Salaam, Shalom, Good Day from Jerusalem

As I write this I’m sitting in the foyer of the Golden Walls hotel; to my left is the Damascus Gate (circa 1542AD) and the city walls (circa 500BCE), to my right is a group of Palestinians cheering “Glory Glory Man United” as they watch the Premier League match (circa May 5th 2009).

This image is a pretty good metaphor for Jerusalem; a city of culture collisions where you can go out at 3am and buy a fake Rolex out of a back door in a 500 year old alley, and pick up a Crusifix, Star of David and copy of the Quran from the same store.

There is no place in the world quite like Jerusalem, a city that has undoubtedly seen more blood shed over it’s giant stone walls than any other still standing. And yet it doesn’t really feel threatening in any way. I took a walk through the Souq this evening, the large arabic market quarter. At 9.00pm I was expecting it to be pretty scary; tiny narrow roads and hidden dark doorways and alcoves. In actual fact I walked for an hour, and, aside from one group of Palestinians in a shisha bar that wanted to know how I got my hair to curl, I got nothing but politeness in all areas of the city; Arab, Jew and Christian.

Anyway, enough of the political stuff, I’m sure some of you are just reading because they want to know how my flight went and that I’m OK (I know for a fact that my mum reads this blog). My flight was brilliant. Very quick. I watched Valkyrie. Not so quick.

In case any of you don’t know, I’m paying my way in Israel by working part of the time as a leader on a pilgrimage. This does mean that I am privy to some of the hilarious observations which the older members of the group occasionally make. I’ll try to include a few of the best here. My favorites from today were; “don’t they have a lot of trees”, “it’s not very clean” and “you have to try and remember that people actually *live* here.”

What fun. Have a good night. See you tomorrow!

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