Jerusalem 3 Day Itinerary

We visited Jerusalem as the starting point of a two week trip around Israel. We stayed in Jerusalem for four days, spending three days in the city and the other taking a tour to Palestine. We stayed at The New Metropole Hotel, which is probably the worst place I’ve ever stayed. We had a great time in the historic city of Jerusalem, except for the hotel, which is to be avoided. I have left the hotel in my itinerary in the hope that others won’t make the same mistake we did and reserve a room in this stinky hell hole.

Itinerary

Flight to Israel
New Metropole Hotel (where not to stay)
Day 1Damascus Gate
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Citadel
The Room of the Last Supper
King David’s Tomb
Church of the Dormition
Church of St Peter in Gallicantu
Via Dolorosa
Dinner at Family Restaurant
Day 2Temple Mount
The Western Wall
Cardo Maximus
Yad Vashem
Dinner at Moshiko Felafel
Day 3The Israel Museum
The Mount of Olives:
– The Mosque of the Ascension
– Dominus Flevit
– Pater Noster
– The Garden of Gethsemene
– The Church of All Nations
The Western Wall
Dinner at Family Restaurant
(Day 4)Day trip to Palestine

Attractions

1Damascus Gate
2Church of the Holy Sepulchre
3The Citadel
4The Room of the Last Supper
5King David’s Tomb
6Church of the Dormition
7Church of St Peter in Gallicantu
8Via Dolorosa
9Temple Mount
10The Western Wall
11Cardo Maximus
12Yad Vashem
13The Israel Museum
14The Mount of Olives
14aThe Mosque of the Ascension
14bDominus Flevit
14cPater Noster
14dThe Garden of Gethsemene
14eThe Church of All Nations
Jerusalem
Jerusalem

London to Jerusalem

The flight to Ben Gurion was uneventful, despite the Cadbury’s special offers in Duty Free, meaning a plane full of people armed with ‘Fruit and Nut’. We arrived at the airport and tried to follow signs to the Jerusalem bus without success. We gave up and took a Sherut (shared taxi). Our fellow travellers included a family who lived not particularly on the way to Jerusalem, but we made it eventually, but a somewhat circuitous route.

New Metropole Hotel Foyer
New Metropole Hotel Foyer

New Metropole Hotel

We were dropped at the Metropole Hotel, which was unfortunate, as we were staying at the New Metropole Hotel. Luckily it was only a few doors away from our hotel, and we traipsed up the hill and checked in.

East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem

Our hotel was in the predominantly Arab East Jerusalem. It had seen better days. The biggest issue was the leak from the upstairs toilet through our bedroom ceiling. We called the manager. He said if we didn’t like it, we should check into a more expensive hotel. We googled alternative hotels and decided to lump it. After some experimentation, we came up with a bin/cushion combo. The bin caught the drips and the cushion muffled the dripping sound. It had been a long day, so it didn’t matter too much, we could have slept through pretty much anything.

New Metropole Hotel
New Metropole Hotel bedroom


Jerusalem Day 1

Jerusalem Old City
Old city delivery

Damascus Gate

Following an excellent breakfast at the hotel (much to our surprise) it was time to explore Old Jerusalem, a city which just oozes history. We entered through Damascus Gate, part police checkpoint, part time warp.

Damascus Gate
Damascus Gate

Fact: pilgrims are mental. I’m not sure if they start off this way or some sort of mass hysteria takes over, but it adds an extra element of entertainment to a trip to the Holy Land.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

First stop, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on the site where Jesus was crucified. Inside the door, the Stone of Anointing, where Jesus was prepared for burial. The stone dates from 1810, so a leap of faith is required, but there was a scrum of people desperate to kiss it and rub it with an oily rag to extract some stone juice (hence the need to replace the original which was evidently all juiced out).

Chaos at the Stone of Anointing
Chaos at the Stone of Anointing

The Citadel

Next, The Citadel; King Herod’s palace. Great views across the city and an eclectic array of artefacts. My favourite; a diorama showing Muslims chasing Christians out of Jerusalem and vice versa.

The Citadel
The Citadel

The Room of the Last Supper

On to the Room of the Last Supper – one word – bonkers. The Holy Spirit is said to be present here. We followed a group of Kenyan pilgrims. Immediately, the entire group were hit by the Holy Spirit, lots of shouting (in tongues – obviously) and crying. Cue a group of Korean pilgrims. They wanted some Holy Spirit too, so set about touching the Kenyans. Lots more shouting and crying.

