We were not in Israel for very long at all, and only ended up visiting Jerusalem – so this wrap up won’t be very detailed I’m afraid.
It was pretty amazing to have the opportunity to visit such a significant religious and historical city. We really enjoyed walking around, people watching, getting lost and just taking it all in. It was also pretty neat to see first hand some of the places in the Bible we both grew up hearing and reading about.
We also felt pretty safe whilst travelling around, there is a big security presence, it’s just weird seeing so many people walking around with guns – some looked like kids!
We travelled around Jerusalem mainly by walking and the occasional taxi. We entered via the King Hussein/Allenby Bridge border crossing from Jordan (which took ages, more on that later). Once you get through the crossing there are a few options from taxi’s to buses to get into Jerusalem.
Israel isn’t the cheapest of places, but we had some wonderful, cheap eats. One of our favourite’s been a falafel sandwich which cost about $3. It was very tasty and filling. We also loved the Mahane Yehuda markets, where we bought lots of fresh snacks to munch on.
Again, Israel is not cheap! We stayed at the Abraham Hostel, which had great facilities, extremely helpful staff and a fantastic location, however a private room set us back about $100 a night. This seemed the going rate at most places as we booked last minute. We would highly recommend the Abraham Hostel however, most notably for it's location – it’s a 15 minute walk to the old city, right near the markets, plus is near an ultra-orthodox neighbourhood, so we mingled with an interesting and mixed crowd while walking around.
We didn’t end up doing any shopping in Israel, unfortunately, as nothing really caught our eye.
We definitely want to go back to Israel and see more, especially Tel Aviv. Must visits while in Israel are definitely the old city. In such a compact area there is so many significant sites and things to see. Some of our highlights were seeing the Dome of the Rock, people watching in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the western Wall and just wandering around the different quarters. We also visited the Israel Museum which we highly recommend. A great collection of art, artefacts and also home to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Just be aware, however, that if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport you cannot enter countries such as Lebanon, Syria and Iran. You can either ask the border officials not to stamp your passport or you’ll have to use another one to enter. Also, if you happen to visit Lebanon, Syria or Iran prior to attempting to enter Israel, be warned that there is a very high chance of been held up at the border for quite a while. This happened to us as we had been to Lebanon. We were questioned about three times on what we were doing in Israel and why we had visited Lebanon. They we very nice about it – it just took forever (over three hours). Other than that though, everything was smooth sailing once we got in and we had a great time. We definitely recommend visiting Jerusalem, and wish we could share more about Israel!