SHALOM! I just got back from a 5.5-day trip to Israel with my cousin. This was my second time visiting the country and I loved it! My first experience was with a teen group during the Second Intifada (Holy War) in 2001, so that trip was extremely restricted for safety reasons. There is still a lot of tension in the region and there was a surge of rocket attacks on Israel in the days leading up to the trip, but fortunately a ceasefire was called as I was in route to the airport.
I flew on SAS Scandinavia and had a stopover in Copenhagen. The airport had some very high end Danish and English designer stores, but my favorite part was this trendy looking juice bar, which was playing American hip hop around 7AM.
I arrived in Tel Aviv in the late afternoon and took a sherut (shared taxi/minivan) to meet my cousin at our hotel, the Prima Kings in Jerusalem.
Our room was lovely and had a large balcony, which provided stunning views of the Old City:
Here is another view from the balcony during daylight:
The hotel was extremely well located, so we walked everywhere. On my first evening we walked to the Old City, since it was very close to the hotel and I was curious to see it at night. Along the way we passed through the Mamilla Mall, which is beautifully designed outdoor luxury shopping mall. As required by the municipal laws in Jerusalem, the mall is constructed of Jerusalem stone, so it blends in splendidly with the Old City without looking tacky.
We visited the Kotel (aka the Wailing Wall or Western Wall). I had never seen it at night and it was awe-inspiring!
After we left the Old City we walked to Sima’s, a famous grill restaurant, for Thanksgiving dinner. The restaurant was lacking in charm, but the food was good and reasonably priced. I liked that they gave you lots of little salads upon sitting down, which I saw later is common in Israel.
Thus concluded my first (half) day in Jerusalem. On a random note, when I was on my teen program, everyone was obsessed with Shoco-Bi’sakit (chocolate milk in a bag), which you are expected to open by tearing with your teeth. I never understood the fascination with this product that is basically an accident waiting to happen, but I was excited to see that it is still in existence.