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Going to Jerusalem on 10-23?

Cripes, could my timing be any worse? I'm all set for a trip to Jordan and Israel THIS WEEKEND and now there are violent eruptions breaking out all over East Jerusalem where 1) our hotel is [the American Colony], and 2) the sights of the Old City are located.

My friend in Amman, Jordan says , "Jordan is fine, but the border from Jordan into Israel is dicey, and Jeruslaem is a big problem right now." My coworker's Israeli husband says, "Jordan is not good, Jerusalem is worse, but the rest of Israel should be okay for tourists." I suppose I could cancel all the Jerusalem reservations, but going to Israel without seeing Jeruslaem is like going to France without seeing Paris.

I know news reports are often stories of aberrations, but our hotel and the Old City are right where we are slated to be. I am normally not a nervous traveler, but this has given me pause.

Posted by
656 posts

This is just my opinion but 10/23/15 is still 10 days away. I would not change my plans at this time, but that is just me. Things can change rather quickly and I wouldn't want to not visit Jerusalem if I was in Israel. I have been to Israel twice and I find it (other than what is currently happening) probably the safest country I have ever visited. Security is top notch.

Just as an aside, I was in Tiberias in 2005 (I believe) when there was the hotel bombing in Amman, Jordan which was approximately 50 miles from where I was. The borders didn't close and my tour group was still able to enter Jordan and visit Petra two days later.

Hope you are able to go. Jerusalem is one of the most fascinating places on earth with so much to see and do!!

Posted by
1209 posts

I think Steve just gave excellent advice. I'd keep an eye on developments, and ask your hotel folks for their suggestions for getting around. For example: When you enter the Old City, you may want to avoid Damascus Gate, that has seen some demonstrations lately, and enter through Jaffa Gate. Just ask. There will be tons of security, and plenty of other tourists!

Posted by
10 posts

Original poster again: Thank for your responses. Actually, my flight to Amman is this Sat., 10/17 so decisions must be made quickly. I was visiting a girlfriend in Jordan, then crossing the border into Jerusalem on 10/23. I am a middle-aged woman traveling alone. That is what's giving me pause. My (also middle-aged) sister is flying to Israel to meet me in Jerusalem on 10/23. We were going to spend about 3 days exploring the Old City, then rent a car to go to Haifa and farther up the coast. It's that border crossing and the 3 days in J that concern me.

Posted by
15640 posts

I was in Jerusalem yesterday. It's business as usual though people are a little edgy and there's a higher police presence. There are no coordinated attacks or violent eruptions. Tourists have not been targeted or attacked. The attacks have been carried out by individuals acting alone or in pairs.

I really think that you should keep to your plan and you'll have a very good trip.

How are you getting from Jordan to Israel? I have no clue why someone would say the border "is dicey."

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks, Chani. I was hoping you'd show up and answer.

I was planning on going overland from Jordan to Jerusalem. My American friend in Amman has done it frequently in the 6 months she's been living there. But yesterday she said she couldn't recommend it. Then I learned -- much to my surprise, I admit -- that I can fly on Royal Jordanian from Amman to Tel Aviv. It costs a packet and the flight is short, but I'm thinking of doing that.

Posted by
15640 posts

Overland, you never know how long it will take to get through the border. Sometimes it goes very smoothly and quickly, but sometimes there can be hours-long delays. This border crossing is used mainly by Palestinians going back and forth for work and diplomats. While some tour groups and a few individual tourists use it, it is not primarily for tourists. Once in Israel, you take a bus or taxi to Jerusalem - about a 45-50 minute taxi ride without traffic, though it might be longer going through the single checkpoint, a little longer if you take the bus and it makes stops along the way.

If you fly, you arrive at the main international terminal (3). It's usually about an hour to get through passport control and pick up your luggage, then about an hour in a shared minivan (sherut) to your hotel in Jerusalem.

Posted by
10 posts

Well, I talked to my sister and -- in poker parlance -- we are all in. We're going. I bought an airline ticket to fly the 45-min. flight from Amman to Tel Aviv on 10/23.

One more question -- I had very little choice for flights from Amman, so I arrive in Tel Aviv at 7:45 AM. on 10/23. My sister arrives the same day at 3:15 PM. In the US, an airport would have lockers where I could store my luggage for several hours while I go into Tel Aviv and pass the day. Is that possible?

Our hotel is in E. Jerusalem and check-in isn't until 2PM. Even if I take a cab there, I will still have a few hours to kill (with luggage) before getting into the hotel room.

Posted by
15640 posts

I arrive in Tel Aviv at 7:45 AM. on 10/23. My sister arrives the same day at 3:15 PM. In the US, an airport would have lockers where I could store my luggage for several hours while I go into Tel Aviv and pass the day. Is that possible?
Our hotel is in E. Jerusalem and check-in isn't until 2PM. Even if I take a cab there, I will still have a few hours to kill (with luggage) before getting into the hotel room.

