Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wedding Bells in Jaffa

I’ve been putting a lot of hours in at the library lately... which equals me needing a little break. Yesterday when I woke up I made a last minute decision to escape campus and do some traveling.

Tel Aviv is one of the major cities in Israel, but I’ve never spent much time there. Both times I’ve been there I went directly to the beach and didn’t see anything else. I found a walking tour of the historic part of the city that looked promising, and the plan was made.

Quick travel tip.. I’ve used this tour company- Sandeman’s New Europe, in several countries. Olimpia found a brochure for their tours at our hotel in Belgium, and since then I’ve done their tours in Brussels, Amsterdam, Prague, Jerusalem, and (as of yesterday) Tel Aviv. The tours are advertised as being “free,” but you’re technically supposed to tip the tour guide. The plus is that you can choose the price. I’ve found their tours to be fun ways to get to know a new city with lots of interesting facts. I would definitely be up for doing more in other cities.

Anyways, after a bus and a train I found myself in downtown Tel Aviv. To get to Jaffa, where the tour was starting, it was a 40 minute walk. I decided to walk instead of catching a taxi so I could see more of the city. That ended up being a dumb decision because it was an ugly area with nothing to see and it was deathly hot. But, I survived... and thanks to my phone didn’t get lost on the way there.

My first stop was to say hello to the beach. It looked very inviting to jump in after my hot and sweaty walk. 

The tour started here at the entrance of Jaffa.

To define what Jaffa is... it’s basically the ancient part of Tel Aviv. For the most part, Tel Aviv is a super modern city. Jaffa was the original place where people settled here, due to the port. The history in Jaffa goes back 4,500 years. Not bad. In the Bible, Jaffa is the place that Jonah left from to go to Tarshish.

I love this fact I learned. The entrance to the old city of Jerusalem is called Jaffa Gate, but the entrance to the old city of Jaffa in called Jerusalem Gate. Not a very picturesque location, but the humor was worth taking a picture of Jerusalem Gate in Jaffa.

Here’s a pretty marble fountain built by an Ottoman sultan:

The old city buildings are all made of sandstone. This neighborhood is now an artists’ colony with lots of galleries and a few museums. Walking through it reminded me of the city of Tzfat/Safed (I even found some touches of blue!).

This random horse was at the entrance to an art museum. Made me laugh.

This house is the supposed location of the house of Simon the Tanner. Peter stayed overnight there and had the vision that led to people that didn’t keep kosher (aka: Gentiles, aka: us) being allowed to be baptized as Christians. This particular building is only about 300 years old, but it’s supposed to be on the same foundations as Simon’s house. Who knows.

I enjoyed learning that there was some French history in Jaffa. Napoleon stopped there and killed 4,000 Turkish civilians (with BAYONETS and not guns, to save bullets) for no reason. Then, hundreds of his soldiers caught the Bubonic plague. Napoleon tried to convince the French army doctors to just kill them because GROSS, plague! Who can be bothered by that. But, apparently the doctors didn’t listen. Isn’t history fun??

What’s even better is that later Napoleon had this painting commissioned of him lovingly touching a soldier who had the plague. Yeah, that wasn’t exactly what happened haha... he must have had a good PR team though.

Something fun during the tour was that we came across EIGHT brides. The tour guide said that the old city and the coast are very popular locations for wedding pictures. He also said that he always enjoys watching brides in long dresses and heels walking up all of the treacherous steep stairs.

He was right, it was fun.

I didn’t get stalker pictures of all of the brides, but I did get some! Why not. I don’t have a TV to watch Say Yes to the Dress, so this was the next best thing.

Little does the bride below know, she’s standing exactly where the blood of the Turkish civilians killed by Napoleon flowed into the Mediterranean, and just across the street from the plague hospital. #debbiedowner #wikibear

Any tour in Israel wouldn’t be complete without seeing some excavations. The tour guide started talking about the definition of a tel and I almost felt some PTSD coming on from how much we had to learn about archeology during BYU Jerusalem.

The hieroglyphics on the arch found buried in this hill say that it’s from the time of Ramses II- pharoah of the exodus.

You can see a pretty church in the background... and that was our next stop! It’s a church built in honor of St. Peter, and is one of the only churches in the world that faces west instead of east, in order to face where Peter was martyred (Rome! You should all know that). Besides the Simon the Tanner story, another Peter Bible story that takes place in Jaffa is the raising of Tabitha from the dead.

This is the lighting difference between my camera and iphone. I think they’re both pretty!

Besides excavations, walking around in Israel also isn't complete without seeing a bomb shelter or two. It's the short white building.

Going along with the theme of the day, after the tour ended I came across an outdoor Jewish wedding. The guy with the microphone was singing something that gave me major Fiddler on the Roof flashbacks.

On the way back, I was smart enough to take a taxi instead of walking the two miles back to the train station. All in all, I’m glad I got out of my dorm and got to see some new things... even if that meant that I procrastinated being productive :)

For one last bonus picture, this is the scenery across the street from campus. A few days ago I walked way too far in order to take this. Campus is surrounded by the Carmel National Park and mountain range.

1 comment:

  1. I LOLed at your hashtags #debbiedowner and #wikibear! You're funny!