I went to Jerusalem with the group, and it was raining. It was very interesting…
Day 98: Sunday, 12/14/2014
Our program coordinators have this really strange notion that we need to be on the road by 8am, but they’re also chronically late. What this means is that I’m up way earlier than I’d like to be and for no reason. So I sadly didn’t have time for breakfast (keep this piece of info in mind for later). We were picked up at 7:30am, but then the bus driver got strangely lost and we were stuck in rainy rush hour traffic on the way to Jerusalem. Good job.
By 9:30, we were in Jerusalem. We started at an overlook of the city called Yemin Moshe. It was pretty, but our tour guide was a total snore. Unfortunately we were with her for the entire day. This is the third time we’ve had this guide, and I don’t understand why our coordinators think she’s so great. She needs some major tips from Debate on how to captivate others and be able to read an audience (shameless plug for my work!). She just droned on and on without realizing that none of us were really paying attention. I did get some cool views in though.
One thing I love about Jerusalem is the architecture and its uniformity. I just love the Jerusalem stone! Much more aesthetically pleasing than the mishmash that is TLV – TLV is the lovely abbreviation of Tel Aviv. If I use it again, now you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Now it was time to enter the Old City. As I mentioned, I had not eaten breakfast, and it was close to lunchtime. I was not feeling very well, and knew I needed some food if there was going to be any chance of me making it through the rest of the day. I went and asked my coordinator if I could grab some food from a stand I saw on our walk. I was given an unnecessarily nasty response. I ended up going anyway, and it was worth it. The second coordinator told me that first one was very nervous because of security issues and didn’t want anyone wandering off. While I understand the uneasiness due to recent events, I’m still an adult who is capable of taking a 3-minute-long trip to buy myself some food. I’m not stupid enough to wander alone in an unfamiliar city.
Inside the Old City, we were given a break to wander around. I preceded to get more food and also do some window shopping. We then went and looked at different relics. As someone who has been to the Old City many times in her life, I have seen pretty much everything there is to see. Boring tour guide did not help.
Now it was finally time to see the Kotel (The Western Wall)!
Oh wait, it wasn’t time to actually GO to the Kotel, just to SEE it while our guide talked forever. With all of us standing in the rain. Clearly not listening to her. What. She talked for a good 30 minutes before saying, “Now you have 20 minutes to go to the Kotel.” Yay 20 minutes…? This woman does not know how to plan a tour. Sorry for the complaining. I’m just trying to give you my full experience.
So we FINALLY got to go inside, and it was practically empty. I have never seen so few people at the Kotel before! Granted, it was rather cold and raining, but I was able to just walk right up and touch the wall. It was amazing. I always have an extremely strong connection at the Kotel, and this visit was no different. If you haven’t been before, you need to go at least once in your life.
After the Kotel, we hopped on the bus and headed to the Machane Yehuda Shuk, the most famous open market in Jerusalem. I always love visiting this shuk, and today was especially awesome because, like the Kotel, it was practically empty! I was actually able to see the booths and not feel like I was wading through a pool of molasses to get from point A to point B. I split off from the group with Daniel and another girl, Fede, to grab some falafels.
The suddenly-not-rude program coordinator recommended a shop 2 blocks from the shuk, so we headed there. As we approached the shop, the man came from behind the counter and grabbed my hand. In Hebrew, he told me to take the just-out-of-the-fryer falafel balls and hand them to my friends. They were delicious, and I got an amazing photo op!
We got falafel in laffa bread, something all of you must try in Israel. It was cheap and wonderfully delicious. The three of us then headed back to the shuk towards a bakery called “Marzipan.” I hadn’t had Marzipan’s bakery treats until my trip in March, and they literally have the tastiest chocolate rugelach I’ve ever had in my life. I bought 2 boxes. They will last me a while, or not. Probably not. If you find yourself at the Machane Yehuda Shuk, GO TO MARZIPAN. I cannot stress this enough. Daniel thinks I should do marketing for them because of how many people on our program I sent to buy rugelach from them.
After buying our sweet treats, we wandered around the shuk. All 3 of us ended buying small Hanukkiahs and candles, as Hanukkah starts on Tuesday night! It was such a fun time, and it definitely made the trip to Jerusalem worth it. We boarded the bus back home and had a lovely view of the sky as we left the city.
I fell right asleep for 45 minutes on the bus. Rarely do I actually sleep on buses, usually just an in-between kind of sleep, so clearly I was exhausted. I immediately wanted to go back to sleep, but I was almost home. The second I got back, I put on my pajamas and crawled into bed. It was 6:30pm. Although I didn’t fall asleep for quite some time after that, it was nice to be all warm and cozy after being out in the rain all day.
Jerusalem is a really cool city, and I’m glad we got to visit. I’m also glad I do not live there. TLV is a much more young and lively city. But I do understand the appeal of living in such a historic and beautiful city like Jerusalem. Not sure when I’ll be returning, but it was nice to spend a day there, despite the little annoyances.
-Girl in Israel 🙂