So…Kham wakes me up at 0200 after several calls. They don’t mess around like in the US so he had to pay $35 to sleep over for a few hours before his tour to the Sea of Galilee.
Freshly awoken and unable to get back to sleep. We decide to walk around town at 02:00. Normally, I’m not a fan of that anywhere because generally I’m sleeping at those hours but damn, Tel Aviv was a chill town. We couldn’t find an open bar so we just wandered around and eventually ended up at the shawarma place around the corner from my hotel. Shit was fantastic but it needed hot sauce – actually almost all of their food needs hot sauce.
So Thursday morning, I’m chilling in the hotel waiting for the tour company to come pick me up. They’re supposed to be there at 07:15 but they don’t show up until 07:40. Which is a little unnerving but lets me catch up on time wasters like the Facebooks or solitaire.
The company running this tour is Bein Harim tours which I got through www.viator.com and man, they were fantastic. Our guide for the day was Norbert and he was giving us bits of Intel on the way over to Jerusalem. I wasn’t a fan of the idea of a guided tour but man they’re need. You get the history of parts of Israel, access to places, and they know when things will close early or not – like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
This was a cool experience, just being in Jerusalem. I never thought I’d visit this place ’cause it wasn’t ever on my adventure/bucket list. I’m glad I decided to come though. Once in the city, we were dropped off a couple of blocks from the entrance to the Jaffa gate. It wasn’t too crowded (when I think crowded, I think of the State Fair of Texas) but there were a fair amount of people walking in.
We got in and immediately started snaking our way to the Church. I’m not religious but man that was a pretty cool place to visit. History was made here. Kind of hard to sit back and take it all in and certainly, it would be more meaningful if I had roots in the area. Still, it was a fantastic day seeing everything. Some of those walls are thousands of years old and the center of their Universe – the Western Wall, Mount of Olives, Calvary, Via Dolorosa…pretty trippy stuff!
But the most memorable part of the trip for me was Yad Vashem. I didn’t know what to expect but I certainly didn’t expect to feel all the feelings. You go from seeing the absolute worst of humanity at the beginning of the museum and as you progress through World War II, you start gaining some hope from the Righteous Among the Nations. Which I didn’t know that’s what they were called. That gives me hope that whenever people are in need, other people will rise to the occasion. Then the Hall of Names is where I lost it. This is to remember everyone who was murdered during the Holocaust and to carry on their names as they may not have anyone to remember them. If you are ever in Jerusalem, you’ve gotta visit Yad Vashem. Or maybe not. It’s a difficult thing to see and read about.
Memorials seem to move me now. Yad Vashem. Oklahoma. 9/11. What was and what could’ve been. Maybe it’s getting older or maybe just developing empathy. Either way, it’s good to feel.
Then I went back to my hotel and crushed beers at one bar, crushed shakshuka at Shakshukia and didn’t remember how I got home. Excellent day.