Jerusalem, Israel – August 1999

“Ten measures of beauty where bestowed upon the world. Nine of them were taken by Jerusalem and one by the rest of the world.”

(Babylonian Talmud, tractate kiddushim 49:2)

In the shimmering July heat, Jerusalem streets are like a blur of colors and people from all walks of life.

Walking from the Central bus station, past the bustling Mekhane Yehuda (Jewish market) to the old city’s Jaffa Gate, I passed Hasidic Jew?s in their traditional black coats and fur rimmed hats, a Catholic Korean nun, a Greek Orthodox priest, secular Israelis dressed in the latest fashion, sitting in many of the Jerusalem cafés drinking café lattes and old Palestinian men smoking a traditional shisha pipe (water pipe) with the smell of apple tobacco.

Baker's Wares
There is fun and excitement in the air. It’s the tourist season and the dwellers of Jerusalem are rushed of their feet. Tourists are bargaining down to the last shekel and the smells from the fresh bakeries are enough to send anyone in a feeding frenzy. A visit to Jerusalem isn’t complete unless you try the ice-cream here. The cookie man is my favorite. You get two cookies with vanilla ice cream in the center…yummy.

August is a quiet month in Jerusalem, although you can take up the option of free tours of Jerusalem’s sights. Why not try one or more free tours. Meet at 32 Jaffa Rd at the entrance to the Russian compound at 10am, unless specified otherwise.(Tel: 6258844).

The tours for August are:

The Old City
Rooftops of the Old City

Tour of the Old City:
Every Wednesday 10am, Rabbi Binny Freedman (meet at the Jewish square in the Jewish quarter) Explore the magic and mysteries of the old city. Call: 02 627-4890

Western Tunnel Tour and roof tops of the Old City:
Walk under the city of Jerusalem to another time and era. You will see the city as it was 2,000 years ago. Then, walk on the rooftop’s of Jerusalem’s many distinctive domed houses. Call Ateret Cohanim 02 628-4101

The Kidron Creek: 7th August

Kidron Valley
The Kidron Valley

Explore the Kidron valley at the slopes of the Mount of Olives. Four tombs are located in the Kidron valley. The first is Absalom’s Pillar, allegedly the tomb of David favored son. To the left you have the Tomb of Jehosaphat. There is a dirt track to the left that leads to the Tomb of Bnei Hezir and the Tomb of Zechariah.

Mount of Olives: 14th August

Mount of Olives
The Mount of Olives

Where the largest Jewish cemetery in the world is located. Tour the sights of the Garden of Gethsemane, the place where Jesus was captured before his crucifixion. The Tomb of the Virgin Mary, the burial place of Jesus’ mother. See the impressive Russian Church of Mary Magdalene, with seven golden onion shaped domes.

City of David: 21st August
Located south of the Temple mount, is the place of the first Israelite capital. King David captured the original Canaanite city. Excavations are still going on. This is a great tour if you love history and archaeology.

The Northern Wall and the Garden Tomb: 28th August
See the Northern Wall of the Old city of Jerusalem. Then stroll through the Garden Tomb, another sight purported to be the place where Jesus was crucified and buried. There is an amazing array of flowers and you can see Galgotha (the skull hill). It even resembles a skull too.

The Jewish Quarter: 9th September
Tour the old cities Jewish quarter and discover the many treasures of this place that once was reduced to rubble in the War of Independence.

This is also a good time of the year to go to visit Hezekiah’s tunnel, just outside of the old city walls in Silwan. Be prepared to get wet as the water is about 0.75m high. It’s pitch black, so bring a torch along with you.

The tunnel is open from 8:30am-4:30pm and its free. Do not listen to anyone that tells you otherwise. The walk should take about 30 minutes to complete. To get there, go to the Dung gate, walk left then right onto Ma?a lot Ir David St. There is a small playground on your left, take a left down the alleyway and you have the entrance.

If you are stuck on things to do, which is very unlikely, always check with the hostel or hotel about up coming events and tours. Jerusalem is a great homebase if you want to see the rest of Israel. Do a day trip to the therapeutic Dead Sea where you can float to your heart’s desire. Slap the wonderful Dead Sea mud on your body and relax in the sun. Afterwards, you will feel like a million dollars. This was the secret place that gave Cleopatra her beauty.

For anymore information contact the Municipal Tourist Information Centre (MTIO), just inside the Jaffa Gate in the Old city.

Tel: 628 0457 or 0382
Open Sun-Thurs 8:30am-5:45pm
Fri 8:30am-1:45pm.
Free information, pamphlets and maps available.

