I am currently reading the novel Wandering Star by recent Nobel laureate, J. M. G. Le Clézio. Below is a beautiful passage from that book—the thoughts of a young, French-Jewish WWII-era refugee girl—sandwiched between two photographs made during my travels.
"But when my father spoke of Jerusalem in the days of King David, he told extraordinary tales. I thought it must be the biggest and most beautiful city in the world, not like Paris in any case, because there surely weren’t dark streets over there, or dilapidated buildings, or broken drainpipes, or smelly stairwells, or gutters in which armies of rats ran free. When you say Paris, some people think you’re lucky—such a beautiful city! But in Jerusalem it was certainly different. What was it like? I had a hard time imagining it, a city like a cloud, with domes and steeples and minarets (my father said there were a lot of minarets), surrounded by hills planted with orange and olive trees, a city that floated over the desert like a mirage, a city in which there was nothing commonplace, nothing dirty, nothing dangerous. A city in which everyone spent his time praying and dreaming."