What a great first day we have had! Sandy arranged for a private tour before we left home. See why we hang with them? Our guide, Avraham, picked us up outside the apartment at 9:00 and whisked us off to Jerusalem for a full day of seeing things that are not on the itinerary the days we are there with the tour group.
Highlights include the best pita bread I have ever had. Oh my goodness! My pita was filled to overflowing with hummus, lettuce, tomatoes, and of all things, pickles. Yum. We had lunch at a kosher restaurant in the Jewish section of the old city, so when Alan asked for coffee with cream, the answer was, “Sorry, we do not have any dairy because we serve meat.”
Another highlight was visiting the Garden Tomb and seeing a typical four-chamber tomb, the likes of which Jesus’ body would presumably have been buried. Many believe the tomb we saw was the actual one while others dispute it. Disagreements aside, it was set in a beautiful garden that has been carefully maintained as a place of worship, witness, and reflection by a nondenominational Christian trust since 1894.
For a lark we decided to walk through Hezekiah’s Tunnel. We went down dozens of stairs and just stepped right into the cold spring water. Sandy had warned us it would be pitch dark and wet, so I wore a headlamp and we brought water shoes and short pants. Hezekiah’s tunnel, located under the City of David, was part of Jerusalem’s ancient water system that directed spring water to a large collecting pool. Only remnants of the pool remain.
Great pita, a four-chamber tomb, and walking in a subterranean tunnel as narrow as 18 inches in places and cut so low I had to walk bent over some of the time in no way overshadowed the somber Garden of Gethsemane. With its 900-year-old olive trees and beautiful chapel on the Mount of Olives, it will no doubt remain a lasting memory because of its magnificent views of Old Jerusalem on the next hill and the acres and acres of centuries-old cemeteries below.
We also visited the Tomb of David which involved women viewing from one side and men from the other. Dan and Alan had to borrow yarmulkes for their visit. Signs agreed with Avraham that David is probably not actually buried there. The same is true with the room where the last supper took place. It was beautiful and large and probably not the exact location, but it was suggested we think of it as being in the proximity and similar. People watching and street life were fun to take in and interesting too.
At the end of our day we asked Avraham for a dinner recommendation near the hotel. He suggested a restaurant in a huge market place. Dan and Alan had monster burgers and Sandy and I had skewered ground meat. We were all pleased with our dinner choices and dove in with gusto. We walked through the by-then-closed market on our way home. It was cleanup time which involved a team of men sweeping trash into the thoroughfare. Another man followed with a firehouse-strength blast of water and then an honest to goodness frontloader came down and scooped all the trash into a small hill at the end of the street. A system I have never seen. Anyway, we enjoyed the short walk home with a quick stop at our 24/7 grocery for cookies. We can’t read the descriptions but thought they were a quite good.
It was wonderful to spread out in our nice apartment at the end of a long, satisfying day. Thank you Sandy!
… For What it’s Worth …
Israel is about 290 miles north to south and 85 miles east to west at its widest point and has four geographic regions—the Mediterranean coastal plain, the hill regions of northern and central Israel, the Great Rift Valley, and the Negev.
Army service is mandatory for both males and females 18 years old, with
a minimum service tenure of two years for girls and three for boys.
The weekend in Israel is from Friday noon until Saturday evening.
Sunday is the first day of the workweek.
Jews constitute about three-fourths of the total population of Israel. Almost all the rest are Palestinian Arabs, of whom most (roughly three-fourths) are Muslim; the remaining Arabs are Christians and Druze.
Arabs are the overwhelming majority in the Gaza Strip and the
occupied territory of the West Bank.
4 thoughts on “Jerusalem on Our Own (October 22, 2019)”
That is so cool you got to see the Garden Tomb and seeing a typical four-chamber tomb
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The tomb was so large. I had no idea there were chambers. Once a body has laid in there a year, a family member comes in and moves the bones to a space below a shelf of sorts making room for the next to die.
What an amazing day! Thank you for all of the fascinating and sobering details, as well as great pictures! I could hardly look at the ones about the tunnel or read about it! Yikes!
Another wonderful trip that we appreciate you sharing! Thank you!
So far the trip has been fabulous and we’ve barely begun! More to come.
The tunnel was a unique experience! I especially liked the fact that we were trudging around in something hand carved and ancient.