woensdag 27 november 2013

27th November 2013, The Dead Sea and Jerusalem, Gerrit van Zwol

27th November 2013, The Dead Sea and Jerusalem, Gerrit van Zwol


The day started in the Florentine hostel, located in the beautiful modern city of Tel Aviv. The Florentine hostel is situated close to the old city of Jaffa, a really charming and wonderful district with a lot of small markets, shops and nice places for a break. As it was located near the beach, we had already taken a quick dip in the sea the day before. The agenda was to head to the Dead Sea and thereafter to explore the city of Jerusalem. The journey was nice and easy and it felt we were drifting peacefully in the Dead Sea just a few moments after our departure.
The Lonely Planet was our main guide during the journey and provided us with some interesting facts on the journey towards the Dead Sea. Did you for example know no bird can cross the Dead Sea because the air and the chemicals over the Dead Sea are making it impossible for birds to fly? In the old years of the Egyptians and the Persians, they made thankfully use of this fact to flee from mosquitoes and other insects and birds. Today the Dead Sea is shared by Israel, Jordan and the Palestine Territories. In the past the Dead Sea was a perfect hiding and refuge place for King David, King Herod, Jesus and John the Baptist. Another reason why you should go to this place, is because it is the lowest place on the face of the earth, at an astonishing 425m below sea level. The water is coral blue and the many minerals and mud are an excellent way to stop you from looking older. 

After some more relaxation in the Dead Sea, it was time to head for our main target of the day, Jerusalem!  Once this city was in our sight, everyone was looking out of the window of our private taxi to catch a glimpse of this special and spiritual attractive city. First we checked-in in probable one of the most gorgeous youth hostels of Jerusalem. The first two floors were excavated out of rock, resulting in a wonderful ambiance and nice cosy places for a chat. We quickly dropped our baggage, because we wanted to see as much as possible of Jerusalem with our tight schedule. First we went down towards the holy sepulchre church, which is seen as the centre of Christianity because Jesus  maybe was crucified there. However other people say this place was outside the city centre, located on the North of Jerusalem. In the church we listened to Catholics singing their songs and burning candles. Most of us have been in a church before, but this was a special experience. After the church we did a small walk around the city wall to see the Mount of Olives. This Mount is located on the North-East of Jerusalem and is covered with many white stone graves. Most of us felt a mystic feeling by seeing this mountain and all the graves. We entered the city again trough the Lions gate and followed the via doloroza, the road Jesus walked with a cross towards his crucifixion. Today most of this road are characterized by markets and shops on both side of the street. But in the evening when all these shops were closed and the streets were still, this gave a special feeling by walking this road by night.
 The highlight of the evening was the wailing wall. Man and woman were separated at the entrance by security. We were not aware today was also the celebration of the first day of the Chanoeka, where the Jews celebrated their victory to the Greeks 2000 years ago. The light the first of the seven candles of the menorah. This reminds them of the wonder during the fight against the Greeks, the menorah burned for eight days. This was a wonder because there was only oil for one day. Back to the wailing wail. Ivar and my where the first that dared walking towards the wall, after being clothed appropriately by wearing a yameka. The wall was full with all kind and sizes of letters, most likely prayer of the Jews that cry out for the temple to be rebuild. We were amazed by the intense prayer attitude of the Jews. On each side of the wailing wall a small bibliotheca was located, with all kind of Hebrew books, probable filled with hymns and words from the Old Testament. But nobody of us could read Hebrew, so we will never know;)  

After this really learning full day, it was time to drink a beer of some wine at the hostel and enjoy the warm breeze together with other travels from all over the world at the wonderful balcony of the hostel. We talked with some Americans who where studying in Jordan and visited Jerusalem for a short break in their study. We all enjoyed seeing this wonderful city and were highly determined to use the next morning to see much more of this special city. We can recommend everybody to come to Jerusalem and explore this city! It is modern, cosy, religious and the source of a lot of religions. Come and see.




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