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Exploring the Holy City for the first time...

CT
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Exploring the Holy City for the first time...

Hiya everyone!

We (3 women, in our early-mid 30s) are excited about visiting Jerusalem for the first time this April. Below is the preliminary itinerary, which is meant to be relaxed enough to enjoy each place, but not too slow-paced. I used information that I gleaned from the forums to help me plan the itinerary. I would greatly appreciate any additional suggestions you have, regarding feasibility of each day (e.g., too much/too little/the sites are too far apart from one another in a give day). I have a list of questions below, as well, which we would greatly appreciate answers to. Thank you, in advance, and have a great day/evening. Cheers!

6 April: Land at Ben Gurion Airport (TLV), transfer to Jerusalem via Nesher Shuttle or private taxi (accommodations preferably in the Jewish or Armenian quarters of the actual Old City)

7 April: Start at Jaffa Gate  Tower of David  Ramparts Walk (northern)  City of David (possibly with Hezekiah’s Tunnel)  late evening in the Western Wall Tunnels excavation site

*Western Wall Tunnels may be shifted to another evening, if we need to do so.

8 April: Mount of Olives: view from top and possibly from Seven Arches Hotel, Mary Magdalene Church, Church of All Nations, Chapel of the Ascension  Garden of Gethsemane  Lion’s Gate  St. Anne’s Church/Pools of Bethesda  Via Dolorosa  Church of the Holy Sepulchre and view of Mosque of Omar  Israel Museum in the evening (Shrine of the Book and model of Second Temple Period)

9 April: Jericho: Temptation Mount, Tel es Sultan, Elisha’s Spring and Zachaeus Tree); Bethlehem Church of the Nativity, Milk Grotto, Manger Square

*Alternatives: Tel Aviv for the day, or Emek Sifting Project, Zedekiah’s Cave, etc.

10 April: Garden Tomb (before midday closing)  Hurva Synagogue r 4 Sephardi Synagogue (if unable to reserve a tour at Hurva Synagogue for today or for another day)  Knesset (tour and possibly, the archaeology site)  Yad Vashem

11 April: Masada/Ein Gedi/Dead Sea (organized tour)

12: Mount Zion: Dormition Abbey, King David’s Tomb, Cenacle, Oskar Schindler’s Grave, Martef SaHoah (Chamber of the Holocaust)  explore the streets of the Old City  Tower of David Night Spectacular

*We are also going to make our way to Machane Yehuda bazaar, the Cardo, Ben Yehuda Street, and other areas within Jerusalem. Suggestions for other bazaars and local food, live performances, music, and other events are greatly appreciated!

13 April: Jerusalem to Wadi Rum via Eilat

Questions:

1. What are some routes to get to Jaffa Gate via public transportation from, e.g., the centre of the Jewish Quarter?

2. Just to clarify, is it possible to visit the Tower of David on one day and reserve places for the Night Spectacular that is upon another day, using the combined ticket?

3. Also just to clarify, is it possible to re-enter the northern Ramparts Walk after descending from the gates after Damascus Gate (e.g., to see the gates and then re-enter the ramparts)?

4. Approximately how long does it take to walk from Lion’s Gate to the Dung Gate/City of David?

5. Are there lockers and/or changing rooms available for people who want to walk through Hezekiah’s Tunnel?

6. We may take a taxi to the top of Mount of Olives, however is there a bus that goes to the top or at least partially along the hill?

7. Can we see the Mosque of Omar clearly, from outside of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre? We are not Muslim, however we do want to at least see what the mosque looks like from the outside, especially since it is most likely that we are not going to Temple Mount.

8. How may we get to the Israel Museum from the Old Quarter (bus or light rail)?

9. To clarify, is it bus 36 from Damascus Gate that will go to Adu Dis, from where we continue by service/sherut to Jericho?

10. When do the borders close at Bethlehem on Wednesdays, to get back to Jerusalem? Also, are there specific borders to be wary of crossing?

11. If we are back in Jerusalem by 19:00 Uhr and have already eaten dinner, is it feasible to attend the Night Spectacular at the Tower of Daivd, or is this too close?

12. In case we are going to Tel Aviv for the day, where may we take the bus from Jerusalem to get to Tel Aviv and where may we find out schedule information?

