- 4 Feb 2008 6:03 AM
The tourist guide that drove the minibus to Jerusalem was more than ready to accept tips, and he was worth the money. In fact all the tour guides I came into contact with were highly educated who were proud of their heritage and conveyed there love of the Holy Sites in a manner that was both fascinating and friendly.
Jerusalem proved to be everything I anticipated and so much more. It took only an hour by road to get there from Tel Aviv, which felt like no time at all since our guide briefed us all the way there about what we would see and experience.
Once there we started with a walking tour of the old town, which began appropriately enough it seemed from Jaffa Gate. Advice worth passing on is that the worst times to do such a tour are Shabbat, Muslim holidays, on Friday, or after 3pm when the Dome of the Rock is closed.
Inside the gate we went down David Street to Suq El Hussor, a former bazaar which is now a small market that still sells rustic examples of local olive twig baskets. From there we found Cardo, the restored and renovated section of Roman and Byzantine Jerusalem's main street, which is now filled with stylish modern stores.
As we moving on I grabbed a bite to eat, some gorgeous Arabic bread fresh from a bakery on the Jewish Quarter Road beyond the Hurva Synagogue.
The present day Jewish Quarter, build up on a hill opposite the Temple Mount, was the aristocratic part of Jerusalem in Herodian times. Anyone could easily wander the streets of this beautifully reconstructed area for hours, pressed for time our guide moved us on, this time to the Crusader Church of Saint Mary and then the Western Wall.
Built by Herod the Great more than 2,000 years ago, the retaining wall for the western side of the Temple Mount is well known as the holiest place of prayer in Jewish tradition. It was an amazing experience to simply watch the proceedings there, soldiers watched over the masses, yet despite (or because of them as some would say) there was an incredible sense of calm and serenity.
After half an hour at the Wailing Wall our guide took us along Via Dolorosa, the route Jesus is said to have walked to his crucifixion. I won’t describe the journey we took in details, instead I would recommend anyone, of any faith or religious belief, to walk this way for themselves.
Following all the walking our guide lead us back to the minibus for a drive around Jerusalem. He showed us the Dome of the Rock, Mt Zion, Mt of Olives, before dropping us off at a pre-paid hotel in Jerusalem which was part of the tourist program we arranged from Tel Aviv.
Click here for part 3
By Scott Daniels for XpatLoop.com
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