Travels with V
Israel & Jordan
The yummiest hummus in town
Jerusalem part three
Next to the South wall of the Old town we find the ruins of the City of David, which was originally a Canaanite settlement that the King David of bible renown conquered some 3 000 years ago (and the Israeli state seized from Jordan in the 1967 war and annexed to Jerusalem in 1980). There’s a museum here that tells the story of David’s campaign, and in the rock below us there are tunnels that were part of the settlement’s defence.
We choose the driest one of them and walk through it a couple of hundred meters and emerge on a slope above the valley of Kidron. There’s an olive tree here that looks like it’s a thousand years old.
On the opposite side of the valley the houses are so close to each other that it looks like one single tangled building.
Walking home from this adventure we are suddenly met by a rapid stream of black orthodox men with big hats and sidelocks. They arrive in buses and walk quickly across the streets and down towards the graveyards at Mount Olive.
It turns out to be a religious holiday celebrating the memory of a famous rabbi, and visiting his tomb on this day is supposed to bring good luck to the believers. The men in black all rush to a sort of stage and then they rush back. The all walk with huge steps like they were in a hurry, but orthodox men are never in a hurry, they don’t work, they spend all their time reading religious texts.
The women are not allowed to go near the tomb and the stage, they remain on the Old Town side of the valley, reciting prayers and slowly rocking back and forth.
Our hotel is in East Jerusalem, the Palestinian area, and the reason why we chose that is that it’s a much more lively part of the city. The streets are full of people and fruit stalls. In the Jewish quarters that we have seen the streets are empty, it’s quiet and quite boring. But sitting on our little veranda in the afternoon, resting our aching feet, there’s suddenly an explosion of sounds from all the mosques around calling to prayer.
A must-visit in Jerusalem is the big Mahane Yehuda Market with stalls selling every kind of food, fruit and spice imaginable. A fiest for both eye and nose. And sometimes there’s word fights between fruit vendors.
In a little square close to the market we find Azura, a restaurant said to serve the best hummus in Jerusalem. We’re not able to confirm this, but it’s extraordinary tasty, that’s for sure. We ask the owner for the recipe, but Moshe just shakes his head. –We don’t have one, we work with the eyes and the tasting buds, he says.
Some more pictures from Jerusalem, before we continue on our journey:
Next we head out into the desert and find a green oasis by a very salty lake.