I woke up after 07:00 today, got ready, and walked to the Western Wall; I then got in line to see the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock (above the entrance to the footbridge for tourists to use when entering the Temple Mount area, there was a sign from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel stating “According to the Torah it is forbidden for any person to enter the area of the Temple Mount due to its sacredness”). The line was rather long, but it moved quickly as everyone walked through metal detectors and had their bags searched (also, no religious material that may offend Islam is allowed in the Temple Mount area; so a number of Bibles were left behind at the entrance to the footbridge). Once through the security checkpoint, I walked through the covered footbridge and up to the Temple Mount. I then passed by the Al-Aqsa Mosque (the third holiest site in Islam) and then walked around the Dome of the Rock and the Dome of the Chain. The Dome of the Rock was initially completed in 691 AD at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik during the Second Fitna, though has been refurbished several times as it changed hands between the Crusaders, the Ayyubids, the Mamluks, and the Ottoman Empire. Inside the Dome of the Rock is the Foundation Stone; according to the Talmud, it was from this rock that the world was created; also, this is the site where the Garden of Eden stood, Adam was created, Adam (as well as Cain, Abel, and Noah) all offered sacrifices to God, Abraham fulfilled God’s test to see if he would be willing to sacrifice his son Isaac, Jacob dreamt about angels ascending and descending on a ladder, and where the Holy of Holies was located, which held the Ark of the Covenant, inside the First and Second Temples. Obviously this site is extremely important in Judaism; unfortunately, only Muslims may enter the Dome of the Rock – no infidels are allowed access to this sacred site nor to see the inside of the nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque. So, I had to be content with viewing the gorgeous Islamic patterns adorning the outside walls of the Dome of the Rock. The smaller, adjacent Dome of the Chain is an open-air prayer house and – in Islamic tradition – is the spot where Judgment Day will occur in the “end of days” and where a chain will stop the sinful and let the just pass through. After walking around the Dome of the Rock, listening to several Muslim women yell out “Allāhu Akbar” all the while I was there (I guess some people need to prove their devotion to others), and viewing the surrounding area, I exited out one of the gates and then walked to the Damascus Gate. From Damascus Gate, I walked to the Arab bus station near Gordon’s Golgotha (another possible location of Golgotha/Calvary) and took a bus to a shared taxi area on the outskirts of Jerusalem; from here, my plan was to ride a shared taxi (for a low price) to Jericho; however, I was the only there and I didn’t feel like waiting hours upon hours to get to Jericho and not have time to see anything; so I walked down the road, in to a town, and tried finding other shared taxis or even just regular taxis, but I had no luck. I figured the best way to see Jericho and the Baptism Site of Christ was to just go back to Jerusalem and pay a huge sum of money to some lecherous taxi driver. I then grabbed the bus back to Damascus Gate and found an unscrupulous taxi driver to take me east to the Baptism Site on the Jordan River and then to Jericho. We drove off, and descended below sea level toward the northern region above the Dead Sea. We drove through a checkpoint and then right up to the complex built on the shore of the Jordan River where the Baptism of Christ is believed to have occurred (near Bethany in Jordan); I walked down to the river, which was nice, and looked at the complex on the other side of the shore (the Jordanian side); both sides had guards there to ensure no one crosses the border illegally). I then watched a German pastor baptize a German woman in the river. After that ceremony, I returned to the taxi cab and we went to Jericho. The taxi pulled in to the parking lot for the cable car that takes tourists up to the Mount of Temptation Monastery. I exited out of the taxi, paid the entrance fee for the cable car, and then rode it to the end station, located about halfway up the Mount of Temptation; according to tradition, this is the mountain where Satan tempted Christ for the third time, offering Him all the kingdoms of the world. I then walked to the Mount of Temptation Monastery, which is a Greek Orthodox Monastery (all the monasteries here appear to be owned and operated by the Greek Orthodox Church – at least the four I happened to have visited); I walked around the monastery and viewed the inside of its chapel; I then returned to the cable car and, while waiting, the cable car operator was kind enough to share his Arabic coffee with me and we talked for a short time. Then, I took the cable car back down and entered in to Tell es-Sultan, the excavated remains of Ancient Jericho. As far as archaeological ruins go, there wasn’t much to see in Tell es-Sultan and the most valuable site to me was the ancient walls of Jericho (made famous from the Book of Joshua, which details the Battle of Jericho (the first city of Canaan to be taken by Joshua)). After walking around the ruins, I returned to the taxi and he drove me back to