First night in Jerusalem

Trip Start Mar 29, 2008
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Trip End Apr 23, 2008


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Flag of Israel  , Jerusalem,
Sunday, March 30, 2008

Delay at airport
They announced that we will be arriving early in Tel Aviv. Shortly after that, they said there is a short delay. After that, they said an airplane ran off the runway and the airport is temporary closed. You can see by the blurry picture that we went in circles over the Mediterranean until the airport reopened.

Arrival at last
Once we landed, the airport was crowded because all the delayed planes were landing. This caused a backup at passport control. We talked to several people in line. Most of then were young Americans. We told then our plans of crossing overland to Egypt through the Sinai. They said it was not advised to do that, mostly because of recent events in Gaza.


Problems in the Sinai?
After passport control, we got our bags and went to the ATMs to get some local currency. We also talked to the tourist office. He said crossing into Egypt via the Sinai should not be a problem. He said we are not Jew and the Egyptians have things under control.

ATM
ATMs are the best way to change money in my opinion. They are easy to find and you get an excellent exchange rate. A few days later, I asked a money changer want the rate was. I only wanted the information and did not exchange any money, he then gave me a better rate when I told him I was not changing any money. Later, I checked the exchange rate on the internet and found the US dollar was stronger so the money changer was stating a very poor rate. My bank statement reflected this better rate when I got home. You should be aware, that some banks charge additional fees for foreign exchanges so you should check before you leave for an oversea vacation. My bank did not change any additional fees, but Mimi's bank changed it policy and charge her a 3% fee. You should also check with the bank if you plan to use credit cards. CapitalOne does not presently charge additional fees for foreign transactions.

Transfer to Jerusalem
There are several ways to get to Jerusalem from the Tel Aviv airport. The cheapest way is by bus. But it is slow and you have to take a local bus or cab to the hotel once you arrive in Jerusalem. The fastest way is by private taxi. But that is very expensive. We took a shared taxi also called a shuttle. It was 49 Shekels, about $14 USD. The disadvantage is that they drop people off at homes and hotels so it may take a little longer. The driver drove to one hotel, the person said he made a mistake and it was a different hotel, the driver was angry and ask why he didn't tell him sooner.

Our Hotel
My research found two hotels that I liked. Faith ended up that that we stayed in both. I'll go into more about the hotels in later posts.

In the Old City
We stayed in the Old Wall City of Jerusalem. Cars are not allowed in most parts of the old city. No cars made it somewhat quiet at night. The walk ways were vary crowded during the day with tourist, but empty and the shops were closed later in the evening. This made is kind of spooky waking at night, but it was very safe.


A walk in the Old City
We were tired after we checked into the hotel but took a walk. We did not want to fall asleep only to wake up something like 3:00 AM. We had no different plans, just walked around to see the sites.

After a while we had to go through some security and ended up at The Wall. Jewish people call it the Western Wall because it is the remaining western wall of the old temple during Solomon's times. It is also called the Whaling Wall because of all the people prying there.

After security, you enter a big open area. The left area is for males, the right area of the wall is for females. I was met by someone that gave me a little history of the Wall and of Israel. I felt that was nice until he asked me for a donation. I gave him 3 Shekels, he wanted more but I told him that it. After he left me, someone else approached me and wanted to take me around and was praying (for me?). I told him I was not interested.


Mimi did not have this problem and took many pictures.

People put notes in the cracks of the wall. I think it kind of good luck or maybe the note will be read by God.

Dinner
We were getting hungry and heard about a Tai Restaurant outside of the old city. I use to be able to eat most anything without problems. Mimi sometime has stomach problems when she travels and wanted to go someplace she felt the food was safe. The travel doctor told me that most food in Israel was safe but we had to be careful in Egypt. The restaurant was not too far so we went. It was kosher Tai food and did not taste as good as normal Tai food. But they had some sauce on the tables which made it taste better. We ended up eating there several times because Mimi could watch them cook the food and was sure it was safe to eat.

Back to the Hotel
We walked back to the Old City entering thought Damascus Gate. It was very spooky at that time of night.

We had a well deserved good night sleep.

:)

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