This morning we had a little bit of time to sleep in-our bus did not leave the hotel until about 10:30. I think those extra couple of hours of rest were much appreciated by the whole crew! It also gave us a little time to pack and figure out how we were going to squeeze any purchases we had made into our bags!
Once back in Jerusalem, our first stop was Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem Holocaust Museum. If you have ever been to the one in D.C., you can imagine the feel of this one as well. It was a solemn, sobering experience, like its sister museum in our country. It is hard to walk through, but I believe very important. I would encourage anyone who has the chance to visit either one to do so. I wish I could have taken some pictures, but I didn't take my camera because no pictures are allowed inside the building. I was able to snap one of the outside as we rode by in the bus:
I would love to meet the architect who designed this place. The museum itself is an architectural beauty-the whole thing is a giant three-dimensonal triangle, with half built into the side of the mountain, and half hanging off the side in a gravity-defying sort of way. At the end of the museum, there is an observation deck looking out over the city of Jerusalem. It is a perfect place for reflection after taking in all the information inside the museum. It is surrounded by memorial gardens filled with beautiful structures as well as vegetation, including rosemary, mint, and other herbs.
We all loaded back up on the bus and headed towards the "old city" of Jerusalem (the museum was in a newer portion of the city). The next few hours had been allotted for free time in the souk, or market. As scary as it sounds to turn 40 Mississippians loose in the Jerusalem markets--that was the plan!
The large loops of bread are called bagels here:
Here is a newer area of shops, where the group Taylor and I were with ate lunch:
We had a cool experience in the markets. There are no prices on any of the items, because they are all VERY negotiable. Haggling is a way of life in the market streets. I saw two beautifully handmade pillowcases, and when I asked how much the man told me it would be $140 for the pair. I remembered what our guide, Rami, had told us: "For every step back you take, the price will go down." So I told the man that was too expensive for me, and started to walk away. "One hundred dollars!" he shouted. Back and forth we went, and with Taylor's help we finally settled on thirty bucks apiece! I was pumped.
Here is a picture of the crew we navigated the markets with (or, the "young'uns as Ms. Doris calls us). From left to right, it's Taylor, me, Emily, Todd, Mandy, Laura, Lizzie, and Karen:
After we had all had our fill of the market, it was back to the bus and back to Bethlehem one last time. We went for our last meal in Israel at a cool restaurant designed to look like a Bedouin tent:
And at the end, a surprise performance by Lavon and Wendy:
Ha! And here is a picture of Taylor and me with our guide for the week, Rami. Our trip would not have been the same without him-we feel very blessed that we got to know him!
And here is our last pic together in the Holy Land, and the last sunset of our trip:
As I write this now, we have just arrived in New York from Tel-Aviv on our red-eye flight. We are worn out, but filled to the brim. This experience has been incredible. I am certainly changed, and I would imagine each person in our group would say the same. I have a broader perspective of this area of the world, an increased knowledge, and a renewed zeal for reading scripture. For Taylor and I to have experienced this together at such an early point in our marriage is a blessing, and I am so thankful.