Monday, July 4, 2016

DAY 10 - Dead Sea and Jerusalem

Taking bus 444, we headed out early that morning. The ride costs 65 shekels one way, and takes about 4 hours from Eilat to Jerusalem.

Lots of palm trees...

Our bus at our first rest stop.

Salt mounds.

Dead Sea.

My first glimpse of the Old City!

We stepped off the bus at the bus station and immediately a taxi driver approached us. He was overly friendly. Too friendly. My policy is to not be solicited, but to find an unsuspecting taxi driver and to solicit him. We hailed a cab and asked him to drop us off at Jaffa Gate.

After paying the driver, we grabbed our packs and walked through tight security. We immediately entered the suq (market area) and I had to ask directions to find the Citadel Hostel.
After finding our hostel we dropped our packs to the floor at the counter and I told them that I was the one who had canceled my reservations the day before. I was hoping they had room available! Fortunately they happened to have space and assigned us to the women's dorm on the 3rd floor. There were 4 sets of bunks and only 2 beds available. I grabbed the bottom bunk while Pamela grabbed a top bunk. We dropped our packs on our beds and climbed a narrow flight of stairs to see the roof.

From the top deck of our hostel.

For the cost of $6 US dollars, you can sleep on the roof! After taking a few pictures, we went back downstairs to explore the suq!

I liked the suq's in Jerusalem better than Egypt (more cleaner) but the touting was worse, which surprised me.

Hadn't seen any women tailor's on this trip. They were all male.

Although I was getting used to the security in Eilat, it was nothing compared to Jerusalem. We were surrounded by guns.

My daughter decided she liked wearing head scarves while on this trip.
Never dreamed my first meal in Jerusalem would be pepperoni pizza! I didn't ask if it was beef pepperoni. I had only ASSUMED. Boy oh boy, was it good!

Across from us security was increasing and the guards distracted us while we ate.

After I paid for our meal, we started walking in the direction of the Dome of the Rock. To my surprise, an orthodox Jew in black approached me and very kindly asked me to not go in that direction. I heeded his advice and turned in the opposite direction.
There was a lot of tenseness over Israel's dedication to rebuilding a synagogue, and their rebuilding over contested areas. Israel was also breaking ground on the Cohanim being trained for the future rebuilding of the Temple. A very prophetic milestone!

After exploring for a couple of hours, we headed back to the hostel to check our emails and to post updates for family. While in the lounge area, I bumped into a Canadian that we had met while at the hostel in Eilat! This was one of many encounters I would have in Israel, bumping into people I had met from other towns. His name was Richard, and I enjoyed chatting with him about the bible and the significance of what was happening in Israel today.

It was after 11 when we climbed up the stairs and crept into our bunks. Some of our roommates were already asleep, so we undressed quietly, using a booklight to see into our packs. One of the bottom bunks (at the foot of my bed) had blankets attached to all 4 corners like a tent, enabling the person complete privacy. I wondered why the person was like that, and figured it out the next day. She was Arabic and wore a burqa. I was surprised she was so private around other women too. Even though she never spoke to us, I never felt she was hostile. She just kept to herself. I wondered about the life she lived and wondered if she were happy.
I couldn't believe I was about to fall asleep in the ancient old city of Jerusalem. I slept well that night.


Anonymous said...

How long did you actually stay there? It seemed like only a day?

Helen said...

We were there longer, but remember, I was a day late, as I had gotten sick while in Eilat!