, we wanted to go to the Temple Mount, but were worried about finding transport to the airport since, again, it was Shabbat. The hotel couldn’t find any shared taxis and no buses were running so we had to pay for a taxi. I won’t even tell you how outrageously expensive it was, but at least we got there.

Jerusalem street
Street in Jerusalem old city

(click for larger)

The security at the Tel Aviv airport was intense. The bag searchers were really searching the bags and not just going through the motions like at every other airport. It was kind of refreshing, in a way, because they were also efficient.

Going back to Jordan felt like going backwards as far as modernity – we had done Egypt, Jordan, back to Jordan… back to veiled women, etc.

Anyway, we got to the hotel and it had a sweet view of the city. We relaxed and stumbled onto CNN’s God’s Warriors (btw I LOVE Christiane Amanpour): the Judaism version. It was so weird to watch after having just BEEN IN Jerusalem the day before. Finally we headed out and got Lebanese food at the Le Meridian Hotel – it was fantastic. We had hummus with meat and pine nuts, mixed grill, mushrooms, fried cheese, and great puffy bread with sesame seeds.

The next day we flew home.

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