Monday, February 15, 2010

Old City Tour

Last Wednesday (the 10th) I went on an organized tour of the Old City through my school. We left after Ulpan and had a delicious lunch in the Muslim Quarter. We had a security guard with us who had two guns with him. I think the larger one is called an ouzo? Not really sure, looked like an M-16 to me. But we walked around for about five hours going to each quarter. And what I learned about the Armenian quarter is that it is closed off to people for most of the day except for the daily mass. So if I want to check out that area then I'll head to mass one of these days. I really enjoyed this trip to the Old City because our tour guide knew of all the small streets that took us up onto the roofs so we could have a better view. He explained to us that near the Wailing Wall they were excavating an area of land that was from the Roman period. They had found coins from the Romans just a few years ago. Then as we were walking through the Jewish quarter we saw the remains of the original Old City wall, which means that I saw the oldest wall in the world. (So he said) We also saw columns from the Roman period where they had their main road and their "mall." Each time we went to a new section or different street I was asking the tour guide how old the stones we were walking on were. They ranged from 1,500 years old, to about 500 years old. I find the stones that are still there and supporting so many of the buildings to be the most fascinating thing about the Old City.

After the Old City tour we returned around 5 pm and I went to Yoel's house for a party. Little did he tell me that it was his birthday that he had invited me over for! Ugh, I wish he had have told me because then I would have brought a bottle of wine for him. I really enjoy spending time with him and his family as it's nice to break away from the people I'm seeing everyday and experience what life is really like in Israel. There were about twenty of his friends, all English speak, most from the States and had gone on the same program I am on now and decided to stay. But something really funny was this big snow storm we just had, I guess there was a snowball fight in Dupont Circle in DC and one of the guys sons was the one that organized it! I guess he was on the front page of the Times, Journal, and Post. I keep forgetting to mention it to Papa to see if he saw it in the paper. The food was great, it was really nice to meet his children, his daughter is a few years older than me. I probably should have stayed in as I had a test the next day, but whatever. The frustrating part about Ulpan is that is so intense after class you have a lot of homework to do that it leaves no time to explore the city as much as I'd like. I hope once classes start next week that it will be better.

That Thursday (the 11th) after Ulpan I met Yoel and his wife for lunch downtown. We went to this place that had a great view of the Old City walls and was probably a block and half away. It was a gorgeous day and the food was fantastic. I talked with Yoel a lot about the classes I'm taking and the internships. I got an e-mail from one of the Professor's that I would like to do research for this past weekend. I have an interview on Thursday. I'm crossing my fingers. But we also talked about other opportunities in case this doesn't go through. After lunch he dropped me off at the Student Village and then I actually went back down to the Old City with my friends for some dinner. It was great to walk around at night, most of the prices are dropped as the owners just want to close shop. I bought two scarves, a t-shirt, and some batteries. We had great falafel at this small restaurant and just took our time. It's really funny how most of my friends here are always running into someone they know. When we were there, Jake ran into two people that he had known. I'll never run into someone I know in Israel!!!!!

Later that night, I had a horrible migraine. I think just being out all day, then being around the cigarette and hookah smoke made it worse. I wanted to sleep but I had to pack for my trip to Tzfat for the weekend. We were going to be leaving at 5:30 am. Ugh. I packed a lot of things I knew would get dirty as we were going to be going ATV-ing, cave climbing, and then rope swinging. I also had to pack a 'conservative' outfit for Shabbot services on Saturday. So that meant, skirt below the knees, legs covered, elbows covered, and color bones covered. I wanted to make sure I look appropriate as I didn't want to offend anyone while I was there.

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