We all slept in, waking at 8:30 and letting Brynne sleep later, as she had a barking cough and a slight fever. Gave her cough medicine and Tylenol. Tom left for work, having left his keys for us again, but had to come back as he had given us the garage key instead of the apartment house key. Dot was going to a 10:00 concert at the Ticho House, and left about 10:15. So it was after that we got Brynne up and all of us left the apartment. Another sunny day where we started off in sweaters. I checked my mini guidebook before we went to the bus stop and very soon bus #15 arrived. The driver punched our ticket three more times and we headed to City Hall again. We walked to the old city walls, and this time we did not head south to the Jaffa Gate, but northeast to the Damascus Gate to start our tour of the Mount of Olives. It was apparent we were entering east Jerusalem because of all the Arab dress. At an area in front of the gate, many taxis waited. A driver came up to us and I said we wanted to go to the Seven Arches Hotel. He said ‘okay’ and helped us into his taxi. I asked if the meter was working, and he said it would cost 15 shekels. That seemed right, so off we went. Lots of traffic, with horns honking. Passed a checkpoint with Israeli soldiers at the far corner of the old city walls. The taxi took us way out on a road up the hillside, and I was wondering if we were to follow the same long way back. As it turned out, we did not. We were dropped off at the Seven Arches Hotel, paid the driver his 15 NIS, and went in to hotel reception to see if they could change our 200 NIS bills into something smaller, as most places did not seem to have change. They could only change one of the bills. There was a Christmas tree and decorations in the lobby, and lots of Korean tourists.
|Seven Arches Hotel Christmas decorations|
|View of Old City from Mount of Olives|
|Tamiko and Brynne (KSS)|
|Brynne and Kent|
At least we had a map. I remembered we had to walk back along the approach road to the hotel to see something, and saw a sign for the Dome of the Ascension.
|Dome of the Ascension|
|Brynne's feet near the "footprint" of Jesus|
Because it was just off our not too clear map, we missed the Pater Noster Convent. We debated whether to go up or down, and decided on heading downhill, looking for the onion domes of the Mary Magdalene Church to guide us. Just as we spotted the onions through the trees, we saw a sign for the Temple of Prophets. A man at the gate led us to another gate and down stone steps to an underground burial complex. This is said to contain the now empty tombs of the prophets Haggai and Malachia/Zacchariah, but more likely it was a burial cave from the Byzantine era 1,500 years ago. There was a round entrance hall with four niches in the walls for wash basins, and stone cut-aways for water drainage. Three passages radiated from this hall to two semi-circular corridors. The inner corridor was supposedly for praying, and the outer corridor had 26 burial niches, now all empty. The burial area for the two prophets was separate. The man quietly explained everything, and when we asked what we owed, he said whatever we wanted to give, even nothing. We gave him 10 NIS. We took a path downhill, but the path turned out to be a road and we had to watch for cars. It was time for Islamic prayers and we could hear the prayer leaders being broadcast from the Old City. It was actually quite harmonious a cappella music for a while, but later it just sounded like news announcements.
Next, to the right, we came to Dominus Flevit (Our Lord Wept), a small modern tear-shaped church built 1953-1955, designed by Antonio Barluzzi. It had a simple interior with a superb view of the Old City through the front picture window. The iron cross of the altar and the iron-work of the window silhouetted against the Dome of the Rock. In the back were colorful floor mosaics. Tradition states this is where Jesus wept over Jerusalem as he prophesied its destruction. No archaeological finds earlier than the Crusades were ever found here. I bought four postcards for $1 US from the friar here, who spoke French to the nun outside the gate selling souvenirs. Kent used the restroom, and they seemed to close up after we left. We continued downhill and the road turned to the left. We passed an open gate, when a man came out calling to us. He announced the Garden of Gethsemane was closed, but he could show us the cemetery with Schindler and Begin. I knew that Begin was buried in the Mount of Olives Cemetery below the Seven Arches Hotel, but did not realize the cemetery extended this far. I wondered whether a non-Jew would be buried in a Jewish cemetery, but when the man said he has been a guard here over 30 years, we knew to keep going! Actually, this was a part of a Jewish cemetery where there is a common grave for 48 Jews killed in battle for the Jewish Quarter in 1948. They had been buried in the Jewish Quarter, but were re-interred here in 1967, including 10-year old messenger boys.
We passed the gate to the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene, and could no longer see its gold onion domes or sculpted white turrets. It was built on order of Tsar Alexander III for his mother, the Russian Grand Duchess Elizabeth, who apparently lies in the crypt. It is only open on Thursdays from 10-11:30! At the bottom of this winding road on the left was the entrance to the Garden of Gethsemane, and it was indeed closed now at 11:45. But a man in a suit and London Fog coat asked if we wanted a guide. How much? 30 NIS. We figured we were not coming back, and so we would pay that much to get in when it is supposedly closed. Traditionally this is the place where Jesus came with his disciples after the Last Supper, prayed, sweated blood, was betrayed, and arrested.
|Garden of Gethsemane with ancient olive trees|
|Church of All Nations|
|Window of marble and alabaster|
|Rock surface is the Rock of Agony|
|Another site for the tomb of the Virgin|
Kent handed our guide 30 NIS and he exclaimed, “Oh, no! Sixty shekels, 30 for the garden and 30 for here.” We were dumbfounded and protested little. Kent went ahead and paid the 60 NIS, but the guide continued to defend himself, saying he would not cheat us as he had been to the United States 11 times, and he even pulled out his wallet to show Kent an Arizona driver’s license. We left in a hurry, being pretty disgusted with certain Arabs!
|Mount of Olives|
Partway up the street we found a lane going to the right, up to the Garden Tomb. There were high walls to both sides and overhanging trees, and suddenly we heard a plop. A big wad of what looked like spit on the ground. Brynne got a little on her shoulder, which we cleaned off with a wet wipe. Couldn’t have been a person, probably bird poop. At the top of the lane was the entrance to the Garden Tomb, but it was closed until 14:00. It was only 13:00, so we sat on a bench to rest. We decided against going out into the Arab crowd to forage for food for lunch, so just snacked on what we had in the backpack: bananas, raisins, Grandma S’s cookies, Chex Mix, and Cocoa Krispies! Plus water and lemonade.
|Entrance to the Garden Tomb|
|Place of the Skull|
|Inside the Garden Tomb|
|Garden Tomb with a track to roll a stone cover over the opening|
We passed the King David Hotel, a large building that was the British Headquarters before Israel’s independence. In 1947, it was blown up by Irgun Zvai Leumi, a Jewish underground organization. Today it was undergoing renovations in one whole wing to the right as you faced it. American VIPs used to stay here, but because of the renovations they have moved to the more modern Laromme Hotel. Across the street from the King David Hotel was a huge impressive building rivaling the hotel itself, with a tall bell tower. This was the YMCA! We did not realize that one could climb the 207 steps in the bell tower for a view.
|Yemin Moshe community|
|Kent and Brynne in a garden|
|Yemin Moshe windmill|
|Brynne and Kent in the playground|
|Brynne in the arbor|
|Street sign in three languages and three scripts|
|Performing Arts Center|
|Corvus cornix/Hooded Crow|
We had also decided to skip Tel Aviv on Christmas Day and decided to see more of Jerusalem instead on days where Tom would be available to accompany (and drive!) us.
Next: Oops, Jerusalem III.