I managed to bend to the will of my alarm clock this morning and get up around 7:30. After my daily morning flurry of email — something that is pretty fun with a 7 hour time difference — I packed up and met Maggie and Nathan down on the street. A short walk later, we were on the 480 bus bound for Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem we walked a few stops down the light rail line to a small market where we browsed the wares and picked up a round of iced coffee. After dealing very well with the light rail ticket machine, we hopped on and a few minutes later got off near the Damascus Gate to the Old City. Inside we found a gloriously packed warren of streets, side streets, and alleys. What a wonderful place! We walked downhill, towards the center, and along the way stopped at the Austrian Hospice on the word of one of Maggie’s friends who said there was a great view from the top. Without her friend’s note we would have never stopped, and we are so glad we did! The view from the top was amazing! After we took a slew of pictures and video clips, we kept on our downhill walk.
Several blocks of narrow, shaded, alleyways later we went through security and found ourselves facing the Western Wall. While Maggie and Nathan meandered around the main square, I went up to the fall and folded 4 pink cranes and added them to the wall. We then tried to find the main entrance to the Dome on the Rock, trying a spot that we were turned away from earlier, but then with the help of a random person on the street found out that the main entrance was in the square but only open from 1:30 to 2:30. So, we grabbed soem more water and headed back to the square, where we eventually found the line. There we realized that by what it says in the Torah, no Jews are allowed inside. We made our way through another set of security guards and then after a bit of knee covering, we were inside. Wow. What an experience being at the epicenter of so many faiths. We walked around the square, took pictures, and soaked in the atmosphere of the place. After a short rest in the shade on the north side of the dome, we found the exit and walked west towards the Chuch of the Holy Sepulchre.
We walked through several more layers of shaded alley streets, and eventually found the main entrance to the Church with the help of a very nice shop owner. Inside we found a small crowd of tourists, and another site with a powerful atmosphere. We rested in the Crusader chapel, near the tomb of Jesus, taking note of the wonderful beams of light shadowing the floor. We also walked to the lower levels to the site where Helena allegedly found the True Cross. After back tracking a bit, and stopped again so I could buy some nice souvenirs, we found a small cafe near the Damascus gate where we enjoyed a round of Turkish coffee. Soon after we caught the light rail back to the bus station where we had a slightly longer (due to traffic) ride back to Tel Aviv.
Back in the city we had a very refreshing walk to Chelsea’s apartment, stopping on the way to pick up some very tasty feta and spinach calzones. I’m now back in the apartment finishing up my prep work for tomorrow’s coaching clinic.