Tag Archives: Old City

Holy Land Finale: Israel – Day 6

Our last day was epically long and filled with activities and new culinary experiences.  We started by visiting Yad LaKashish, Lifeline for the Old, which is a wonderful non-profit that provides employment and social services to elderly immigrants.  The seniors make crafts and Judaica in artisan workshops and their work is sold at the very reasonably priced gift shop.  I bought an adorable, super comfy travel pillow for less than $12.  I HIGHLY recommend stopping by.

YL

Yad LaKashish/Lifeline for the Old

Artisan Workshop at LY

Artisan Workshop at Yad LaKashish

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Have you ever seen a cuter travel pillow? I didn’t think so.

We walked to the Old City and visited some shops in the Cardo, which is an arcaded street from Byzantine times.  The street has been reconstructed, but some ancient pillars remain, which reminded me a little of the Roman forum.

Gorgeous mosaic in the Jewish Quarter

Gorgeous mosaic in the Jewish Quarter

The Cardo leads into the Old City Shuk, which is definitely a must see because the setting is so historic, but the vendors are aggressive and most of them are selling the same touristy goods.

Shuk

Old City Shuk

Spice shop in the Muslim Quarter

Spice mountain at a shop in the Muslim Quarter

We stopped at the landmark Ja’far Sweets to try the famous Arabic pastry knafeh, which consists of cheese soaked in sweet syrup and topped with crunchy phylo bits.  The sweet cheese was not to my liking, but it was unique.

Knefah

Knafeh

We walked to the Kotel (aka Wailing Wall, Western Wall), where we had reservations for the underground tunnel tours.  The tunnels were fascinating to visit and our tour guide was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable.  I definitely recommend this activity and ordering advance tickets online (thank you R.B.L. for this recommendation and other suggestions!).

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The lesser known section of the Wall

The tour left off on the famous Via Delorosa, where we saw a couple pilgrimage groups and school children.

Off the Via Del

Street off the Via Delorosa

Back in the Jewish quarter, we were fortunate to run into a porter from our hotel who took us to the obscure staircase that leads to the Old City rooftop walk.  It was cool to see families wheeling their groceries home via the rooftops.  Less exciting were the many stray cats.

Rooftop view (Dome of the Rock is in the background)

Rooftop view of Jerusalem

Rooftop walk

Rooftop walk

After leaving the Old City, we had lunch at Sabichiya on Shammai Street, which is known for having the best Sabich (an Israeli sandwich composed of pita stuffed with fried eggplant, a hardboiled egg, cucumber, tomato, and pickles topped with sauce).

Shula and sabich

Shula and sabich

We went back to Mahane Yehuda to pick up rose tea and spices.  Along the way we stopped at Marzipan Bakery and bought some of the famous chocolate rugelach to take home.

Ruglach at Marzipan Bakery

Rugelach at Marzipan Bakery

Sufganyot (for Chanukah) were everywhere!

Sufganiyot (for Chanukah) were everywhere!

We stopped at a café in Mahane Yehuda to have mint tea.

Mint tea

Mint tea

For our last dinner, we ate at Little Jerusalem, which is a dairy restaurant in the lovely garden of the Anna Ticho House Museum.  This was my favorite dining experience in Israel and if we had gone there earlier in the trip, we probably would have had repeat meals there.

Little Jerusalem/Ticho House Museum Restaurant

Little Jerusalem Restaurant at the Ticho House Museum

The salad sampler was WAY larger than I was expecting!

The salad sampler was WAY larger than I was expecting!

After dinner we went to the bar on the roof of the Notre Dame Center.  The Notre Dame Center is a stunning building, but the views from the rooftop are even more spectacular!  The bar specializes in wine and cheese, but we skipped the cheese and had some prosecco.  I found it a little odd that the menu was only in dollars, but this was actually good because I was able to pay in USD and avoid a final ATM visit.

Beautiful Notre Dame Center

Beautiful Notre Dame Center

Rooftop Bar

Rooftop Bar at the Notre Dame Center

This was the perfect end to a fabulous trip.  Shalom!

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Israel – Day 1: Arrival in the Holy Land

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.

Have you ever seen such stylish decor in an airport?

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 at the Prima Kings Hotel

Our room was lovely and had a large balcony, which provided stunning views of the Old City:

Night time in Jerusalem

Here is another view from the balcony during daylight:

Jerusalem!

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!

Old City

Birdies in the wall

Women praying at the Wall…can you spot the birdies? (photo by Shula)

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.

Shula at Sami's

Thanksgiving at Sami’s

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.

Things that make no sense

Things that make no sense

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