Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Israel:The Blog -- Day Two

Although we weren’t entirely in sync with local time yet, we were up early for breakfast before meeting Dafna, our guide in Israel, for our first day of touring.

We started at the City of David, and were the first ones to explore Hezekiah’s Tunnel, splashing our way through the darkness. Dafna was right to get here early. It was a fascinating experience but, even alone, quite claustrophobic; I can’t imagine what it must be like later in the day the tunnel filled with people. We ended the walk with Ellery taking a dip in the Shiloach Pool and then backtracked to the start.

Our next stop was the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, where Ellery patiently waited while Dafna did an excellent job of explaining where we were and what had been here before.

Then we paid a visit to the Western Wall. It was hard to get Ellery to focus (picture in previous post) and, quite honestly, it wasn’t as moving as I had expected/hoped.

Our next stop was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and definitely the most interesting of the day. No, it wasn’t because Jesus was supposedly crucified and buried there, but rather because of the comingling of so many different churches and the beautiful mosaics.

From there we wound our way through the various sections of the Old City – the Armenian, Muslim and Jewish quarters, before stopping for lunch.

After that, it was a drive all around Jerusalem, from the Mount of Olives to Mt. Scopus, and then through some of the settlements and the checkpoint to the Palestinian Territories and Bethlehem.

The afternoon was spent relaxing at the pool, with Heidi, Molly, Jonathan and their friends (picture in previouse post). Then it was a short walk to the International Arts and Crafts Festival taking place just below our hotel, where we grabbed an easy dinner and enjoyed the art and the performances.