Day 4 in Jerusalem: Away in a Manger (Square)
So good it almost deserves its own post
Manger Square is in the centre of Bethlehem, overlooked by the Church of Nativity. It seems like the sort of place that would be described as bustling but on the day I went there was about 5 people milling around.
Bethlehem is worth a few hours of sight-seeing time but not more. I found it equal parts run down and hyper touristic. It certainly has no shortage of shops selling tacky rubbish. Whatever you want, if it has Jesus’s face on it, you will find it there. Our guide took us to one shop which I’m sure sold the best souvenirs in town. The assistant handed us all coffee that tasted like melted down shoe polish. I took one sip and discreetly dribbled it back into the cup before hiding it behind some snow globes. They did have some lovely nativity scenes for sale, made in pale olive wood. Very pretty but not practical for someone without a home,money or fondness of Christmas.
I want to share with you a horribly cringeworthy story. I would like it on the record that I AM NOT A THIEF. Coincidentally there ended up being a young Australian guy on all 3 of my trips. I spotted him on my walking tour, started a conversation with him in the Dead Sea then talked his ear off around Bethlehem. He had lived in Japan and was studying computing in Israel. I am such a terrible person I never caught his name. Hey to that guy! While I was in the shop I picked up a little pack of wooden crosses. This guy turned round and seen them in my hand. He turned back again and I placed them back on the shelf. I was just taking my phone out of my handbag when he turned back round again. It absolutely 100% looked like I had stolen the crosses. I was actually taking my phone out so I could do some foreign exchange sums. I didn’t buy them because they were too expensive. When I left the shop the guy asked me casually if I had bought the crosses. I told him I hadn’t because they were too expensive. He looked at me like I was a common thief. I swear I did not steal them. How mortifying that for the rest of his life he will think of me as that girl who steals religious souvenirs. Oh the shame.