Email from Israel #5 (final)

Jerusalem Travel Blog

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The Israel Museum -just across this park which I walked through.

Shalom Everyone,

SO it is 5pm here in Jerusalem, and I am reading and sending my last emails from Israel before I begin the journey back.

A group of Christian pilgrams just passed outside the internet cafe and gave some chants or something at the 8th station of the cross, just outside. And all my neighbours here at adjacent computers are speaking in Arabic.

I've learned a few things from the trip here, many of which I think I will need much time to digest. In all, this experience has been and is wonderful.

I know now though to travel with FEWER books and clothes, and DEFINITELY do not leave the iPod at home...it could have been so easy to use an outlet adapter to keep it charged up and listen to my music at will.

Somehow, Jerusalem made me think of Los Angeles -especially around the Getty Museum.
Grrrrr. Also I was reminded that if you start a ride in a taxi BEFORE the price is set, or if you finish a meal before same, you will be ripped off.

True, these highly inflated prices are still low by US standards, but 2-3 times more than they could have been. Oh well.

Yesterday, I walked out of the Old City, across Central West Jerusalem...and through a gorgeous residential area (Rechavia) and park to the Israel Museum. Got there at 10am...and left there at about 16.30. I did two tours...a "highlights" tour of the museum artifacts, and then a tour of the Shrine of the Book (where some portion of some of the Dead Sea Scrolls are on display). Also I explored the collections and grounds on my own before heading back...so much walking, and I was exhausted.

Today, I woke up.

Rechavia is a beautiful district.
..grabbed a quick breakfast again in the western city (I was desperately missing Jewish Israel...and hearing Hebrew), then returned to the Old City to tour the Citadel of David (just across from my hostel), then a 3.5 hour walking tour of the 4 quarters of the Old City. SOme of the sights I saw on my own already, but many were new. At some sites like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (which I can see from my bedroom window), I can understand why Christians find so much connection. I don't feel it, but I understand others' feelings. I can't help though but to see the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque on the Har Ha'Bayit, and lament that the Temple is not present...but I know now in my heart that Israel is still a work in progress.

People who are engaged in tourism (sites, shops, etc) are SO appreciative that tourism is starting a come-back.

This old, random place I walked by was the Monastary of the Cross.
Everyone makes this clear. Yesterday the volunteer tour guide at the Israel Museum said that for a time she would go home in tears because there were no museum visitors to show around.

Today's group for the Old CIty tour was small...myself, two from England, and two guys from Gujarat (India). Now the amazing thing was that these two are not Jewish rather Hindu, but are here in Israel for a volunteer kibbutz program. They had such an interest in Israel...all parts of it.

Now, one other lesson I learned...I will not stay in the Old City again. It is too loud...you constantly hear the banging of church bells, but these are not pretty sounding like in Europe. Rather they sound like big, loud, out-of-tune Chinese gongs...going off in quantities (if you can imagine that!).

Continuing on to Israel Museum.
..then also there are the super loud arrays of the muezzin calling out praises and prayers...and I have also now found it less-than-pleasant not to have mezuzot on the door entrances where I stay (but DID just learn that there are some on Jaffa Gate!)...and frankly, I want more Jewish Israel experience here. Next time I would definitely stay in the western city.

OK...well, it has been a lot of fun to swap emails when here.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) I begin my journey home...in steps. I might check internet one more time, then grab breakfast...then check-out and head to bus #20 just outside Jaffa Gate to the central bus station...there I will browse some shops perhaps, then take a bus to the Ben Gurion airport. Then off to London for overnight before continuing on to JFK.

This sculpture reads "Ahava", love.

One thing I did not point out, I think...During the volunteer program, in the first week....we spent an evening doing sort of army drills (hitting the deck, crawling, etc)...afterward, there was a ceremony where we got our "officer" epaulets...but before this ceremony started, our "counselors" light two candles...and started the evening to pay respects to the victims of the first of the recent hurricanes in the US...very touching.

Well, I did take a number of pictures here -it seems like not so many, but I think it'll give you some idea of what I saw. I don't know that i could share with you exactly what I feel here though...some of you are too closed off for that, and that's fine...but I do look forward to telling you all of this trip next time we see each other.

love,

Stephen

mellemel8 says:
i feel the same too. as a jew, i want to have more of a jewish experince. i would love to stay in a kibbutz. i ate in one though. :)
Posted on: Aug 19, 2007
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The Israel Museum -just across thi…
The Israel Museum -just across th…
Somehow, Jerusalem made me think o…
Somehow, Jerusalem made me think …
Rechavia is a beautiful district.
Rechavia is a beautiful district.
This old, random place I walked by…
This old, random place I walked b…
Continuing on to Israel Museum.
Continuing on to Israel Museum.
This sculpture reads Ahava, love.
This sculpture reads "Ahava", love.
Sculpture garden at Israel Museum.
Sculpture garden at Israel Museum.
The Cardo -oldest shopping mall i…
The Cardo -"oldest shopping mall …
View from Jewish Quarter to Mount …
View from Jewish Quarter to Mount…
Ruins in the Jewish Quarter.
Ruins in the Jewish Quarter.
I had to go back to Kotel.
I had to go back to Kotel.
At Kotel.
At Kotel.
Outside of Jaffa Gate.
Outside of Jaffa Gate.
At Tower of David.
At Tower of David.
Tower of David -now Museum of the …
Tower of David -now Museum of the…
Phasael Tower.
Phasael Tower.
View past Har-HaBayit from Phasael…
View past Har-HaBayit from Phasae…
View across Christian Quarter.
View across Christian Quarter.
My hostel was just inside this lit…
My hostel was just inside this li…
To Western Jerusalem.
To Western Jerusalem.
Jerusalem city walls.
Jerusalem city walls.
Defenses of Tower of David.
Defenses of Tower of David.
1,260 km (783 miles) traveled
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photo by: daynnightraveller