Sunday, December 16, 2018

Jerusalem

We started our trip in Jerusalem with the most obvious place – the old city.  Our apartment, The Market Courtyard was a gentle twenty minute walk down to the old city. The city was quiet and relaxed, and later in the day, we commented to each other it is hard to imagine we are in one of the most contentious areas in the world.

We entered via the Damascus gate and plunged into the chaos of the Arab quarter of the old city.  


We were trying to get to the Temple Mount in the Muslim area, but struggled badly finding our way about.  The Arab old quarter is maze of alleys and lanes.  The Muslim area is only open to to non-Muslims for a short number of set-hours each day.  Having missed the morning window, we planned to be at the spot for the early afternoon opening. 

In our wanderings we had found the Western Wall, and went down to experience the segregated areas.  Andrew headed to the men’s side (having donned a compulsory Kippah)  Here, he could view the people praying, and he could walk up the the many parties of boys having their Bar Mitzvah.  I went off to the women’s side.  The female relatives are not allowed to join the Bar Mitzvah and end up hanging over the fence to watch them. 


We finally found the line for the Temple Mount and went through the security checks before being admitted to the inner areas.  We walked about and viewed the outside of the Al Allah Mosque and the Temple Mount with it’s iconic gold dome.  In the distance we looked out to the Mount of Olives with the extensive grave markers.  According to one tour guide I heard talking to his group, the best plots there can cost about $100,000 – how accurate that is I don’t know.

Another day we returned to the old city and focused on exploring the Christian, Armenian and Jewish quarters.  All of these were less frenetic than the Muslim quarter, but each had their own individual feels.  We tracked down a traditional Armenian tile shop and talked about send tiles back to NZ . And we ate a hearty meal at the imaginatively named, Armenian Tavern.


Our apartment location was ideal as it was situated across the road from the Mahane Yehuda Market.  This was a delightful collection of food, coffee fruit, restaurants.  Every day it was busy, both day and night, but on the Friday afternoon before the start of Shabbat, it was twice as busy and you couldn’t even push through the throngs of shoppers.  At the appointed time before sunset a horn sounded out across the city for a minute.    For the next 24 hours, until just after sunset on Saturday, the city stopped.  The market closed, the transport didn’t run and it was a different place.

Yemeni food at the market


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