Travel Israel – Jerusalem

In a few days, I will be leaving for a very quick business trip and travel to Israel. I’ll only be there Saturday-midnight on Tuesday and be back in Portland  by Wednesday morning. While there, my days are full of all day meetings with the exception of Saturday, the day I land. Having already enjoyed wandering around Jerusalem on my last visit to Israel in 2012, this time I am opting to stay in Tel Aviv, even though it means an hour commute each way to the office in Haifa. Here’s a quick summary of what I think I will do, call for any recommendations, and a few photos from my previous trip to Israel – aka chapter Travel Israel – Jerusalem.

Travel to Israel - Jerusalem. First view of the Old City of Jerusalem, within the walls you see. Travel to Israel - Jerusalem. First view of the Old City of Jerusalem, within the walls you see.
Photos from my 2012 trip to Israel, where I explored Jerusalem – this was my first view of the Old City of Jerusalem, within the walls you see

For the upcoming trip to Tel Aviv, as usual, I have created my own Google Map listing various sights and eats and drinks in Tel Aviv and it lists some sights but not eats in Haifa. I am hoping to do a lot of walking in the Tel Aviv area – my flight lands at 10 in the morning on Saturday which is Shabbat there (the equivalent of our Sunday but even more observant of not working by the Jewish population).  A lot of places will be closed (including public transit trains and an increased surcharge on taxis!). But keep  in mind there are other faiths also living in Tel Aviv, so there are still things to do and see. It also doesn’t mean I still can’t admire much of the atmosphere even with businesses closed – so many walls and buildings here have witnessed so much history and so many cultures and faiths intertwined.

Travel to Israel - Jerusalem. Walking through the Armenian Quarter, one of the four neighborhoods comprising the Old City. You can't see most of it, just this one street alongside its walls Travel to Israel - Jerusalem. Detail on a wall in the Armenian Quarter of Old City Jerusalem
Walking through the Armenian Quarter, one of the four neighborhoods comprising the Old City. You can’t see most of it, just this one street alongside its walls / Detail on a wall in the Armenian Quarter of Old City Jerusalem

Walking through part of the Jewish quarter for instance, you may just pass by some ancient Roman columns. People have been living and building here for so many centuries. So many locations are imbued with meaning from being part of religious scripture, and sometimes it’s the same location viewed with the lens of different religion.
Leftover Roman columns within the Jewish Quarter Mixed uses- this probably was once a tomb, but now the Muslim quarter has re-purposed it as more decorative Here we are still in the very large Muslim Quarter of the Old City, hanging out with some Roman architecture evidenced by those columns and arches
Leftover Roman columns within the Jewish Quarter / Mixed use example – this probably was once a tomb, but now the Muslim quarter has re-purposed it as more decorative? / Here we are still in the very large Muslim Quarter of the Old City, hanging out with some Roman architecture evidenced by those columns and arches

Even if you are not religious, you can feel the reverence for this city from the people around you. And the nature around here is gorgeous.
Travel to Israel - Jerusalem. The Western Wall has been a site for Jewish prayer and pilgrimage for centuries, the earliest source mentioning Jewish attachment to the site dating from the 4th century. Travel to Israel - Jerusalem. The Western Wall has been a site for Jewish prayer and pilgrimage for centuries, the earliest source mentioning Jewish attachment to the site dating from the 4th century. You can vaguely see them in the cracks of the stone how many people place slips of paper containing written prayers to God into the cracks and crevices.
The Western Wall has been a site for Jewish prayer and pilgrimage for centuries, the earliest source mentioning Jewish attachment to the site dating from the 4th century. You can vaguely see them in the cracks of the stone blocks up to three “bricks” high, but many people place slips of paper containing written prayers to God into the cracks and crevices of the Western Wall, a Jewish holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem. The notes are later buried or burned I don’t recall exactly. 

During my visit a few years ago,  I intentionally joined a tour to get some initial narration on the Old City of Jerusalem and then wandered on my own with a map and guidebook, and would highly recommend it. The tour guide pointed out lots of details and extra stories that I wouldn’t have otherwise appreciated, such as noting each station of the cross on Via Dolorosa street (the path Jesus took on the way to his crucifixion). Or at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus was crucified and is said also to contain the place where Jesus was buried (the sepulchre), he shared lots of anecdotes. For instance, other than some restoration work, its appearance has essentially not changed since 1854. See that ladder? It also appeared in every published photo and drawing of the entrance to the church dating back to before 1840.
Travel to Israel - Jerusalem. There are 12 stations where events are called out on Via Dolorosa, a street that is believed to be the path that Jesus walked carrying his cross on the way to his crucifixion. Here is the Seventh Station of Via Dolorosa, supposedly the second time that Jesus stumbled along the route Travel to Israel - Jerusalem. Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus was crucified and is said also to contain the place where Jesus was buried (the sepulchre). Other than some restoration work, its appearance has essentially not changed since 1854. See that ladder? It also appeared in every published photo and drawing of the entrance to the church dating back to before 1840
There are 12 stations where events are called out on Via Dolorosa, a street that is believed to be the path that Jesus walked carrying his cross on the way to his crucifixion. Here is the Seventh Station of Via Dolorosa, supposedly the second time that Jesus stumbled along the route / See that ladder? It also appeared in every published photo and drawing of the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre dating back to before 1840

