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Published: April 20th 2006
In the tunnels
The tour of the tunnels pf the Western Wall was very comprehensive and well done.
Walking the Stations of the Cross while hearing the Muslim call to prayer, stepping out of the Armenian quarter and into the Jewish quarter in a few quick steps, so much diversity into such a small area. Settling in and moving slow, travelling with six it would be theme that not all of us would make it to our chosen destination. Food seemed to be a reason for it, Israel has amazing food, it lead me off in strange directions constantly. Two pints of fresh strawberries for five shekels, (1.10us,) the supposed best soup you have ever tasted, felafel and sharwma sandwiches at every turn. Best of all, the real Israeli hummus is so good and creamy, what ever they have in the States, its not hummus.
Fumbling our way to the Western Wall and visions of cheese? on some peoples minds, Gavin, Aaron and I went on a search for some sharwma sandwiches while the others choose to get blitzed after not finding cheese but eating Cream of Butternut soup, loudly claimed best in the world. I don't think a day went by that we didn't walk the 2 ks to the soup restaurant only to find
Set the timer, place the camera on the floor and run away.
it closed, defeated. Taking a tour of the caves to the Western Wall was haunting, the better for the excellent presentations the tour guides give, the further down you go the older the wall. Then on the way up and out two reminders that this is modern day Jerusalem. First, a huge area closed off just outside the wall with a bomb robot poking and shooting a stray bag, then hearing a rough, (make that absurd) discourse from a 50 something woman from New Jersey on a 10 day tour hurling a half baked lecture as to what and why and how the present conflict should be handled. Embarrassed, I moved away while she snagged Gavin and Aaron who politely disagreed and pointed out flaws before she tossed up the hands and moved off. An observant Jew who lived near the West Bank and was standing near by gave us some cooling words, "Like many who come here and think they are apart of it, their opinions don't weigh till they live here for some length." Off to the bar and the first appearance of the duck. Few men can carry a grimy duck and get away with it, Aaron
Dome of the Rock
About the only site visitors aren't allow in, boo.
does it with the style of a single man and puppy. On our way home we walked past an elderly lady carrying sacks down a deserted corridor, we all grabbed one, to be nice, and discovered they weighed 25kg a piece. She was at least sixty-five, easily the toughest women I've met at that age.
To the search for soup and beer, two reoccurring themes in our time together. We spent the next day together off and on wandering the streets of the old city, visiting the cathedrals, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, food stands and the Christian quarter. We regrouped and made the trek to the soup restaurant and ended up torturing a lion and playing terrible hackysack. Later that night we were treated to several of Tim's songs played on Aaron's guitar. Tim is an enormous talent, he trained to be an opera signer for several years before deciding that he would spend his time in other ways including writing a book and several great songs.
The following day would see a nurse and a PHD sewer swim at 4:30 the morning in some of the coldest rain I've felt on this
Church of Holy Sepulcher.
Inside the site of Christ's last moments.
trip. I think it topped me jumping from the railing into the kiddy pool at Scott and Jessica's white trash party a few years back. Visits to the Mt. of Olives, Tomb of Mary, Church of Holy Sepulcher, we set off for the soup thinking the end of Shabbat means butternut goodness. No again, Mikes place instead, arriving at 5:30pm with eager bartenders, pitchers on special and amazing New York style pizza, it was a classic peal off late into the rain filled night out of absolute necessity of being at the limit. First Gavin, made it home, wet but direct. Tim, wandered lost in the Christian quarter for an unknown time, Aaron, also lost but I think he beat Tim back and then Stephen, Sarah and I who beat the bartenders at every known shot game they could think of. Flooding streets, arm in arm, walking past a fountain outside the old city wall, Stephen took a head first dive followed by Sarah. What is even better, banging on our hostel door they did the sweetest little dance I've picked up on video.
The day after the soup kitchen was open and the soup sucked. Too much build up,
three days hearing about it. More heavy cream than squash, it gave me the first bout of the lower GI mess since India. It was way too wholesome, fresh and sanitary for me.
Saying good bye, Stephen returned to Egypt not as smoothly as we left it and the five of us crowded into a bus with soldiers, guns and glasses on the way to Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee. Celebrating Gavin's and Tim's birthday, Sarah and I cooked up a tasty meal of pasta to prepare for our 65k ride around the Sea of Galilee of which two wouldn't make it. First stop, a massive, modern museum holding the remains of a very old boat, pretty much just a boat. Like a National Geographic special we sat through a video chronicling the discovery, removal and restoration of a fishing vessel dated to Christ's time. I was more put off by the kitchky use of His name to draw in tourists. The museum asks repeatedly, did he own it, did he ride on in it, did he see it? Hmm, spend money to say, not likely. Then to three impressive sites, Tabgha Church where Christ multiplied
Sneaky duck, drinking all the beer.
bread and fish to feed thousands, Mt Beatitudes where the Sermon on the Mount took place and then to Capernaum, home to Jesus during most of his ministry and where John, Andrew, James and Peter were fisherman. Rolling from there and with 50 or so ks to ride we took off and then realized that we had lost Aaron who managed to lose his key and ended up having to cut his lock. We lost Tim after lunch who rode some distance before realizing he left his helmet behind only to lose it again when he left it in the truck he hitched in.
After leaving the north of Israel we heading to Tel Aviv where I started my rather boring several days hunt for my bike and parts. Aaron was heading back to Jordan while Gavin and Sarah had a flight back to the UK where they work. On my flight to Greece I lugged my bike box to the bus station then to the airport, this marks the fourth time I've been to a city that was just bombed or bombed days after I left. My condolences to the victims.
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