Jerusalem Day 3

Tue, 24 Jun 2008 04:55:51 +0000

Jerusalem Day 2 Index Jerusalem Day 4

Today I completely failed to achieve anything. This is mainly because today, Saturday, is the jewish sabbath, and everything is closed. The streets are deserted, the place is a wasteland.

Actually this isn't quite true. It turns out that there are a few things worth doing if you time it right. In particular, the Tower of David Museum, which is supposed to be quite good, is open from 10:00 to 2:00. But I only found that out at 12:30, by which time it was really too late.

First indication that I had a problem was breakfast. I couldn't find any, at least not at 7:30 in the morning. Israel feels so American that I kinda expected service industries like coffee shops to be open almost 24/7. But no, they all shut down. I found a corner shop by the Jaffa Gate and bought a sesame bar to tide me over, but I was quite disappointed. I then walked all the way to the bus station, on the grounds that a transport hub surely can't take a day off. But no, that was all shut up too. I was pretty astonished by that. Eventually I went to the old city a bit later and found that most places in the Christian quarter were open. I had scrambled eggs with flatbread.

I had hoped that, since Muslim sabbath was yesterday, that today I'd be able to visit the Temple Mount. No such luck though. The entrace for non-Muslims is at the corner of the Western Wall Plaza, and I turned up there. I asked one of the attendants if the Temple Mount was open, and she said not through this entrance, but she thought that you could get through the Muslim quarter. I already knew this was false, so I gave up and decided to wait until tomorrow.

I did some more shopping in the Muslim quarter, rounding off my wardrobe. I now think I have enough to keep me going for the rest of the trip. I went to the Armenian quarter for lunch, since there was a restaurant there that looked interesting. But I got off on the wrong foot when ordering. I said I only wanted something small, meaning could he recommend something from the menu. But he kept saying "no, this is a restaurant, there's a minimum charge", not getting my point at all. People here seem incapable of recommending something to clueless tourists. I ended up ordering a starter that was "cracked wheat stuffed with meat", but I couldn't see anything interesting to order for main, so I got a chef salad. The starter turned out to be mainly salad with two small balls of deep fried something. The salad was a huge, but unremarkable salad. So I got plenty of vitamins, but not a particularly exotic Armenian experience.

I basically retreated to the hostel for much of the afternoon. When it was eventually time for dinner, I decided to go down to the Christian quarter to explore the restaurants. Once again, I was served by someone who was chronically incapable of taking the initiative. I ordered lamb's liver, which is as detailed as the menu got. I think he misheard and just took it as "lamb". He kept popping out of the kitchen to ask me questions about how I wanted my food: on a plate, on a kebab, in a sandwich, with salad, with fries, and so on. I couldn't think of a diplomatic way to say "I don't care, just feed me please." The meal that eventually turned up was pretty good though, with meat on kebabs, salad, fries, and lots of different sauces. I was stuffed by the end of it.

But that was it really. Not a very successful day. Hopefully tomorrow with the sabbath over things will go somewhat better.

Jerusalem Day 2 Index Jerusalem Day 4