13. How do we get to Knesset and Yad Vashem via public transportation?

14. Where do we go to reserve tickets for the Egged Bus from Jerusalem to Eilat, for Sunday 13 April, just in case we do not ring to reserve our tickets? Also, how far ahead in advance is it recommended to reserve the seats, given that this is the day before Passover begins?

Cheers so much, in advance, for the suggestions and help!

CT
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1. Re: Exploring the Holy City for the first time...

Corrections: *servicee

*Hurva Synagogue/4 Sephardic Syngagogue

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2. Re: Exploring the Holy City for the first time...

1) You walk from the Jewish Quarter to the Jaffa Gate. Takes 10 minutes.

2) I believe you have to use the combined ticket on the same day. You can buy the tickets separately with one day for entrance and another for the Night Spectacular.

4) Depends on the day and the crowds and if you go directly but maybe about 40 minutes.

5) Yes there are lockers and basic change rooms to change out of wet clothes after walking through Hezikiah's tunnel.

7) There are many points where you can clearly see the Dome of the Rock.. A good spot is on the way down from the Jewish Quarter to the Western Wall, there is an overlook with seating next to the stairs. Another good spot is from the rooftops, accessed from a metal staircase on Habad Street. From the top of Hurva Synagogue, the view is terrific. From the top of the bell tower of the Lutheran Church right off Muristan Square. The rooftop of the Church of the Holy Sepelchre is probably one of the only places you CAN'T see the Dome of the Rock .

11) Should be fine, you only need to arrive a couple of minutes early.

I'll leave the transportation questions to the transportation experts. They will have detailed answers.

Regarding accommodation. I don't think there is anywhere at all to stay in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City. There are a couple of private rentals in the Jewish Quarter but you are coming just before Passover so you would need to act very quickly (and they may not be available for the whole time if the units are being cleaned for Passover). Staying in the Old City is really not necessary. There are many terrific options within only a few minutes walk of the Jaffa Gate or on the light rail system. Three star or better hotels will be found outside the city walls. There are some interesting Christian guest houses and some hostels in the old city. If you are looking for something a little more hotel-like then check out the Austrian Hostel. tripadvisor.ca/Hotel_Review-g293983-d320662-… Spottlessly clean and with very good security. It is located in the Moslem Quarter near the Damascus Gate (right on the Via Dolorosa). The Gloria Hotel also gets good reviews, it is located right near the Jaffa gate, next to, but not in, the Armenian quarter. Very basic but a good option for Old City Hotels. The Petra Hostel next door to the Gloria hotel is absolutely terrible, I strongly advise you to stay away from there. With 3 adult women, it may be more cost effective to rent an apartment for your stay. Another option to consider.

CT
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3. Re: Exploring the Holy City for the first time...

Cheers for the information! We will start looking at accommodations this weekend and will use the information you wrote.

Also, sorry for the confusion regarding the mosque. I believe that there is a Mosque of Omar across from, or close to, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is a minute detail, but am curious if we have a good view of this mosque without going onto the grounds.

Cheers, again, for such a detailed reply. Have a great evening!

Gippsland, Australia
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4. Re: Exploring the Holy City for the first time...

7th April. You didn't mention the Church of Dominus Flevit on the Mt. Of Olives - designed in the shape of a teardrop to remind people that it was here Jesus stopped and wept over Jerusalem. The view from inside that church is worth seeing - it is one that is featured on so many pictures of a Jerusalem. In front of that church they have planted a tree. Check out the thorns on it. It is said that it may have been thorns from this type of tree that was used to make the crown of thorns.

The Church of Mary Magdalena is not open to visitors most if the time - you will probably only be able to walk past it.

You can buy a combined ticket for the a Ramparts Walk, Zedekiah's Cave and I think the third thing was the Roman gate found under the current Damascus Gate. looking at the Damascus gate the entrance is down steps on the left hand side.

April 10 and 12. The Cardo is close to the Hurva Synagogue. You would be better to do that on the 10th. Some of it is out in the open - you just look down on it as you go past. You can go down steps into the area and walk along under modern shops. It's not far to go.

