The first evening in Jerusalem and at the end of Day 5 (what I labeled the travel day) brought the first opportunity to do what I call “wander”. When you get in a big city, instead of staying at the hotel, a person needs to get with some of his friends and wander. No agenda, no structure, just go find cool stuff. I recall after we had dinner at the hotel, I insisted we go wander about (or “walk about” for Crocodile Dundee fans). There was some hesitation at first, it took about an hour of me nagging Phil, Bart and Clinton. I think I nagged Phil the most (as he was my roommate). He gave in and we went wandering. We had no agenda, didn’t know where we were going, just looking for something cool. Off in the distance we say some shiny lights, so that was our first destination.
As we were walking along, we joked about being mugged (seriously, some people back home would have wondered?!) About the time we said something, we came across an interesting piece of art. It was a figure standing face first in the wall. Clinton joked, if we get mugged, we’ll end up like him. Here is a good shot.
After our first laugh, it was kind of refreshing doing stuff spontaneously. Dr Williams tour was very well structured and planned out. Seriously, being on a trip with a tour guide that has been doing it for over 50 years and been to Israel 152 times, there wasn’t too much he didn’t know. It was the most amazing time just sitting back and listening to him tell story after story. I don’t recall many of the details in-depth, seriously someone would have to tape them and broadcast them. Stacy Hall had a recorder and I believe captured most of Dr Williams formal presentations when we got to a sight. That footage is priceless if you are going into ministry.
Anywho, we wandered about a mile and came upon this really cool place. Later we learned it was the Notre Dame Hotel, it’s where people from the Vatican stay when they come to Jerusalem, or so they say. I asked our tour guide from Israel if that was Jewish!? She laughed, wanted to strangle me for asking her a silly question, its Catholic you silly boy she answered.
After visiting our first destination, we headed to the Old City and Jaffa Gate. This was also known as the “Hebron” gate, which lead to Hebron (an ancient city mentioned in the in the bible). As we walked into the gate, we noticed a map split into 4 quarters, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Armenian. I didn’t have any expectations about Jerusalem. It’s surreal realizing you are in a modern city that really is the capital of the world. The city has so much history and how things have come about, you have to just take it in.
View of the old city from Jaffa Gate
It was interesting to see a map labeled, Christian Quarter. Just thinking for a second, in the states we try to break down barriers (or so we think) stating everyone is equal. Here I was standing, based on religion a person would live or do business. I don’t know all the particulars, I learned the 6 day war in 1967 helped shape the modern layout of the Old City. I’d suggest visiting your favorite search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo) and doing some research on the 6 day war. It helps a person understand more about certain things about modern day Jerusalem
While standing at the map looking, a guy came up and introduced himself. His name was Gideon, he was in Israel for 10 days visiting his mother. His father had passed away 6 months prior and he was over helping out. It was fun to sit and talk with Gideon. Some fun facts he shared, he has been a cab driver in New York for 41 years. Did you know there are 6 million or so Jews in New York? I asked him who his most interesting person he ever gave a ride to, his answer was Jaclyn Kennedy Onassis. He gave a ride to her in the 70’s. He also gave a ride to Muhammad Ali. Gideon shared he was in the 6 day war and was part of the artillery unit. We talked for probably about 20 minutes (it seemed longer). At this point, we headed back to the hotel and got some rest.
I’m going to split up the blogging for Jerusalem a little bit, there is SO much to see and I took a fair amount of pictures, I’m going to do my best to show and explain the different areas we went. The first evening in Jerusalem was an interesting one to say the least. After the first nights success of “wandering”. I didn’t have to convince others what to do after we got back from the normal guided tour. We had a crowd of 10 – 12 people the second day, the third night, I stayed at the hotel because I was real tired. Some liked the lack of structure, some weren’t so comfortable with it. It was fun to just go wander, it’s not like we could get lost, the city is like 3 miles in diameter. J More to come about Jerusalem!