There is only one place on earth where i feel totally alive, not simply existing, and that beautiful, poignant, sublime city is Jerusalem. Where the three major religions meet with harmony – if you wake up early you can hear the Mosques ring out their call, bells ring in churches and synagogues open their doors for prayer.
The people gather to witness the essence of waking up in the most spiritual place in the world.
The sun’s subtle colours hit the rooftops as I take up my viewpoint on the roof to see the rising of the sun. I walk through the old city, smell the spices, and taste the fresh strong coffee and make my way to the modern city of upmarket shops and cafes brimming with Arabs, Jews, Christians going about their everyday lives.
The walk to the Haas Promenade also offers an outstanding view of the city and you can see that Jérusalem is only a short drive away from the arid desert surrounded by pink mountains lit up when the sun rises, and glimpsing the Dead Sea – the lowest and saltiest place on Earth.
Just grab a tram; cheap and cheerful if you dont wan’t walk, to take you all the way to the Museum of the Holocaust Yad Vashem and ponder how the Jewish people ever had the strength to heal their wounds to make Israel after 65 years into a dynamic, thriving, heaving city with all the mod cons. The people may look different – the Chasidics (orthodox Jews wearing 18th Century black suits and big hats) but Jerusalem has changed to accommodate everybody.
And no it’s not expensive to stay; just grab a room at Abraham’s hostel – a fantastic community of young people and communal happy Shabbat Dinners. They also arrange magnificent tours to the furthest reaches of this tiny little country.
The food is outstanding, from street food (the best humous is near to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to the upper market swinging middle eastern exciting dishes of restaurants near to the amazing shuk (market) which is a must do on a Friday before shabbat, as you experience the hustle and bustle of the crowd eager to buy their fresh produce of fruit, vegetables, cholla (shabbat bread) and chicken for their Friday night meals just before the city melts down towards shabbat.
If you are interested in museums in a Jerusalem guide, then the Israeli museum contains the history of Israel going back 3000 years and also features rooms of reconstructions of synagogues from around the world. It also houses modern art from Israel. Yes, something for everybody and a lovely cafe to chill.
The area around an old Railway station has been renovated so there are wonderful craft markets and shops and happening events, live music and kids shows most nights which is a fun hangout.
You can walk through the pine forests of Jerusalem, walk to the old German Quarter, with trendy cafes and shops and take in and absorb.
Something for everybody – come in the Summer and the city organizes a week long light show – with artists leading you through 2 paths for free taking in the beautiful monuments and gates of the city lighting up in an imaginative way. Or the book fair which is open all night long for avid bookworms.
The archeology is outstanding to give you a deeper understanding of the conquerors of this special city. You can travel 3000 years behind the Western Wall and see ancient ritual sites or visit the excavations of King Solomon or caves used by the ancient Jews. So much to do so little time to explore.
If you want to see the blue mediterranean Sea to chill and relax its easy – just take a little Sherut (a yellow minibus) which is cheap and cheerful and within the hour you are basking on the white beaches of Tel Aviv – nicknamed New York by Sea. The contrasts is amazing yet so nearby.
Or take the train to venture up north – lush and green filled with nature hikes round mountains and magnificent waterfalls. Even take the train to the desert, ride a camel, reach up to the skies to see the stars.