Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Travel Tuesday: Israel Flashbacks Pt. 4

This is a series of blog posts recounting a family trip to Israel in 2007.  You can find Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 in the archives. 

Pizza in the Jewish Quarter

Our sightseeing list was long and time short so we decided on pizza for lunch. Josh knew a great place in the Jewish Quarter.
But we had to take a detour to the Jewish quarter because there were roadblocks up. Josh said this is fairly common on Friday. It generally is a higher security day. I’m not sure why. It happens to be the Muslim holy day. And Friday sundown marks the beginning of the Jewish Shabbat. But seeing the roadblock and the scores of policemen and policewoman signalled to me that this is a country that has its challenges. I’ve been living in this wonderful, peaceful bubble. I don’t even read or hear the news. So it was a bit sobering to see the roadblock and remember that Israel isn’t a country that is entirely peaceful.

(But before you get nervous, please remember that the U.S. has a lot of crime. The problems in Israel make the national news, but think about how many murders are committed in various cities and small towns around the U.S.)
Back to the story. So we had to take a detour route. Our guide drove back to the Mount of Olives and then took a paved switchback path on the narrowest and steepest street I have ever seen. I kept wondering if we were going to scrape one of the walls on the side. But we made it. Luckily, no cars came up the other way. Otherwise, we would have been toast!

Finally, we arrived at the Jewish Quarter–or the outskirts. As far as I know, you can’t really drive in the Jewish Quarter. There is apparently a road that allows delivery of supplies or perhaps emergency vehicles. Otherwise, you walk and walk and walk to get to the Quarter. First, we had to walk up a hill and then we climbed several flights of stairs, passing a few vendors on the way selling jewelry with the Star of David and some Jewish clothing and accessories.

It’s really hard to describe the feeling you get as you climb up all those flights of stairs. As you climb, you start to feel the city grow around you. Below, at the entrance of the quarter, lies the Western wall and archealogical excavations. And above and around you are all of these amazing buildings.

When you finally get to the top, the streets are busy and crowded with people walking and talking. Cafes, pizza shops, falafel stands, ice cream freezers are packed with people eating. The smell of food–good food–fills the air. Young men brush past you carrying large boxes of bread. Small shops are crowded with souvenirs. The sounds of classical music mix with the talking. I never saw a pianist or piano or violinist, but the music was everywhere. It sounded like it was live, but it could have been played on a cd player or radio.

I heard and saw scores of American tourists–with Jersey accents walking around. From their appearances, many of them were Jews returning to the ancient homeland. That gave me a really nice feeling. I understand the need to go and find your roots. I also felt this this sense of rightness that after all the centuries of being exiled from their homeland, that the Jews are returning home.
Josh led us through what looked and felt like a maze to get to the pizza parlor. I honestly doubt I could find my way back.
We had delicious kosher pizza (no meat with the dairy). It was fun to just take in the sights and sounds.

Then we walked back to the Western Wall.


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