We hired a car to take us from Amman to Jerusalem. Problem is at the border you have to go through 5km of no man’s land so once you get to the border you have to leave the car, go through Jordan border patrol, get on a bus to take you through no man’s land, go through Israel border patrol, then find your next driver on the other side! It was quite the process, but was pretty straight forward. Did take about 3hrs though.
On the bus in no man’s land!
Once we finally made it to Jerusalem, we learned it’s actually the Jewish holiday Sukkot, which is a week long holiday and they do a march through Jerusalem. Because of this it seemed a bittttt crowded, but the streets in the Old City were closed to cars, which was pretty nice.
Our hostel is right across from the Citadel of David so we decided to go in and explore. We were told there was a free tour in about 20 minutes after we got in so we decided to do it. Turned out to be an amazing tour! The guy explained the stories of each religion and why Jerusalem is a sacred place for each, which really helps you understand the history of the city.
Also learned that although it’s called the Tower of David, it was actually all built by King Herod (apparently King Herod wanted everything to be extravagant and I guess he was also kind of an asshole and even killed his entire family so no one would be a threat to his rule!). The tower is one of the main symbols of Jerusalem since it’s tall and grand! You can’t climb up the tower though… probably cause they didn’t have to restore it so it actually is old.
After exploring the Citadel, we walked to find some lunch. On our way we went by the Western Wall so we decided to stop. The Western Wall is the closest spot to the Foundation Stone that Jews can openly worship. Foundation stone is where Abraham almost killed his son to show his devotion to God. It was is where Muhammad was brought up to Heaven in the Quran. The stone is now inside a mosque, which is why the Western Wall is the closest place it can be openly worshipped by non-Muslims. Also, it’s custom to write a prayer on a piece of paper and stick it in the wall. All the prayers are taken out at some point and buried in the Mount of Olives.
We all wrote a prayer on a piece of paper and headed to the wall. Men and women had separate sections so I went on my own. With the Jewish holiday there were A LOT of people. It was cool to be able to see so many people reading the Torah and praying. It was pretty hard to actually get to the wall (the women’s side is also half the size of the men’s), but eventually I was able to make it there, say a prayer, and stick my piece if paper into the wall.
We went to lunch at one of the places on the map given to us by our hostel. Very delicious!!
While sitting at lunch, we noticed we were by one of the stations of cross so after lunch we decided to go to the beginning and walk Via Dolorosa, which is the path believed to have been walked by Jesus on his way to the crucifixion.
We found a “map” at the starting church (where Jesus was condemned) and followed it along to the Church of Sepulchre (where Jesus was crucified, died, and buried).
Each station along the way had a little statue on the wall symbolizing it
Once we arrived to the Church of Sepulchre it was packed. Not sure if it would help to get there earlier, but to anyone thinking of going I recommend trying to Google when is best to go! They built a little tomb where Jesus was buried, which we waited in line for (took at least 40minutes). The line wasn’t organized until the very end and people kept cutting in front so they wouldn’t have to wait as long (very Christian). Once you finally get to the front, there is a priest ushering people in and out so no one can stay more than like 15 seconds to pray.
The church also has the slab Jesus was laid on after he died before buried and the stone which the crucifix was put on.
After the church, we headed back to the hostel to relax for a bit. We have a decent view of part of the city from its roof!
Also on the map from our hostel was a place called Beer Bazaar so we decided to go there before dinner. Our plan was to take the tram, but once we got outside of the old city there were SO many people. And the people waiting for the tram was ridiculous. We decided to just walk (only like an extra mile from the tram station). The place was in the middle of a big market filled with people, but thankfully the Beer Bazaar itself wasn’t too crowded so we were able to get a seat at the bar.
After 2 drinks, we made our way through the market to find some dinner then trekked back to the hostel for the night.
Woke up around 5am to a bunch of bells ringing. One of the many religious things I’m sure. Thankfully I fell back asleep! We got on our way 9am and found some yummy croissants at a place right next to our hostel.
We tried to go see if we could get tickets to the Western Wall tunnels, but with all the people in for the holiday they were all sold out. Instead we decided to go see the city of David. City of David was only recently discovered (like 2000) so there is still a lot being excavated.
Turned out this area had its own tunnels! There was a wet route and a dry route so naturally we took the wet route.
The deepest the water got was about mid-thigh for me (so decently deep). But that only lasted for like 1 minute. The rest of the time was only about foot deep. There were some really low areas so had to bend in half a bit! Was also definitely helpful to have Jack’s headlamp lead the way.
The route was about a third of a mile so it definitely took a little while to walk through! Thankfully no tour groups were in front of us so we didn’t get held up at all.
After we finished the tunnel walk we hiked (technically walked but had some VERY steep parts) over to the Tomb of David. We mostly went here because it was right next to the room of the Last Supper.
Here’s a pic of this lady taking a selfie with David’s tomb (btw this is David like David and Goliath)
I didn’t actually take a picture of the room of the Last Supper, but we compared it to the painting and it didn’t look anything like the painting lol. Cool to be in the room though!
We decided to walk partially up the Mount of Olives (since we weren’t really sure what else to do). We walked up to the Church of Mary. The inside wasn’t anything crazy but the outside was nice and had some nice benches to sit on!
Jack looked up some good views of the Old City so we walked up about 5 minutes farther. On the way we saw the Jewish cemetery which was HUGE!
Saw some good views of the Old City once we got there!
After we were done with the mountain we weren’t sure what to do next. So naturally I did what I always do when I run out of things to do in a city…. google “escape rooms near me” and found one! We called them and confirmed it was in English and booked it for 6pm. Since we had some time we walked back to the hostel and relaxed for a bit and watched True Lies with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I am pretty sure I had seen the movie before and it was pretty ridiculous but Sam and Jack thought it was hilarious.
We stopped at an Irish pub before our escape room (it was on the map our hostel gave us). They had a happy hour going on (2 for 1 beers) so Jack and Sam chugged two drinks in like 20minutes 😂
Then we headed to the escape room. It was prohibition themed and had actually food and even a drink you could have! There was some really delicious dark chocolate that we devoured. The room made a lot of sense and was pretty fun. We finished with about 20minutes left!
We went back to the Irish pub for dinner to finish up the night. Off to Tel Aviv tomorrow!