Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Visiting Israel: Jerusalem (Part 2)

To all that celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a wonderful holiday! I'm back in Chicago after spending Thanksgiving week in Pittsburgh. The visit was fun but also quite hectic!

I am picking up from where I left off with my Israel travel recaps. (If you missed the earlier posts, here's my Israel arrivalTel Aviv recap, and Jerusalem Part 1).

Ready for a gazillion pictures?

For our second day in Jerusalem, Adam and I got a private guide named Madeleine for an 8-hour walking tour of the Old City. Madeleine was an unending wealth of information. Her expertise gave us a ton of insight into what we were seeing from a historical, philosophical, and religious perspective.

Unless I wrote about 20 posts, I couldn't begin to describe in words everything we covered that day. So here's a photodump of highlights:

View of the Old City from the Mount of Olives

Mount of Olives graveyard

Beautiful domed ceiling at the Basilica of the Agony

Church of Assumption - the ceiling was adorned with hundreds of these intricate lamps

Sign in the Old City displaying Arabic guidelines on appropriate/inappropriate dress

Tomb of Jesus at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (sorry for the bad lighting)

Festival of Sigd (an Ethiopian Jewish holiday) gathering near the Western Wall 

Western Wall archaeological ruins

View of the the men's side of the Western Wall (and a group of Israeli military posing for a picture) as seen from the walkway to the Temple Mount

The Dome of the Rock

View of the Mount of Olives and the Church of Magdalene from the Temple Mount

The gorgeous designs on the Dome of the Rock

The Yohanan Ben Zakkai Synagogue

Spice market with incredibly affordable prices - I bought coriander, turmeric, and cardamom and made out like a bandit!

Arab carpet store
If an 8-hour walking tour sounds overwhelming and exhausting, I'm going to wholeheartedly confirm that it WAS. We tracked well over 15,000 steps during the tour! As spent as I was afterwards, it was totally, completely worth the effort. The experience of seeing and learning about so much living history is unparalleled.

Other thoughts/notes:
  • Multiple times each day, we heard the Muslim calls to prayer reverberating throughout the city. It was an ethereal, haunting tone. All the Arab-run businesses closed down during the prayer times.
  • Most of the restaurants in Jerusalem are kosher. Since kosher dietary laws prohibit the simultaneous consumption of meat and dairy, many restaurants only serve one or the other. However, we did see restaurants which served both. Those restaurants had two separate menus and the seating areas were split down the middle. Upon arrival, customers informed the hostess what they wanted to consume, then were seated accordingly on the appropriate side. From what I understand, kosher guidelines would also require those restaurants to have two separate kitchens and two separate storage facilities.
  • Shabbat was an interesting experience. From sundown Friday to sundown on Saturday, nearly everything closed down and the streets were almost completely empty. As sundown approached on Friday night, we saw many locals rushing to get home.
  • Since very few restaurants were open during Shabbat, Adam and I went to Machane Yehuda, the local Jerusalem marketplace, to stock up on food in advance. Here are some pictures: 
Copious amounts of dates, nuts, dried fruits, and spices at this shop
The locals perusing the selections
Israeli graffiti
  • A friend of Adam's family, Ellen, invited us to her home for Shabbat dinner on Friday night. It was such a treat to spend the evening with her, her four amazing children, and two of their awesome friends. The conversation included fascinating details about life in Israel. There was also enough food to feed a small country! Many, many, many thanks go out to Ellen for her tremendous kindness, generosity, and helpfulness.
  • On Saturday, Adam and I visited Yad Vashem, which is a museum and memorial dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust. While growing up, I had learned about the Holocaust in history class, of course. Visiting Yad Vashem made me realize that as a child, the history lessons didn't resonate with me. As an adult, my understanding and sorrow were much greater in magnitude. It was heartbreaking to learn about the horrors and cruelty.
  • We weren't allowed to take pictures inside Yad Vashem so here's a photo from their Facebook page:
Source
  • I went for two runs in Jerusalem's very hilly terrain during Shabbat. During my first run, I wandered through some neighborhoods near my hotel. On my second run, I went to Sacher Park, which is a beautiful public park dedicated to English Zionist Harry Sacher. Both runs were terrific in allowing me to observe the locals going about their everyday lives.

I could easily write several other posts about Jerusalem! In summary, it is an absolutely stunning city with so much depth and so much resonance. I could have spent a month there and still barely scratched the surface.

Coming up soon: One more Israel travel post about Masada and the Dead Sea.

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Linking up with LaurenVanIsabel and Marcella for Wanderful Wednesday; with Chris and HeatherLaurenAshleyAmanda and Brian, and Carolann and Macrae for Weekend Wanderlust; and with LynArnie and JoSally-AnnAnda, and Anisa and Katherine for The Weekly Postcard.  

36 comments:

  1. Wow! Those are some pretty cool pics. Sounds like an awesome experience. That's great you got a few runs in even after walking that far on a tour one of the days. I would have called that enough.

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    1. Thank you so much! I definitely thought about skipping the runs! I hadn't run in over a week, though, and I had some races coming up on the calendar that I needed to prep for. It's amazing how much these races can keep us going, yes?

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  2. Love seeing all of the photos! Old architecture like that is always so fascinating to me!

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    1. Thanks Alexandra! Me too - I am amazed at how cleverly designed the old architecture was back before they had computers and so many other tools to help out!

