Saturday, 9 February 2019

Jerusalem, Israel (Bnei Brit Street 5)

After a cup of coffee I contacted the Airbnb hosts about the WiFi, or the lack thereof, in my flat. They said to come over and bring my laptop since they live next door and the access point is in their flat. Had a cup of coffee with them and learned that they are local to Jerusalem and have been here since the 60’s when Israel was at war with Egypt and then Jordan. Fascinating discussion! My laptop sort of worked while I was there and I took it back to my flat, but then it didn’t work. Before I left to explore the city, I stopped by and asked if they could have another look while I was out and about.

I walked down to the Damascus Gate which was about a 15 minute walk from the flat. I took some pictures (posted on Instagram) before I went into the city. When I got through the gate I immediately entered the Muslim Quarter and the shops. I had no idea that the Old City shops were so extensive. The paths through the hundreds of shops (not exaggerating) went on seemingly forever. I just kept walking for at least 45 minutes and was overwhelmed by the variety of goods offered at each shop. After awhile I needed to get out of the shops and into an open space.

I wanted to see the West Wall (and learned that it is not to be referred to as the “Wailing Wall”). There were some signs that pointed the way, but I still got turned around in the maze of shops because they are mostly underground. Finally I caught a glimpse of the West Wall. The short story of the West Wall is that it is all that remains of the second temple and the Dome of the Rock was built over this Jewish temple. I’ll have to visit the Dome of the Rock tomorrow since it was closed today.

I had forgotten that Jewish men and women do not pray together here. Similar to Muslims. Each has their own entrance and section of the Wall. I wandered around the plaza that faces the Wall before I left to find the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

It didn’t take as long to find the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. But I did need to go through another maze of shops, both through the Jewish and Christian Quarters, to get there.

It was easy enough to get into the church, but I had no idea what I was looking at. There wasn’t a guide available and nothing was clearly marked. I could only guess what I was looking at. I decided, after looking around, that I’d better return tomorrow and have a guide map on my phone to show me what to see.

I walked by several other churches that are located within the Old City. Several denominations of Christian churches, Orthodox churches, etc. So much of the Old City has been built and re-build over the last two thousand years. There are some ruins that are still being explored, but much of the Old City looks like it was built in the last 200 years or so.

From the Church of the Holy Sepulchre I walked toward the Jaffa Gate. More shops to walk through to get there. Somehow along the way I managed to walk through a semi-residential area which was a nice change of pace. Then came to an opening to the Tower of David, also know as the Jerusalem Citadel and the Jaffa Gate. Maybe I’ll go into the Tower of David tomorrow.

By this time I was completely overwhelmed by what I had seen over the past four hours. And also a bit hungry. After sitting down and collecting my thoughts, I found a McDonald’s somewhat nearby. The walk there would take me through another section of the city. (This was my justification for going to McDonald’s.)

There have been a few light rain showers while I’ve been out and about, but no downpours like last night. The late afternoon was turning out to be quite decent. I enjoyed walking near to Mount Zion and past Mitchell Park. By the time I reached McDonald’s I was getting a little warm. I was wearing a sweater and my rain parka since rain was in the forecast and the temperature was in the 50’s.

The McDonald’s was located in a cinema / entertainment complex. And it was a kosher restaurant. My Big Mac wasn’t served with cheese, but it tasted somewhat like a Big Mac but it filled my belly. It was the only McDonald’s in Jerusalem open on the Sabbath.

Since it was a very long walk back to the flat I took a taxi. I looked for a taxi that appeared to be part of a large taxi company and figured it was “legal” and I wouldn’t be charged a fortune to get to where I was going.

The taxi that picked me up had two men in the front. I didn’t ask why there were two men, but when they saw the address there was much discussion on how to get there. The fare they quoted was about $10 so I thought that was reasonable and they got me to my location much quicker than Google said I would. As a result, I gave them 2 NIS as a tip.

When I returned to the flat, I went next door and asked the Airbnb host about the status of the WiFi. He said someone would be around later to fix. I was surprised they could find someone on the Sabbath to fix the WiFi. I got the impression he knew who to call and it would be okay.

After I woke from a nap I discovered I had no more credit on my phone and didn’t have a Internet connection and no way to top up to restore service. I walked to the nearby hotel and used their WiFi again to get online. I was starting to add up in my head how much it was going to continue to cost me to have Internet as I roam around, not only in Jerusalem, but also when I visit Jordan and Lebanon. Oh well, I’ve saved so much money on the Internet and phone costs (about $30 per month) that it was time that I pay up.

WiFi service was restored at about 9:30 p.m. and I was happy and grateful that the problem was easily fixed. Now is the time I wished that I had a good book to read to pass the time. I watched “The Orville” a sci-fi show produced in the U.S., before I went to bed. While watching the program I warmed up a couple of hamburgers in the flat’s microwave that I ordered earlier at McDonald’s.

Tomorrow I’ll return to the Old City and to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, visit the Temple of the Rock, the Tomb of David, and perhaps Mount Zion. Yes, I’ll probably order the same meal from McDonald’s. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not much into exploring new foods while traveling.


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