Monday, July 25, 2011

Pre-breakfast sightseeing

I had set my alarm for 7am, but as it happens I woke up at 6am. Slightly puzzled... shouldn't there have been a loud call to prayer at 4.30 or 5am ? If there was, I slept though it. The early start meant I was probably the first Westerner to enter the Western (Wailing) Wall precinct and then go on though the non-Moslem entrance to the Haram ash-Sharif (or Temple Mount) area. The two great holy buildings there are the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It's unfortunate, although understandable, that neither allow tourists inside.

Hopefully, I will not fall victim to Jerusalem Syndrome. Apparently, this is a well documented mental illness that affects about 50 visitors to Jerusalem each year. They become excessively religious and either believe themselves to be of religious significance or start spouting prophesies -- only to recover later and feel ashamed of the whole episode. I have read about this, and witnessed one man who looked suspiciously like he thought he might be Jesus !

My early morning tourist duties were followed by breakfast at Holy Bagels (not Wholly Bagels as you'll find in Wellington), then a stroll through the Armenian quarter and visits to three more of the Old City gates (Zion, New and Jaffa). I've also had a hair cut and a face scraping -- that's what my cut-throat razor shave felt like, although there was no blood !

In the afternoon, I left the Old City and walked up Jaffa Street (where there are trams) to Ben Yehuda Street (which is part-pedestrianised mall). I returned via another pedestrian mall where high-end shopping is done, and somehow ended up buying two pairs of jeans and three t-shirts !

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