Jerusalem: A few pictures

posted at 2:00 pm on June 26, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

I count myself fortunate indeed to have been in two of the great cities of the world within the space of a few weeks, Rome and Jerusalem.  For a man who’s not entirely enamored of travel, as I told my new friend in Jerusalem, that’s quite an accomplishment — and a blessing.  I was prepared to make a travelogue of Rome, since Marcia and I went there on a long-awaited vacation.  As I related in my earlier post, my trip to Jerusalem was business-related, and might have wound up being all business had it not been for my friend, who we’ll call Oz (not his real name).  Oz rescued me on my last night and gave me a tour of the Old City, and an adventure as well.

Unfortunately, I didn’t bring a good still camera for this journey, having mistakenly left it in my other bag.  Fortunately, Oz brought along his camera and took a few shots as we went along.  I’ll pop them all into the post and provide a short travelogue.  We started at the Jaffa Gate, which features the impressive Citadel, and then tried to figure out what I’d most want to see.  The first choice was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  Since this was after 10 pm, I didn’t expect it to be open, and it wasn’t — but I did expect to find it.  It took us a couple of tries to figure out where it was, but we were successful in the end, as you can see:

The streets of the Christian Quarter were quiet.  Most stores had closed hours earlier, but a few remained open, mainly groceries and an occasional souvenir shop.  Families walked through the streets, which were remarkably clean and well-tended.  At that time of night, Jerusalem conducts its maintenance work to avoid interfering with the tourists (or the tourists interfering with its work, whichever way one wants to look at it), and narrow trucks rumbled down the narrow stone streets.  The stones that paved the streets were slippery from centuries of use, and I had trouble keeping my footing a couple of times, even with rubber-soled shoes.  Christian Quarter Road was mainly flat, but as we turned right onto Al-Khanqa and proceeded onto Via Dolorosa, the streets turned into a nearly endless series of steps downward.

We entered the Muslim Quarter and turned south on Al-Wad Road, where young boys played soccer in the street while their parents chatted nearby.  The Old City mainly stayed quiet until we hung a left at Al-Khadiya and made our way to the Temple Mount area and the Western Wall.  As we passed through security at the entrance, we could hear a lot of celebratory noise, the loudest we’d heard during our entire tour.  We came across long tables full of food and Israeli soldiers crowding around them, laughing and talking.  Oz and I squeezed through the crowd, and while he may have been as tempted as I was by the delicious spread, neither of us had the nerve to ask for a plate.  As it turns out, the IDF unit had just graduated with a ceremony at the Wall, a tradition that Oz explained to me when we finally made our way past the troops.  They sang and ate the entire time we were there, but we just missed the ceremony; a patrol was taking down the standards and the rope line when we got to the plaza.

The wall was completely lit, and a decent-sized crowd had gathered for prayer.  As I related before, Oz and I washed our hands as required and I donned a yarmulke in order to make our way to the Wall for prayer.  The effect of the quiet prayers, with the IDF’s celebration fading into the background as we approached, was somehow both eerie and entirely appropriate for the occasion.  After my warm welcome and my own time praying at the Wall, Oz and I took a few pictures of each other at a respectful distance from the Wall.  I’ll post the ones Oz took of me:

Afterward, we walked toward the end of the complex to see the Temple Mount from the front, on its southern end.  It’s dark, but the pictures still capture the beauty of the site:

These pictures came from a short piece of video I shot, intending to pull stills from the clip.  I think they turned out rather well, considering.  This one looks back at the Western Wall from the south.  The lights of the prayer area are clear towards the north end of the Wall:

This picture shows the south end, the front of the Temple Mount:

After we took these, Oz and I decided to walk around the Old City to get back to the Jaffa Gate, since it was getting late and I needed to leave Jerusalem in just a few hours.  Unfortunately, we ran out of sidewalk and had to walk on short brick retaining walls to stay out of traffic.  We didn’t make it back to the Jaffa Gate, but instead caught a cab about halfway around to it and rode back to our hotel.  We had a wonderful time on our all-too-brief adventure in the Old City, and I learned one thing: I will return to Jerusalem to see it all.

