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Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 10
Israel, Paris


Carol and David and the ancient wall surrounding Old Jerusalem  

Day 13


Slept fine and woke early for the hour-long journey to Jerusalem.


At 7:15am, Ellie, our guide for the Jerusalem tour, picked us up and we immediately liked him. Throughout the day he supplied us with information and humor. Born in Paris, Ellie has lived in Israel since 1949 and seems to know everyone in Jerusalem.


We picked up Tom from Massachusetts at his hotel, then Stefan from Belgium at his hotel, and then Ellie drove the four of us in his small but comfortable van from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, about an hour’s drive. As we approached Jerusalem we began to notice the remains of the Palmach vehicles destroyed along Bab El-Wad by Arabs – these are the remains of the many convoys attempting to bring food, water and arms to the besieged Jews during the first Arab/Israeli conflict in the 1940s.

The rusted remain of a Palmach armored vehicle, destroyed in Bab El-Wad by the Arabs in 1948

When we arrived in Jerusalem, we picked up another David (from Los Angeles.) We were happy to be part of a small group.


We drove to the Old City and parked near the Zion Gate but entered through the Dung Gate, so-named due to the stench from the ancient market. After recovering Stefan’s wedding ring, which he accidentally dropped to the lower level, we proceeded on to the Western Wall (also known as the Wailing Wall), the sacred remnant of the Temple and one of the holiest places in the Jewish faith. We arrived on a Monday, a day popular for Bar Mitzvahs, and there were several in progress. Men and women are separated here, so Carol went to the women’s section and Ellie, Tom, Stefan, David and I went to the men’s side. It is a common practice to write a prayer or a wish on a small piece of paper and to insert it into a space in the stones, and Carol did so on the womens' side. There were hundreds of men here, praying, davening, worshipping. We saw many young men in military uniforms conferring with rabbis before praying at the wall. Obviously, we are in the Jewish quarter. We next walked through the different quarters – Armenian, Arab, Christian, through the narrow cobblestoned shop-lined alleyways. We walked the same path Jesus is said to have taken – the Via Dolorosa – carrying the cross upon which he was crucified up the hill at Golgotha (Calvary.) We saw many “stations of the cross.”

David, Tom and Stephan at the Western Wall in Jerusalem
Praying at the Western Wall
Praying (resting?) at the Western Wall
One of many bar mitzvahs at the Western Wall
Soldiers at the Western Wall

Jerusalem, Israel’s largest city as well as it’s capital, has been called the Golden City, the Holy City, the City of David and the City of Peace. For Jews it is their national and spiritual epicenter, the place where Abraham went to sacrifice Issac, the site of King David’s glory, the place of Solomon’s temple, the eternal capital of the Jewish People. For Christians it is the city where Jesus spent his final days on earth – the site of the Last Supper, the crucifixion and the resurrection. For Muslims it is Alquds (“The Holy”) – the place where Mohammed ascended to heaven on his steed. It is Islam’s third holiest city after Mecca and Medina. The marketplaces, shrines, ruins, hotels, temples, churches and mosques are accessible. The rhythm of daily life is governed by prayer, usually channeled through tightly-knit religious communities. In addition to its social divisions, Jerusalem is a continental divide. The western slopes lead down through forest and field to the Mediterranean but to the east the land dips down dramatically through rugged desert to the Dead Sea basin, lowest point on the face of the earth.

Carol and David at the Western Wall
Arabs in Old Jerusalem
Along the Via Dolorosa
Along the Via Dolorosa
My hand where Jesus touched this wall along the Via Dolorosa

We stopped for a while at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, probably the holiest place in all of Christendom. It is said that here is where Christ’s body was washed and prepared after the crucifixion and where He rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. We saw the cave where his body was placed.

Ethiopian priest near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Pilgrims at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Light coming through the dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Ellie (our Jerusalem tour guide) and David at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

After walking among the many shops nearby we stopped for lunch and then visited the site of the Last Supper, then walked on to King David’s tomb.

Looking down through 100 feet (and thousands of years of history) in Jerusalem
Roman influence in Jerusalem
Carol standing on stones that are thousands of years old in Jerusalem
Building near the old walls of Jerusalem
Ellie reviewing ancient Jewish history as Carol listens
The Ten Commandments in Jerusalem
The tomb of King David

We exited the Old City at the Zion Gate, scene of heavy fighting and bloodshed during the first Arab/Israeli conflict.

The ancient wall of Jerusalem

Ellie then drove us past the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, and then took us to Yad Vashem, the large Holocaust museum, where we spent two very emotional hours.

Entrance to the Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem
Interior of the Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem
At Yad Vashem
The dome in the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem
Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem
Sculpture at Yad Vashem
View of Jerusalem as you exit Yad Vashem

At 3:30pm it was time to wrap up the tour so Ellie dropped us off at our hotel, the Prima Royale, and we said our goodbyes to our new friends, Ellie, Tom, Stefan and David. We checked in and conked out in the large comfortable bed for a couple of hours. Today was sunny and hot in Jerusalem and we needed to recharge our batteries.

The Hotel Prima Royale in Jerusalem
Our room at the Prima Royale in Jerusalem

After much-needed naps we walked north of the hotel, past the popular YMCA, to the infamous King David Hotel, where we enjoyed dinner on the balcony overlooking the ancient wall of Old Jerusalem and the spires of the Armenian quarter behind. Part of the King David hotel was blown up by the Israelis in 1948 during the British mandate. In the movie Exodus, Paul Newman’s character can be seen having a drink on this balcony where we enjoyed our dinner.

The King David Hotel as seen from the west.
The King David Hotel (south side)
Carol on the balcony of the King David Hotel. The ancient wall of Old Jerusalem is in the background.
David and Carol on the balcony of the King David Hotel

After dinner we walked northwest to Ben Yahuda street and enjoyed the din of the street musicians and the buzz of the lively crowd there.

Ben Yahuda Street is lively
We slowly window-shopped our way back to the hotel and crashed into bed at 11pm. We must have walked 15 miles today and our feet need a break.

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