Travels with V

Israel

Travels with V

Israel

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tillbaka

A city divided, divine, unhealed

Jerusalem part one

Israel was the first country outside Europe where we travelled together, V and I. She was a kibbutznik in her youth, but I had never even considered going there. At that time my camera was a very small one, which can be practical in some situations. But the quality of the pictures I shot often wasn’t the best. So all the high quality pix in this story are shot by V, my super professional wife!

VIEW FROM THE CITADEL, GOLDEN DOME OF THE ROCK MOSQUE IN THE MIDDLE. MOUNT OLIVE TOP RIGHT.

Arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv you are met with an extremely high level of security. Many who work there carry guns and our luggage is x-rayed multiple times. But since this is business as usual here things still work smoothly for us when we arrive one very early morning. We’re quite soon out on the street wondering where to find the airport transfer to Jerusalem.

But of course. It’s Saturday morning and the Jewish Sabbath. So no airport bus today. Luckily there are Palestinian drivers with so called “sheruts”, mini vans leaving when the vehicle is full and letting us off one by one at our destinations.

So that way we get a good glimpse of Jerusalem’s outskirts and suburbs before we disembark as the last passengers on the sherut. We’re now in East Jerusalem, in the Palestinian quarters, just a stone’s throw from the city wall around the Old City.

There’s not a lot of guests at the Azzahra Hotel and we get a large room with a great balcony overlooking a flowering garden. The staff is super-friendly and the breakfasts, with olives, tomatoes, hummus, cheese and bread is so delicious!

ON OUR BALCONY

We walk directly to the city wall and enter the Old City via one of it’s famous eight gates, the Sha’ar HaPrahim (in Hebrew) or Bab al-Zahra (Arabic), both names meaning the “Flower Gate”. It’s also known as the “Herodes Gate”.

Inside there’s a labyrinth of narrow streets, roofed over bazaars and a neverending flow of people, vendors, tourists, worshippers and locals.Everywhere there are sweet smells of spices, fruits and textiles.

Often groups of people walk here along the route where Jesus is believed to have been marched carrying the cross, Via Dolorosa, the road of pains. We even saw groups carrying their own crosses through the crowded streets.

In the eastern part of Old Jerusalem the most conflict-ridden place in the city is found. The Temple Mount with the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock. By one side of the Mount is of course the Wailing Wall, the remains of the second Jewish temple. So the most holy places of the two religions are closest neighbours.

For Jews this wall is a constant reminder of the catastrophic loss of the Temple, for Muslims this is a sanctuary surrounded by its enemies, constantly in need of protection and defence. The political demands from extreme and conservative Jews to take full control of the Temple Mount is heard more often and louder by the day.

At the Wailing, or Western Wall, the open space is divided in three sections, the largest one in direct contact with the wall is for male believers, a smaller one beside it is for women. Tourists are restricted to a space some 50 meters away from the wall.

In the female space there are always groups of individuals standing on chairs to be able to peek into the men’s compartment. But not one man seems to be interested in what goes on in the female section.

ENTRANCE TO THE WAILING WALL

In the next chapter we do, after overcoming a certain amount of obstacles, enter the Temple Mount and see all the beautiful buildings and the activities of the believers up there.

Five things we liked in Israel:

  1. Hotel in Jerusalem: Azzahra. A very nice family hotel, not so expensive, but where you are met with the geatest hospitality..
  2. See in Jerusalem: The Old Town, a must. It’s a labyrinth of narrow bazaar streets, dotted with small cafés. And via Dolorosa runs through here. 
  3. Tempel mount, beautiful mosaics and old ruins.
  4. The Kibbutz Ein Gedi, a true green oasis in the hot and barren desert. Close for visits to the Dead Sea shore. 
  5. Eilat, though a little hesitant. It’s a tourist trap, yes, but because of it you’ll find lots of good bars and restaurants here. Amazing snorkelling in the Red Sea.
  6. Petra in Jordan, a place you just can’t miss if you’re anywhere near. Many travel agents in Eilat arrange tours. Make sure you have plenty of time to see it all in this great cave city.
Resebloggar finns det gott om men vi har en lite annan tanke med våra berättelser. Vi vill främst beskriva våra upplevelser av udda platser, människorna vi möter och miljöer som är rätt annorlunda mot vad vi möter hemma.

Därför hamnar vi ibland i avlägsna indianbyar i Guatemalas berg eller bland andetroende bybor på en ö i Indonesien. Men också på mer kända platser som Machu Picchu i Peru eller sandstränderna i Goa. Allt sett genom våra ögon och kameror.

Den som vill ha restips får också sitt - varje resmål har en avdelning med sånt vi kan rekommendera. Eller undvika. Vårt fokus är framför allt att sporra er läsare att göra som vi - resa rätt ut i den vida världen.