Glorious Jerusalem, Holy Bethlehem

Jerusalem, glorious Jerusalem. By the time we got to Jerusalem, on the 23rd of December, it had been two weeks since I’d been in the city and boy did I miss it! I had been driving my family nuts talking about all the wonderful things we could do there. Getting back to Jerusalem was like returning¬†home.

We arrived late in the evening on Friday and missed the welcoming of Shabbat at the Western Wall. Instead, we grabbed 7-shekel falafel sandwiches at a stand across from the Damascus Gate and wandered through the Old City at night. My mother was amazed by the cleaning job that had been done on the walls and buildings, and my brother and father were astounded by the beauty of this living and breathing Old City. Continue reading

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An eventful weekend

Friday rolled around this week and I was so excited, I couldn’t WAIT to get out of Tel Aviv and go just about anywhere. Anywhere, of course, turned out to be Jerusalem. None of my friends were available to go camping with me in the Golan or in the desert (work, birthdays, work, out of the country etc) so I inevitably turned to Jerusalem again and luckily, a German friend of mine working with disabled children in the settlement of Gilo was free and decided that, as he likes showing people around, he’d take me and the new volunteers at his organization on a little tour of Jerusalem.

I arrived in the city around noon, much earlier than the “tour”, to meet a Palestinian friend of mine in the Old City. He kept me waiting two hours, but when we finally met up he took me to Helen’s Cistern, a hidden place in a cave under a church by the Holy Sepulcher. My friend told the priests I was married to his cousin to avoid having to pay the 20 shekel fee and we walked down the slippery steps into a huge cavern with lots of water in it. It was magnificent. He then took me to his school where I watched some young kids practice their gymnastics. It was lovely, until a four year old threw a nail at my head and got yelled at by the teacher. However, that tiny incident aside, everyone was as lovely as usual. No one but my friend spoke English, but everyone smiled and made gestures and offered me water and made sure I was happy. Continue reading

Jerusalem, the party town

Every time I tell Tel Avivians that I love Jerusalem, they look at me as if I’m mad. “Jerusalem?!” they say incredulously, “but it’s so dirty! And there’s so much tension! And there’s nothing to do!”

They don’t know what they’re talking about! This weekend, a friend of mine and I converted yet another Tel Avivian to the wonders of Jerusalem. This time not to the Old City, but to its bars and clubs and wonderful, wonderful, friendly people.¬† Continue reading

Goa Florentin and Jerusalem

I’ve been wondering whether my posts are too cluttered, if I should do what my friend does and limit myself to one topic per post. What do you think? Is that necessary?

This past Thursday was the opening of Goa Florentin, a new psy bar and gallery on Hatserim street in Florentin owned by my friend’s dad. The opening was great, there were crowds standing outside the bar, a live reggae band playing on the roof, free rounds of beer, beautiful art on the walls and jewelry on display, and very very nice people. The bar is nice, comfortable and easy to be in. It is not pretentious or exclusive, it’s cheap, and there are comfortable couches to sit on (if you’re lucky enough and no one else is on it). Continue reading

King George and other things…

Last week, I mentioned that there’s barely a boring week her. It seems I spoke too soon. Not that I had a boring week per say, but definitely a lot less eventful. I saw some friends (really, such lovely girls), made a new friend, climbed the breakers of Jaffa Port again, and wished my beloved boyfriend a happy 25th birthday.

I was supposed to visit Bethlehem last weekend, but was stood up. To be honest, I’m not that surprised, but I was very frustrated. And because of Shabbat, I couldn’t leave on Saturday because there are no sherut (mini-van buses that run on Shabbat) by my house to take me to the central bus station. In any case, I did what I haven’t done in a long time – I spent a lazy weekend on my sofa eating, watching TV and talking to my boyfriend. Continue reading

The Israeli life

I’m always astounded by how eventful my daily life here is. Perhaps I was exceptionally lazy in Montreal, or perhaps all the homework from class ensured that I didn’t have much spare time. Or most likely, it was the limiting (and long) winters. In any case, I think since my arrival I haven’t had one boring, uneventful week here… and this week certainly was no exception.

On Tuesday night I met with a lovely friend for dinner and a walk along the previously mentioned housing protest on Rothschild Boulevard. I was amazed at how much it had expanded since the last time I went. It had almost doubled. There were various locations with artists performing live music and giant screens had been rigged and people were watching television and documentaries together under the trees. It sounds lovely and romantic, but in reality, it’s not all fun and games in Tel Aviv’s absurd heat and humidity. Continue reading

Some Ramallah and Jerusalem

The last two days I’ve been stuck in bed (well, to be more accurate, stuck on the amazingly comfortable couch in the living room) sick. Therefore, I have had time to sort through photos of my exceptionally eventful weekend and write a post before next Friday! First off, you will notice this post is tagged Palestine, even though I spent a significant amount of time in Jerusalem. This is because I stayed in East Jerusalem and spent almost all my time in the Old City in the Muslim and Christian quarters. Perhaps Jerusalem deserves its own tag and for the purposes of this blog it can be its own city-state, what think you?

Weekends here begin Thursday evening as the work week is Sunday – Thursday, a fact that never ceases to amuse one of my best friends. Therefore, on Thursday afternoon I met with the author of Lost in the Middle East and he and I caught a sherut (mini-van bus) to Jerusalem. On the sherut, my travel partner for the weekend began talking to a Palestinian man who then walked us to the buses heading to Ramallah in Jerusalem. It was very interesting. The man has a Masters degree in economics and yet is unable to find work in Palestine due to what he says is the corruption and nepotism of the current governmental system. As a result, he is forced to cross illegally into Israel and work as a construction worker to support his family. He invited us to come visit him at some point in his village for lunch. Continue reading