The Old City

The hostel was almost right outside Yaffo Gate, so as soon as I had my things unpacked, I went for a stroll in the famous Old City of Jerusalem. The first person I saw within the walls of the Old City, was a man that wanted to show me Jesus' grave — I declined. I do believe in Jesus, but I don't have any interest in seeing the grave. I must be one of few Westerners that don't want to see it, because on my walks around the city I was offered a visit to the grave numerous times. The funny thing is that they all claimed it would be a very short walk, "just around the corner", while it was said on very different locations inside the Old City. Come to think of it, wasn't Jesus buried outside the city?

Wailing Wall

I didn't have too much time left that day, but the following day I thought I'd check out the famous market. Wish I hadn't done it! I made the mistake of going inside that market without a map of any sort. Well, I did have a map of the Old City, but the market was just one white area that said 'market'. The many tiny streets and alleys weren't shown.

So, I went in, and initially I liked it. The atmosphere, the friendly shopkeepers who ask you in for a cup of tea... Of course they only want to sell, but still, it feels like a nice gesture. It became tedious though, as most shopkeepers don't take no for an answer. They practically try to drag you inside, and if there's one thing I don't like, it's doing things against my will. So, after a while I got bored, and thought I'd just leave the market. But.. have you ever tried to leave a labyrinth without a map? Well, it was like that.

I thought I'd look for the 'end of the tunnel', and found it — or so I thought. I saw blue sky and green trees at the end of one of the little market streets, and headed towards it. Before I could actually see the end of the street, I was stopped by a guard who said I couldn't go there. Plenty of people were walking there, but for some reason I wasn't allowed. So, I turned around, and looked for another exit. And again, I saw 'the light', headed towards it, and was stopped by a different guard. On asking "why can't I go there, what is there that I can't see it?", the only reply was "you can't go there - go back". No matter what I said, the same reply was repeated. In the end I gave up and started walking back again. A man tapped on my shoulder — a policeman I think he was. He had seen and heard what happened, and was nice enough to explain to me in his best English why I wasn't allowed to walk down that street. It appeared that in the end of that street there was a mosque, and as it was Friday, non-muslim women weren't allowed to go in. If only the first guard that stopped me could have explained that there was a mosque there, I would have understood immediately, and not have argued at all.

~ to be continued ~