I wish you all a wonderful and pleasant stay in the beautiful city of Jerusalem.

The Kotel
The Kotel or “Wailing Wall”

General Information
Jerusalem. She is known as the city of gold, because when the sun sets over the Judean hills, Jerusalem shines like a city built of solid gold.

This is the place where Abraham offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice, Jesus preached and died here and Muhammad ascended on his night journey into heaven.

This is the most fought over city in the world. No wonder why, because its beauty and its sanctuary touches all those who come to Jerusalem. There is something very special about this city and everyone should at least sample it once in their lifetime.

Quirky Facts
Jerusalem has both kosher and non kosher McDonald’s.
Jerusalem has had 18 conquerors.
And if you ever wanted to visit “HELL”, you can here in Jerusalem. Just outside the Zion gate is Hinnom Valley. This is the place where pagans sacrificed young children. Archaeologist have found many graves and bones here. This is the original “HELL” that was spoken of in the Tanach (Old Testament).

Jerusalem is located in the centre of Israel. It is 31 miles (50km) west of Ben Gurion airport, Tel Aviv. The city sits high up in the Judean hills, surrounded by many valleys.

Getting to Jerusalem:
By Bus: Ben Gurion airport #945 or #947 every 15-40 min (Sun-Thurs 6am-8:30pm, Fri 7:30am-4pm, Sat sundown-11pm)

By Sherut: Israeli style mini bus is the best way to get to Jerusalem from the airport. The price is fixed per person and the driver will take you right to your hotel or hostel. Cost around NIS30 ($10 US).

Getting around Jerusalem:
The cheapest and most convenient way to get around Jerusalem is by foot. Everything is within walking distance. Think of the body you always wanted, this is the best way to achieve it.

The Egged bus service is the national bus company in Israel. It’s the second largest bus company in the world with Greyhound being the first. The central bus station in Jerusalem has buses going here there and everywhere. Check with Egged when you arrive at the central bus station.

The currency is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS), sheks for short. It’s divided into 100 agarot.

You can get by with about $30US a day staying in hostels and eating at least one restaurant meal. Most sights in Israel are free. The best place to change your money is at the Kent shop in Zion square (near Bonkers bagels). It’s an under the counter money exchange but they give the best exchange rate in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem has a lot of cheap, clean budget accommodation. Most are in the old city. Hotels are expensive, so they wouldn’t really be of any value to the budget traveller.

I recommend staying at Petra Hotel or the Tabasco hostel just off Souq Khan al-zeit (02 6283461). 15NIS for dorms.

If you are Jewish or travelling with Jewish friends you might want to stay at the Heritage House. They offer free accommodation.

Cheap Eats
Eating is what you will do a lot of in Israel. Fresh fruit and vegetables are abundant. The best place to shop is at the ‘Mekane Yehuda’ Jewish market in the new city, just off Jaffa Rd. The smells of the fresh fruit and pasties is enough to set you on an eating binge.

When in Jerusalem you need to try a “Bonkers” bagel. They are the best bagels in the world. Go when they are about to close and ask them for free bagels. They usually give what’s left over away.

The cheapest falafel in Jerusalem can be found at Al Ayed, 4 Ha-Nevi?im St, across from Damascus gate. 2.50(NIS)

If you want to splash out a little bit try Spaghettim. They have over 100 different types of spaghetti, including some with bacon!

Pubs and Clubs
Underground: at 8 Yoel Salomon St, is popular with tourists. Dance the night away with the latest dance music. Mixed venue.

Tea Room: 12 Yoel Salomon St, you sit on cushions and sip tea while chilling out.

Mikes Place: 14 Harkness St, great place to listen to the blues and rock. Full bar. Get in early as it fills real quick.

Strudel Internet cafe and bar: Great place to sit and have a few drinks
while keeping in touch with family and friends. Mixed crowed, great atmosphere. I love this place, especially on Saturday night. Also, there are many other nightclubs nearby to check out.

The best outdoor activity you can do in Jerusalem is walk. Hills galore and places to explore.

Crazy and Weird Stuff
If you want to see the “second coming” of Jesus first hand, check out the “Messiah cam“. Something to do for New Year’s Eve if you are out of ideas. You may just see Jesus appear!

About Me
A Bored Eran
I am a cheeky 26 year old Israeli, who now lives in Australia. I wear black MACK boots. I am a travel freak and never can stay in one spot for to long. I’ve travelled the world visiting 5 out of 7 continents. I plan on travelling to Central and South America in December.

I love photography, painting, drawing and my ambition in life is to become a travel writer and travel the world. If that doesn’t work, I’ll do what a lot of American Jews have done, become a comedian!

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