Friday, February 24, 2017

Our Trip to Israel- A Day in the Old City

Friday, February 24th

We had a restful night's sleep (thanks to some melatonin and Unisom). I actually slept from 11PM-10AM Israeli time. Once I realized I had slept so long, I felt like a teenager again! But it makes sense, since we missed a whole night's sleep during our travels. Matt woke a few hours before I did and was able to finish up some work he needed to do, so after I woke, we were ready to go to the Mahane Yehuda (the market) to get some breakfast and groceries. This time, we paid careful attention to the streets we were walking, so we could remember how to get back to our apartment. One of the neat things about our apartment is that it's only about a 5 minute walk from the Mahane Yehuda. We walk a few steps up Even Sappir St., cross over Bezelel Stl, up the long and narrow alleyway of Shilo St., and we are at the market.

I was so enthralled by everything at the market, that I completely forgot to take pictures! I try to balance wanting to live in the moment and experience everything with wanting to take pictures so I can remember it and share a little bit of the experience with others, but this time being fully taken with the experience won. There was so much to take in! In Israel here, Friday is the day before the Shabat (Sabbath), so everything was going to close at 3PM to prepare for the Shabat. I have read (as I have been reading and researching about Israel the last few months) that Friday is the busiest day at the market and can be quite crazy. I think that was an understatement! The shouting, the loud talking all around us, the car horns beeping at each other and at people crossing the streets, the bright colors of the fresh produce piled up on the counters, the smiles and laughs of children picking out candy from a table full of all different shapes and colors to choose from, the smell of fish coming from the fish piled high on ice boxes, the cooler booths filled with various selections of chicken and beef, the strong smell and delicious sight of juicy and plump olives of all shades of green, purple, and black, the weaving in and out of people young and old in various sorts of dress and costume- these are all the wonderful and exciting things about the market that I want to remember. Matt and I decided to get enough groceries for dinner and meals tomorrow (Saturday), since we knew stores would be closed on the Shabat. I am so thankful Matt spoke Hebrew! I helped choose what we needed, and he talked to the vendors about how much we needed and paid them. It felt like we were locals (though I am sure we looked very un-local :) as we filled our canvas bag with brightly colored sweet potatoes, green beans, avocados, and broccoli. Then we headed to the meat stand and purchased a kilo of ground beef. Lastly, we stopped at one of the dried fruit counters to buy half a kilo of dates. The meat was quite expensive compared to the US, the vegetables seemed comparable, but the dates were extremely inexpensive, and they tasted just like candy. Dates have always been a favorite in our family, but because of how expensive they are in the US, we do not buy them regularly. However, when we live in Israel, I have a feeling we will be enjoying these little treats quite often.

I am so intrigued by cultural foods and one of my very favorite things is learning about traditional ways of preparing, cooking, and preserving food. Over the last few years, I have researched, studied, and practiced many traditional cooking practices- such as the correct procedures for bone broths, fish broths (I still remember the time I boiled my first fish head- eyeballs and all, and the carcass was nearly as tall as me!) fermenting yogurt, cheesemaking, fermenting sauerkraut and other vegetables. God's gift to us in all of the wonderful variety of food has always been something that excites me, and I love learning about it! While Matt could spend hours reading about Hebrew syntax, I could spend hours reading about cheesemaking and fermenting kombucha and ginger "beer." All of that to say, that I think this is one of God's gracious gifts to me because, rather than being overwhelming (I have heard of countless missionary wives who have struggled with learning how to prepare food for their family in a new and unfamiliar culture), this aspect of Israeli culture excites me! The sight of whole fish piled high on ice inspires me to learn how to cook a whole fish, and watching a butcher hack off various cuts of meat from a goat (still with fur on the head, by the way), makes me want to learn about all the cuts of meat that are common in Israel and discover new ways to prepare them. Being able to experience what it is like to buy our groceries from the Mahane Yehuda and prepare them for our dinners while we are visiting this week has been so helpful!

But, enough about food... Once we grabbed some falafel from a street vendor in the market, we headed on the trek once again to the Old City.

The outside walls of the Old City

Jaffa Gate

View when standing under Jaffa Gate, looking towards the Old City
Street Vendor selling fresh breads

The market streets inside the Old City (not the Mahane Yehuda), selling souvenirs,  scarves, plates, leather bags, shoes, and more than you could ever think of!

The doors that close up the markets on the streets for the Shabbat

Overlooking the rooftops with the Dome of the Rock in the background

Most street signs in the Old City are in Hebrew, Arabic, and English

The streets are all stone. Some inside the Old City allow for cars to drive on them, but the majority of roads are filled with people walking everywhere because most streets are too narrow for cars and there are also lots of staircases.

View from one of the staircases leading down to the Western Wall

In front of the Western Wall

Steps leading down to the Western Wall

There was one alleyway that we went down that was dark, extremely narrow, and had several butchers. There were animals that still had fur and feathers on them and eyes intact. And there were several skinned animals hanging from ropes with a few organs hanging beside them as well. I might be very strange, but I was so intrigued by these!

We also visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre...

The gate leading to the church

The outside of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Outside the Church once again
After we left the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, we walked through the Islamic Quarter of the Old City, through the Damascus Gate, and into East Jerusalem towards the Garden Tomb.

Damascus Gate leading to the Islamic Quarter of the Old City

Entrance to the Garden Tomb

Walking into the garden near the tomb

The "Skull," Golgotha, one of the two places it is believed Jesus was crucified. If you look straight into the center of the photo, there are two clefts that look like eye sockets, leading to the name "Skull Hill." The clefts used to be extremely deep and bold, but over the years, the rain and snow have made them stand out less and less. 

On top of Skull Hill is a Muslim cemetery

A tour guide giving details about the tomb.

Looking down into the courtyard of the tomb. The man is photographing his family in front of the tomb. 

Entrance to the tomb

Standing in front of the entrance to the tomb where it is believed Jesus was buried

Inside the tomb

The winepress inside the Garden of the tomb. It is believed that this could have been Joseph of Arimathea's winepress if he had a vineyard. 

Walking back through East Jerusalem towards the Damascus Gate. There were many Muslim vendors still open even though most of the Jewish shops had closed already for the Shabat.

The "New Gate"

Because the Shabat had started, when we walked back to our apartment, the streets were nearly empty and silent- a stunning contrast to the intense and loud activity we had passed through just a few hours ago.

The light rail path

There are street cats everywhere. These two were in quite an intense fight!

Apartments above the market shops. 

Jaffa Gate

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