Israel and The Holy City
Updated: Jun 12, 2020
This blog follows the previous blog related to our trip in Jordan.
We crossed from Jordan to Israel at the King Hussein Bridge on a Wednesday. After going through Jordanian customs you take a bus. There are a lot of controls and it takes about thirty minutes. When it stops you have to carry your luggage a few yards and go through Israeli customs. On that side the bridge is named Allenby Bridge. Our experience was not too bad. Just keep silent and don't smile. Naturally I got stopped, questioned and searched, but it did not take long to go through. Before our trip we had tried to get a taxi to meet us at the Allenby bridge and drive us to Jerusalem (20 miles), but we could not find anything at a reasonable price. We got lucky that one of the American ladies we met on the bus spoke Hebrew. She organized a shared van for us and ten other people. They dropped us at the Damascus gate where we had to take a taxi to our apartment located near the Mamilla Mall.
On Thursday and Friday we visited the Old City, which was at a walking distance from our apartment. We took a couple of walking tours and visited all four of the Old City’s quarters – Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Armenians. We visited many historical places within the Old City. David’s Citadel, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall, the Hall of Last Supper and the Tomb of King David, to name a few.
We planned our Saturday trip to Palestine months ahead after we learned that it is very difficult and sometimes dangerous to take a rental car from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, Hebron and Jericho. We checked different tour companies and finally booked Green Olive. They were easy to deal with and very professional. A driver picked us up at our apartment, we passed the border of Palestine where another waited for us with another car. We started our visit in Hebron, a city divided into two sectors: H1, controlled by the Palestinian Authority, and H2, roughly 20% of the city, administered by Israel. The Old City is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The most famous historic site in Hebron is the Cave of the Patriarchs where you can see the tombs of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Leah. Muslims believe that Muhammed visited Hebron and stopped at the tomb of Abraham. The Cave is very important to both religions and they both have their own entrance. After the visit, our driver took us to Bethlehem where we visited the Church of the Nativity, St. Catherine's Church and the Milk Grotto. Later, we visited the city of Jericho, the world's oldest continually-inhabited city. We drove back to Jerusalem at the end of the day after switching drivers and cars again before the border.
We rented a car in Jerusalem for the last four days on our vacation. On Sunday we drove to Nazareth, Capernaum and Tiberias, located on the Sea of Galilee. It is very easy to drive and navigate in Israel. You don't need to rent a GPS for your car. You can just use your phone.
On Monday we left Jerusalem for Tel Aviv, where we had a hotel reservation for the our last two nights. After checking in we drove around the beach and stopped in Jaffa. the southern and oldest part of Tel Aviv. We visited the flea market and the old city.
For our last day we drove from Tel Aviv to the port Haifa. It's a ninety minutes drive. We visited the landscaped terraces of the Bahá'í Gardens and the gold-domed Shrine of the Báb. The view is beautiful. Afterwards we drove another thirty minutes north to visit the city of Acre. The city was very well known during the crusades. The town is amazing. We visited the Templar tunnel. We definitely want come back and further discover the old town.
On Wednesday, we flew back to the United States after having a wonderful time, in Israel and Palestine.