We were up at 6:30, walked 5 minutes from our hotel to Istanbul’s 2nd Airport on the Asian side where we landed last night. As you would expect our flight was delayed, but eventually we landed in Tel Aviv and opted for a taxi to Jerusalem (not the cheapest but the simplest and easiest). I had selected a hotel that was described as having a great location, which it did. It was just a 2 minute walk to the Damascus gate and all the sites of
the Old City of Jerusalem. As we exited the airport on the one hour drive our taxi driver called the hotel to confirm the direction and location. Bam… A problem, our driver could not understand why we would stay in the area where our hotel was located (like I know what the hell I was doing when I picked it). We were not in Israel 10 minutes and already we could see and feel the tension surrounding this place. Our driver was Israeli and we were apparently staying in an Arab section of the city. Let’s just say Jake got an hour long one sided view, history lesson and some political insight all for the price of a taxi ride that was later offset by another view point and then another. We remained diplomatic and arrived at our hotel safe and sound.
We pass through Herod’s Gates into the city of Jerusalem and the Moslem Quarter. The streets came to life with markets selling everything and filled with crowds of people and restaurants. Before passing the check point into the Western Wall we had a late lunch in a great restaurant sampling several skewers of meats and some strong coffee.
We attempted to enter the Temple Mount, but had miss that days limited visiting hours (more on this later). After passing through a check point we approached the Western (“Wailing”) Wall as we did several more times during our stay. As we passed through the check point this time we watched a guard take a large knife from someone and the interaction that followed was a show into itself. We saw visitors stream to the Wall to pray and to take photographs all hours of the day and night.
From our time at the Wall and a view of the Temple Mount we made our way to the 14 Stations of the Via Dolorosa, ending at the Holy Sepulcher Church. Via Dolorosa (way of the cross) is a street believed to be the path that Jesus walked with the cross on the way to his crucifixion. It is marked by the fourteen Stations of the Cross with the last five stations being at the Church. We walked with and around groups of people caring a large cross as they walked in the path of Jesus, which made the experience even more impactful. To be honest we did have to read and review the story behind each of the stations.