On the second day started out with an opportunity to have a well sized and diverse breakfast at the Eldan..salads, pastas, fruits some fish, etc. For the money this is a very well placed hotel
When you stay at these hotels for more than one day and have to pay for the internet make sure that you ask them for a multi-day rate.If not it is next to impossible to get the discount rate after the fact
... Waked over to the Damascus Gate to meet my son who has been staying at Faisal Youth Hostel near there. Its very safe and had no problems. Outdoor markets and food is a great sight. Security is there but nothing people are not use to where there are many people.
Left there and walked through the Old City, eating and shopping. There is certainly more activity and animation in the Arab market. You can definitely tell where one market end and the other begins.
We walked to Emek Refa'im to do some shopping before Shabbos, knowing that "everything" closes...and they aren't kidding. If you need anything plan on getting it before.
While we watched everyone close up we walked back to the Eldan via a different route to see how people lived. The aprtment blocks and new construction is fascinating.
That night we met our son for Chinese..after 9 months here he missed the food. We ate at the Mandarin which I believe is on Yafo (Jaffa) Street. It is on the second floor. The food is comparable on what you would receive in the states. You have to be very clear on what you order, though they write it down. 3 beers, Nesher Malt (different tasting) and Carlsberg, two whitew ines, 2 rice bowls, 3 soups-hot and sour/egg drop/corn, Mongolian Beef and a Veal Dish cost 145 Shekels.
Day 3 Shabbos
Started with the Eldan breakfast, same as the day before. We walked to Yad Vashem, passed the Knesset, Hebrew University. On shabbos make sure that you take what you need especially water. Knowing that everything was closed made the walk actually quite enjoyable with the lack of traffic After seeing part of Yad Vashem we walked over Mt. Herzel. It is all quite full of feeling and history. We came back by way of Sderot Herzel, Rabin, Agrippas Yafo and Haneviim ending up at the Damascus Gate to meet our son.
We pick up some snacks, in an area immediately north of the Old City.
We then went to have lunch at the Samara at the Jaffa Gate.. We had just walked about 7 miles and needed to sit to eat.
The son had a cheese burger with bacon (who knows if it was real or not)...after 9 months this boy wanted "real" food. We had the Greek Salad and Tabouleh. Not bad for what it was. But if you eat near the entrance to any busy area be prepared to pay, the further away the cheaper it gets.
We walked into the Armenian quarter and out the Zion Gate, We then walked around the Old City, past the Dung gate, Gold gate, over looking the East. We viewed some excavations, and the housing, especially how the homes have had floors added to them. The different stone, brick, block and concrete overtime. The details of how people live puts my life in new England in a whole different prespective.
We came in through the Lion's Gate. Security was present with but not overbearing at all. Typically one soldier and one policeman, at entance of the gate, more at busier gates but that would be expected. We only saw one group of 5 soldiers, and they were on their phones talking to people and having lunch, weapons slung.
We walked down Lions Road, Via Dolorossa and other roads in the Moslem Quarter...very busy, interesting and definitly worth the walk. Came out through the Jaffa Gate, probably by mistake as we were trying to get to the Damascus Gate.
Observations..learn how to read a map, exercise and be in shape for walking up and down hills, steps and uneven ground. Using Treadmill on the flats with no excline is not helpful. Start taking steps two at a time to get ready. I hike, my wife uses the eliptical...she aches I dont.
Litter is ever present, in all the neighborhoods, public areas, religious areas, museums, etc. It doesnt matter Jewish or Arab. It is appalling, forget the tourist areas, it is their living neighborhoods.
The people here are like those anywhere else in the world, some helpful, others not, some rude, some not...you just have to build a bridge and get over it.
This trip is worthwhile, dont be afraid to go by yourselves. We are not on a tour and have gone everywhere. We could have gone to areas that were not closed on Shabbos and gone to others on a different days. But thats by choice. If you want to learn something specific read about it then go there. Most of the tours we have seen really don't move fast enough to cover all the things that you may want to see. But i can see why people go on tours though not for us...yet.
Tonight a very light dinner, more walking and looking and who knows what day 4 in Jeruselem will bring. We know we have to plan for our drive to Masada, buying water etc.
More in the next few days, we are not sure of Internet access or the price..free is good...look for a free hotspot.