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Jerusalem, you certainly doesn't disappoint!


View Shalom Israel - 2020 on Ils1976's travel map.

Another sunny day awaited us as soon as we left our hotel behind. It was only 9 AM in the morning, but the sun was shining so bright that sunglasses were the most essential item of the day! Yesterday turned out to be quite an interesting day and I must say that I was really looking forward to another one.

Michel was once again his cheerful self and as soon as our group was completed, we drove of to our first stop of the day, which was the Mount of Olives!

Seen as I just love the fruit on its own, I was more than eager to go and see what it was all about and as we drove higher and higher, the view got more and more interesting on the city of Jerusalem. Michel told us that back in the time that Jesus walked this earth, it must have been quite a view with loads of olive groves, but modern man seems to like the building aspect on the Mount even more. It seems that real estate brings more "joy" than a very old olive tree, so as we drove to the top instead of olive groves, we rather saw one old building after another ... such a pity if you ask me.

Once outside of the bus, it immediately struck me that we weren't the only ones, but listening to our guide, it was nothing compared to a "normal" tourist day and he said that the Corona outbreak started to show. We felt a bit pity for him because when we left the country he was probably out of a job for a very, very long time.

Michel wouldn't be Michel if he didn't ask us to feel sorry, but to enjoy this beautiful day and that is just what we did!

From the Mount of Olives you have a magnificent view on the city of Jerusalem as well as the most important Jewish and ancient cemetery where loads of people are buried from way back then. Even now you can still be buried on the southern part of the mountain, but I guess you need a lot of money seen the place where you'll end up. The view is not for free I am afraid!?!

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It is said that this is the same spot where Jesus ascended to heaven and hence it is a very important pilgrimage site for Christians, but I must say for once I love the Jewish part of it even better, that is the Old Testament believers. Jewish people love to be buried here because it is not only close to the sacred city, but also close to the Golden gate, one of the few closed gates in the whole of Jerusalem.

According to Jewish tradition, the Shekhinah or Divine Presence used to appear through the eastern Gate and will appear again when the Anointed One or Messiah comes and goes through the Gate. From that point the present one will be replaced with a new one and all the believers will resurrect. You might even say that from that point on they all live happily ever after again ... if this should happen, you'll better get a front row seat, that's for sure!

Michel also told us that they closed the gate because after Jesus died loads of people thought they were the Messiah and people really got tired of having one once every week as Christians also believe that their Messiah or Jesus will return through this Gate. I think they were smart to close it, but as I asked if it was possible a female Messiah would announce herself at the Gate, our guide started to laugh and said that human race wasn't ready for that ... I guess he is right! Some males or so small minded, but we will see once it reopens! :)

Walking down from the Mount of Olives passing the cemetery we saw a Jewish funeral going on and it was quite impressive to say the least. Sadly enough we had to move on and mere minutes later we arrived at the little Dominus Flevit Church where accordingly Jesus cried when we looked at the city Jerusalem and saw its destruction in the future. It seemed that not only Nostradamus was great seer, he had the gift as well.

As we walked further down the road, we arrived at the Church of All Nations or Basilica of the Agony where you can still see a section of bedrock where Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest. The church on itself is quite impressive but I loved the Garden of Gethsemane a bit more. Those ancient olive trees are really worth a visit.

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Since Mary's Tomb is closed, it seems we were going to miss out on the burial place of the Virgin Mary and instead we walked al the way towards the main road.

From this place we took the bus again and Boas dropped us off at the Dung Gate mere minutes later. Walking again in the sunshine felt so good and as we passed the Davidson Archeological Park, we had a quick stop at the Western Wall excavations and when you see the pictures Michel handed out to us, this Temple Mount had to be gigantic so many decades ago. The First Temple build by King Solomon is long gone, so is the Second Temple and even though the Jewish people are still waiting for the Third and Final Temple to be build here, I guess for the moment we all have to make due with the fact that it is more or less a muslim domain with its most important buildings being the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the beautiful Dome of the Rock.

It is but a short walk towards the Western Wall and as men and women are separated, you immediately see who is worse off between the battle of the sexes. As there are practical but a few men present, the small part reserved for the women is packed and it is difficult to even get to the wall. With a bit of perseverance the women of our group made it and as we were ready for our own part of "wailing" at the Wall, I must say that we were better off than some next to us, as it seemed they could not let go of the wall. I guess like they say here in Belgium, the women had a lot of wailing / complaining to do., something I can relate to ... 100 %!

