I'm loving it here. It's a diverse place in terms of religion, people, buildings, food, etc. Walking through Old Jerusalem, I've heard all sorts of languages and seen people from all over the world. Today a man from Congo helped me and a guy from Belgium our way around a blocked street through a monastery. While looking around a shop I heard a group speaking Croatian. There's lots of Russian and Polish people too. It's really amazing. Most seem to be here for religious purposes, but a lot of tourists too. The most tourists I've seen in one place during my whole trip.
The day was pretty rainy. I was up early as usual, trying to beat the crowds, but this time it didn't help. There's just no avoiding tourists here. I immediately walked over to the Dome of the Rock, only to find it closed again. I was told it would open on Sunday to non-muslims, and I'm wondering if I'll get a chance to see it.
My second stop and the highlight of my day was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is where many believe Jesus was crucified and buried. It's a really beautiful church. Inside are so many incredible paintings and the atmosphere is pretty amazing. It was quite relaxing walking through it. There were three giant tour groups already inside when I got there and this was around 7:30 am. Some people seemed really touched to be here and seemed to be in tears.
After the church visit, I made my way to the Mount of Olives, hoping to get a good view of the city. The view from the top was terrific, but I wasn't able to get very good photos as my telephoto lens seems to be malfunctioning. Good thing there's a five year warranty on it. On the way down I stopped by the Dominus Flevit Church, where Jesus is said to have wept over the desctruction of the Second Temple and the dispora of the Jewish people. I left the old city for a bit, walking through new Jerusalem, which is quite modern. Often it reminded me of walking along Stephen Avenue in Calgary.
Coming back through Jaffa Gate, I stopped by the Church of the Redeemer. It looks like a fairly new church compared to most of the other ones in the neighborhood, but what it offers is access to one of it's towers and the best view of the old city. I climbed up and took a few photos just as the rain was easing up and the clouds were starting to clear. As I climbed down, the church was closing and they actually locked me inside the tower. I started knocking on the door and was thinking of who I could call on my cell to get out, but after a few minutes my knocks were heard and they let me out. It seemed like they were just about to leave too. I guess I took a while up on the tower and they forgot about me.
Tomorrow I'll check out more of what this place has to offer, hopefully without rain.