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The next Morning the Boys took off early for the Leonardo Da Vinci Airport in order to drop the rental off and get situated with passport control. This was not a flight the Boys wanted to miss!
Driving the through the crazy Roman traffic Boys didn't kill themselves and were able to get through Passport Control with about an hour to go, which gave them time for a coffee and breakfast!
The flight took a little over 3 hours and the Boys landed in Tel Aviv. It was a quick pass through Passport Control for the Boys and then a puzzling find that Israeli taxi drivers would not take credit cards, but would take American Dollars. $100 dollars later and an illuminating drive the Israeli desert, the Boys were dropped off at the Prima Royale Hotel in what is called "New Jerusalem." Getting to the Hotel, they had to pay $350 for the one extra night for two very small beds since the tour did not start the next day. Starving, the Boys asked the Hotel attendant where they could get a bite to eat. That was a little more involved than they expected since it was the Sabbath, and almost everything was closed till sundown except in the Non-Jewish area of the Old Town. So with some time on their hands and room in their bellies, Mike and Bone walked the 20 minutes through the famed walled gates into Old Jerusalem!
Mike and Bone, Outside Old Jerusalem!
Old Jerusalem? Once inside the walls, Jerusalem's Old City is divided into four uneven quarters: Muslim, Christian, Armenian, and Jewish. The Muslim Quarter is the largest and most populated quarter of Jerusalem's Old City.
The Old City is a mélange of history, religion, cultures, and mostly tourist crap! Mike and Bone entered through the famed Jaffa Gate and entered a labyrinth of twisting and veering streets that one would expect from a several thousand year old city.
The Ancient Walls of Jerusalem!
Wandering around Mike and Bone came upon a classic Shish Kabob place. Since they really did not have much of a lunch on the plane so a great local meal on the street in the middle of Old Jerusalem sounded awesome!
The Ancient Walls of Jerusalem!
"Well at least the beer was OK!" The shish kebob's should have been called "sheesh kabobs," because sheesh, that is a lot of money for cold fries and stringy meat ! Thoroughly under-whelmed, Mike and Bone continued their solo trek through the ancient city.
The Ancient Walls of Jerusalem!
The Boys wandered into the Muslim section and with the unfriendly stares and the time of the evening made the Boys veer out of that section and into the Jewish Quarter! Since they were in the neighborhood they thought they would check out perhaps the most famous and infamous places in the old city, the Western Wall!
First sight of Mount Moriah; .... or the Temple Mount; ..... or al-Ḥaram al-Sharīf !
(You chose what flavor!)
Mike and Bone were surprised to find out that to enter the Western Wall area, one needs to walk through a security wall similar to an airport where you get scanned for unpleasant things.
The iconic Muslim Dome of the Rock, glowing over the Western Wall!
Once in, Mike and Bone immediately committed their first faux paux. For some reason, the Western Wall seemed to be segmented into two areas. The Mid-Western Boys walked down to the closest "areas" only to find it was for the girls! Apparently, Jewish tradition separates men for women in the Western Wall, and the Boys were quickly "educated" by a number of Jewish women that this area, were ladies only! Walking over to the right side of the wall, Mike and Bone observed Orthodox Jews reading the Torah next to the wall and teen boys handing out Torahs for the adults to read, it was quite the process.
Mike and Bone, at the Western Wall (part 1)
Even as late as 10:00 PM the Wall as packed with religious fervor that Mike and Bone simply did not share. They decided to mosey along out of Old Town and look for a good ole-fashion cold beer to worship!
Now! Where for a Beer? Mike
Heading back out of the Jaffa Gate (the Boys were able to backtrack through the twisty streets!) The Boys were in dire need for a nice cold beer. Jumping in a cab, they had a cabbie that was not an "English-first" speaker. However when Mike and Bone used words like "beer" and "bar," he knew exactly where to take the Boys!
Partying! Jerusalem Style!
Dropping Mike and Bone off in the Machaneh Yehudah Market walked up to the quaint street side bar the Soramelo Cafe House on Etz Hayyim St. There, very attentive and friendly proprietor offered Mike and Bone a lovely street side table and brought the Boys a round of delicious IPA's and for Bone an shot of Jameson's! Mike and Bone enjoyed the increasingly busy street as the night progressed. One unfortunate side effect of input is output. When Mike and Bone asked about a bathroom, they were advised that a tree in a parking lot around the back was the unisex recommendation! Mike and Bone helped (with many, many others) nitrogenate that tree to the point it should be around 1,000 years from now! By 12:30PM, the rounds of drinks began to blur and the Boys decided to check out a few more establishments in the Market!
Mike and Bone! Being Mike and Bone!
Walking through the Market, Mike and Bone strolled by shops with spices heaped all over the shop tables, kosher butcher shops and ... a local brew pub!!! The Boys ordered a few rounds of wonderful IPA's for Mike and dark porters for Bone, until the wee hour of 1:00 AM. After several hours of imbibing, the boys impaired thought drift to a familiar refrain ....gotta.... have....... PIZZA!!! By sheer serendipity, there was an Israeli Pizza Slice store just a half a block from the brew pub!
As anywhere in this little planet will tell you, 1:00 AM is a very busy time for a pizza slice shop, and this place was no different. After a 15 minute wait, Mike and Bone got their pie slices and one more beer (a couple of Stella Artois) for the road. While they ate and drank their last beers of the evening, they ended up a an interesting conversation with a couple of European Goth types. An apropos way to end the evening and start their stay in Israel. Somehow, Mike and Bone found a taxi to get back to the Hotel around 2:00 AM!