The holy city. We actually visited this city twice on our travels. On our first round we day tripped it from Be’Er Sheva, parked our car at Mamilla parking and went to visit the Western Wall. The drive through the country side was very pleasant as it twisted and turned its way through the lush hillsides and I believe skirted along the West Bank as we could see some heavy walls of barbwire lining the highway through parts. We entered the old city at the Jaffa Gate and just as we passed through the rain started coming down. We grabbed a map from the visitor’s center and jumped on the tourist trolley for 10 shekels each.
We thought we were going on a tour through the old city to the Western Wall but in the end we were on a 5 minute direct route trolley ride to the Wall. Once there we proceeded past the security scanners and into the wall vicinity. This area was segregated off to men on one side and women on the other. Firstly, we had to stop at the fountain to wash our hands prior to going on to touch the wall.
Tyson went first to the wall and jammed his scribbled wishes into one of the cracks while I held both girls. Next, the girls and I proceeded to our side where we did the same.
To the left was the mens side and to the right behind the black barrier was the ladies side. I could hardly get near the wall because it was so busy on the ladies side.
We then started walking back because of the rain and got nearly half way before remembering we had wanted to tour the Western Wall underground tunnels. So we turned around, retraced our steps and went to find tickets to buy. After stumbling here and there we finally found the ticket booth and for 35 shekels each we had tickets to the afternoon tour. By now the rain had stopped, we found a place to sit, eat lunch, feed the girls and waited for our time slot.
We entered the underground and started our adventure below the surface. The 30 or so of us gathered in a large room and our guide explained the history of the temple and how it all began. She then proceeded to tour us through the tunnels with her wrath of knowledge.
After the 90 minute tour we proceeded to walk back to our car and return to Be’Er Sheva for the night.
On our second visit to Jerusalem we decided to spend the night. We again drove from Be’Er Sheva with a stop in Ein Karem. Here we got out for a walk and ate homemade sandwiches and visited Mary’s spring where the Virgin Mary drank from while pregnant with Jesus. Ein Karem was a quiet enjoyable little town with a couple historic monasteries and unexpected views of the areas vineyards and forests.
I have been using booking.com this entire time throughout all the places we have stayed and have never been let down. This time I had booked us at Agripas Boutique Hotel which was a 2 minute walk to Mahane Yehuda Market, had free parking and was in a perfect central location.
We got settled in the hotel and then set out to find a lab for Tyson to do blood work again. We had tried to do it in Be’Er Sheva but the private lab there wanted to charge 480 shekels which was more than our nights stay in the Dead Sea. We said no way in hopes we could find a less expensive place in Jerusalem. This was turning out to be a tough task as none of the people we spoke with knew English and we could only get so far with our knowledge of hello and counting in Hebrew. We stumbled into a clinic of some sort and with a lot of charades and broken English the lady called a private lab and helped us get all the info we needed. It turns out this promising lab was only a 5 minute walk from our hotel. The lab closed at 4:00 so we were forced to take on the blood work the following day. It was getting later in the evening and we also wanted to walk around the Mahane Yehuda market and get a bite to eat.
After finding a ton of bulk candy, cashews and dried mangos along with dinner we retired back to our room for the evening. Tyson ate his dinner en route and I brought my fish ‘en chips back to share with the girls; they loved the cod. The girls passed out promptly so we relaxed and watched the 80’s music channel.
The following morning we got up, fed the little ladies and ventured out to find the lab as well as some breakfast. First stop, blood work for 125 shekels. Still a touch steep but way better then the other price. They would call and email us the lab results. We then wandered back to the market where there was way too much to choose from. Tyson went back to the same place he ate the night prior and had their famous breakfast dish. Not to sure what was in it but it did have eggs and was bursting with flavour.
I had a few bites of it as did the girls and then I grabbed a mango and goat yogurt smoothie for the road.
Back at our hotel we packed up and hit the road north to Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee.
Stay tuned for our next up… The northern region of Israel.