Day 2 (10/07/2011)   Jerusalem


  We will walk across Jerusalem’s Old City. We need to know what places of our highlights list will be closed tomorrow because of Yom Kippur, in order to visit them today.

   The “must-do” list for these two days is:

Jerusalem's Old City map

0- Lutheran Ghesthouse
1- Jaffa Gate, tower of David in citadel
2- Holy Sepulchre
3- Via Dolorosa
4- Damascus Gate
5- Notredamme (Holy Shroud exhibition)
6- Temple Mount
7- Zion Mount
8- Mount of olives

   We guess Christian spots will be opened Yom Kippur day and we will be able of visiting them, so this day we would visit Mount of Olives (because we can use a taxi), from which we would do the way down to Lions’ Gate by walking. Willing Wall and asking about when we’ll be able to go inside Temple Mount would be for this day too as well as visiting citadel.


   This place is a religion mess: from bed I’ve heard Muslim prayer call from a nearby minaret and, some minutes later, bells chiming from a church.

   The hotel is fantastic, though. We have the whole Jerusalem’s Old City at hand, as you can see in this video:

   We haven’t completely recovered from yesterday’s tiredness, so we put a foot in the street not sooner than 10:00h after breakfast. Streets are looking a lot different than last night, when all the people were Jewish wearing their black jackets and trousers with white shirts and, some of them, wearing a black hat too. This morning the people are tourist and city is far less crowded than yesterday. Bazaar to Jaffa Gate is showing all its colors now. Just before the Gate itself we can find Tourism Office where we get information and maps. Then we exchange money at a lot better price than the airport in an office at same street and go to our first visit of the day: The citadel..

Jerusalem's Old City streetJaffa Gate

   Well, it’s closed and it will be closed tomorrow too: visit is over. We go out from Old City through Jaffa Gate and follow the wall to North. I must confess my idea about Jerusalem’s Old City distances was wrong and it is quite smaller than I thought, so everything is closer to us.

   We go into Notre Damme for taking a look to their permanent exhibition about Shroud of Turin. A few people must come to here because we are completely alone. When I say “completely” I’m meaning every letter: no doorman, guards… absolutely no one!. I switch on the lights for a better look of the objects and I even feel free for taking off the sheet covering Christ bronze sculpture based on the Holy Shroud relief. An exact lithography from the holy cloth presides the room and, along it, related objects replicas as the crown of thorns, whips and… by the nails of Christ!... there were… well, the nails.

Old City's West WallHoly Shroud exhibition

   We leave the place for going back to the Old City through famous Damascus Gate. Police and military men are guarding a fence blocking access to the gate and in a discussion with some people. At the moment they see we’re tourist, we’re allowed to pass through with no word.

Damascus GateArab market after Damascus Gate

   This gate goes into Muslim quarter and the first you can find after it is an Arab market. Every single inch of both street sides is occupied by small stores. We take a fresh grenadine sorbet and buy some trinkets. The charm of this place comes basically from the environment: stone streets and walls with arches here and there. After a long walk, in time more than distance, we meet security control for willing wall. I didn’t even know it was here!

   Bags go through scanner and us through metal detector. It doesn’t beep with my pocket full of coins, it beeps to my father, though, but agent doesn’t mind about it and let pass all of us in. These military men are armed and around the whole city. They can be intimidating but are not looking that stern expression in their face as you could expect, they’re radiating kindness and friendliness instead.

   Willing wall is just in front of us: a wide part is only for men and a quite narrower part is only for women. I go to my side and take a kippah from a big container and put it on my head as must be done here. Then I present my respects to the wall and come back. My mother does the same at her side.

Willing WallArab sweets

   We exit from the Wall zone by the opposite side we entered and go up some stairs looking for good views to Willing Wall and Dome of the Rock, which we find. We’re in Jewish quarter now.

   After some walk on these quiet and polite streets we end the closest we can be from Dome of the Rock. Military guards keep saying they’re sorry, but we’re not allowed to pass through that big and ancient door, we must try on Monday. I answer Monday we’re not going to be in the city and one of them ask me the camera and go inside, some seconds later he appears and give the camera back to me with some beautiful pictures of the Dome. That’s what I meant when talking about their kindness.

Temple Mount viewsJewish quarter

Dome of the Rock from the doorDome of the Rock from inside

   Picture at left shows the closest you can see Dome of the Rock without going into Temple Mount, right picture is one of the military man ones.

   Now is lunch time. We choose an Armenian restaurant which name is, showing off their laziness, “Armenian restaurant”. The first guy in there gets enthusiastic about Barcelona when knowing we’re from there and show a lot of pictures from his iPhone to us: Cathedral, World Trade Center, Ramblas… typical places from our city from just two weeks ago. He tells us is going to come back this month to watch a football match. Can you see? It seems this Palestinian from Jerusalem is going to Nou Camp stadium more often than me! The other guy, who takes notes about what we order and fill our table up with dishes full of different stuff, loves Catalonia too, but is a Real Madrid supporter, poor man.

   We’ve ordered two plates of grilled chicken for my parents and one kebab I-don’t-know-what for me and a mix of both things for Eva. With this come some shared dishes with a cucumber salad, hummus, a sort of eggplant hummus too, one with chopped tomato, one with purple cabbage, another one with chukrut, 6 pita bread pieces and maybe I’m missing something. Including drinks, we pay 220 shekels (44€).

   After the banquet we feel a bit sleepy. We go to the hotel for a nap in order to get the sleep we missed back.

   And our journey is barely over here, just a small walk to take some pizza portions for dinner (13 shekels per portion) close to Jaffa Gate, which looks the opposite than its last night version.