Monday, January 2, 2023

Amman, Jordan to Jerusalem, Israel, January 2, 2023

I had a terrible night.  I kept waking up because of dreams of missing the bus to Jerusalem in the morning.  I also had a 2 hour sleep yesterday afternoon and I didn’t get any exercise either.  What a difference that makes to a good night’s sleep.

So, I was awake before 5 - I certainly didn’t need an alarm and I was in a cab before 6.  The bus depot was only about 15 minutes away and I bought my ticket no problem.  The bus was about half an hour late which was ok because the depot was warm.  Soon we were on the road - me with my big blue backpack and the box containing my tent, sleeping bag, roll mat, small backpack and liner.  So the but took us to the Jordanian border.  We went in with our stuff, filled out a form, paid the exit tax which was $19 and left our passport with the worker.  We were told to go outside and get on the bus and luckily for me there was one seat left.  They wait until p they fill the coach before they go so it could have been a long wait. Total Jordanian costs: $76 to get in, $21 for the bus then $18 for the shuttle from the bus through no man’s land, and $22 for the shuttle to Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.  That’s $156 just on entrance/exit fees and transport.  Jeepers!

We had to show our passport a couple of times once through Jordan and then we got to Israel.  We had to get our luggage tagged just like at an airport, go through security and passport control, pick up our luggage and then try to get to Jerusalem.  I got on a shuttle with a family from Japan and we waited and waited for the small bus to fill up.  One man came along, then a woman with a baby and finally we decided to all chip in to purchase the last seat so we could leave.  We had already been waiting an hour.  

It took about 45 minutes to get to Damascus Gate which is near old town Jerusalem.  It was raining, I didn’t have any shekels so I couldn’t take a cab so I walked the mile to the hostel carrying the big box of camping gear and my backpack.  I made it in a sweat and then learned I couldn’t check in for a couple of hours so I taped the box up to get it ready to post and then discovered the sleeping bag was on the couch behind me!  So, I cut the box open and retaped.  Frick!  Then came the hard part - finding a post office.  Luckily it wasn’t far away but what a gong show there.  You’re supposed to make an appointment and for that you need a phone number which I don’t have.  So, I approached a window and got growled at - Israelis are not friendly!  The grump wrote a number on a paper for me and then the waiting began.  It took at least 30 minutes until my number was called but then the shipping process was easy and my camping gear is now on its way to home!

I returned to the hostal to check in.  There were already 3 in my room but I scored a bottom bunk!  That made my day!  Let the young ones sleep on top!  I decided it was far to early to stay in the room so I went walking.  Wow!  What a place!  I saw more in a couple hours than I saw for 2 months in the Gulf.  And that’s another thing-  I wasn’t travelling in the Middle East but in the Gulf.  Fine with me - call it what you like!

So I went walking along Jaffa street which is a commercial street with electric trams.  There were lots of shops but what ugly clothes!  They look a lot like things Hutterites would wear.  Dull and boring colours.  I kept walking and came to the Old Town.  Wow!  Unfortunately I know nothing about Jerusalem or its  politics.  I have 4 tours booked in the next 3 days so I’m hoping I won’t be so ignorant once they’re finished.

So Arabic is finished and now it’s Hebrew-

The only word I know is dough da which means thank you.

The sign-

I found the Old Town-

and entered by the New Gate-


into the Christian Quarter.  Finally some Christmas decorations-

The streets are so cool but most shops were closed because it was mid afternoon-

The Tower of David is an ancient citadel-

surrounded by a moat-

It contains remains of towers from the time of Herrod as well as constructions from the Roman, Ottoman, Islamic and Crusader periods.  Today it holds the Jerusalem History Museum.  

I kept walking-

and came across remains of an ancient Roman-Byzantine (also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire which was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces when the capital was Constantinople) road used as a major thoroughfare for shopping-

A synagogue-

A view of Jerusalem-

Then…. The Western Wall-

There’s a partition separating the men-

from the women-

The women bow and straighten as they say their prayers.  There are prayers shoved in the wall-

There are bookcases of Bibles so you can use one at the wall-

The Foundation Stone sits at the peak of Mount Moriah which is above the Western Wall.  According to tradition, the world was created from this stone, the binding of Isaac took place on it and King Solomon built the first temple which was later destroyed by the Babylonians.   After 70 years of exile, Jews returned to Jerusalem and built the second temple which was destroyed by the Romans.  The Jewish nation was exiled for a long time but they vowed to return.  Today, the wall is 488 meters long and is a place for Jews to come to pray and weep.  After the establishment of the state of Israel, the wall remained under the control of Jordan and Jews were forbidden access for 19 years.  In 1967 Jewish soldiers liberated the site and now it’s open to everyone.

After my turn praying at the wall, I continued on through the souq.  Red yarn-

is braided into talismans to ward off evil-

Yarmulkes, kippahs or koppels are traditionally worn by Jewish men to fulfil the customary requirement that the head be covered.  It’s worn by all men in Orthodox Jewish communities during prayers and by most Orthodox Jewish men all the time-

  Chess sets-

It’s so cool that a single shop will sell religious paraphernalia relating to Christians, Jews and Muslims-

There are such beautiful and imaginative nativity scenes-

Lovely dishes-

Bread for sale-

Udi is an Israeli painter who has opposing views to Banksy who is British.   Banksy is an Anti Israeli artist.  Udi’s two works are reactions to the left wing anti- Israeli propaganda by Banksy.  

“It will be met with flowers” is the wishes and dreams that the extreme radical Muslim terrorist organizations will change and that instead of bombs, they’ll have flowers and peace.  The painting on the right is called “ Do not give them guns so we do not need to build a wall” and it’s Udi’s reaction to the demand of the left that Israel should take away the security wall built between Israel and the territory where Muslim terrorists come from-

I found the Banksy work that’s being compared.  Here, a Palestinian shows  rage on his face as he throws a bomb of flowers.  This painting is/was in Jerusalem and speaks to street and campus riots of the 60s-

In Lost Innocence, Banksy is telling the world to hang on to hope-

Interesting comparisons….

I love this picture-

It’s made with layers of paper.  My Mom used to do this but I forget what it’s called-

As it got dark-

 the town came alive-

Jaffa gate-

and the walls-

The Tower of David with lights-

I bought a bottle of wine and sat in the lounge.  It’s a dance place- women dance with women and something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before - men dancing with men.  The music was all blues too.  It’s popular by the crowd but kind of weird.  All these young travellers are maybe experimenting a little bit and having a good time-

I had a great afternoon and am looking forward to my tour of the West Bank tomorrow!

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