I visit the entire Israel extensively, from north (Haifa) to south (Eilat), from west (Tel Aviv) to east (Jerusalem).
01.21 Tel Aviv to the Dead Sea, Masada
Israeli Style Huge Breakfast
Israeli style breakfast is huge. I order “complet with hard-boiled egg”, in a hole-in-the-wall place called “Shlomo and Doron” that has been there for 76 years. The young staff there speak good English and are very nice to me. I also enjoy a Cafe Afuch which is similar to cappuccino.
Missed My Tour Bus
Unfortunately, it takes me longer to find my way back to the hotel. The tour driver is driving away and I have to chase after them!
The route from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is scenic with lots of hills and mountains.
Today’s itinerary is to go up to Masada overlooking the Dead Sea. It is like a yellowish desert version of Machu Picchu and was used as a strategic castle during the historical wars between the Romans and the Jews.
The Dead Sea is fun. I float on it. Unfortunately, it has a lot of crystal stones on the bottom; and when I get up, I slip and scratch my waist. The salt really hurts my wound, but the Dead Sea mud spa makes my skin feel very smooth.
01.22 Jerusalem, Israel
Huge Breakfast- Palestinian style
I have had a bad sleep and wake up feeling tired at 6 am. The Hotel Azzahra staff are extremely friendly. They send a basket of fruits to my room and a Palestinian breakfast with 10 plates just for me! There are 3 types of hummus (eggplant, garlic and regular), veggies, cheese, ham, cafe Afuch. This fills me for the entire day.
The neighborhood I am staying in East Jerusalem Palestinian with no Israelis, it is a challenging area. Catching a bus isn’t easy, but the panoramic view of Jerusalem on Mount Olives is amazing.
3 Religions: Muslim, Jew, Christian
The old city is very cultural and religious. 3 types of religions divide it. At the Wailing Wall, the Jews segregate men and women during their prayers. They lean their heads against the wall, against the book very closely, wailing.
The Jewish Quarter is cleaner and sells more expensive and higher quality goods, while the Muslim Quarter is less clean and goods are selling at cheaper prices.
It is ironic that the grandest site is the Dome of Rock (Muslim) located inside the Jewish Quarter. Most of the entrance gates are dedicated to Muslims only, so it takes me a while to get in. I had to run like a mad woman to find the gate for non-Muslims because they close at 10 am. Visitors are not even allowed to get into the dome, only the park outside the dome.
I gain entrance at 9:53 am and it is a rush. It is an amazing site with mosques and ruins all around. I find it interesting that the men that guard this mosque are Jordanians because east Jerusalem was transferred to Israel from Jordan in 1967.
01.23 Western Jerusalem: Jewish neighborhood
The Russian Golden Church
After the museum, I randomly see the Russian golden church on another mountain. While I don’t take the time to prepare an itinerary, I just hop on a bus number 28 and go to Eim Kerem, which is an artistic village. I try to go up to the golden church on the other mountain, but the locals tell me it is too difficult to get there, so I go to the Visitation Church instead.
The bus driver is kind and doesn’t charge me for the bus ride (6.9 shekels). It is very interesting to me to find that every Jewish price ends with 0.99.
The Mehane Yehuda Food Market
I experience a very interesting Mehane Yehuda food market in the afternoon. This is where the Jews busily prepare for their Sabbath, which is tomorrow. There is so much fruit, veggies, nuts, pickles, pastries, sweets, bread, etc. I buy several different items to try but I am too full after eating my big breakfast. I go to the Azura restaurant on my list. It is extremely good! All of the stews in big pots. I order Azura, which is ground beef on top of a big eggplant with pine nuts and cinnamon. I wish I had the stomach to try beef sofrito (beef stew with potato), beef kebab with eggplant and spinach. This place is so good and so popular but is only open for brunch and lunch.
Ben Yehuda, Mea Sharim
Then I walk to Ben Yehuda and Mea Shearim. Although I am very tired, I refuse to take a taxi or a bus, I choose instead to enjoy a walk through the local neighborhoods.
Mea Shearim is a very religious neighborhood with everyone dressing in black suits and black hats. The people here yell at me when I take their picture on the street.
01.24 Haifa, Acre, Israel
Gorgeous Haifa: My Favorite in Israel
Haifa is gorgeous, the most beautiful place that I have visited during my trip to Israel. The houses on this western coast are the most expensive ones in the entire country. I also visit the underground city and learn a lot about the history of the Roman and Arabic periods.
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