BootsnAll Travel Network

Jerusalem Day 1

Well, they said it couldn’t be done but we are here!

We walked over the Rabin border crossing today from Aqaba, Jordan to Eilat, Israel. I’ve never walked over a border before. It was a cool experience and it was easy – the whole thing only took 40 minutes. We paid a 5JD exit tax then had to go thru bag checks, passport control, and customs. The bag check was pretty crazy – when Jim emptied his pockets the security guards used one of those swab things (what do they do anyway?) and swabbed down his wallet, his CHAPSTICK, his little packet of TISSUES and even his Fresh Strips.

At passport control, a tough looking dude asked us: How did you get from Egypt to Jordan? Why are you coming to Israel? Are you traveling together? What is your relation? How long are you staying? Where are you going next?

Customs was easy – they literally just stamped us and that was it.

There were loads of people walked from Israel to Jordan – I suppose for day trips into Aqaba?
Crossing the border
Crossing the border

Border crossing
Leaving Jordan

After we crossed, we shared a cab with two Canadians to the bus station. At the bus station, we got the bad news that the 10am to Jerusalem was FULL. This really sucked since the next bus wasn’t til 2pm so we booked a 9:30am bus to Tel Aviv instead, and planned to just take another bus from there to J-salem. Inconvenient, but we didn’t know what else to do.

The weirdest thing was that there were high school-age kids everywhere with giant guns!!!! Like petite girls with enormous guns casually slung over their shoulder. So weird!

I also noticed that SOOO many people in Israel wearing Crocs!

So the 5-1/2 hour bus ride to Tel Aviv and 1 hour bus to Jerusalem were uneventful. We went through a lot of desert, huge, dusty looking mountains, and then eventually more green looking areas.

They have TIM TAMS in the convenience stores here!!! My jaw dropped when I saw them. I haven’t seen them since Australia!

Random: I tell you, Hebrew is such a strange looking language!

Random: It is SOO nice to see women wearing whatever… tanktops, t-shirts, shorts. I felt more relaxed and more free which is weird because I didn’t think I felt un-free. It made me realize that even though I thought I felt normal, the rules of dress and what seems like male dominance (whether it’s true or not) were still in my head. It is just oppressive to know something you wear or do could be wrong. I can’t imagine living like that. Who cares what people wear?

Our hotel, the Crowne Plaza, was surprisingly crappy for the cost, but had a nice view.
(In case you forgot, we stayed at a few nice hotels because Jim has gift cards for Travelocity. Not because we are rich.)

We walked to the pedestrian area, Ben Yehuda St, in the new part of town. It seems so European. We ate a shwarma, as we were STARVING, and it was tasty. The fillings included fries, pickles, meat, hummus, tomatoes, spicy, onions, cucumber, and more. It is chilly here at night which feels good. Also, it is pretty expensive here, I’d say similar to home.

We entered the Old town through the Jaffa Gate. Old walls and narrow windy streets with stone archways. We walked through the Armenian quarter and there were posters about the Armenian genocide in Turkey posted everywhere.

Jerusalem street3
Street in the old city

Click for larger

We walked and walked and got lost. We ran into a crazy, insanely packed street in the Muslim quarter…we couldn’t even move…it felt like we were back in Cairo or something. We finally escaped from that street and headed out of the old city. We heard drums in the distance…we found a huge festival for Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan. There were what looked like boy scouts drumming through the streets, food being sold everywhere, vendors sellings all sorts of cheap plastic junk. Crazy. The Israeli police were everywhere, like they were just waiting for something to happen. We saw a cop tell the drummers they had to stop drumming, and we got out of there.

We have bad luck because everything closes early tomorrow and for the morning we are here Saturday. We are going to try to fit a lot in tomorrow.

On Saturday, we fly from Tel Aviv to Amman and then back to New York on Sunday.

View of sun setting over Jerusalem

Us in front of the Dome

A mosaic in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City

Ceiling in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Exterior of the Church

Cool panorama picture of the Ramadan festival
Ramadan festival


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