Random thought: I have no idea why the game, "Musical Chairs" is called, "Trip to Jerusalem" in my country.
Now that that's out of the way... YES I made it to Jerusalem! :)
After working/volunteering at the Overstay Hostel for a full week, I decided to spend my day off in Jerusalem with my new friend, Fernando. Jerusalem is about an hour away from Tel Aviv by bus - not too bad!
I was looking forward to finally visiting that place for a few reasons... First, is because my father really wanted me to see it. When I spoke to him about my plans to travel the world, he specifically said to me - "Go to Israel and visit the Holy Land". My dad is probably the most traveled person I know... and if out of all the countries he's visited in his lifetime, The Holy Land is what he chooses to recommend to me, then it must be good. I was raised Catholic, and my dad is quite religious... so it's nice to see this trip as a way to honor him and his wish for me to see it.
Second is because of the Western (Wailing) Wall. Someone once told me that the wall is "magic" - and I completely understood what he meant. For thousands of years, people pray on that wall... The energy that surrounds it must be so powerful, I wanted to feel what it's like to be enveloped by that power.
And lastly... I guess because the stories about Jesus was such a big part of my childhood and the way I was raised... I was really curious and eager to walk the same footsteps as the Greatest Man Who's Ever Lived.... If that.
My first impression was that it was completely different from Tel Aviv, and that it was beautiful. The views were spectacular, the walls of the Old City made it look like a fortress or a castle... and we all know how I love castles... :) So I was pleasantly surprised...
The Market is quite colorful as well... The stalls were adorned with jewelry, clothes and Middle Eastern merchandise, which made going through those little cobble stone alleys all the more interesting!
THE WAILING WALL
Everything they say about The Wall is true. The energy over there is different. I don't know why I thought it was going to be happy energy though... I guess I assumed people went there more with thoughts of hope, which is a positive energy. I assumed wrong... because as soon as I stepped foot in the vicinity of the wall, the feeling I felt wasn't happiness but heaviness. Like there was a weight that pulled on my chest all of a sudden.
Phewww it was a little rough... But I managed to get close enough to the actual wall to say my own petitions, and observe the women who were praying there.
It was a little disappointing to see people with their IPads and Iphones, some even chatting on their phones - right next to the women "wailing" at the wall. I guess I just thought the place would be a little more solemn... you know, "holier" than what I saw. Then again, Jerusalem has become such a touristy city, I really shouldn't have been surprised. I couldn't help it though...
Nevertheless, I said my petition, walked backwards (as a sign of respect) the way I saw the other women do, and went on my way.
CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE
This was one of the highlights of Jerusalem for me. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is defined as the place where Jesus was crucified, and where his tomb was. It's a beautiful and huge church... probably one of the best ones I've ever visited in any country. Not necessarily for its beauty -- more for it's authenticity. There were hallways and several floors of stone that made the church seem more like an underground city... It was pretty eerie, actually... Priests were chanting around every few minutes... Nuns were following them around as they bless different corners... It felt like we had no business being there at some point.We did get to see all the things we needed to see though... It took us nearly an hour, but it was an hour well spent.
|Underneath the altar is the exact location, and supposedly the remaining rock that was left|
from where Jesus was crucified.
|This is supposedly where Jesus' body was laid when he died from the cross|
|Getting in on the action|
THE HOLOCAUST MUSEUMThe Yad Vashem is the world's largest repository of information regarding the holocaust. That is not an exaggeration... It is huge, and it is borderline information overload... BUT you get in for free, and it is amazing. You can spend an entire day going through that museum... I spent a couple hours and I was exhausted. It had incredible information though, and I managed to sneak a few photos (they said no pictures but everyone had their cameras!)
|These are the shoes of the Jews who were killed during the holocaust|
Jerusalem was amazing... It's a great city and I'm really glad I went. It's probably the one city in Israel that stands out to me - and I didn't even have enough time to explore it all.
Maybe next time - I'll go back, do another round of Jerusalem... then head over to Bethlehem and Nazareth too.
I DID manage to swim in the Dead Sea though... watch out for details and photos on my next post. :)