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Comments

Thanks for the pics! Glad you had a good time and a chance to visit.

darwin on June 26, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Any safety issues, Ed? For single women travelers? I just canceled my 3rd to Egypt and am looking for a replacement.

Knucklehead on June 26, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Been there… done that (Navy, Haifa, 1980)… got the t-shirt… LOVED the falafel!!

Khun Joe on June 26, 2011 at 2:07 PM

When I go to Israel, I think I’d first like to visit Erielle. ;-)

TXUS on June 26, 2011 at 2:08 PM

Knucklehead on June 26, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Have you thought about going with Glenn Beck in August(I believe that is the date) with many others to Israel? He has all the information on glennbeck.com if you would be interested.

Thank you Ed for the pictures. It is great to hear you had such a good time.
L

letget on June 26, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Nice. Thanks for sharing.

I hope to travel to Israel someday, and pics/ stories like this certainly whet the appetite for the trip.

cs89 on June 26, 2011 at 2:17 PM

As it turns out, the IDF unit had just graduated with a ceremony at the Wall, a tradition that Oz explained to me when we finally made our way past the troops. They sang and ate the entire time we were there, but we just missed the ceremony; a patrol was taking down the standards and the rope line when we got to the plaza.

Just to give you an example, here’s a pic, taken at the Kotel a month ago, of such a ceremony for IDF Paratroopers (Tzanchanim).

Shy Guy on June 26, 2011 at 2:19 PM

You handsome rascal you!

Hear that? It’s the sound of HA women swooning.

petefrt on June 26, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Ed: Next time give us a heads up so we can watch you on the Kotel Cam.

Blake on June 26, 2011 at 2:25 PM

Awesome! I so wish I could go with the Beck group this August. There’s just something about Matthew:24 that keeps nudging.

Key West Reader on June 26, 2011 at 2:26 PM

Next time take Allahpundit. He’s ripe for “Jerusalem Fever.”

Blake on June 26, 2011 at 2:27 PM

Thanks for posting the photos and travelogue, Ed. I’m glad you did get out of the hotel at least one time and had a bit of a look around the old city. Frankly, if you hadn’t, I would have been a bit ticked at you for not doing it. One if my first rules of travel it get out as much as you can and explore the local environs, even when the primary purpose of the trip is business.

I have a colleague who infuriates me with his awful travel habits. He has to make 2 trips a year to Taiwan for business, rarely leaves the hotel except to go to work, and searches out fine Chinese restaurants like Chili’s, TGIF’s and Outback Steak House.

simkeith on June 26, 2011 at 2:35 PM

and searches out fine Chinese restaurants like Chili’s, TGIF’s and Outback Steak House.

simkeith on June 26, 2011 at 2:35 PM

I seek out McDonald’s. They have the cleanest bathrooms in the world and you don’t have to eat their either.

Knucklehead on June 26, 2011 at 2:38 PM

Thank you for sharing Ed

Nice

cmsinaz on June 26, 2011 at 2:48 PM

Any safety issues, Ed? For single women travelers? I just canceled my 3rd to Egypt and am looking for a replacement.

Knucklehead on June 26, 2011 at 2:06 PM

I didn’t feel any threat to my security at all when I was walking through the Old City. I’d take the necessary precautions, especially if traveling alone, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Ed Morrissey on June 26, 2011 at 3:15 PM

I didn’t feel any threat to my security at all when I was walking through the Old City. I’d take the necessary precautions, especially if traveling alone, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Ed Morrissey on June 26, 2011 at 3:15 PM

Thanks Ed, I appreciate it.

Knucklehead on June 26, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Any safety issues, Ed? For single women travelers? I just canceled my 3rd to Egypt and am looking for a replacement.

Knucklehead on June 26, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Israel is very safe for single women travellers. You just have to watch out for overly charming taxi drivers and such.

