It’s been years since I was last there and so much has happened in Israel since. Waiting in line, all waiting with me were tourists. A big Korean group, some Germans and quite a few French folks. No Israelis, though. Swiping my bag through security the guy asks me “What country are you from?” and I reply that I’m a local. He immediately shouts to someone at the back – “an Israeli, first time”. Not my first time, but okay.
So, I go over to the security guy at the back.
“You know you’re in the line for the Dome of the Rock, right? the crying wall is the other line.”
“Ofcourse I know, I can read signs.”
“But you know that since the 2000 Intifada this isn’t a very safe place for you to go in.”
I know, but I don’t think it’s that bad. If I can walk around in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem, something I wouldn’t dream of doing alone 4 years ago, I think I can handle it. The security guard then tries a few more “out of the book” phrases to convince me that it might not be a good idea, and when he gave up he asked me to write down my ID details “just in case” and gave me some obvious security instructions. Heartwarming.
A few snapshots of the crying wall from above, and we’re in…
I must say I remember the Dome of the Rock as something alot more impressive. In my memories it was a bit like the local version of the Taj Mahal, only in a more traditional Muslim kind of style. But I’ve changed, and I think the place changed as well, and now it seems smaller and much simpler. Still, it’s has extraordinary architecture, the Muslims see it – together with the Al-Aqsa Mosque – as the 3rd most holy of places, and with the years it has become a photography symbol for the city of Jerusalem.
There is a very large yard outside, where the local Arabs do just about everything with their families– eat, drink, play soccer, chitchat. There are also quite a few beggars and annoying fake tourist guides.
Non-Muslims are no longer allowed inside, which is really too bad since that’s what’s most interesting. Still, was a nice visit.
On the way out, walking through the Muslim quarter on the Via Dolorosa path, I had some Humus at the almost legendary Abu Shukri. Same problem as with the Dome of the Rock, though. That’s the dangers of reliving revisiting memories – they will never quite match up to the standards you’ve raised them to.