Sunday, December 27, 2009

12/27/2009 East of Tel Aviv, West of Jerusalem

After our third Israeli breakfast - they seem to get better and better - and the rat race of checking everyone out of the hotel in Tel Aviv, we packed into the small car and continued our pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The highway passed along lots and lots of wooded areas - the region seems very fertile - I wonder if any of these forests are irrigated somehow?
We arrived in Jerusalem, but still had to drive around Jerusalem to find the hotel. We passed by our car rental company and had the sudden brainstorm of returning the car in order to not have to deal with it in the city. At the hotel, we were greeted by Leonid, Maria, and Kostya (two of whom were still awake from the previous day of travelling).

Olga, Kostya, and I returned the rental car at nearby dropoff. They have quite a system! We parked the car right in front of the office, and While we were in line to return the car for about 30 mins - we were standing just a meter in front of the car - a Jerusalem police officer walked over and I saw him eyeing the car I was trying to return.
Me: Shalom, is there a problem?
Him: No, but I'm giving you a parking ticket.
Me: Can I move the car? Is there anything I can do to avoid this ticket?
Him: You can do whatever you want, but you're getting the ticket no matter what.
...and so it went...

 We cabbed back to the hotel and were pleased to find the rest of our group had obtained a guide for a walking tour of old Jerusalem. The tour included such sites as the road Jesus walked with the crucafix (Via Dolorosa), the wailing wall and remains of the 2nd temple, the various quarters, and the best falafel in town, according to our tourguide. Spicy and yummy, for sho! The wailing wall was completely packed by Hassidics, which I assumed was completely typical. Our tour guide said there must be something special going on because it's never like that. They were packed in elbow-to-elbow and 8 people deep. They are continuously praying, mostly silently, and then someone will say something out loud and they will all chime in for a minute. It's interesting to see so many people praying the same prayer simultaneously. There's an inside section and an outside section of the wall. Inside, there's a distinct breeze, and we imagined it was coming from the continuously dovening Hassidim. One interesting note is that most excavations seemed to start in 1967, immediately following the war and annexation of territory. Israeli archaeologists don't waste any time!

In the seventh hour of our 4-hour tour, we were getting really drained - mentally, physically, emotionally - and started to rush our guide along. I was also afraid it was a scam - he would double the price because he doubled the timeframe. Thankfully, it was not a scam after all, just a very slow and long tour. All in all, it was good, but exhausting.

For more insight, please visit Olga's blog:

1 comment:

Bruce said...

micheal seems to love that green jacket and his shades.