Friday, January 9, 2015

Legen...wait for it...

...dary!  (yeah, we've been watching some How I Met Your Mother)

After my Christmas break in Wisconsin and a not so great, exhausting travel day (delayed flight, lost luggage) I eventually made it back to Tel Aviv! 

And guess who was there waiting for me... David! And he even told me he was coming, because who would just show up in a country randomly, right?

We took the train back to Haifa together. It was kind of a stressful train ride because we had to find him a new hotel for the night. Because of my delayed flight, he missed the check-in time for his hostel. Thankfully, the trains in Israel have wifi, even though it's glacially slow. When the train got to Haifa (after midnight), we split up for the night to get some sleep. I was definitely in need of sleep.

I was supposed to go to class early the next morning, but that just didn't happen. I didn't get to bed until around 2am, and that was after missing a night of sleep the day before while I was flying. I didn't wake up until 1 the next day.

A little while later, David met up with me on campus. We hung out there a little bit, and then I had to go to a class that night. Afterwards, we adventurously made falafel in the microwave. By the way, this was on New Year's Eve! It wasn't the most exciting New Year's Eve ever, but we did watch a fun movie and were able to stay awake, so there's that.

The next day was our Haifa sightseeing day. We started out by heading to the Bahai Gardens for a tour. It was fun to get to do that because I'd never been inside before. We were able to get some awesome pictures!









The tour involved going down 700 stairs! Much better than going up 700 stairs :)



Then we had to stop back at campus so I could be reunited with my precious luggage. It was a happy reunion, although kind of annoying that it interrupted our day.

The rest of the day demonstrates my failure as a tour guide haha. We planned to stop by the beach, even though it was getting dark out. Sadly, we ended up on the wrong bus. The beach plan was discarded, and we just headed to the German Colony to get dinner. We spent a lot of time riding buses. Oops. I still don't know Haifa very well. As of Christmas break, I had been here for less than 2 months...

However, it was fun once we got to the German Colony neighborhood! There's a beautiful view of the gardens from there, and there were Christmas lights!! Well, maybe they were actually "holiday lights" haha. 





Dinner was great. After dinner there was some more stress including a blocked credit card and not being able to find a taxi. And jet lag. But once again, everything worked out. We met up early the next morning to go to JERUSALEM!

Maybe waking up at 5:30 in the morning the next day wasn't the best idea, but I managed to get up. Sadly, I was sick though :(   And I never get sick. I think it was the sleep deprivation. We slept through most of the 2 hour bus ride to Jerusalem.

I think I was a much better tour guide in Jerusalem than in Haifa. I still remembered my way around, yay!! I was so happy to be back! I was just there for stake conference, but I hadn't gotten to actually go to the city. We dropped our luggage off at the hotel, and then went straight to the Old City.



Wait, actually first we made a pit stop at this lion. I had to pay homage to the fun we had here on Lauren's birthday.



The first real thing we did was the Ramparts Walk. You get to walk on top of the Old City walls, and it's a fun way to get some lovely Jerusalem views!







After that we wandered back through the Old City. We did some souvenir shopping and stopped at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Yes, Kaitlyn... if you're reading this.... I was thinking of you. I hope my tour of the church lived up to yours!







We got some lunch in West Jerusalem, and then chilled at the hotel for a little bit before going to the Jewish Quarter for Shabbat. We sat by the Hurva Synagogue for a few minutes and then headed to the Western Wall.



You're not allowed to take pictures at the Western Wall once Shabbat starts, so this is as close to the wall as my pictures go. Here's one from when we were on our way there and back.




And one with a view of the JC!



Seeing this place on Friday night is something everyone that comes to Israel needs to do! It's such an interesting glimpse into Judaism. I love it there! David thought it was pretty cool too. We did some people watching and observed lots of praying, singing, and dancing. I tried to convince him to dance but it just didn't happen haha.

Walking back through the Old City after dark was cool! We were never allowed to be there after dark as BYU students. Here's a deserted Jewish Quarter street.



I was barely awake by the time we got back to the hotel, so we called it a night early. That is, after wandering around for a long time trying to find a restaurant that was open on Shabbat.  #jerusalemprobs

The next morning we took a taxi to the BYU Jerusalem Center to go to church. I thought it would be basically empty there because the new students haven't arrived yet, but it turned out being more full than usual with a ton of tour groups.



After church we stopped by the Western Wall again (after finding some falafel that tasted a lot better than the microwavable version we'd eaten a few days ago). I'd never been there on a Saturday before! It looked just like any other day, it wasn't crazy like it is on Friday nights. Our next stop was Zion's Gate, to visit a few churches.

We went to Dormition Abbey and St. Peter in Gallicantu. It was fun to see some Christmas decorations still up at both places, and to read the French on the walls of St. Peter's. 







As we were leaving St. Peter's it started POURING rain. We had an umbrella but we still got soaking wet, especially our feet! We ended up having to take refuge inside Dormition Abbey and visit it again haha.

When the rain let up, we went to the Garden Tomb. It was still a little drizzly and gross outside... but I guess I prefer that to the HOT 90 degree weather we used to sightsee in during the study abroad. 




We treated ourselves to a taxi ride back to the hotel, where we then blow-dried our socks. Yep. We got to relax a little before he dropped me off at the bus station so I could head back to Haifa (since I have class Sunday morning). It was kind of funny that he was the one to see me off when I'm the one who lives in Israel, but that's how it worked out!

David flew back to France the next morning. The Marissa and David adventures are on hold for now... but they are to be continued next month in... wait for it.... France and Switzerland!!!

And as for Jerusalem adventures, I'll be back there on Monday! This week for school we're attending a seminar for 4 days at Yad Vashem (Jerusalem's Holocaust museum). I would say 'should be fun' but that would be a little awkward to say about a Holocaust conference. But I'm always happy to have the chance to go 'home' to Jerusalem.



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