Hannah and Je together

Friday, 18 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifteenth Day – Back to Jerusalem

In the morning, we got on the mini-bus from the Kedma Village to Jerusalem.  I got off at the Jerusalem Central Bus Station.

Jerusalem Central Bus Station

Jerusalem Central Bus Station

People were talking about the cloud, which is very weird to have the sky covered with clouds in this dry season.  I had a brunch with Dr. Choi at Aroma.

Gloria Hotel's View

Gloria Hotel’s View

Finally I came back to Gloria Hotel in the Old City Jerusalem near Jaffa Gate.  This is the view from my new room 151.  I stayed at 178 last week.  Then I turned on the TV set to update myself with the news of Israel-Gaza conflict because I spent a week without TV and with very limited internet.  But the more terrible and shocking news welcomed me – the airplane crash in Ukraine.  They did not really say almost anything about Israel-Gaza war.

After taking some rest, I went to the Tour Information to ask about the transportation to Tel Aviv tomorrow which is Shabbat.  But the information booth was closed at 1:30 because Shabbat begins this evening.

Empty Western Wall

Empty Western Wall

I wanted to the church of ascension, and went by the Western Wall.  While I was approaching the Western Wall, there were series of gun shooting sounds, and almost every was backed up.  And there were so many police cars and vans there.  You can notice that almost no body was at the wall praying, in comparison how it is packed with people especially Friday.  I asked someone what was happening, and was told that the muslims in the mosque are praying with shooting the guns with blank bullets.  But I’ve been in Western Wall a few Fridays, and heard nothing so far.  The orthodox Jew told me that they do not usually but when there is high tension, they do.

While the war is going on, and there are gun shooting noises, I found an airship in the sky.  And the city was as usual.

Pater Noster

Pater Noster

Before I went to the church of ascension, I went to the Pater Noster where Jesus taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer.  There are Lord’s Prayer in a few different languages.  This one looks like Hebrew, but it is Chaldean.  There was small admission fee of 8 NIS.

Church of Ascension

Church of Ascension

Then I went to the church of ascension, and was very disappointed.  Not like the title on the map, it was not a church but a mosque, very small mosque.  You have to pay 5 NIS, but almost nothing to see.  It is said that the foot print of Jesus when he ascended into heaven.

Tomb of the Prophets

Tomb of the Prophets

Then I went to the Tomb of the prophets, but was not able to enter because it was locked.  According to the Jewish tradition, it is the tomb of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

Church of Mary Magdalene from Dominus Flevit

Church of Mary Magdalene from Dominus Flevit

Then I went to the Dominus Flevit.  It is Latin means “The Lord wept.”  And they found Second Temple Period and Byzantine tombs.  The above picture is the church of Mary Magdalene viewed from the Dominus Flevit.

When I came out of the Dominus Flevit, I saw a Palestinian old man begging.  He said, “I am poor.  Give me some shekels.”  So I gave him 14 NIS which was all the money I had then.  Then he said, “Give me more, give me more!”  And I told him that I do not have more.  Then he angrily said, “20 dollar more! I am poor! 20 dollar!”  I lost my words, and just walked down the hill.

Focaccia Salad

Focaccia Salad

I got some more rest, and went to Kikkar Zion (Zion Plaza) on Jaffa Street and Ben Yehudah Street to meet some people dug together at Tel Lachish.  I was worried because the Shabbat already begun and I see the whole city is stopped without any visible restaurants open.  They brought me to Focaccia Bar in the back street, and wow! The whole city is like divided into two, either synagogue or here.  We met Professor Yossi there too!

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Another Half of Second Day – Arrival

The flight from Zürich to Tel Aviv was good.  I still had emergency exit seat with enough legroom.  I had playful and delightful twin babies.  There were a few babies crying in the plane, but everybody around me was normal – no kissing, no drinking, no loud talking.

Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv, Israel

Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv, Israel

Finally I landed at Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport.  The immigration lines were long.  I guess this is because of recent violences in Jerusalem.  The officers were asking so many questions to people, including when and where they are planned to stay.  After long wait, I went to the officer.  I told him that I am taking summer course at Hebrew University and I am from America.  He just checked my passport and flight ticket, and let me go without asking any other questions.

Bathroom Sign in Ben Gurion Airport

Bathroom Sign in Ben Gurion Airport

This is bathroom sign in Ben Gurion airport.  It looks normal, but I think the Hebrew writing is funny.  Women in Hebrew is Women, but Men in Hebrew language says Warrior.

There are two ATMs in the airport, and one of them was broken, which caused huge line formed.  But six people in a row failed to draw money, and they said, “it’s not working.”  Instantly the line disappeared, but I decided to try, and it worked.  I’ve got my money.  And again, the huge line formed instantly after me.

Shuttle or Shared Taxi

Shuttle or Shared Taxi

My actual plan was to ride a taxi to Jerusalem.  I have to ride taxi when I come back to this airport because that would be around midnight.  But now, it is bright daylight, not even 4pm.  I thought there must be cheaper transportation to Jerusalem.  And I found a shuttle or shared taxi.  It costed me 64 NIS (New Israeli Shekel), roughly less than $25.

City Wall near Jaffa Gate

City Wall near Jaffa Gate

This is the city wall near the Jaffa Gate.  But I could not find my hotel easily, so I asked the security soldier with machine guns.  They pointed with fingers, “there.”  And they pointed another place, “or maybe there.”  Nice.  Thank you for being playful with a tourist.  You guys are very entertaining.  Then I found an information booth, so I went in and was guided.  It was really close.  Oh I miss Google Maps. And my wife more.

Glorious Gloria Hotel

Glorious Gloria Hotel

My original booking was Knights’ Palace around New Gate (still in Old City), but they emailed me two weeks ago, saying they will maintenance shut down the Knights’ Palace, and would like to move me to Gloria Hotel since they have same staff, same service and same owner.

After I unpacked, I just walked in the old city.  Today is Sabbath, so when I was in the Taxi, the West Jerusalem looked like a dead city with nobody on the streets.  But in the city market, so many people walking and living.  I just walked without any plan, destination.  I just walked just to be lost in the market.  But I was not lost.  When I looked around after a walk for a while, I found myself outside the Damascus gate where the White Sister’s Guest house is.  My McCormick travel group stayed there, and we walked always through this gate to go back to the guesthouse.  I think I just remembered the way to the guesthouse.

Then I bought some postcards with international stamps.  They are not cheap at all!  After supper at the Gloria Hotel, now I am dying of fatigue or Jet lag.

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