Stories

 

Israel


From the 16th to the 21st of October 2013

After the long border crossing, we reached Jerusalem and settled in a hostel inside the walls.

Fought for thousands of years, Jerusalem is the holy city of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, a pilgrimage place by excellence.

We strolled through the narrow cobbled streets of the old town and enjoyed feeling the energy emanating from these different cultures living together in a confined space. We admired boutiques and art galleries in the Jewish Quarter as well are colorful and animated shops in the Muslim Quarter. From the Christ's condemnation place, pilgrims prayed while following the Via Dolorosa through the Muslim, Jewish and Christian Quarter to the Holy Sepulchre, a church built on the site of the crucifixion , burial and resurrection of Jesus. The Dome of the Rock, built in the seventh century is an important place for Muslims. It is recognized by all three religions as the site of Abraham's sacrifice. Unfortunately for us, the visit of the mosque wasn't allowed during the religious festival of Aïde. The Western Wall is to the Judaism's holiest place. The wall is the only remains of the foundations of the Second Temple of Jerusalem destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. Each day, hundreds of Jews deposit written prayers which are inserted into the slots of the famous wall.

    

Just before entering Palestine, we got honked by an Englishman with whom we met in the long waiting process at the entrance of the country. With his friends, he offered to drive us to the heart of Bethlehem. His offer saved us a lot of time and energy. We visited the Church of the Nativity, built on the birthplace of Jesus, where hundreds of pilgrims are queuing to meditate. Bethlehem is fully managed by Palestinians, however, in recent years, the city was surrounded by a huge wall controlled by the Israelis. After the Berlin Wall we visited in June, the Cairo Walls just a few weeks earlier, the Bethlehem Wall was the third block of concrete to which we got confronted this year. The entry and exit of Palestine required passing a double checkpoint with security check and a possible passport control.

    

During our stay in the Jerusalem area, the tension between Israelis and Palestinians was definitely palpable.

After two days in the heart of Jerusalem, we were pleasantly greeted by Svetlana and Edward, the parents of two friends (India & Mahima) we met in India a few years earlier. We got spoiled by Svetlana's amazing dishes while Edward was a great driver. He took us to the Dead Sea in order to discover the Israeli shores. The sea access outside of designated areas being very restricted, we went to a beach resort, relaxed in a thermal bath, floated in the Dead Sea and had a natural clay spa. After two days, our friends took time to drive us to Tel Aviv before.

    

On the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, we lost oriental atmosphere to find a very cosmopolitan city. With outdoor fitness facilities, a nice promenade for walkers and runners and great surfing waves, the beach front looked more like Venice Beach (Los Angeles) rather to our beloved beach of Tulum (Mexico). Our stay in Tel Aviv was the opportunity to reconnect with some traveling friends, including Amir and Ani & Sandesh with whom we had a good time.

    

I have never imagined that leaving a country by air could be so tedious. After a long questioning and punctilious luggage check, we took off for Geneva.

Click here to read the following story about our trip in Goa, India.

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See the album "Israel - October 2013"