Yesterday was a free day, and we were ready for it. We all needed time just to wander, to stop and take things in, to shop, to write home, to do our laundry, have our hair done and be pampered.
Nine of us set out for the Temple Mount first thing and experienced the rigorous security in place there. Our bags were x-rayed, and we had to walk through a security screen before being allowed to proceed.
This was our reward - The Temple Mount is only open from 7.30 to 10 in the morning, and when we were told to leave we plunged into the narrow streets of the Arab Quarter and made our way to the archaeological excavation beneath the convent of the Sisters of Zion where there is a very interesting section of 1st century pavement showing the lines of a game etched into the stones. This is a game the Roman soldiers would have played, determining the fate of a prisoner.
The rest of the day was spent exploring the narrow, noisy streets of the Old City, in groups of one, two or three, and encountering others from the tour group surprisingly often. Note the name of the bagel shop where we bought our lunch – Bonkers Bagels. – And at the end of the day we all adjourned to the King David Hotel for afternoon tea. In this photo Ralph, A2, M3, R2 and B2 are pretending they are part of the 1930s when the King David was the upmost in chic. Think Raffles, think The Peninsula in Hong Kong.