Yes there is luggage storage at the airport during the day. They are located at level G at the Kerem parking lot. Service is 8:00AM-19:45PM with NO CHARGE. If you want to do this, you could then take the train from the airport to Tel Aviv and back. It's fast (about 20 minutes) and cheap at NIS 16 (about $4.20) each way. There are 2 trains an hour, at 28 and 36 minutes past the hour (weird, hunh?). There are several stops in Tel Aviv, depending on what you want to do. You should probably get off at the Savidor station and get a bus (it's a good 1/2 hour walk or longer to the market and/or beach) - there are many city bus lines that stop there. Friday is the start of the weekend here, so there'll be more people out and about - though possibly not as many as usual if the current security situation continues - not that it's dangerous, but a lot of people are staying home. I met friends yesterday in Jerusalem for dinner. There were about 10 of us and dozens of other people around, but not the crowds there would have been a few weeks ago. It was kind of nice, actually. . . quiet enough for good conversation, an attentive waitress, fast service.

To get to Jerusalem you will take a "sherut." They are vans (8-10 people) and leave the airport as soon as they fill up, dropping passengers at their address. Depending on where others are going, you could be first, last or anywhere in-between, but you will get dropped in front of the hotel. So if you want to go straight to Jerusalem you could do that and your sister could take the sherut on her own. If your room is ready when you arrive, the hotel will let you check in. If not, they will store your luggage until you return.

BTW, we change the clocks the weekend you arrive. From Sunday, I'll be traveling for a few days, so if you want to contact me, it'll be better to send me a PM - and give me an email address to respond. I will have sporadic email access daily.

Posted by
15640 posts

Forgot to add, the luggage storage is also where they handle lost & found - there probably won't be big signs to "luggage storage." Also, I am pretty sure G level is ground level. Follow the signs to "parking" and "Kerem" lot. Then retrace your steps to the terminal - the train station is right outside the terminal doors (there are only 3 sets of them).

Posted by
10 posts

Ah, the American Colony. Price wasn't a top consideration. Location, history, ambiance and beauty were.

Well, I'm going to try Chani's advice about the airport, storing luggage, etc. Thanks, everyone. We're as ready as we're ever going to be. I do hope we will be able to see the Temple Mount but we will play it safe, as conditions dictate.

I will post again when I return. Shalom!

Posted by
656 posts

I stayed at the Olive Tree Hotel in the same area on two separate occasions. Loved everything about it!!

Posted by
10 posts

OP from 10/13 here -- My sister and I returned from Israel two days ago. It could not have been nicer. The American Colony hotel in E. Jerusalem was probably the nicest place I've ever stayed. There was big police/military presence around the Damascus Gate )about 5 minute walk from the hotel), but we walked comfortably and felt no tension. We used the Jaffa Gate, but honestly would have felt comfortable going into the Muslim Quarter. One night we walked at about 9 PM from Ben Yehuda Street back to E. Jerusalem. Maybe a 20 or 30 minute walk. No problems at all. We also went to Bethlehem. Our cab driver had a lot to say about the settlements that are atop the high hills on the way from Jerusalem to B'hem.

Atter that off to Haifa in a rented car and all I can say is driving on Haifa's hills in an underpowered Peugeot was the most trying part of the trip.

Posted by
15640 posts

Thanks for reporting back. I'm really glad you enjoyed it here. How did you get from Jordan to Jerusalem?

I hate driving in Haifa - it's not the hills, it's that I always get turned around and hopelessly lost. Well done! Did you get to Akko? It's one of my faves. If not, you'll just have to come back :-)

Posted by
10 posts

Yes, from Haifa we visited Caesarea, Akko (got lost when GPS started to send us up a mountain to a Druze town named Yakir), Rosh Haniqra and a day seeing the sights at the Sea of Galilee. I tried to visit my old kibbutz where I was a volunteer nearly 30 years ago but no luck. We found it, but there is now a big gate and the man there spoke no English. He thought we wanted to sleep there. We smiled and waved and turned around. It's probably best in memory, anyway.

Slightly funny story: We wanted to see the Bahai Gardens and didn't quite understand the parameters. We saw a group of Israeli tourists get off a tour bus and stand in line at a gate. My sister and I got in line behind them and were let in, after being scanned and our purses checked. Within 5 minutes the guide figured out we weren't Israeli retirees and were told we had to leave immediately. We were very perplexed. Then the guide called for a guard (about 19 years old, 125 lbs., I could have sat on him and crushed him) who came to escort us up the steepest steps I've ever seen. They were concerned how we had "breached their security." I said, "We got in a line of people, chatted openly in English to each other, and were let in. That's about it." So with a combined age of 124 years, and two good knees between us, we were escorted out of the Bahai Gardens and deposited out onto the street. With no apparent irony, they said we could come back at 12 noon for the English tour. As my nephew would say: As if!

Posted by
15640 posts

Once your knees recover, I hope you'll smile about your visit to the Bahai gardens. Did you at least get to enjoy them as you climbed up? Of course, it doesn't make any sense that you had to walk UP to get out.