Our trip to the holy land started out with a bit of theatrics. For starters, I was hungover. To add insult to injury, we were running super late. We had planned on an hour drive from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but due to some random traffic and a driver slower than dirt, we ended up on a two-hour pilgrimage and missed the pickup for our Jerusalem day tour. Apparently, no one has ever been late for a tour in the history of the holy city, because the tour company screamed at Drew over the phone when we called to ask where we could meet up with the group. This will obviously be reflected in their tripadvisor review. We missed the stop at the Mount of Olives (bummer) and met up with the tour outside of the old city. And here is where it gets basic.
We somehow ended up on a bizarre joint German and English tour. Since we missed the beginning, we still aren’t sure if we just randomly got paired with a large group of Germans, or if we unknowingly booked a tour with a Company specializing in German. The other two Americans were just as confused as us, which makes me think its the former. We walked painfully slow through the Old Town, stopping every few feet for a spiel from our guide in both German and English. Double the fun. I honestly couldn’t even tell which language the guy was speaking half the time, since he went from one to the other and back again so quickly. By the time my mind registered that we were back in English and I started to tune back in, he would start speaking in German and my eyes would glaze over. Repeat.
So, what did we see? Lots of Jesus stuff. The site of the Last Supper, Via Dolorosa – the path on which he carried the cross to his crucifixion, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where he was crucified and buried and then resurrected. It felt like a Jesus drive-by in a German car. I wasn’t sure if this was a tour or Sunday school, but I was hot and there were just so many damn tourists. I prefer to get my sight-seeing done at 6am before the crowds wake up, but due to our tight timeline on this trip, we didn’t have a morning in Jerusalem to spare.
The highlight of the day for me was obviously the Jewish sites of the Old City and the Western Wall. I was not aware that the prayer note situation was BYO pen, but I managed to appropriate one from a little girl, write my prayer and jam in into one of the cracks. People all around were crying and praying. I felt like a total ass hole when I took a selfie. Also, I’d like to note that the men’s side of the wall is bigger and way nicer than the woman’s side. Wasn’t crazy about that. All in all, neither Drew or I felt that overwhelminfg spiritualism that everyone talks about when visiting Jerusalem. Maybe it was the German soundtrack, or the hordes of the tourists, or the streets packed with vendors that gave it a “holy Disneyland” vibe. In summation, I’m still a half-assed Jew, perfectly content in my mediocrity and apathetically accepting of whatever direction my soul takes in the afterlife, should that be an option.
After lunch we ditched out on the tour early and went back to our hotel to nap. The only thing left on the itinerary was the Holocaust museum. I just didn’t have it in me to cry my way through that thing in a German tour group. Yeah, I said it. Our hotel is a restored YMCA, and it is awesomely beautiful and historic, but the rooms look like a cabin for the naughty kids at sleep away camp.
Later that night we went out to a fabulous dinner (the first truly decent meal of the trip). The waitress told me I looked like Shailene Woodley, which kind of pissed me off because she’s a brunette, but she’s also skinny so fine, I’ll take it. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a market to get some supplies for the Jordan portion of our trip (read: booze). It’s Ramadan so I can’t take the chances of having to be sober for five days on vacation. Oh, the horror. Start making bets on how Israeli wine tastes now and tune into the next blog to find out. Next, we popped in to the swanky King David hotel for a nightcap, which turned into three or four, and soon we were drunk in a fancy ass hotel in Jerusalem. Of to bed fairly early.
Tomorrow we cross the border into Jerusalem and head to Petra. Prepare yourself for a truly narcissistic display of photography.