We left Jerusalem just after breakfast for the short 20 minute drive to Bethlehem. This is located in the Palestine West Bank area (although it is to the east of Israel it is west of the River Jordan, hence the name).
Bethlehem is the birthplace of Jesus, and in the grotto of the Church of the Nativity it is possible to see the exact place he was born, now marked by a star. You can see MH touching the star.
We then walked around the church courtyard, before travelling back to Jerusalem. The infamous wall looks totally nondescript from the Israeli side, but is altogether more menacing when viewed from the Palestine side. Again See picture of MH Against the wall.
We then drove from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, but this time taking the more scenic and mountainous road. It adds about 25 minute to the usual one hour journey, but is well worth it.
We arrived In Tel Aviv mid afternoon. Unlike Jerusalem, which has been around for over 2000 years, Tel Aviv is a relatively new city, really only becoming established in the mid 1940’s. We walked to the old town of Jaffa which has been around since Crusader times. It’s only a 40 minute walk along the beachfront promenade, but is an interesting contrast to the modern high rise of Tel Aviv with some incredible old buildings hidden away into the myriad of alleyways.
It is only home to St Peter’s Church, the only Christian place of worship in the immediate area.
Jaffa, apart from its famous oranges, is known for its excellent seafood restaurants, and we found one that did not disappoint – super food and harbour front location.
Tel Aviv is much more high rise than Jerusalem, and has some superb beaches, giving an almost resort atmosphere. It seems more international than traditional, reflected in the dress. Also in Jerusalem all signs were in Hebrew, Arab and English. In Tel Aviv it is mainly Hebrew, frequently followed by Russian, reflecting the huge number of Russian Jewish immigrants who have arrived in this area in the last 20 years.
It is a city known for its lively nightlife, but a combination of our age and the fact it was Friday night Shabbat (sabbath) meant it was an early night for both of us.
We had a fantastic 3 days in Israel. Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, then straight back to London. I am glad I was able to return after so many years away. It was a pleasure seeing it with my wife, MH, who allowed me to almost see it for the first time through her eyes. We saw so much in a short time and had some incredible experiences.