This is my 3rd day in Jerusalem and am taking a day off from the tour group's hectic schedule. I'm also having a running nose and would like to have some rest before the long trek home by coach and air to Singapore in 2 days' time.
Although I had the pre-conception that Jerusalem would be congested with tourists and vendors selling souvenirs, my real experience has been none of those. Our first dramatic view of the Old City was from the Mount of Olives on a clear, sunny but cool day. From there we visited the place where Jesus wept and also the Garden of Gethesame. Of all the sites that we've visited, I feel this to be the most authentic. Many sites have churches built on them and the ground where Jesus walked is hundreds of feet underground! We then moved on to Mount Zion to a number of sites there, all not very interesting for me. Yesterday we visited the Temple Mount where a mosque now stands. It is a beautiful building, with the distinctive gold Dome that dominates the Jerusalem skyline. We were not allowed to go inside. Security is quite strict at the entrance of this site and we were encouraged to leave bagpacks in the bus. This was followed by a visit to the Western wall which the guide explained is actually only a retaining wall of the Temple built byKing Herod. But it is the only remaining structure nearest that Temple, so the Jewish people place their petitions and prayers there.
We then visited an archaelogical site showing the excavations of the walls of Herod's Temple. Here we could walk on the actual paving stones of Jesus's time and also walk up the steps to the Temple.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a very strange place. It houses the last 5 "stations of the cross" and is usually mobbed by tourists. Thankfully, yesterday there was time to move around the various sanctuaries peacefully though there was a long queue to get into the site commemorating the tomb. 6 denominations worship here and each one has it's own sanctuary within the whole "Church".
Finally we walked on Via Dolorosa which in this season is a busy street selling daily goods for the residents.
The City is clean and pleasant to stroll in in this cool weather. The Jerusalem stone which one sees in most building gives a very pleasant facade to the whole city.