The drive from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (the old city) was a short drive (1 hour) and with only one checkpoint dealing with armed soldiers. My destination for tonight was the American Colony Hotel. The Hotel is in East Jerusalem with two choices for quick entry into the old city, either Nablus Road or Salah Ed-Din. I went with Nablus today. The walk was through an East Jerusalem neighborhood was interesting and only a seven-minute walk. Along the way on the walk I passed St. Georges Cathedral and the US Consulate. On this road there were a few beggars, children in the street, looking for coins. Hard to say no to kids, I guess that is the point. There were also a couple of beggars at Damascus Gate; I think this is a name of a book. After going into the old city (The Muslim Quarter) I walked down the Bizarre on El-Wad Until I reached an observation point of the Western Wall, the Photo I placed on this blog post is from this point.
From here, and I was now in the Jewish quarter, I walked down through the armed security and bag searches to walk out to the Western Wall. Today was the Sabbath, a day of rest and worship for Jews and some Christians, because of this and the worship going on I took no pictures of me past the tourist points, as it is respectful and only one day each week. The walk back to the Hotel the first time (for a fast break) was interesting but by no means easy, one must be willing and able to fight off shopkeepers!
The Second time back into the old city I decided that I would go back into the old city via the Damascus Gate but my path was different this time. In addition to my different path was the huge amount of street based shops that opened up in the hour I was gone. But I do not want you to imagine that they were just selling Magnets and mugs, not by a long shot! They were selling:
- Tupperware Like Containers
- Nothing Touristy at all
Once in the old city I went from El-Wad to the Left up Via Dolorosa and was treated to a View of the Greek praetorium, Ecce Homo Basilica, and the Church of Our Lady of Spasm. I reversed myself and discussed the current Korean situation with a shopkeeper and headed back down Via Dolorosa and then a left back onto El-Wad. I took a quick right back onto Via Dolorosa for a quick view of the St. Veronica Chapel and I stopped before entering the Christian Quarter.
This for me is a pilgrimage, and for those of us that actually go to pilgrimages we find that perhaps it did not mean what we thought it would. It does make sense if you think about it; we grow, evolve and learn. So What has this trip done for me so far – well for me it is meaningful, as I have a removed taste of what it may have been like around 2000 years ago – as I walked down Via Dolorosa and drank my Ice cold water and was soaked in sweat – did I learn something. Perhaps, the suffering is something that none of us today can imagine!
I will continue my Pilgrimage tomorrow and go to several sites:
- The Mount of Olives a
- Enter the Old City through Jaffa Gate (Christian Quarter)
- Walk through the Jewish quarter to the recently excavated and restored Cardo (the Roman road)
- Visit the Wailing Wall
- The Church of the Holy Sepulcher
- Yad Vashem, a Holocaust memorial
- Bethlehem and Shepherd’s Field.
OK so, now back to actually being here, and yes, this was a much-needed break!