On our last day in Jerusalem, the Purim festival began quietly with a mulled wine at a pavement cafe in my token tiara. At midnight, thousands of costumed revellers are still pouring into Zion Square below our room to dance.
At Vespers, Armenian hooded monks chanted in this cathedral, established in the first century.
After the service, I ordered spiced beef wrapped in vine leaves in a yoghurt soup at this Armenian tavern.
In the evening, we sat on the hostel balcony, enjoying the buskers in Zion Square below. Our favourite regular act is a jazz duo with sax and violin, but this flash mob was great.
We volunteered to sift through rubble, and found lots of pottery shards and these thousand year old mosaic tiles.
These artefacts are from the Jewish Temple which which used to stand where the Islamic Dome of the Rock is now.
We left the old city via the Lion Gate, then walked down to the Garden of Gethsemane, where olive trees from Jesus’ time still live. A gold domed church sits higher on the Mount of Olives.
I bought food at this stall.
The highlight of the museum was its display of fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls. There was a 250 000 year old human skull, and I love this ancient horny devil.
We found these treasures from Nahal David and Ein Gedi, where we’ve just been. The ibex figures and bracelets pale next to the first century Pyrex bowl.
This is the oldest mask ever found.
These inscribed burial ossuaries took the cake.
The bohemian suburb of Ein Karem is near the museum.
We walked the Stations of the Cross on the Via Delorosa with a large crowd, led by Franciscan monks in habits and IDF soldiers, through the Moslim souk to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
On the roof of the church were these huts, which house Ethiopian monks.
As the sun set, the muezzin called from the mosque, as thousands of Jews danced and sang at the Wailing Wall below, welcoming their sabbath.
We shared a convivial traditional Shabbat dinner with staff and guests at our hostel, which involved blessings, singing, and lots of food, wine and chatter.