Thursday, December 22, 2016

Au Revoir Israel, Bonjour France: Israeli Museum and Arrival in Paris

Nov 27, Sun

As agreed, we arose early and went down for breakfast at 7.00 am so as to wish our friends farewell. Then Llew and I lingered over our breakfast as we had finished packing and had our bags ready. At 9.30 am, as decided, our cab arrived at the hotel and transported us to the hired cab. The Israeli Museum did not open till 10.00 am but we wanted to be there at 10.00 am, so as not to waste any time. Accordingly, we told the cab driver to come to our hotel at 9.30.

Visiting the Russian Orthodox Church:

            Since we finished our breakfast really early, the two of us decided to go for a walk around our hotel as there was still about an hour before the arrival of our cab. We were really happy to find signs directing us to a Russian Orthodox Church and since it was a Sunday, it was only appropriate that we should go in for a visit even if we could not catch a whole Mass.
 The Church was only a few minutes from our hotel and it is strange that we did not see it earlier. Like most Russian Orthodox churches (and we had seen loads of these in St. Petersburg in Russia), this was ornate and filled with incense. We took in the sights of pictures and icons and when we had spent a while praying, we left and made our way to a store to buy some socks for our friend Cheri-Anne who had been looking for them.
            We then took our purchase and returned to the hotel so that we could board our cab and get to the museum as soon as possible.

Visiting the Israeli Museum and Seeing the Dead Sea Scrolls:

Llew was very uneasy about our stop at the Museum as he did not want us to miss our flight. Security lines at the airport were notoriously long and we wanted to give ourselves at least 3 hours before our flight departed. Accordingly, we told the cab driver that we wanted to get to the museum as soon as possible. We got there about 9.45 am and were actually able to buy our tickets before 10.00. Thus, as soon as the museum opened at 10.00, we, who had found out exactly where the Dead Sea Scrolls are located, made a beeline for them. They are in a special white building built in a conical design (to imitate the tops of the pottery jars in which the Scrolls were found).  

We were the first visitors into the Museum and into the Scroll Building. We met an old man who guided us about but told us that photographs were strictly prohibited. The building is round in shape with the scrolls exhibited in upright glass cases around the periphery. We found that some of them were just scraps in a bad state of repair while others were almost intact and remarkably well-preserved considering their antiquity. In the center of the Hall is a structure that looks like a huge rubber stamp. All around it are copies of the scrolls—but the originals are in the glass cases where they are kept in climate controlled conditions under very dim lighting. The scrolls are rotated every few weeks so that the same ones are never on display—this is another way of preserving them. We took a very good look at the scrolls and were absolutely thrilled that we had the opportunity to do so – as it is very unlikely we will ever return to Jerusalem.

However, having discovered that there were another two exhibits that I simply had to see, I pulled Llew in with me. One was a nano-sized Bible—the smallest in the world. On a computer chip, no bigger than my finger-nail, the entire Bible has been reproduced. It was simply incredible. This exhibit also had its own gallery.

The Model of Old Jerusalem:

            Finally, the last item on our agenda in the museum was the viewing of a model of the city of Jerusalem as it had existed during the reign of King Solomon and before the destruction of the Temple. There was a viewing platform from which we could survey the entire structure and it was simply magnificent. In fact, in retrospect, I do believe that it was more stirring for me to see it than the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is hard to imagine how grand Jerusalem was in its heyday. Needless to say, the Temple dominated with the structure holding the Arc of the Covenant and the Ten Commandments made most prominent. It was a perfect example of urban planning—a sort of carbon copy of Rome in its own heyday. I took many pictures but then we had to hurry out.

            A few minutes later, we were in our cab on schedule (at 10.20 am) and heading to the airport to get there by 11.30 am—which gave us exactly three hours before our departure. We had an absolute nightmare going through security because our Easyjet flight was at the smaller terminal and, to our amazement, once we cleared all the formalities, we had to board a shuttle bus and get to the main terminal from where our flight took off! I still can’t understand why we could not be cleared at the main terminal itself! So, in the end, it was a horrid end to our wonderful travels in Israel, but these glitches occur and we made it with time to spare at our departure gate and arrived safely in Paris at the start of our next adventure.

In fact, (I know Ian will find this hard to believe), but as luck would have it, we were touching down at Charles de Gaule airport at exactly 6.00 pm when the glittering, twinkling lights on the Eiffel Tower are switched on to hail each hour. They remain in that twinkling state for about 5 minutes—and that was the welcome we received as we spotted the Place d’Etoile on our touch down.


Going to Israel truly is a life-changing trip. Both Llew and I were so glad that we finally ticked that item off his Bucket List and that we did so in such a thorough manner, in such great company and with so much enjoyment. Our guide Moti was very knowledgeable and most obliging. Being on a private tour meant that we could add items in a spontaneous fashion to our itinerary. We saw and did so much that I am still processing it all. Writing this travelogue allowed me to relive many happy moments with much vividness…but I know that it will be years before I fully distill all the experiences we encountered in this profoundly complicated land.

Thanks for making the time to read this travelogue and to armchair-travel with us. Please do note that the opinions expressed are entirely my own and you might not necessarily be in agreement with me. But this is what I saw and what I experienced and it is one person’s impression of a decidedly complex trip.            


1 comment:

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rochelle - I see I have lots of reading to do ... the other posts came through ... 'as work in progress' or some such phrase ... but this one popped up and now I see the others are there ...

Have a blessed and peaceful Christmas and it's lovely to know Llew and you are able to be together for a little while - before the 2017 commitments click in ... take care and all the best - Hilary