Saturday, October 15, 2011

West Jeru

We only had two morning classes on Thursday (October 13), so free day until Arabic at 5 pm! Woot! I went out with Robin (roomie), Michael Sean, Liz, and Tyler. We decided to visit the Greek Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene, located on the Mount of Olives. It is very recognizable because of its golden onion domes. I love the way it looks. It is only open at very few and specific times though, so we were lucky we had the free day during one of its open times. The church is up the hill a little from Gethsemane, and it is set amidst trees and has a nice stairway/pathway leading up to the church from the entrance gate. The outside is the most impressive; the inside was pretty small, but still nice. Afterwards we just walked through the valley to the Old City, passed the Pillar of Absalom and the Western Wall, walked through the Jewish Quarter. Then we headed over to the Muslim quarter near the Austrian Hospice and got shwarma!! Shwarma is shaved kebab meat that is put in a pita or wrap with other deliciousness. I've been wanting to get one in the city for a while, but I'm never out when I'm hungry or without a sack lunch. So today was my day to get one! It was chicken, and it was pretty good, but I really want to try a beef one, because I think they are more authentic. Anyways, after lunch we just basically wandered around and let the roads and alleys lead the way. We found ourselves over in West Jerusalem by the afternoon. We found a nice grassy park to sit down in, and we all took a little rest. That is, until three huge horses and their riders just galloped on over and started training in the middle of the park. Ok, not what I was expecting, but that's cool. After the park we went and saw Montefiore's windmill, the YMCA, and walked on Ben Yehuda street. It was a pretty quiet day overall because it was the first full day of Sukkot, the holiday in remembrance of the tabernacles and tents of the wandering Israelites. The YMCA was definitely a highlight. It is a beautiful stone tower in the center, with wings on each side. Now it's a hotel and restaurant. And don't worry, we definitely took a picture of us doing the YMCA hand/arm signs in front of the building. I know that's what y'all were thinking about. After walking for so long, we all really just wanted some ice cream or something, but like I said, everything was closed for Sukkot. In that moment of despair, we saw them- the Golden Arches. Leave it to McDonald's to be the only thing open, and for us Americans to find it. Let me just say that the hot fudge sundae I got there was incredible. Thank you MickeyD's for always being there for me.

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