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mistybleu Jerusalem - A travel report by Amanda
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Jerusalem,  Israel - flag Israel
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mistybleu's travel reports

Views of the greatest story ever told...

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My journey to Jerusalem was a trip back in time, getting lost in the stories of the Bible, with the place names that I’d either read and sung about finally become real.

The old city of Jerusalem
The old city of Jerusalem
As travelling to the Holy Land was only a day trip, the aim was to do nothing fancy, just to see the major sights of the city. To be fair everything was out of my hands as I booked a day tour from Cyprus.

It was a little daunting even entering the country, as I was questioned numerous times of my intent and whether I knew any locals etc, as the officials completed the pre check-in security, then by the security, followed by the Check-in representative; my only saving grace was that I wasn’t checking in any luggage or this process could have been even longer.

Upon arrival, there was an excitement of being in this ancient land and this was heightened when my coach was stopped by armed guards along Highway 1, just outside Ben Gurion International Airport. Highway One is the main route which links Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and it take around 50 minutes to get to the city limits.

The city is located in the Judean Mountains between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea and is built on seven hills. It is considered the birth place of three major religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, which resulted in it turbulent past.

The walled area of Jerusalem - the Old City, is around 1 square kilometre in size and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. It is split into four sections — the Armenian, Christian, Jewish and Muslim Quarters.

Favourite spots:
Church of All Nations and the Garden of Gethsemane
Church of All Nations and the Garden of Gethsemane
Being a Christian I have always had the desire to go to Israel and walk in the footsteps of Christ, this was magnified after a visit to Egypt and exploring the ancient areas. So the opportunity of walking the streets of the old city of Jerusalem was incredible. It was a labyrinth of narrow ancient stone alleyways, passages and arches; that makes getting lost easy. But some how it is the best part of city.

Walking through the souks on the stone alleys visiting some of the many vendors and doing some shopping, I was able to haggle and get really good prices on my souvenirs.

Visiting the city is like being teleported to the ancient of days. However one of the things that struck me was the heat - it was so intense that a glass of pomegranate juice was absolutely the order of the day.

What's really great:
The Western Wall
The Western Wall
For me, being in Jeresaleum was made special, as I started to discover some of the biblical references.

The Cenacle which is the location of the Last Supper and Pentecost and of course I start to think of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the last supper.

Entering the Garden of Gethsemane, the place Christ prayed the night before his crucifixion, at the base of the Mount of Olives.

I visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, (the Hill of Calvary), where Jesus was crucified and it is said to also contain the place where Jesus was buried (the sepulchre).

I entered the City of David thorough the Jaffa Gate. I gazed upon Mount Zion and the old city walls. Now sealed, to old entrance to the city, and visions of Christ entering the city on Palm Sunday.

A great city to visit, even if not a Christian as the historical references are amazing.

Along the walls of the city is the old enterance, now blocked in
Along the walls of the city is the old enterance, now blocked in
Church of the Holy Sepulchre , situated in the Christian quarter of the Old City and is said to be the location of where Jesus was buried.

Israel Museum, contains the "shrine of the book" housing the dead sea scrolls.

The Holocaust museum, entrance is free for individual but tours have to pay.

The Garden Tomb, is believed to be the location of Calvary and the tomb of Jesus.

Temple Mount, in the Muslim quarter of the old city is crowned by the magnificent Dome of the rock and the Far Mosque (where the prophet Mohammad is believed to have ascended to heaven).

The Jewish quarter was re-built in 1969 after the Arab-Israeli War and of significance is the Western Wailing Wall (50 BC).

Outside of the walls is Mount of Olives with Maria's Tomb, The Ascension Chapel, Church of All Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane, Tombs of the Prophets, Jewish Cemetery, The Tomb of Lazarus, Mount Zion with Oscar Schindler's grave.

The Ark
The Ark
The day started incredibly early; pick up from the hotel was around 4.30am. The trip to the airport was actually quite pleasant, as I could see the moon going down and reflecting on the salt lakes.

We entered 2 by 2 into the Ark - well more like the Arkia Express (an Israeli charter airline) for the 45 minutes flight to Tel Aviv and before we knew it we were landing in Ben Gurion Airport.

The real day then commenced at 10, after being meet with by our local guide, we headed for Jerusalem. On the grounds of the Hebrew University we had a first sight of the Old City walls. By 11.30, we enter to the old City and do a walking tour of the Christian Quarter then the exotic Jewish Quarter.

Lunch is quite late (at 2pm) before completing the 30 minute drive to the drive to Dead Sea, where time was allowed for swimming.

Then the ritual sales pictch as we entered the Dead Sea cosmetic products exhibition followed by dinner in a local restaurant.

The day ends really late around 11pm. Hmmm

Pomegranate seller
Pomegranate seller
I’m not sure whether there is a national dish in Israel, I think the food is more regional - Mediterranean/middle eastern.

With the creation of this state back in the late 60s the food has developed an Israeli fusion cuisine which sees dishes like hummus, shakshouka, cous cous and my favourite falafel. Falafel has become a popular dish and is kind of deemed as Israeli. Falafel are fried balls of mashed chickpeas which are generally served in at pita bread with pickles, tahina, hummus and a vegetable salad.

Other recommendations:
The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea
Located on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea, Jerusalem has a Mediterranean climate - hot and dry summers with cool wet winters. The summers (May-Sept) has little to no rainfall and it is customary for the days to be blisteringly hot. To get away from the heat, we headed for the Dead Sea in the Judean plains.

The Dead Sea is bordered by Jordan, the West Bank and Israel; and is 423 below sea level which is considered the lowest point on the face of the Earth. It has a 33.7% salinity, which resulted in the sand beneath my feet feeling slimy and enhances the buoyancy. It was a wonderful experience, not being able to sink and not matter what you do you just bob back up to the surface. I had seen pictures of people reading the newspaper upright and it is completely true, but it took me forever to wash the salt off.

Initially I thought it would have been prettier, but you take what you can get and the experience was incredible.

Published on Sunday December 18th, 2011

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Wed, May 02 2012 - 01:48 PM rating by bootlegga

Very nice!

Sat, Feb 25 2012 - 03:18 PM rating by jenny2

Another nice report

Sun, Dec 25 2011 - 12:48 PM rating by pesu

Nice report, Amanda! Great what you have seen on one single day beginning with the going down moon on Cyprus! Merry Christmas to you! :)

Sat, Dec 24 2011 - 04:20 PM rating by krisek

Nice one, Amanda! Many thanks for sharing. An interesting collage for a day trip.

Wed, Dec 21 2011 - 04:03 PM rating by leillli

Jerusalem is one of the city ,that i'm dying to visit..but we as iranian are not allowed..i wish we could all live in peace in our beautiful ,little earth!

Wed, Dec 21 2011 - 01:17 PM rating by louis

Very interesting reading. Great work Amanda

Mon, Dec 19 2011 - 07:42 AM rating by horourke

This is the very best description of Israel I have ever had It reminds me of a slide show that held me enthralled in 1960 when a returning Irish visitor introduced me for the first time to the details of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. It revives my interest in walking through those same places myself - an ambition I have never accomplished up to now.

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