Sunday, August 24, 2003

We did walk through the market in the old city after all. We even bought things there. We didn't eat at Abu Shukri's, though (thank you, Lynn, for the reminder). We also strolled through the alleys of the Jewish quarter at night, ending up at the Wall. The wall, what energy it has. I always cry at the wall. I knew the best time to go to the wall was at night, especially in the summer. I was there at night once, when I was a kid, with a scouts' trip. It was winter and it started raining. All the women who were there praying scuttled into that little room on the right. I wasn't bothered by the rain and was delighted to have the place to myself, a rare treat indeed. Yes, nighttime is definitely the time to go to the wall.

Later, when we had met up with Bish again (men and women have to split up when you go up close), we looked up to the sky and Bish pointed out Mars. The open area in front of the Wall is brightly lit at night and you can't see any stars in the sky. But Mars could clearly be seen shining brightly in the sky above us. Bish explained that the planet is extraordinarily close to Earth at the moment and that was why it was shining so brightly and was visible even through the bright spotlights*.

We were amazed that the hotel was full to bursting point with families. We could hardly get a table for breakfast on the first morning. The tourist spots were nearly empty though. I expected to queue at the Israel Museum on a Friday morning, but there was hardly anyone there. It was a pleasure. And we got a 50% reduction on all tickets to museums and other places you have to pay to get in because we were staying in a Jerusalem hotel. This was a special offer to attract people to Jerusalem this summer. Judging by the amount of guests in the hotel, it had worked. Maybe they weren’t rushing out to see the sites though, seeing it was just two days after the terrorist attack.

Another good idea (yours truly excelled herself in the planning and execution) – Haas Promenade, Armon HaNatziv at sunset. Beautiful.

At no point in our trip did we feel in any way uncomfortable or uneasy. It broke a barrier both Bish and I have, as diehard Tel Avivi's, with regard to Jerusalem. We’ll be back!

*Today, back in Tel Aviv, Youngest and I went to the Planetarium in the Eretz Yisrael Museum, where we heard an explanation about the universe, including our solar system, and Youngest could see pictures of Mars close up.