The Old City

We had the most amazing, exhausting day today with our tour guide Roni Stern. He met us at 8:30am and took us through the Jaffa gate on a comprehensive tour of the Old City. We began with the view from the Tower of David where we had an excellent view of parts of the city, then to all four quarters of the Old City, enjoying the festive atmosphere. From there, we visited the southern wall excavations (where a parking lot stood fairly recently), and looked at all that had been unearthed and is still in the process of being catalogued. Intriguing information. A quick stop for delicious coffee and then to the City of David and the cardo with much more to see.

We passed by the art area of the Jewish quarter and visited an artist named Udi who painted a very famous painting of soldiers standing at the wall and praying. He welcomed us warmly, offered us tea, and our friends bought a lovely painting. On the back, Udi took the time to do some line-drawings using their names, which makes the artwork very personal.

Then we we went to the wailing wall. There is a small section for women on the outside and a larger section for men that includes a covered portion. Most of the men inside were dressed as Orthodox Jews and were praying mostly alone with some in groups. We went then to the stunningly beautiful Hurva Synagogue and were able to go to the women’s section as we watched Orthodox Jews study in pairs with texts. You an also go to the third floor and see a stunning view of the old city by going outside.

Afterwards, we had lunch at Al Kareem cafe where there was a line for the most amazing falafel – well-seasoned, fried balls, served in pita with french fries, pickles, cabbage, and cauliflower. I had a drink of freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice which was heavenly. By this time we were getting tired, but we walked along the Via Dolorosa and the Stations of the Cross, to Holy Sepulchre Church and back out through Jaffa Gate walking to our hotel. 5:30 and we had walked over 20,000 steps and climbed up 19 flights of stairs – we were justifiably tired and sore. Said good-bye to Roni, had wine and freshly-made mushroom soup at the hotel and later went to dinner at Cafe Rimon. Nothing special but the lentil soup was tasty enough.

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