We finally made it to Jerusalem! If it wasn’t for Ram’s doctor appointment I don’t know when we would have gone. He isn’t very fond of Jerusalem. Luckily for me he didn’t have much of a choice this time. After visiting Israel twice for about eight months total, it was about TIME I went! It’s only the most important city in Judaism, Islam and Christianity; one of which I was raised on.
It’s a tricky city to visit because it’s so unstable; which is the reason I hadn’t gone yet. The city attracts all sorts of radical people which is fascinating but also dangerous. The Old City is divided into four quarters; the Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Armenian quarters. As you probably know they aren’t all friends… oh did I mention the old city is only .35 square miles, so there isn’t much room to avoid your neighbors. While walking through the city we saw a big group of police officers stationed where the Jewish and Muslim quarters come together.
After Ram’s appointment (that went smoothly :)) we headed to the Old City. On our way we saw a man crossing the street, who I’m pretty sure thinks he’s Jesus… or he does reenactments. This guy looked exactly like paintings of Jesus I saw growing up; tall, skinny, white but with lightly tanned perfect skin, medium brown wavy hair to his shoulders and a big beard down to his chest. I got a kick out of him. I think Ram was more annoyed. Radical characters is the reason he doesn’t like to go to Jerusalem.
We entered the Old City by the Tower of David at the Jaffa Gate. A little ways through the gate, hidden off to the left, is a steep narrow stone stairs to the top of the wall that surrounds the city. The view from the wall was magnificent! Looking down we saw peoples old crooked crammed together houses, narrow cobblestone streets, locals and tourist walking about, and the most beautiful massive castle like churches. The whole city was in our view. I was most impressed by the gold dome of the Temple Mount. The dome was so bright and beautiful among all the white Jerusalem stone and the hazy desert in the distance.We were on the wall for about an hour and alone for most of it.
Once we got down off the wall around the Lions Gate we weaved our way through small cold stone alleys. Some of the alleys were packed with endless shops of clothing, scarves, purses, sandals, clay dishes, candles, incense, and spices. Some shop owners would say things like “right this way” or “this is the way” waving into their shop. A couple times men tried to become our tour guide by trying to led us into churches and telling us the history. Other times men just tried to give us pamphlets.
Weaving around the shop owners, tour guides and spiritual teachers we found ourselves in the Christian Quarter at the steps of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher or the Church of the Resurrection. It is believed that in this church is Jesus tomb, where Jesus was crucified and prepared for burial. Right when we walked in there was a big slab of stone on the ground with people falling on it, kissing it, praying on it, and one person even rubbed photos of loved ones on it. On the wall beyond the stone is a big mural depicting Jesus being cleaned after his death. The stone is believe to be the place Jesus was set on and cleaned after his crucifixion. Off to the right is a stairs leading to the site of Calvary or Golgotha and off to the left is a big room containing the chapel of Aedicule. The chapel contains the Holy Sepulcher, and has two rooms, one holding the “Angel’s stone” believed to be a piece of the stone that sealed the tomb and the other room is the tomb itself. The line to the tomb was so long that we didn’t go in. We already had such a long day and were starving! The Church was so HUGE that I think we could have spent two hours or more there.
Being in that church was overwhelming. There were so many people from so many places all praying. The church itself was so over the top with, paintings, candles, incense, music and priests. The energy in the whole Old City was electric and exciting. I can’t put my finger on it but I kind of felt like I needed to be running around screaming to let all the excited energy out. I wish you could all be there. I’ve never wished my family could be with me more. I want you all to see it with your own eyes and feel what it’s like to be there.
After the church we wondered around till we found a restaurant Ram wanted to try. It was Armenian food. It was okay, not great but, we ate our fill to survive the two hour drive home. We were EXHAUSTED but had a grand ol’ time! I was happy that Ram also enjoyed the visit :). There wasn’t nearly enough time to explore but we’ll be going back this week for Ram’s visa interview!!! On Wednesday we’re going to the US Embassy in Jerusalem for the interview! If everything goes smoothly Ram could be approved for a US green card this week!!! Wish us luck!
Oh… and I forgot to mention that our phones both died about ten minutes after arriving in the Old City so we couldn’t take pictures!!! I’ll share the few we got. Next visit we will take LOTS of pictures.