1. The Old City is mostly a walking only area. You can't get a car, taxi, or any public transport into most of it. You could get a taxi from the Jewish Quarter to take you outside the old City Wall and round to the Jaffa Gate but unless you have mobility issues it isn't worth it.

3. I am not sure but although people say you have to start the Ramparts walk at the Jaffa Gate, we actually started at the Damascus Gate and walked around towards St Stephen's Gate. So with that in mind I think you probably can. Zedekiah's cave is just a short distance from the Damascus Gate.

7. Yes there is a Mosque of Omar next to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Details here: allaboutjerusalem.com/article/mosque-omar

I seem to remember walking past the entrance at one point and taking a quick photo but we were with others at the time and went past without going to look properly. I think there was a gate that was closed anyway.

(PS. You will be in Jerusalem at the same time as me.)

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5. Re: Exploring the Holy City for the first time...

Another thought for 10th April. There is another thing for you to add in. Close to Hurva Square (in a little street just at the corner where you leave Hurva Square to go towards the Temple Mount) you will find the "broad wall". It is the remains of the wall build in Nehemiah's time. It is out in the open - only takes a minute to find and see.

There is also another place in the Old City I love visiting. It is called the Temple Institute. They have on display items they have researched and made for a coming Temple - all carefully researched to be the same as the ones used in Biblical times. Their website is here: http://www.templeinstitute.org

You are going at a very busy time. You need to book your accommodation as soon as possible. If you can't find a hotel in your price range close to the Old City then try www.airbnb.com. (We have booked a little apartment through airbnb for between a third to half the cost of a hotel).

CT
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6. Re: Exploring the Holy City for the first time...

Cheers for the information, Heather! We will check out the Church of Dominus Flevit, as well; the shape and story associated with the church does sound interesting! I briefly glanced at the description of this church before, however you now piqued my interest!

Also, we are going to Mount of Olives upon Tuesday morning, in part to see if we can make the opening time for the Church of Mary Magdalene. Will tell you how this goes!

Cheers for answering the question regarding the mosque and for the other helpful information! Given anmejoshme's advice regarding reserving our accommodation, I already looked on airbnb.com. Are there particular flats that you recommend?

Also, if you would be interested in meeting up while in Jerusalem, we would love to do so! And btw, I absolutely love Melb! Enjoy the summer weather and have a great day. Cheers!

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7. Re: Exploring the Holy City for the first time...

First of all welcome to the forum. Get ready for having a lifetime experience that you will never forget.

The time you are coming is still low season, but since the end of your trip is just before Passover/Easter you search and booking for accomodations soon is essential. If you want in the Jewish Quarter try Kotel Quarters.

The following are my proposed changes

7 April: Start at Jaffa Gate  Tower of David  Ramparts Walk (northern) visit the Garden Tomb (5 minute walk from Damascus Gate), Zedikiah's tunnel and Damascus Gate (perhaps do Tower of David at the end

8 April: Mount of Olives: view from top and possibly from Seven Arches Hotel - in this order Chapel of the Ascension, Domenus Flevit, Mary Magdalene Church (entrance possible in the morning before 11, just ring the bell and ask for permission to enter), Church of All Nations = Garden of Gethsemane, Lion’s Gate  St. Anne’s Church/Pools of Bethesda  Via Dolorosa  Church of the Holy Sepulchre and view of Mosque of Omar (it is located on the left as you go up and out of the Holy Sepuchre Compound and is off limits to non-Moslems like all Moslem sites in Jerusalem. You won't have time for the Israel Museum today.

9 April: Jericho: Temptation Mount, Tel es Sultan, Elisha’s Spring and Zachaeus Tree); Bethlehem Church of the Nativity, Milk Grotto, Manger Square. To do all this in one day you should arrange for a day tour either with a group or a private tour.

