A must do when you visit Tel Aviv is take a daytrip to Jerusalem. If you have more time of course you can sleepover for a night or two. For us the daytrip was enough, we are not religious and the highlights of the Old City in Jerusalem were enough for us.
In the morning we took the local bus to the terminal in Tel Aviv where we took the number 480 bus in less than 1 hour to the terminal in Jerusalem. The bus is comfortable and goes frequently (every 20 min, we didn’t have to wait at all) and costs around 16 ILS per person for one way. At the Jerusalem Terminal we took the number 1 bus to the Old City, that bus was packed, which was not that comfortable. As an alternative you can take the metro or walk if you have the time and energy.
We entered the Old City via the Damascus Gate; here you walk right into the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. The Old City is divided in several religious parts/neighborhoods and looking at the shops people walking around you can tell the difference in culture and religion. The narrow streets with thick walls are mostly covered, that made a not to hot walking around in the shade. For the souvenir lover there are enough shops to shop around.
The Lonely Planet Jerusalem map and the app Maps.me guided us through the maze of street in the Old City. We passed beautiful historical buildings along the way to our main attraction: “The Western Wall”. It is an ancient limestone wall which is a holy place for Jews, Christians and Islamic religions. All have their own meaning of the Western Wall and Temple Mount area. Before entering the square you will be screened by Israeli police guards, which gave us a safe feeling. We visited Jerusalem on a Monday in the harvest holiday and during the Ramadan. Unfortunately both the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque were closed during the day because of the Ramadan, but the Western Wall was open for visitors.
Try to prepare yourself for the clothes you wear when you visit these holy places; cover our knees and shoulders out of respect to the people practicing their religions. The Western Wall was very impressing, we saw a bar mitzvah going on at the men’s part of the wall (for girls it would be a bat mitzvah). The meaning of a bar mitzvah according Jewish law is that a Jewish boy will become accountable of his actions when he turns 13 years old. After the age of 13, the boys and girls have their own responsibility in traditions, ethics and law; before this age their father is responsible.
The area is crowed by both tourist and religious practitioners or a combination. We liked to walk around the whole area; it gave us a special feeling even when you don’t believe in one of the three religions. The sun was out and it got very hot, so keep up the water drinking (you can refill your bottle here). We kept on wondering around the Old City, drank a fresh juice and bought more souvenirs.
Strolling around in the maze of streets in the Old City where we ended up via the Citadel (Tower of David) at Jaffa Gate, all beautiful historical buildings with a holy purpose. We ended up on the other side (outside) of the wall and walked all the way via New Gate to the New City. We love to walk, this way you see so much of the surroundings, including the orthodox Jewish people in traditional religious clothing.
Lunch was in a very simple traditional Middle Eastern restaurant called Pinati, with delicious falafel and hummus! Now we had enough energy to walk all the way back to the station for our bus back to Tel Aviv. Of course you could take the metro line that stops in the middle of Jaffa Street to the station (3.60 ILS).
The visit to Jerusalem brought us back in time; we felt the historical and religious atmosphere that you don’t have in Tel Aviv. Jerusalem is a well recommended and memorable daytrip!!
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