Sunday, July 7, 2013

What to do and not to do in Jerusalem

I just got back from a weekend in Jerusalem spending time with an old friend. While I was there I discovered some new things about this holy city so I thought I would share them with you.

3 things to do in Jerusalem:

1. Visit Abu Gosh. Take bus 185 (6.60 NIS) from just outside Jerusalem Central Bus Station to have lunch at an amazing Lebanese restaurant in the peaceful Arab village of Abu Gosh. Their coffee was so good that we bought some from them and they gave me instructions on how to make it the proper Arabic way.

2. Stay on the rooftop of CitadelYouth Hostel near Jaffa Gate. It is the cheapest price in town, only 50 NIS a night, and you will have an unbeatable view, as well as meet plenty of interesting people under the open sky as the holy city sprawls out beneath you. You are also very centrally located in the middle of the chaos of the Armenian Quarter. The lobby has free wifi and is open 24/7.

Nighttime view from the rooftop of the Citadel Youth Hostel
Sunset view from rooftop of the Citadel Youth Hostel

3. Go on the Ramparts Walk. You buy a ticket at the Ticket Office at Jaffa Gate for 16 NIS (adult) or 8 NIS (student/child/senior). It takes you all the way from Jaffa Gate to Lion’s Gate and gives you unbeatable views of the city – mostly entirely to yourself. Once you get off the ramparts at Lion’s Gate, walk down Lion’s Gate Road until you get to Via Dolorosa. Then walk up Via Dolorosa, turn left onto Christian Patriarchate Street, and then right onto David Street. Don’t get lost in the Latin patriarchate like I did!

The view of Jerusalem from the Rampart's Walk

3 things to NOT do in Jerusalem

1. Step into a shop alone. Just as I passed Jaffa Gate and walked down David Street towards Citadel Youth Hostel I spotted some pretty necklaces and stepped in. Before I knew it the incredibly creepy young Jewish shopkeeper had snuck up behind me and started massaging my back. I quickly mumbled that my husband is waiting at the hostel and ran out of that shop as fast as I could. To all young women traveling alone, I know this is a common travel story, but we cannot accept this norm. This morning I learned to defend myself. The next guy who tries anything like that will have scars to show for it. I urge all of you, even if he doesn’t actually rape you, make him pay for even having the thought.
The chaos of the market
2. Forget your jacket – even in the heat of July it gets cold at night. Especially if you spend the night at Citadel Youth Hostel, bring a jacket or sweatshirt for the evening. 

3. Try to leave during Shabbat. You can get a sherot (minibus) to Tel Aviv for 35 NIS but there aren’t many places open there either, and definitely no wifi available. I bided my time at Kiss Café where I was the only white person. Tel Aviv is actually very diverse, and this diversity is at its most prominent at incredibly sketchy Tel Aviv Central Bus Station on a Saturday afternoon.

I know I still haven't posted about my previous weekend in Tel Aviv and Hebron. I will actually have to split up those posts because that weekend was so eventful but they will gradually be published over the course of the next week. Now I have only one more week at the archaeological excavation and then I'm off to Jordan for a week. After that it's  Stockholm, Norrland, Stockholm again, Germany, a little France, and some Iceland. Lots more of exciting posts coming soon!

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