10 April: Yad Vashem and the Knesset and maybe Temple Mount sifting project (Emeq Zurim, reserved via City of David

11 Mount Zion: Dormition Abbey, King David’s Tomb, Cenacle, Oskar Schindler’s Grave, Martef SaHoah (Chamber of the Holocaust)  explore the streets of the Old City

12: April: Masada/Ein Gedi/Dead Sea (organized tour) Tower of David Night Spectacular

Machane Yehuda can be done any day except for Saturday and Friday afternoon. It's not recommended to go on Sunday becuase some of the stalls are closed due to lack of fresh produce (no commerce on Saturday in Israel. The Cardo is part of the Old City

13 April: Jerusalem to Wadi Rum via Eilat. You MUST either fly and make a reservation today or have a car and drive south. As you said this is Passover eve and alot of people will be traveling to Eilat this day. You can go by bus but I do not recommend such on this particular day. Reservations can be made 2 weeks before departure and tickets are picked up at the CBS in Jerusalem/Tel Aviv (depending on your point of departure.

1. The Old City is less than one square kilometer -- no need for any form of transportation

2. Only to be used on the same day

3. You can get off at Damascus Gate and get back on to continue to Lion's Gate. There is no more Rampart Walk after this gate. (no walking around the Temple Mount)

4. If you are walking around the outside of the wall, about 10-15 minutes. There is alot to see along the way so you may stop a bit to take a look.

5. You really won't need changing rooms as April will most likely be warm and you will air dry, but there are changing rooms at the entrance to the park, not at the end of the visit. Be sure to bring walking shoes and flashlights (although the later can be purchased inexpensively at the visitors center).

6. You should take a taxi, the bus service is inadequate for what you plan on seeing -- it serves the local population for work and school.

7. You can look through the green gate and see the Crusader building upon which the mosque was built. It is easier to see the citadel from next to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

8. Best to take a taxi. The bus service to there requires walking to the light rail and transferring to the bus and could take you an hour to an hour and a half. A taxi costs a little bit more (but you are three people so it's really very little) and will take 15-20 minutes depending on traffic. Just be sure to ALWAYS ask for the meter and only get into a taxi below Mamilla and not inside Jaffa Gate.

10. There are no borders between the PA and Israel. There are crossings. The Bethlehem one is always open. You are free to visit anywhere you would like in Israel. If you are using Arab transportation you will barely notice that you are have crossed to the PA.

11. Sure because there is a show at 9:30 and 10:30. Just be sure to make reservations in advance.

12. From the Central Bus Station. See www.bus.co.il for scheduling.

13. The Knesset from the Old City, you could take the light rail and walk about 15 minutes from there. Or take a taxi, which is economical and quick. Public transportation between the two (see above about Israel Museum) is cumbersome and takes alot of time).

14. You MUST reserve tickets online at: www.egged.co.il for tickets to Eilat 2 weeks prior to travel. See my note about on such. No ringing, only on-line.

Hope this helps.

Chana

Israel

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8. Re: Exploring the Holy City for the first time...

The only thing I would say about accommodation via airbnb is to try and get a good location, and make sure there are lots of good reviews from people who have already stayed at the place.

We have got a place not far from Machane Yehuda market and Jaffa Road which is very central for everything and gives us good transport options if we need it. (I have some mobility issues due to back pain so that is really important to me). If you find a place and want opinions on location then just give the info here and there will be plenty of people who can let you know if it is a good location or not. I think the area we have chosen to be in is the best for getting around but many people also seem to like the German Colony.

I am glad you like Melbourne. :) Our Summer weather is a little excessive at the moment. As I write this the temperature where I am is 43.2 deg. Celcius (109.7 Fahrenheit). Yesterday the outside temperature gauge on my car registered 47 deg. celcius (116.6 deg. Fahrenheit) for a little while. I am trying hard to stay cool and am sitting under an airconditioner!

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9. Re: Exploring the Holy City for the first time...

14. Correction to what Chana said: Online bookings for bus tickets to Eilat can be done only in Hebrew. You can book in English by telephone, from about two weeks before you travel, and you pick up the tickets from a machine at the bus station. Tickets can be booked up to one hour before you travel, in which case you would do it in person at the bus station. Usually, especially at busy times, several buses travel together in convoy, and Egged needs to know how many buses to put on.

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10. Re: Exploring the Holy City for the first time...

Some further thoughts.

You haven't said why you want to stay in the Old City. Some people seem to be under the mistaken impression that the Old City is the commercial centre, full of shops and restaurants, as is the case in many old city centres in Europe. But that isn't the case here. Almost everything shuts down in the evening, and while it isn't dangerous, it can be a bit creepy after dark. I think you should reconsider this.