Friday, December 30, 2016

Preparing for a trip to Israel II: Jerusalem

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After a night of four hours sleep yesterday my travel program to Jerusalem starts to be finally ready. I woke up at 2 am and wrote down what I have been thinking about since days if not weeks: what places I am most interested at, which are the places what I should visit with a guided tour, where should I stay and I also listed some of the open questions/my doubts about certain things.

Since I told people that I am going to visit Jerusalem I faced a huge amount of opinions. Which is sometimes good but in this case it was rather bad. Take the bus- don`t take the bus, take a cab-don`t take a cab, you can go here freely- don`t even think about going there at all..I believe that people want to give advice because they want the best for me but I also have my own judgement so I think the end result will be a mixture of listening to some opinions on one hand and following my own intuition on the other hand.

I also had to decide what kind of trade offs I am willing to make, or does there have to be a trade off because of the shortness of time between experiencing the city fully and documenting it.

Now I have all my nights booked- it is very good that most of the places have a free cancellation policy one-two days prior arrival because it makes planning more flexible. I decided to take the local Egged 440 bus from Eilat to Jerusalem instead of using shuttle buses because it runs more frequently.

If I manage to get tickets for the 7 am bus, I will have almost two days in Jerusalem which is enough for the first stay I think. This will be my first trip to the Asian continent and my first trip to the Middle-East therefore I am really looking forward to see how things are over there. I found an accommodation in Jerusalem which opened recently and is approx. 15 minutes from Jaffa Gate by bus which is the starting point of the tours I want to participate in. It is also one of the closest gates to the Armenian Quarter.

The core of my sightseeing activities will be two guided tours operated by Sandemans. I heard about them through recommendations on blogs and travel forums. I usually don`t like guided tours because I prefer exploring cities on my own but now I see a point in participating in these tours: this way I can save time, skip long ques at major sights and learn more about local habits.

On my first day I will participate at the Mount of Olives Tour which starts at 2pm. I am really looking forward to see among all the Church of Maria Magdalene because of its great orthodox architectural style. From here you can also enjoy the famous view of Jerusalem postcards with the Old City and the Dome of The Rock. On the second day I will take part in the Holy City Tour which starts at 11am. This way I can visit most of the famous Catholic, Jewish and Muslim (listed in alphabetic order) sights.

My plan for before and after the tours is to take photos and videos, visit the Armenian quarter and the Mahane Yehuda Market. It would be nice to wake up on Friday a bit earlier and see how the city wakes up, take a good coffee somewhere in Old Town and have a chance to talk with locals. My bus will go back on Friday at 5pm to Eilat. 

After last night and the days before I had to state again that travelling just as life should be rather an individual quest- at least I prefer so. My best trips were always when I got interested at a particular place and I decided to book flights, look for hotels and just go. At the end there is not one right way to travel. We are all so different and it is of course nice to look after each other. But so is to let each other live and explore different paths and possibilities in travelling just as in life.

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