Walkin’ to Jerusalem…

As mentioned our first trip out was lovely and quite tiring.  I would have been really great to get to bed at a decent hour to get some rest before heading to Jerusalem the next day.  So, I did.  Dave, however, had not been able to lay hands on his passport and wanted to have it, just in case.

So, he decided midnight was the best time to go search the car.  Unfortunately, when you only unlock the trunk it does not unlock the car doors.  However, if you unlock the whole car the trunk is unlocked too.  This distinction is important when you shut the trunk with the keys inside.  To put it mildly Dave’s night got worse and the passport was still a no-show.

He called Avis.  Why didn’t they just call and tell us, you might ask?  Because they refused to take Dave’s cell phone number.  They only wanted a local number which we did not have (the apartment gives you a local cell if you need it – we had Dave’s phone and did not think we needed it…).

For some reason the Avis here in Herzliya was not in the mood to answer their phones but a call to a cell phone got an immediate response.  Now might be the time to mention we had to rip a mobile off someone’s ear to just to rent the car.  Yes, they had the passport.  No, they don’t have the extra key to the car.  That is, of course, kept at the central office.  It will cost $300 to get someone to unlock the car.


How about we send someone for that extra key?  $80. Okie-dokie, get driving.

Instead, a driver appears at the apartment without the key.  He was closer to us than the key and figured he could just pop the lock.  Uh oh, this car is really hard to break into, he complains.  Then continues to grumble about how cars keep getting harder and harder to open.  What a concept?

With the power of the driver and Dave pulling on a coat hanger they finally pop the lock.  The keys are in hand!

Dave drives with the guy to let him out of the garage (by remote) and he’s off!  WAIT! WAIT! WAIT!  The keys to the car had fallen out in the driver’s car…

Miracle of miracles, 3:30AM and Dave heads to bed.

We sleep.  It was a beautiful, deep, uninterrupted sleep.  I attribute this to insisting we lower the shades to significantly darken the rooms (the sun starts coming up at frickin’ 4AM).  Dave does not see it this way when we wake up at 10AM.  Dave is angry.  Dave must not have had as nice of a night’s sleep as I did.

We decide to head to Jerusalem anyway.  A lot of the sights are outside and some of the big sights don’t close until 8PM.

The drive is only about an hour and though we took an unexpected route to the city center we got there and even found very reasonable ($11 per day) garage parking close to the Old City and a pretty cool mall.  Which means clean bathrooms and good coffee.

We started into the Old City.  Due to our parking situation we decided to do our scheduled activities in reverse.  Which doesn’t matter to you all or my traveling companions, for that matter, as no one else really knew or cared what the plan was.  Unfortunately, we hit another snag as I think carrying the kid in a back carrier caused me some unforeseen discomforts (just one more delay).  Ah well, we were off, eventually.

We hit the Tower of David [Museum] first.  It was pretty cool beans.  It was also set up really nicely where you went through the citadel and little sections of the museum were inserted along the way (like little pockets of air conditioned heaven).  Then we moved south through the Armenian quarter and went just outside of the City Walls to see David’s Tomb, which was divided into a men’s and women’s side.  It was also one of the few areas they were enforcing men covering their heads.

We totally got strong armed into a donation (which I’m not against but prefer to give enthusiastically not in bullying and confusion) but, at least, Dave got a spiffy paper head covering.  Kind of like a blue and white card board boat that you would get a hot dog in, from a ballpark.

At this same location was the Room of the Last Supper.  I was also nice to see.  Accurate?  Who knows but a nicely preserved room in a nice little annex.  In this same area was the Holocaust Museum, which is supposed to be really moving but they don’t allow kids under 12.  Will was actually asleep at this point but we didn’t press our luck.  (That certainly was not in our favor)

From here we headed back into the Old City and moved in to the Jewish Quarter.  We saw the Cardo (the ruins of an old Roman road/ area) and ate falafel.  Mmmmm, falafel. We meandered to the Western Wall. This area is also divided between men and women.  The men’s side was a lot bigger but this seems unjust as I’m pretty sure there were more women there.

This plaza was pretty interesting because it was saturated in military personnel.  They were having some ceremony that evening so military were everywhere.

The military here is pretty interesting since everyone is required to serve two years, men and women.  So, several things were remarkable.  First, they were so young!  Second, they were so comfortable with carrying around machine guns (none had their clips in, those were on their belts, but the guns were obviously well used).  Third, these people are ridiculously attractive.  Like 80% of the Israelis are good looking.  If I didn’t know better I’d think they had a selective breeding program over here…  I think, instead, they should be very grateful to the influx of Eastern European into their gene pool.  It probably doesn’t hurt that these people eat a lot of salad.

I digress, the Western Wall.  Dave and I split up and I went to the women’s side (wasn’t in the mood to try rockin’ the boat).  It is interesting to note what people consider “modest dress.”  They did not require a head covering for women (or, at least, didn’t enforce it) but I’m pretty sure most cultures do not consider a strapless top modest, even if you’re wearing a long skirt.  Nor, is your outfit “modest” if your white shirt and skirt are thin enough to see the brand of your underwear.  The Ethiopians did make a girl cover up her tube top corset before entering the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

There’s a pretty cool tour of the tunnels under the Wall area that we opted out of.  The last tour we went on with Will, that we couldn’t leave the group, was in Peru.  Will through a tantrum because we wouldn’t let him jump in to a pit full of human bones.  So, next we tried to visit the Temple Mount but they were not inclined to let the heathens up that day so we moved along to the Via Dolorosa (the route Jesus supposedly walked while carrying the cross).

It starts in the Muslim Quarter and winds through the market streets into the Christian Quarter, the last five stations (there are 14 in all, marked on the map below by the red numbers) are all within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

We did pretty well up until Station 9 then a wrong turn got us turned around in the market streets (and, seriously, how do  all these stalls full of junk make any money?!  They all sell the same stuff and there are literally thousands!).  Once we got back on track we headed in to the church.

To be honest, the holy spirit did not fill us in this place.  It was incredibly crowded (and crowds are not nice) and very ornate.  Perhaps it just didn’t speak to our Protestant upbringing.  Perhaps it was that it just looked so different than what we were expecting.  Like the fact that all of these outdoor events are now enshrined in a dimly lit church.

We did encounter one really nice Priest in the Greek Orthodox section.  Dave was waiting in line with Will to see Station 12, an altar with a hole that was supposedly where the cross was implanted and Jesus died on the cross.  The crowds were out of control and started pushing and swarming the altar.  Dave waited in line like a good trooper.  The priest got mad and pushed everyone out of the area and backed the line up.  Then while it was all clear he went and grabbed Dave and told him to go up since he was with a baby.  There were some people who started yelling at him but tough pookies!  Since, it was so unexpected I didn’t have the camera ready but oh well, nice is nice.

This concluded our tour of Jerusalem.  A little disappointing overall but we were quite glad to have seen it all.  There is enough to see to keep a tourist busy for a week but we have to pace ourselves.  Which, is why we headed to the lovely mall with tons of coffee shops and clean potties (the bathrooms were very modern and had square toilets – Will almost fell in!); then back to the apartment!

It get’s dark very quickly between 4:30PM and 5:00PM, then it’s totally dark.  Like middle of the night dark.  So, we drove back in the dark but driving over here is pretty well marked, at least on the highways.  In the cities the streets are marked but the signs are pretty small and always on the opposite side of the street (I don’t know how it happens but it’s true!).  But, by and by, we got out of the city and back to Herzliya.

If you want the pictures full screen size and my lovely commentary, click here: Jerusalem Pictures


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