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When we are all back together, men and women, we went on the move again through the Muslim Quarter towards the Via Dolorosa, which is believed to be the path that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion. Maybe it is just me, but I had such a romantic view of this main street with cobblestones, that once I saw it in real, I was completely disappointed. It was more like a souk with nothing but one souvenir shop after another and to me it had nothing charming about it whatsoever. Was this the place Jesus walked up to his death !?

There are Nine Stations of the Cross and although we only visited 2 because of limited time, I was but a bit glad that we had lunch soon after in the Muslim Quarter. Like always, the food was delicious. This is the only country I have been to that can make "fast food" tastes so good and yep, it seems that I am addicted to falafel. I just can't help myself!

Some people of our group yearn for a bit of free shopping time and as we get an hour off from the group, I am just glad to sit in the sun for a while, but as there is still a bit of time to kill, I tag along with a few women of our group who want to buy jewelry with the Eilat Stone in it. I must admit that the King Solomon stone is really beautiful and with only a few minutes left, we scored a nice ring for her for a reasonable price.

As we are all back together again, we walked further towards the Christian Quarter were we had a visit at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This church with a strange mix of architectural building styles contains the two holiest sites being the site where Jesus was crucified at a place known as Calvary or Golgotha, and where you can find Jesus's empty tomb, where he is said to have been buried and resurrected.

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Eclectic on the outside, when you enter the huge entrance door it is even worse, but it has a certain charm as well. You can definitely see that many religions want to have a piece of the action so to speak. A mishmash of Roman Catholic, several Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic religions make the church to what it is today.

Strangely enough I like it and although it is overwhelming, there is something about it what makes it all work ... to me that is!

Going up the stairs I am surprised to see a lot of people waiting in line and it is not until Michel tells us that we arrived at Golgotha, the place where Jesus was crucified, that it finally hit me. This was supposed to be the place where he died and many people waited in line to touch a piece of the rock which is encased in protective glass underneath the Altar of the Crucifixion.

Nothing at all as I expected it to be ... yep I thought it was actually a mountain !?!, we headed downstairs again where we bumped into the Stone of Anointing.

Here the body of Jesus was supposed to be prepared for burial by Joseph of Arimathea. If this is true or not because of the fact that Jesus died on a Friday I don't know, but I had to do it, in Covid-19 times it is pure madness, but I just couldn't resist myself and I touched the stone, which smelled delicious ... when I die, I want some of that ointment!

Walking deeper and deeper into the church there are a dozen of chapels on several floors, too much to visit personally and after what must have been almost an hour, we finally saw the Aedicula or Holy Sepulchre where people nowadays can see the tomb of Jesus. Normally there is a waiting line of hours, but now that we are here and no waiting line in front of us, we wanted to see the empty tomb ... or not!?

Michel gave us another half an hour of free time to wonder around and to me this was the chance to light a candle for my loved ones at home who were already struggling with daily life under the threat of Covid-19.

Back outside again I already saw most of our group waiting and when we were finally complete we slowly walked back to the Jaffa Gate passing Davids tower and met up with Boas again.

It wasn't that long of a ride back to the hotel and as the sun was still shining, just like the rest of the group I retired to my room till it was time for dinner.

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Together with a few others of the group I went to dinner at 6PM because we wanted to go into the city later this evening. Today was Purim, a Jewish holiday, which sometimes also is called the Festival of Lots. This is the Festival you can do whatever you want and go as crazy as you like. People dress up like we do when we celebrate carnival and the best thing about it, they are allowed to get drunk ... really drunk! Not something you associate with an Orthodox Jew to be honest, but seeing is believing it and that is just what we did!

8 PM on the dot the six of us left the hotel and walked all the way to the tram from where it was but an half an hour ride towards the centre of Jerusalem. All the youngsters were out and about, laughing, drinking and having fun and that is just what we did as well.

It must have been a little after 11 PM when I went back to the hotel with Bibi and Louba. After such a long day the three of us where quite tired and already feeling the alcohol in my head and feet, it was time for me to go to sleep. It has been quite a day and one I will never forget, that's for sure!

Posted by Ils1976 07:31 Archived in Israel Tagged buildings skylines people religion history walk house sightseeing sights asia viewpoint

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Comments

Sounds an amazing day, if quite tiring!

by ToonSarah

haha, reading this blog again to keep the spirit of traveling alive, it was kind of tiring! :)

by Ils1976

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