ProfessorMiao on June 26, 2011 at 3:29 PM

We were in Israel in May, and absolutely loved it. For a student of the Bible it’s an awesome trip – there’s a story you know around every corner, even if exact locations are open to debate. We never once felt unsafe, either. The Israelis are a warm and hospitable people, the country is beautiful, and we fully intend to go back as soon as we can arrange it!

coppertop on June 26, 2011 at 4:01 PM

re: slippery paving stones

Those stones are maybe a few decades old. There’s a couple of areas (e.g. next to the Holy Sepulcher) where archeologists discovered Roman era stones, and the Jerusalem municipality integrated them into the modern (yet slippery) alleys.

The Roman era stones are much bigger, and much harder to walk on.

Phoenician on June 26, 2011 at 4:05 PM

I’m so glad you got to go, Ed. I was blessed to spend a year in Israel, and I still didn’t “see it all,” but you should definitely try to go back soon and take your wife if you can.

tikvah on June 26, 2011 at 4:18 PM

There is nothing quite like Jerusalem, and especially the Old City. When I tell people I’m going to Israel, they worry about safety, but it’s really very safe.

And on a slightly political note, here’s a photo I took last year in Jerusalem of a tribute to Bush 43.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on June 26, 2011 at 4:20 PM

Any safety issues, Ed? For single women travelers? I just canceled my 3rd to Egypt and am looking for a replacement.

Knucklehead on June 26, 2011 at 2:06 PM

I spent a year living near Jerusalem. I hitchhiked regularly (only from our gated community to Jerusalem, not from Jerusalem) and felt safe. I have heard that women should not go to the Old City at night alone, and I did not do so. I felt very safe late at night in the new city, Ben Yehudah street, etc. There are good tour groups you can go with to see different sites; I used Monah Tours to go to Bethlehem and to the Dead Sea and for a tour of the Old City.

tikvah on June 26, 2011 at 4:21 PM

Thanks for sharing, Ed. Too bad Marcia couldn’t accompany you…

OmahaConservative on June 26, 2011 at 5:25 PM

Obama wants to give away the Old City to the P.L.O.

Hilts on June 26, 2011 at 6:55 PM

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on June 26, 2011 at 4:20 PM

Loved the picture. Thank you for sharing it.

Laura in Maryland on June 26, 2011 at 10:24 PM

Nice snaps, too bad Bethlehem is a no go.

abobo on June 26, 2011 at 11:57 PM

Yes be sure to go back with time to properly explore the city. It has so many wonderful places it does take time to see them all. Local guides are critical and both sides of the city have wonderful gems to enjoy.

Nice snaps, too bad Bethlehem is a no go.

abobo on June 26, 2011 at 11:57 PM

Bethlehem is not a ‘no go’ as you suggest and it is relatively easy to find trustworthy local guides to show you around.

lexhamfox on June 27, 2011 at 1:55 AM

That’s great Ed! My wife and I were there 10 years ago and have never forgotten our experiences there. You MUST go back and see more of Israel. We went with Sar-El tours, a Christian run tour company, and felt safe every minute, ate great food every day, and want very much to take the trip again. Maybe you can organize a HA tour to Israel. Then you could combine business with pleasure.

Know It All on June 27, 2011 at 8:34 AM

We went with a Jay Sekulow tour a few years ago. The local tour company was Sar El Tours. It was a wonderful trip, I especially enjoyed the time in Jerusalem. We never felt unsafe for a minute. We had such a great time that we are planning to go back in the spring of 2012! Go if you ever get the chance!

texmom4 on June 27, 2011 at 9:47 AM

Great pictures, Ed. Nothing quite like being in Jerusalem. As a US Navy visitor, I was fortunate to get some wonderful inside views of ordinary modern life in Israel, from Haifa to Tel Aviv to Eilat … have been stopped for speeding on the freeway south of Tel Aviv, tromped around the Golan with an IDF guide, been greeted with acclaim at checkpoints in the West Bank (whether it’s Israelis or Palestinian Arabs, they all have relatives in the US), been underwhelmed by Bethlehem and fascinated by the Sea of Galilee … driven through the Negev at night when there is no other traffic and no light but the stars… but there is nothing quite like being in Jerusalem. I’d recommend to anyone to just be a tourist there first. It does the heart good.

J.E. Dyer on June 27, 2011 at 6:02 PM