Thursday was my tourist day in Jerusalem.
What, you thought I was going to go all the way to the Holy City without seeing the major tourist sites — the Western Wall, the Al-Aqsa mosque, and of course, the University of Alabama gift shop?
The place I stayed at, Abraham Hostels, also offered tours, and as a guest, I got a slight discount. I considered trying to visit some of the “holy sites” by myself, but after a few days in Israel-Palestine on own, I realized that it would be best to just go with a tour guide.
Could I have probably done the research and learned how to visit some of the “holiest” and most contested locations in the world? Sure — and lots of visitors do it perfectly safely every day. But after spending half of the week stressing out over how to travel from Israel to Palestine when it’s illegal for even locals to so (spoiler alert: I figured it out), I decided I wanted a break. Maybe I had been spoiled after my cruise in the Galápagos Islands, but it sure is nice to have someone take care of all of your travel arrangements for you.
On my designated “tourist day,” I saw the Western Wall, the Al-Aqsa Mosque (and the Dome of the Rock), the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (for the second time), the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Flagellation, and Jesus’s supposed handprint. Oh, and a Bama gift shop. That may have been my favorite.
I’m just teasing — I think my favorite may have actually been the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, just for the sheer beauty of the structure. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve seen a lot (seriously, so many) of places of worship in my travels.
This was actually one of the very first days that non-Muslim visitors were allowed to enter the premises of the Al-Aqsa Mosque for quite some time. During the whole month of Ramadan, it was closed, and it was closed again at the very beginning of my visit to Jerusalem for Eid ul-Adha.
Because I was with a tour group, our time in the area was limited (only about 15 minutes, as we arrived just before it closed for mid-day prayer), but I had enough time to get some of my favorite photos from any travel experience ever. My photographer was a woman named Demi, whom I became friends with over the course of the tour. Honestly, I wish we’d met sooner — she made for a great photographer (and a nice companion, seeing as I’d spend pretty much all of the rest of my time in Israel-Palestine completely alone).
I always wonder what becomes of the people I meet briefly in random places when I travel around — I’ll likely never get to see them again, and even if I follow them on social media, we don’t exactly quality as “friends,” just acquaintances. What’s going on with Axel from France or Haya from Nepal or Bilal from Hungary or Nina from Croatia?
I think the only way for me to get to see all of these people in once place again is either to get married or die — weddings and funerals, as they say. Honestly, one of those two options seems like the easier route to me, but I don’t know if I’m quite ready for it yet. Besides, I want to be still alive when all of my friends gather.
That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Israel-Palestine this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Bloglovin, Twitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Skirt: Street vendor in New York
Hat: Thrifted (a consignment shop in Jerusalem)