Anyway, back to what’s coming for me in a few days! For me, my itinerary leaves only half a day of free time really on Saturday along with whatever time I have for dinner and afterwards on Mon and Tues. Pretty limited time (I fly out after midnight on Tuesday. My Sunday evening is already also consumed by a work team dinner). As soon as I land on Wed morning back in PDX after my 15 hour flight from Tel Aviv to San Francisco and my 2 hour flight from there to Portland, my mom already be waiting at the airport for me to take her home on her only second visit to PDX ever! Quite a whirlwind trip and I have to keep going once I’m back, at least for a few days while my mom visits!

Travel to Israel - Jerusalem. Walking through the Armenian Quarter, one of the four neighborhoods comprising the Old City. You can't see most of it, just this one street alongside its walls Travel to Israel - Jerusalem. Just around a corner in the Old City of Jerusalem
Walking through the Armenian Quarter, one of the four neighborhoods comprising the Old City. You can’t see most of it, just this one street alongside its walls

My current plans after dropping off my luggage at my hotel in Tel Aviv is to take a walk along the promenade towards old-world atmosphere of Old Jaffa and Jaffa Port (about a 2 mile walk SW). OR maybe I’ll head towards Sarona Market (which is open on Saturdays) and see the famous White City Bauhaus architecture along Rothschild and Dizengoff streets (also about a 2 mile walk but more NE) and wander in the historic Neve Tzedek neighborhood not far from my hotel. If I don’t feel too crappy from the 5 hour flight to Newark and then 10 hour flight from there to Tel Aviv maybe I’ll do both!

Church of the Holy Sepulchre- detail interior showing some of the juxtaposition of how the church is divided into ownership by different denominations The Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre (The Tomb of Christ) Mosaic floor of the Chapel of St. Helena, Church of the Holy Sepulchre Church of the Holy Sepulchre- detail interior
Church of the Holy Sepulchre- detail interior showing some of the juxtaposition of how the church is divided into ownership by different denominations / The Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre (The Tomb of Christ) / Mosaic floor of the Chapel of St. Helena, Church of the Holy Sepulchre / Church of the Holy Sepulchre- detail interior 

I definitely plan to eat some of the best hummus, have a visit to a Tel Aviv bar or two, and enjoy the bountiful breakfast buffet that has lots of fresh cheeses on Sun – Tues. And I may even try to do a progressive dinner on Monday evening. I won’t be posting constantly as I will only do so when I have wireless, but make sure you follow my Instagram @pechluck if you want a few glimpses of what I’m up to. I’ll also write some summary posts here after my trip, though they might not appear for a few weeks after I’m back.

Travel to Israel - Jerusalem. A look at all the tombs on Mount of Olives, The Mount has been used as a Jewish cemetery for over 3,000 years and holds approximately 150,000 graves. Travel to Israel - Jerusalem. A look at all the tombs on Mount of Olives, The Mount has been used as a Jewish cemetery for over 3,000 years and holds approximately 150,000 graves.

Zion Gate here pockmarked with bulletholes, leads into the Armenian and Jewish Quarters and is located on the Southern West Wall of the Old City / A look at all the tombs on Mount of Olives, The Mount has been used as a Jewish cemetery for over 3,000 years and holds approximately 150,000 graves.

I am optimistic about making the most of the time I have there. After all, last time I was there it was a similarly brief trip and I had only one free day – and all these pics in the post are from that one single free day (though admittedly it was a full free day as I arrived the night before).

What do you think of my plans for my travels in Israel, what would you recommend I try to check out in Tel Aviv? What would you want to see in Israel?

A few great resources from my last trip and which I’m also using for this trip:

  • Douglas Duckett is a frequent traveler to Israel (15 times) and a contributor to Frommers and Trip Advisor forums (username “Douglas D”) . His travel guide is free and the most recently updated, even more so than any published guide you can buy out there. He guested on two podcasts (#167 Israel #192 on Jerusalem) at Amateur Travel and has a pdf guide here.
  • Check out the website Go Israel for official travel site suggested itineraries
  • At the time of the last trip I also used the guidebook The Rough Guide to Jerusalem by Daniel Jacobs (2009) though as you can tell from the book title,  it is mostly focused on Jerusalem.
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Comments

  1. That’s quite a place to visit on a business trip!!! Your 2012 trip sounds amazing. What an incredible place. Great idea to use Google Maps that way!

  2. Pech- I sure hope you can sleep on planes! You’ve got a very ambitious schedule that I sincerely hope you can follow. It’s nice that you’ve been there once before and already have your bearings. Your photos are great and I can’t wait to see what you discover on this trip!

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