Friday, August 09, 2013

Good Intentions...

We started out the day with good intentions. Our goal was to go to the Hadassah Hospital and see the Chagall Windows. The windows, were given by Marc Chagall to the people of Israel in February 1962. Upon checking the visiting hours on the Internet, I found the synagogue (within the hospital and a "working" house of worship) was closed for the Shabbat on Friday and Saturday.

As stated yesterday, the Dome of the Rock and Temple Mount was also closed to all, except Muslims, until Sunday. So our plan is to take all three of these sites on Sunday. Tomorrow, Shabbat, much of Israel -- and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, will be closed for the holiday. The other quarters will be in full swing and close on their day of rest on Sunday.

Overlooking the City.
Looking for some interesting things to do today, we chose to take the "Bus 99" around the city. At a cost of about $20 per person, the tour bus is a great way to get an overview of Jerusalem. During the 2 hour tour there is an on-going "commentary" about the places we're seeing. We were able to pick up the bus just outside Jaffe Gate so it was very convenient for us.

Since it 's Shabbat (the Israeli and Jewish day of rest and worship) at sundown, only 3 buses run the 25-stop route. Most other days, one can get on and off the bus if something especially interesting comes along. On Friday, however, there is no off/on service! Still, we saw much of the City we would not have seen. One site in particular was an overview of Jerusalem from high above the City and was very impressive.

Burla Street, Nayot, Jerusalem
Anglo English Speaking immigrants.
Among the 25 stations along the way, we saw the Knesset (Israeli's parliament), the Hebrew Union College, the Israeli Supreme Court and the Jerusalem Mall. We ventured into a number of neighborhoods, some of which were established in the 1920's. Some of the neighborhoods, however, were established much more recently. One I found interesting, Nayot, was established in 1963 for the "Anglo" English speaking immigrant population -- primarily from the U.S. and Canada!

At the end of the 2 hour bus tour, we found ourselves at the Central Bus Station for Jerusalem.  Besides being a "bus station", it is replete with shops of all kinds. Foods, clothing, jewelry and even a pharmacy were in ample supply. After looking around for awhile, we went to the information center for -- "information". Our plan, over the next 3 or 4 days, is to take public transportation to such destinations as Masada, the Dead Sea, the Hadassah Hospital and the Knesset. Next Saturday we'll transit by bus to Tel Aviv and the next leg of our journey.

My original impression of Israel is that we'd have to rent a car or take "day tours" to see much of our itinerary. But such is not the case. Jerusalem in particular, and Israel in general, is a modern "first world" country with a full and complete public transportation system. It isn't like Europe, and their train system, but it's pretty good.

So, as always, tuned.....