Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Jerusalem by day

Our first full day in Jerusalem, it was a pretty busy one.

Woke up early in the morning (I'm still quite not used to Israel time -- although they're kind of faking it anyway, since they're on the same timezone as Europe instead of the timezone of the surrounding countries, so sunrise and sunset are kind of ridiculously early) to the sounds of church bells ringing (we're in the Christian quarter). Walked along the Rampart's Walk, which takes you on (most of) the perimeter of the walls surrounding the Old City. In decidingly uncharacteristic fashion for us, we actually showed up a little bit before it even opened. So we were the first ones in and pretty much felt like we had the whole wall to ourselves, at least for the Northern section. (There are two distinct sections, we walked the Southern section later in the day).

Wandered around the Muslim quarter in the late afternoon, bought a bit of produce at a market (and had some fresh squeezed pomegranate juice -- it's pretty intense), then headed in search of lunch, where we found the best hummus in the world. Okay, that might be hyperbole, but we both genuinely think it's the best we've ever had. Try the I Kermawi restaurant just a few shops north of the Damascus gate, on the east side of Nablus Rd. just north of the intersection with Sultan Suleyman St.

Later in the day we went to the City of David, which is the original site of Jerusalem, circa thousands of years ago. (The walls of the current "old" city are "only" about 450-500 years old.) The coolest thing to see here is Hezekiah's tunnel. It's a 500 meter long underground tunnel used to bring water from a spring that was outside of the city into the city, to prevent invaders from cutting off the city's water supply during a seige. It's totally dark, and water still flows through it. Oh yeah, and it's about 2700 years old. It just boggles my mind how old stuff is here. Details about the tunnel are known because an inscription about its construction was carved into the stone. Although the actual inscription is no longer there -- it was carted off by either the Turks or the Brits (I forget which) when they controlled Palestine.

If you've ever read The Source, by James Michener, I'm pretty sure the water tunnel there was based on this. Although his one didn't have a group of screaming Israeli schoolkids right behind you in the tunnels. I was really tempted to shout "Shekhet bevakasha" -- I suppose it may have been the most practical use of anything that I learned in 5 years of Hebrew school ("Me is who, who is he, he is she, and dog is fish" hasn't come in that handy all too often) -- but I didn't quite have the nerve.

There was some other stuff, but those were the highlights. And once again it feels way late and I'm way tired from still being jet lagged -- I hope I'm not sounding too rambling and cracked out in these late night posts.

More of Jerusalem tomorrow, and then on Friday we're off to Tel Aviv, provided that we manage to get out of the city before everything shuts down for Shabbat.


Michael Allen said...

Looks like you guys are having a great time. Keep up the posts, I'm enjoying the reading!

Mikey said...
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Mikey said...

Hi Rich & Lorien!

Those are amazing pictures, it's good to see you are having a good time out there.

The picture you posted of the market (are those spices in that terraced structure??) is crazy. It's too beautiful to purchase!

Happy travels!

Mikey & Becka