Hysteria at the Room of the Last Supper
Hysteria at the Room of the Last Supper

King David’s Tomb

Meanwhile, downstairs is King David’s Tomb. The tomb has separate entrances for men and women, which means the iconic king has essentially been cut in half. We split up to visit separate ends, not sure which end I got.

King David's Tomb
King David’s Tomb

Church of the Dormition

Next stop the Church of the Dormition, which marks where Jesus’ mother Mary died.

Church of the Dormition
Church of the Dormition

More pilgrim madness, a sing-off between rival pilgrim ‘gangs’. A bit like a surreal remake of Step Up.

Church of the Dormition
Church of the Dormition

Church of St Peter in Gallicantu

Onwards to the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu, built where Peter denied Jesus 3 times before the cock crowed, hence the proliferation of cocks. My guide book says the grave of Oskar Schindler is also nearby, but despite an extensive search, we failed to find it and moved on.

Church of St Peter in Gallicantu
Church of St Peter in Gallicantu

Via Dolorosa

Time to tackle the Via Dolorosa – the route Jesus walked with his cross. Each of the 14 stations is marked with a plaque, so it’s easy to follow (that and thousands of people following the same route through what is essentially a maze). After 9 stations, we decided we were all cultured out and stopped for a beer.

Via Dolorosa Station 9
Via Dolorosa Station 9

Dinner at Family Restuarant

We had dinner, a mezze, at the excellent Family Restaurant, including great hummus. I didn’t know I liked hummus, having only had it in plastic tubs from the supermarket, but freshly prepared it’s a whole different dish.

Mezze at Family Restaurant
Mezze at Family Restaurant

Back to the hotel (moved to a dry room – yay!) through the old city which, although bustling during the day, really comes to life at night with the market in full swing. Props to the spice seller who used his product to build a spicy Dome of the Rock.

Spice Dome of the Rock
Spice Dome of the Rock

Jerusalem Day 2

Jerusalem
Jerusalem

Temple Mount

Yesterday Christianity – today Islam and Judaism. We started with Temple Mount, location of the Al Aqsa Mosque, where Mohammed ascended to heaven, and the Dome of the Rock. The queue was massive, and entry was complicated by the fact that the old man was carrying contraband (a tablet) but we made it in eventually. The Dome of the Rock was spectacular in the morning sun, as was the and the view across Jerusalem. But there wasn’t much else to do, as non-Muslims aren’t allowed in any of the buildings, so we descended.

Temple Mount
Temple Mount

The Western Wall

At the bottom, The Western Wall, remnant of the original temple in Jerusalem. Again, we had to enter separately. The Ladies’ section was quiet and demure. It was a lot more lively the other side of the fence, where there appeared to be a Jewish version of the Conga in progress.

Western Wall
Western Wall

Cardo Maximus

Time to venture further afield. We exited the old city through the Cardo Maximus, the original Roman high street, still in incredible condition for for a two thousand year old structure.

Cardo Maximus
Cardo Maximus

Yad Vashem

We took a tram to Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, a huge site containing a museum and various memorials to the victims of the Holocaust.

Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem

Having trodden on a group of children sitting on the floor of an exhibit containing a walkway in total darkness, I decided to wait outside next to The Memorial Cave, and ponder how, when 6 million people had died, the best idea you could come up with to signify the enormity of this act of barbarism was a rock with 6,000,000 written on it.

Yad Vashem
Memorial Cave

Dinner at Moshiko Felafel

Back through town for more hummus, this time at the tiny Moshiko Felafel, where you choose your ingredients from a buffet style selection a bit like being in a Harvester back home. On the walk back to the hotel we were serenaded by a piano playing soldier. Only in Israel…

Dinner at Moshiko Felafel
Houmus of the Day at Moshiko Felafel

Jerusalem Day 3

Israel Museum Sculpture Garden
Israel Museum Sculpture Garden

The Israel Museum

This morning, The Israel Museum, home of the Dead Sea Scrolls and a large sculpture garden (I have a confession – I have a sculpture fetish). We needed to take a bus across town. The bus system in Jerusalem is complicated; there are separate Jewish and Arab buses. We set off up the hill to the nearest Jewish bus stop. We thought we’d located it; a sign and a bench and some bins (quite a lot of bins with hindsight), but the bus sped past and stopped 100m further up the road. We were sitting at a recycling centre. Second time lucky, we caught the bus to the museum. Upon arrival we discovered an added bonus; an exhibition by the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

