Posted by: thebluemusicblog | April 8, 2013



Jerusalem Hotel is located just down the Nablus Street and around a little bend, and before you enter the lobby, you have Café Jerusalem to your left hand side. Water pipes are smoked and you hear people talking in many different languages. The food here is absolutely excellent, and the service friendly.  This is originally in no-man’s land, from before the 1967 war, and in fact the front line in the 1967 war went through the restaurant.


If you turn to the left having had your meal at Café Jerusalem, and you walk up the hill, you will pass the Garden of Tomb, some people think this is the garden of Josef of Aritmathea and that Jesus was crucified just here, outside the city walls. In that case the cross would have been erected in a small square in the middle of a bus station.



A few yards further up Nablus Street you find a Palestinian Pottery, run since 1922 by a famous Armenian family. I enter the shop and see immediately the motive called The Tree of Life on tiles, vases and plates. The original of this Tree of Life is on the floor of Hisham’s Palace in Jericho. I buy a set of tiles with this motive.


I want a beautiful thing to remember this travel by.  I have landed in Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport, the same day, and I have dived through the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem and again explored the narrow streets of the Old City.


Sometimes it feels like swimming, because the streets are crowded, and you are pushed and moved forward like by the strong waves of a river. Not far from the Damascus Gate there is a beautiful house above the street level, you walk underneath it, and when you look up, you see Israeli flags, barbed wire and strict security.


I knew that this was a confiscated house, now possessed by Ariel Sharon, a previous Prime Minister of Israel. What I did not know, was that it had belonged to a present Board Member of the East Jerusalem YMCA, and that he had spent three years in prison because he did not want to move out of the house. He had shown me his family house himself once. I stopped for a while and meditated in the street, looking up at the darkening skies where the first evening stars were shining above the eternal city of Jerusalem.


Muslims and Jews were passing one another in the streets, and even some Christians stood out in their robes and priests clothes, but most of us Christians did not show any sign of religious engagement, at least not in the way we were dressed. For thousands of years the power over Jerusalem had changed between different groups, different empires, kings and emperors.


Over the last two thousand years the dominance over Jerusalem had again changed between Muslims and Jews and Christians, Churches were burnt, the Temple of David brought to ruins, Mosques destroyed, wars were waged in the same streets where I was walking just now. I cross Via Dolorosa and turn up Hagai and pass  the Austrian Hospice. I once went up to the roof terrace of the Austrian Hospice, from where you have an outstanding view of the Old City. After a while I leave the Old City behind and walk slowly up Nablus Street past the Palestinian Pottery and enter the gate of East Jerusalem YMCA. In the same building is Legacy Hotel where I am staying.


I have friends here. Andre, Michele, Adnan, Ilham, many more. We drink strong coffee with a taste of cardamom and we laugh a lot. We talk about that time in 2002 when I visited Jerusalem with a group of 20 young YMCA leaders and Yasser Arafat received us in his ruined headquarters in Ramallah and we spoke for more than an hour. When the meeting was over, Yasser Arafat took my hand, and hand in hand we marched through his headquarters, soldiers were saluting the President and we ended outside the main door where a crowd of people was waving to the President. I have a photograph of this event with the date and his signature written with a shaking hand, the hand of an old and sick man, soon to pass away.


On the way back from Ramallah to Jerusalem  that same day back in 2002 we passed a checkpoint. Back at the hotel I changed from my black suit to more informal dress and later on in the afternoon we took a minibus over to Bethlehem to have dinner with some friends. Of course I had forgotten my passport in the pocket of my suit back in the hotel, and I was without passport when we came to the checkpoint.  But when 7-8 passports from 7-8 different countries were passed forward to the controlling soldier, he just smiled and waved us through. A bus full of international visitors seldom has problems at the checkpoints.


Almost 11 years after that incident I am back to Easter 2013 and I take the bus down to Jericho and check in at the hotel Intercontinental. It is a big, very nice hotel, which was built as a casino. It ran very successfully as casino for a few years, until 2006. With increasing influence from Hamas in Gaza, the casino no longer was seen as a good idea, and that part of the hotel was closed down.


I cross the street and enter the gate of the YMCA Vocational Training Centre in Jericho. I have been there before, and shared some photos in an earlier blog post. I always find it so fascinating to visit this centre, and it always makes me feel proud to belong to the YMCA.



  1. Nydelig innlegg! Gøy å lese og spennende bilder..

    • Takk, Katrine, hyggelig å høre fra deg! Jeg er i Vancouver nå. Gleder meg til å se deg i neste måned.Klem pappa!

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