Jerusalem. On the road to the Tomb of the Virgin Mary (also known as “Mary’s Tomb”), which is where I asked to be dropped off, we got stuck in some stagnant traffic; I decided it would be best to walk, so I told the driver to make a U-turn and let me off; I then paid him and walked down to Mary’s Tomb; as I approached it, I discovered the road around Gethsemane was blocked off and police caution tape was all over the area; I have no idea what it was all about and I can only assume that it was most likely a bomb threat made against the Garden of Gethsemane Church. I then walked inside the Tomb of the Virgin Mary, descended the steps down in to its cavernous interior; I entered inside the actual tomb (which was of course empty due to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, when, on the third day, her body rose to Heaven), prayed, and then looked around before climbing back up the stairs and exiting the tomb complex. I then walked to the adjacent Grotto of Gethsemane which is where Jesus came with His disciples after the Last Supper, where He left them to go pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, and where he was betrayed by Judas Iscariot with a kiss. I then walked to the Garden Tomb which is a very likely candidate for being where Jesus Christ was crucified (on Gordon’s Golgotha) and then buried (as opposed to the sites in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre). Gordon’s Golgotha is located next to a main road (linking Jerusalem to Damascus and Jericho) and the limestone cliff resembled a skull if viewed a certain way (thus the name Golgotha); however, the “nose” of the skull broke off and was destroyed thanks to the winter storm three days ago (too bad I didn’t get a picture of it earlier). Also, the garden contained a Roman wine press from the time of Christ, thus giving evidence that this was indeed a garden (vineyards are sometimes referred to gardens in the Bible) and that it was owned by a wealthy man (like Joseph of Arimathea was); it is worth pointing out that the vineyard and especially the wine press is very fitting for the site of Crucifixion and Burial, just as Gethsemane (“olive press”) was very fitting for the site where Jesus prayed three times, chose His fate, and was betrayed – the Gospels are full of symbols. Finally, the garden does in fact contain a tomb nearby the site of execution and it is located outside of the Old City Walls (just where those walls extended to during Christ’s time is still a matter of debate and based on the evidence, the site at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre has a strong case). In the Garden Tomb, I joined a tour and walked around the site, viewing Gordon’s Golgotha, the ancient wine press, and the Tomb itself. I then exited the Garden Tomb, walked to Jaffa Road, grabbed three slices of tomato and onion pizza, and returned to the hostel. I ate my pizza meal and then worked on the website. Later, the Brazilian man I had hung out with a couple nights ago stopped by with a Norwegian woman and asked if I wanted to go to a music and dance showcase; I agreed to go and in forty minutes we met up, joined a German woman, walked outside, joined two American women (friends of the German girl), and then took a bus to an industrial area where a small art school and film school is located on two different levels of an unassuming building surrounded by some stores and loading docks. Outside, there were three venues, one featured Hebrew hip-hop, another was electronica music with projectors projecting graphics on to an entire side of what looked like a ten-storey building, and the other was pop music being played for attendees to dance to. Inside one of the buildings was a dance studio and people were taking lessons. We walked around the area and then walked up to the balcony of the building where the art school is located; we watched the Hebrew hip-hop group for a short time before walking up another flight of stairs and in to a woodshop room that was being used by the school band; the school band consisted of about eleven musicians (some playing a saxophone, piano, guitar, a comb, a saw with a violin bow, bells, cymbals, etc.) and the music sounded like a cross between jazz, tribal, and hippie music; the Brazilian guy, the Norwegian woman, and I liked it the best and decided to stay in that warm and crowded room until they finished (which was – sadly – only after three more songs). We then explored the art school, it library, and theater before exiting outside and discovering that all the other venues were wrapping up. The German and American women traveled to an after party, but the Brazilian, Norwegian, and I decided to return to the hostel. I then shared the bottle of Israeli red wine (made from Carignan grapes), that I’ve been meaning to drink for the last few nights, with the Brazilian and Norwegian. I also brought out some chocolate and pecans, the Norwegian brought out some Arabic desserts she had bought, and the Brazilian brought out some chocolate covered potato chips; we then snacked on all this food while enjoying the wine, which was very fruity and tasted strongly of blackberries. We also talked of our past jobs and future desires and I discovered the Brazilian man makes some very creative and beautiful necklaces, selling them as a side business. Finally, at 01:30, we finished the wine and wrapped up our late night fun. I eventually went to sleep shortly after 02:00.