During my stay in Tel Aviv, top of the list of things to see and do was to make a day trip to Jerusalem. Which I did on two occasions, as one day was not quite enough to explore this interesting and contentious city. My visits centred on the old town, in which you can easily spend a few days wandering through the literal labyrinth of streets and alleyways – I did almost get lost in the confusion of the town.
Jerusalem is a hold city to three major world religions – Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The presence and influences of these three religions can be felt in the city. The city is actually divided up between these religions, with the Jewish quarter, Christian quarter and Islamic quarter all being well defined from each other in geographical spaces, as well as aesthetically (there is also a fourth, Armenian quarter). Even as a tourist, unaware of the religious tensions in the city, you can easily differentiate between the quarters, as they each have their own unique aesthetic and atmosphere.
Whilst in Jerusalem, try to make a visit to Temple Mount. It is only open at certain times to non-Muslims (you cannot actually enter the temple/mosque if you are not a Muslim), so if you happen to be there when it is accessible, make sure you spend the time to wander around this grand structure and it’s surrounding gardens. This was by far the highlight of my visit to Jerusalem – there was something surreal about the place, something serene in a city so caught up in religious and geo-political tensions.
Other things to do in Jerusalem is to visit the Wailing Wall, follow the Christian Stations of the Cross, buy souvenirs from the hundreds of people cashing in on the tourist trade, pay a visit to a few of the churches, synagogues and mosques. And spend your day taking in all the sights, sounds and scents of this city.
From Tel Aviv, take bus 405 from Tel Aviv Central Bus Station, or bus 480 from Arlozoroff Bus Station. Each bus runs regularly and the trip takes about 1 hour. When you arrive at Jerusalem bus terminal, step outside the terminal and you will see the light rail network. To get to the old town, take the light rail to either City Hall or Damascus Gate – both stops are within easy walking distance to the old town.
I didn’t stay overnight in Jerusalem, but being such a tourist hub, I am sure there are plenty of accommodation options for all budgets and tastes.
Everything touristy. There is plenty to chose from in Jerusalem. I came home with some rosary beads make from the timber of an olive tree and of course an evil eye pendant (I had already spent a bit too much money on one very expensive souvenir Istanbul – a kilim rug)