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  3. I love all the pictures! I said this before, I get chills seeing all of it :)
    Very interesting stuff is open on the Sabbath... the cultural differences are so interesting. Very cool you got to experience a Shabbat dinner.
    I think I would have loved the walking tour. It sounds like the perfect way to experience the city.

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    1. Thanks Karen! YES on the chills, and the Shabbat experience was quite an eye-opener in terms of the different cultural norms. The walking tour was EXHAUSTING - Jerusalem is very hilly and the old city has lots of staircases - but there's truly no better way to see the sights than by foot!

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  4. Love, the pics. Who knew that Jesus's tomb was in a church there!? Ah yes the good ol' Dome of the Rock. Must see it in person and not only on the wall of Salam! Anyway, did not realize that Shabbat was such a big deal there with the whole city shutting down. Wow! It would be hard for me to decide between the dairy side of the restaurant and the meat side. Maybe I could reserve a table on each side, then walk between them whenever I wanted a bite of steak or a bite of cheese! :)

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    1. Thanks Pete! I was really stunned to learn about the historical significance of so many artifacts around literally every corner in Jerusalem. I'd heard Shabbat was a big occurrence but didn't realize just how big it is until I walked outside to nearly a ghost town! And yes - it was a very tough decision to decide which side of the restaurant to go with! It was nearly impossible to find any restaurants that served cheeseburgers there!!! =D

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  5. Wonderful pictures. The details on the Dome of the Rock are amazing. Did you see other people out running? I'm curious if it is a popular activity there for men and women.

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    1. Thanks HoHo! You know, it's funny - in Tel Aviv, there were a ton of folks out running or on their bikes along the beachfronts. But in Jerusalem, I saw very few people running, and the only bikers were those who were using their bikes for transport. No fitness bikers anywhere! Maybe everyone there was just as intimidated by the hills as I was? =D

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  6. Can you even believe that you were there? Your pictures are amazing. What a wonderful trip!

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    1. Thanks Wendy! It does seem very surreal, even after having some time to reflect!

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    1. Thanks Natalie! I am loving hearing all the details about your impromptu European visit, too!

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  8. It looks beautiful! My twin sister & her husband are Jewish orthodox and keep kosher. Shabbat is actually a wonderful family time. My sisters neighborhood (west Rogers park) basically shuts down & you see lots of people walking to synagogue on Friday & Saturday.

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    1. Thanks Sara! I can definitely see how Shabbat is a wonderful family time - it seems like the focus is just to relax at home and spend quality time with your loved ones. I could get used to a weekly practice like that. =) Ah yes, I knew many folks who grew up in Rogers Park and observed Shabbat. I've heard the neighborhood has changed a lot over the years so it's cool to hear that those traditions still hold true there!

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  9. Oh wow these pictures are simply breath taking! I can not even imagine seeing all this in person!

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    1. Thanks Tricia! I'm still trying to process everything even after a few subsequent weeks!

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  10. Your photos are amazing! How lucky you are to visit the Old City. We would love to visit Jerusalem someday!

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    1. Thank you so much, Denise! Please do visit Jerusalem someday - the locals are very appreciative of visitors and the sights are so spectacular!

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  11. Simply beautiful and I love reading about your trip!

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  12. I have always wanted to visit Jerusalem but unfortunately due to some political situation, I haven't managed to get there yet so I read your post with much interest. I never knew about kosher so that was a fascinating lesson to learn, as was the tomb of Jesus .. I had to google that to find out more! Brilliantly written, thank you so much for sharing your story and information with us. #weekendwanderlust

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    1. Thank you so much!!! I know the political situation in Israel sounds scary, but the news outlets make it sound a lot worse than it is. I never knew much about kosher traditions, either, so it was a great learning experience! Thank YOU for hosting the link-up - I am loving reading all the contributions!!!

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  13. Great pictures, what an amazing trip. And yes I can imagine an 8 hour tour would be exhausting, but definitely sounds like it would be worth it! Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard

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    1. Thank you so much, Anisa! The unbelievable thing was that 8 hours didn't even scratch the surface. You literally could have spent months there studying the history on a daily basis, and still have so much left to cover! Thank you for hosting the linkup!

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  14. Jerusalem seems like such a great experience! The ornaments and decorations on the Dome of the Rock are so beautiful...

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    1. Thank you, Anna! The Dome of the Rock was really spectacular. It's shocking to realize how much intricate detail went into the ornaments. I can only imagine how much time it must have taken!

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  15. Beautiful photos of Jerusalem! I got accepted to Birthright last year but had to defer since I'm living here in Chile now. I plan to apply again though as soon as I'm home! Looks like you had a LONG and action packed day :D

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    1. Thank you, Lauren! How awesome that you got accepted to Birthright - hopefully you'll be able to apply again and go in the very near future. Living in Chile is a great reason to defer. =)

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  16. I loved your photos, they really bring Jerusalem to the reader. I didn't know that kosher restaurants had to be either dairy. The restaurant that had both would have been a fascinating experience.

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    1. Thank you so much, Jim! It was a very interesting learning experience to witness the kosher practices in person! And by the time I came home, I was craving a cheeseburger like you wouldn't believe. =) BTW - what is your blog URL? Your Google+ profile doesn't include any kind of website for you.

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  17. I'm bookmarking your post because I'm planning to to to Israel next spring for the TBEX meeting. Great information. Thanks for joining us for #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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    1. Thank you for bookmarking! You are going to have an amazing experience in Israel! Where in Israel are you planning to go? I am super excited for you! Thanks for hosting the linkup!!!

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