Day 1 (10/06/2011)   Flight to Tel Aviv and arriving to Jerusalem


  Flight to Tel Aviv leaves Barcelona airport at 18:30 and is scheduled to land in Ben Gurion Tel Aviv airport at 22:30. We will need to  pass through strict security controls for enter to Israel and, once out, take teh sherut going to Jerusalem. It should leave us near Jaffa Gate, where we can go into Old City and walk with our baggage the short way to our hotel: Lutheran  Ghesthouse.

Route from airport to Jerusalem

Expected expenses:  12€ per person for sherut.


   Spanair flight departing from Barcelona at 18:25 and scheduled to arrive to Tel Aviv at 22:30 leaves with 30 minutes of delay and arrives one hour later than scheduled. Somehow, immigration and security controls are shorter and simpler than expected. No interviews or baggage checks… just a passport control. Besides, the number of attending boxes is big and therefore queues are short and fast.

   Then, a long trip across the airport to the baggage claim area.

Welcome to IsraelTel Aviv airport

   Just crossing the door outside that area we have taxi signs driving to a near exit where we can identify several sheruts as yellow and green painted vans. When we say we’re going to Jerusalem the guy points to the first sherut at our right, which is waiting for two more persons to leave, but we’re four so we go to an empty sherut. The driver asks me where are we going while putting the bags at the back of the van and I answer to be delivered in Jaffa Gate. “Jaffa Gate is closed. It’s Yom Kippur!” he states and he tells me about leaving us at Damascus Gate. Will we have to go across the whole Old city with the baggage!?. I ask about the chance of being left at New Gate and he accepts. How lucky I learnt all about the seven gates!. The van gets full in two minutes and after a 40 minutes trip, which we feel as short looking through the windows and omitting the concert by a big moustached musician playing in the screen inside, we’re delivered in front of the Old City walls.

New Gate

   It’s near 1 AM but streets are full of people. We go into medieval city and follow our way down dodging people and keeping an eye on the western wall in our right until Jaffa gate. It sounded very strange for me to be told Jaffa gate was closed as I knew it was an open gate, no doors or bars, but when arriving at gate level we understand what he meant at once: the whole city seems to be here and going into the crowd carrying our baggage seems a complicated task.

   Hotel is near, but the Street which drives us to it is cordoned off by police and a couple of military men with machine guns. I drive to one of them naturally while he is saying me I cannot pass from the distance and I explain to him our hotel is just after the fence. He doesn’t know what to answer and asks me to explain my situation to the policeman with the walkie talkie. I do and he understands and sends a couple of indications to the men in the fence for letting us to pass through it. Nobody could enter to that street but the amount of people going out from it is constant and big. I take my parents and wife and pass through the fence to the desired street and then our nightmare begins: carrying our wheeled bags across those stairs with long steps is a difficult task by itself, but if you include hundreds of people coming from the opposite direction then it is madness. Nobody stops and the flux of people is constant, we manage as we can until we reach the St. Marks street, which is a narrow stairs up to a narrow street where the hotel is. At least, we’re out now from that kind of rafting against the tide of a river of people.  

   Once in reception, it is so late than even they tell us to checking in tomorrow morning. Rooms are small but clean and views are amazing. We can see, lit at night, Holly Sepulchre domes, Redemption church tower and, as highlight, the Dome of the Rock.

Dome of the Rock by night

   We’re tired, but after seeing the animation in the streets we decide to go out for a walk and to get something to eat and drink. We enjoy our walk, free of baggage now, joining the incredible atmosphere liven up when we are later than 2 AM. Stores in street bazaar are opened. There are less people than before, so it seems we were fighting with our baggage in the Street at the worst moment of the day (and I can say now the worst time of the year too. What a coincidence!). We come back to our rooms bringing bottles of water, some falafels and a sort of loaf of bread and bagel combined named pretzel, ready to fusion our bodies with bed. I’m so tired that I think I’ve been scammed a Little bit with the food, but I had no energy to bargain: they’ve asked 30 shekels for two falafel and one pretzel, I’ve put my “How much would be that?” face and they immediately changed the price to 25 shekels (5 euros).

   One second after coming into the room we’re sleeping.