Thursday, January 6, 2011

Day Two: The Old City

Today we got to walk through the Old City for the first time. We went down in groups of about 10 with a guide. As we walked down the street I saw this native guy walking down by us. I didn't think much of it until we stopped to talk about the site we were at (The Kidron Valley) and he stopped with us. We started walking again and he started to follow. Then our guide stopped, looked at the man and said "Everyone, this is George, he is part of security". I was relieved to say the least. After the orientation I was a tab bit paranoid. But the security guys are great! They brought us breakfast on our walk, it was this bread in a long bagel shape like this ---> [] but rounder and skinnier. Then he had this spice to dip it in, it was green and very salty. It comes from a leaf that they grind, he brought the leaf for us to try on its own. It tasted much better with the bread.

Walking around the Old City was incredible. The walls around the city are huge. Since the city has been destroyed so many times, each new ruler would build on top of the rubble, so you can see the different eras by looking at the materials in the walls.

We walked around the streets and the drivers are crazy, most people park on the side walk. East Jerusalem is dramatically different from West Jerusalem. The east side is older, filled with graffiti, trash, and old food everywhere. The west side is newer, modern, and really clean. I love the east side because thats where the Old City is located. We got to go in this austrian hospice where all the dignitaries stay, we walked all the way to the top floor and saw the most amazing view of the city. It was all around us. The City is small but is still able to fit 300,000 people in it. It was amazing standing in the middle of it while our guide pointed out the different spots for the different religions, explaining that each site is considered the most holy spot on earth for all these major religions.

We got to catch a glimpse of the Holy Church of the Sepulcher. It was beautiful inside. All my Art History paid off because I was able to tell the different worship spots soley on its art and architecture, what a cool feeling. People come here from all over the world just to touch these spots. It was reverencing to see women rubbing their belongs on these holy spots and kissing the ground.

We walked out of the gates and our guide pointed out all the bullet holes in the wall and on city hall from the various wars being fought there. We also got to walk down The Via Dolorosa, which is believed to be the path that Christ walked while carrying the cross. They had different areas numbered off for significant parts of the walk, like where simon helped christ carry the cross. Although we know that it really happened about 15 feet under the road because the city has been built up many times. The important thing that our guide pointed out to us is not that we find the exact spot where it happened, but that what we remember why it happened.

The merchants were all so welcoming. They love the BYU students. They would yell things like "Go Cougars", "We have Utah Jazz", and "We love you guys". The neat thing is that only the Mormons are allowed to write personal checks to them because they trust us so much, because we have had a great reputation, and because they want our money. Our instructors said that every time they go into the city they ask when the students are coming back.

That four hour walk through the old city was the best part of the day, we came home, had lunch, and then had to go to more meetings. Sitting in the forum listening about classes starting tomorrow, trying not to sleep so I can get over jet lag, and looking at the clock seeing it was only 3 made the day seem SO long. We went back to our room and chatted with my roommates. I LOVE my roommates, I really lucked out. They are both great girls and I'm excited to live with them.

We also got our cell phones and security badges today so that was kinda cool. I feel like they just keep giving us stuff and I'm afraid i'm going to loose something.

Ohh I almost forgot. I also got to try Honey Balls. Its fried honey, I have no idea how they make it but its yummy. It sounds gross and I was afraid to try, but I told myself I want to try everything. So I did. I can't wait to go back to the Old City and try fresh pomegranate juice.

We also had a game night tonight, which took all the tired out of me. I have met tons of cool people and I know I'm going to make some great friends here.

Well I have class at 8 tomorrow so I'd better get to bed.

&& sorry for the lack of pictures today! They told us not to bring our cameras today so we could pay attention to the guides and where we were going.


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