I cannot explain how hot Jerusalem was today. 44 degrees Celsius doesn't cover it. Oven-temp doesn't begin to explain. I guess the best way to describe today is "running from place to place in a desperate search for shade and/or a/c." We started out walking to the Old City. Going through the Arab side was a different experience for me, especially wearing modest clothing. The Jewish appearance of modesty and the Arab appeaerance are very distinctively different, and I felt quite uncomfortable.... until we went through the metal detector into the Jewish Quarter. then I felt right at home. I felt almost more visible than when I wore regular tourist clothing. It is difficult to explain.
We visited the Kotel, and it was close to 11 am when we arrived. Oddly enough, the men's side was almost empty. The women's side had many more attendees, and I enjoyed my final private moments. We were unable to get tickets to the Kotel Tunnel Tour, so that is definitely first on my list for next time (which I have decided will definitely be in the winter or spring. No more summer visits unless absolutely necessary). Also tops on my list is the Tower of David sound and light show-- the month of June they don't show it on Tuesdays... and what is today? Yep.
We did get to see the Southern Wall and the Jerusalem Archaeological Museum with a self-guided tour. We actually walked up the same steps that the Jewish pilgrims would walk when they would give their sacrifices to the high priests to make on their behalf. Crazy. Amazing. Unbelievable. The unearthed ruins are all outside (thus devilishly hot), so twice we sought respite in the blessed Davidson Center's air conditioned building that showed two movies alternating in English and Hebrew. The second time we sat there for like a half hour, just dreading having to leave. Finally we got up the courage.
We had some lunch in one of the cafes in the Old City, and then made our way through the Cardo where we picked up a few final gifts. On our way out of the Old City, we visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was an interesting thing to see people having the same experience that I have at the Kotel, but I felt nothing except as a respectful observer. I mean, there were people positively WAXING the table where Jesus was supposedly laid out for his burial preparations. They were rubbing the stone with cloths, and kissing the stone and the cloths. It was an interesting observation for me. I wondered if this is what the religious Christians feel when they come to visit the Kotel.
Spent a little time back at the hotel, and then I had an appointment. Afterwards, Patrick and I went to dinner at the American Colony Hotel across the street. We should have stayed there. It looked so nice. No lying website there, no five Presidential Suites that had icky toiletries and bare a/c. Next time. So many things to do differently in Jerusalem next time.
Tomorrow we visit Yad Vashem with my cousin, then off to Masada. Time is running out.