Ben Dover and a Stroll Through Meah Shearim

October 30, 2009 - 9:48 am No Comments

There is a fucking mosquito in my hotel room. It got me the first night and then patiently waited all day and mounted another attack the next night. Is there anything more annoying than being uncomfortably warm because you are under the covers trying to avoid a mosquito? Or even worse, capturing the mosquito under the covers with you? That’s probably paradise for them. Warm and humid, with a human body they can feast on all night long. It’s like spending the night locked inside a Ruth’s Chris Steak House with an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Our first stop was the Ben Dover street sign. I had noticed it the day before and actually spent a few minutes searching on Google to see what kind of historical figure Ben Dover was in Israel. Not finding anything, I wanted to return for a closer look. Turns out someone got a little creative (and funny) with a marker.

Ben Dover

Then back into the Old City. Whereas we saw the Jewish and Armenian Quarters the day before, we walked through the Christian and Muslim Quarters yesterday. Our first stop was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of Christianity’s holiest places. It’s an enormous building filled with enough incense to gag a non-Christian, built up over Golgotha, the rocky mount where Jesus was (supposedly) crucified and his body prepared for burial.

The Rock of Calvary

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Stairs to the Chapel of St. Helena

Absolutely no security checks going into that place, which I couldn’t believe. What’s to stop someone from going in there with weapons or bombs? Come to think of it, it’s only the Jewish buildings and religious sites with security at the entrances. Is it only the Jewish locations that are targets?

From there, we took a short walk through the Muslim Quarter, passing five guys smoking a hookah and two guys with guns, all of whom didn’t want me to take their pictures. Marion and I really wanted to get up onto the Temple Mount to see the Dome of the Rock, a beautiful-looking building and one of Islam’s holiest places. Unfortunately, access to the Temple Mount was very limited, and we couldn’t get up there. Shame.

Kids in the Old City

Men Playing Backgammon

Later in the afternoon, we headed to the Israel Museum for a look at the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls themselves were not particularly fascinating to me, but the enormous scale model of old Jerusalem in the courtyard was pretty cool.

As the sun was going down, we took a short drive over to Meah Shearim, a run-down neighborhood filled with Orthodox Jews. The streets swarmed with men in black suits and top hats, conservatively dressed women, and kids on bicycles. Sarah, Garry’s wife, encouraged me to take photos of them, but I didn’t feel entirely comfortable. I got the impression that most of them didn’t want their pictures taken.

Alley in Meah Shearim

Man Selling Books in Meah Shearim

Bakery in Meah Shearim

For dinner, we stopped a little restaurant called the Restobar Café. As expected, a guard out front inspected our bags and cameras. After taking our seats and ordering our food, Sarah mentioned to me that a few years ago, a suicide bomber attacked the restaurant, killing eight people. Felt kinda weird to be there after that comment.

Restobar Cafe

I got back to the hotel last night completely exhausted and crashed early.

Little House in Bakah

Woke up early this morning feeling like $800,000. Would have been an even million if not for the fucking mosquito bites all over my legs. Just had another traditional Israeli breakfast of scrambled eggs and Cookie Crisp.

Today, we’re going to visit Yad Vashem, Jerusalem’s Holocaust museum. Later this afternoon, I’ll be dropped off in Tel Aviv for a weekend of fun by myself. 🙂

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