The Old City

Today Kathy and  I went on a three hour walking tour of the Old City. It was pretty cool because it’s a free tour you just tip the guide at the end. So for 40 shekels we walked around all the quarters in the Old City. We started at the Christian quarter and stopped at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. We didn’t get to go inside the church (if you pay for the tour you would go inside, I’m thinking about seeing if Michael will do the paid tour with me on Sunday) but it was really beautiful from the outside and the rooftop. From there we walked through the Muslim quarter and saw some unique graffiti. Our tour guide explained that for people that are able to make the pilgrimage to mecca, once they arrive back home they will get this graffiti so that everyone knows that they reached that pillar of faith. From the Muslim quarter we went to the Jewish quarter and went to the Western Wall. It was very busy at the Western Wall as you can imagine, but I was able to put my note in the wall. Pretty amazing experience. From the Jewish quarter we walked to the Armenian quarter. That is the one quarter that people (tours) are not freely allowed in. So we literally walked by the buildings but there were huge walls so we couldn’t see any of it. There is a point on the rooftops were you are in the middle of all four quarters; we were able to spend some time up there and see each of the quarters at one time. Our tour guide explained that the country of Israel doesn’t do a great job of keeping track of how many people live in the old city but she gave us best estimates: Christian Quarter 1,000 – 3,000; Muslim Quarter 18,000; Jewish Quarter 3,000 and Armenian Quarter 1,000. I was amazing at those numbers I had no idea that many people lived there. Pretty amazing. We took a look at the Tower of David, and then the tour ended where it started at the Jaffa Gate. The Mamilla Mall is right by the entrance to the old city so after the tour was complete, Kathy left to go get her daughters and I headed into the mall for some lunch. I ate at the Mamilla Cafe and enjoyed a tomato, mozzarella sandwich and a cappuccino. I’ve got a couple of hours to hang out and then I will be headed with some of the Announce Media crew for dinner tonight. Tomorrow we have a big day of touring we are headed to the Masada, Dead Sea, and then we will end at the Western Wall at the start of Shabbat. I hope to have pictures posted by Saturday or Sunday for both trips, so be on the look out for them.