After more than a month in Israel, Brian's schedule finally allowed us to go to Jerusalem yesterday. It was strange to be there, since we have grown up always hearing about Jerusalem. It seemed a little unreal to me, like the biblical place was still somewhere else. But we had a fun crazy day. We started by going to the BYU Jerusalem Center (from where Brian took the above photo of the view of the old city) and then walked down. We entered in through the Damascus Gate, which we were advised was more friendly than the closer Herod Gate. Both gates go into the Arab part of the city with the difference being that the Damascus Gate enters directly into lots of shops. Of course they want to be friendly so we will buy things. They like to ask you where you're from in an attempt to lure you into their shop. The maze of shops was unlike anything we have ever seen and is what made us feel like we are really in the Middle East. Tel Aviv just feels Mediterranean. We don't stick out there nearly as much as in the muslim quarter of Jerusalem. I was just about the only woman around who had visible hair. Brian hopes I wasn't causing too much of a fracas with my 'brazen display of blond locks'. Pushing a stroller through Jerusalem was not the most fun thing ever, but Colin was a great little guy.

The men's side of the Western Wall. Brian had a private adventure here since Ann was not allowed. He even got a blessing which he then did not have the money to pay for (since our money was in Ann's purse). Does this mean the blessing does not count? The man had his hand on Brian's head before he even really knew what was happening. The whole thing seemed quite thoughtful until the request for money. Kind of seems reminiscent of the money changers. Another nice hasidic Jew led him into another part of the wall- off to the side and indoors where more of the orthodox Jews were chanting and rocking back and forth. He also wanted money for explaining some of the details of their worship. Remember to leave your wallet with your wife when you go to the wailing wall. Nevertheless, it was very cool to come to this remarkable place, which to the Jews is the origin point of all creation. In the picture you can see the white pieces of paper containing vows and pleas to God which are crammed into the cracks between the stones.

The Via Dolorosa, trying to sell us carpets.
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