Ai Weiwei - Sunflower Seeds
Ai Weiwei – Sunflower Seeds

Each piece was accompanied by a detailed description of the thought process behind it. A fun game – look at the work and try to guess its meaning; a prize for the person who is closest. We were having so much fun, we didn’t realise we were following the wrong route and standing on a lush carpet which looks like a stone floor. It was an exhibit and an angry security guard gave chase. We hastily removed our shoes and took our guess. (Soft Ground – a replica of the floor of the Haus der Kunst, designed when Ai Weiwei was invited to show his work at the aforementioned gallery, which was formerly patronised by Hitler).

Ai Weiwei - Soft Ground
Ai Weiwei – Soft Ground

We made our exit through the excellent Sculpture Garden, and on to the piece de resistance, the Shrine of the Book, home of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It turned out, the scrolls on display were in fact replicas. Nevertheless, there was an equally fierce security guard chasing away would-be photographers. It was a challenge I couldn’t resist – I waited until he had chased someone through 180 degrees and struck.

Ai Weiwei's Iron Trees plus The Shrine of the Book
Ai Weiwei’s Iron Trees plus The Shrine of the Book

The return bus trip took forever; it was Friday afternoon, almost Sabbath and everyone was rushing to travel/shop/eat before sundown ie not rushing at all as the traffic was gridlocked.

The Mount of Olives

Having mastered Jewish buses, it was off to the Arab Bus Station for a bus to The Mount of Olives. This time we had a different problem: We are British, we don’t know how not to queue. The bus was already there when we arrived, but full so we had to wait for the next one. When it arrived, we were at the front of the queue. When it was full, we were second from the front. I’m not sure how this happened but it was obviously an epic fail. We waited for a third bus, determined to adapt our boarding technique but with limited success until an elderly gentleman intervened and said something to his fellow travellers which caused them to take pity on us and let us onto the bus.

Mount of Olives
Mount of Olives

The Mount of Olives, besides offering spectacular views across Jerusalem, is where Jesus spent his final days. I’m not particularly religious, but went to Sunday School as a child so was interested to see places which featured in the stories I was told as a child. Basically, any site mentioned in the Bible, now has a church on it.

The Mosque of the Ascension

However, we started our visit with a mosque; The Mosque of the Ascension, where there is a stone allegedly containing Jesus’ footprint made as he ascended from heaven. While we stood wondering how on earth it looked like a footstep, pilgrims threw themselves at it, showering it with kisses.

Jesus' Footprint
Jesus’ Footprint

Dominus Flevit

We worked our way down the mountain, past a selection of churches; first, Dominus Flevit, where Jesus Wept; a church in the shape of a teardrop.

Dominus Flevit
Dominus Flevit

Pater Noster

Next, Pater Noster, where Jesus taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer, where a courtyard is lined with the words of the Lord’s Prayer in every language spoken by Christians. At the bottom, a church built over the Tomb of the Virgin Mary.

Pater Noster
Pater Noster

The Garden of Gethsemene

Finally, The Garden of Gethsemene. Here little has changed since Jesus’ time. Some of the olive trees are over a thousand years old so there is a (admittedly slight) possibility that they were there at the same time as Jesus (cue more pilgrim kissing and the like).

Garden of Gethsemene
Garden of Gethsemene

The Church of All Nations

Next door is The Church of All Nations. Here, you can see a rock where Jesus is believed to pray the day before he died. Our Mount of Olives church extravaganza was complete.

The Church of All Nations
The Church of All Nations

The Western Wall

We headed back through the old city, planning to purchase food and beer en route to the hotel. There was a party atmosphere with many thousands of Jews heading to The Western Wall to celebrate the start of Shabbat. We stopped to watch a while. We reached the supermarket just after sundown. Rookie error; it was, of course shut.

Shabbat at the Western Wall
Shabbat at the Western Wall

Dinner at Family Restaurant

Fruit Juice and Cock
Poor sign placement

Consolation – another trip to the Family Restaurant. We ate are our hummus whilst pondering the unfortunate placing of the Tea & Coffee sign at the shop opposite.

Hummus
Hummus

(Day 4 – Palestine)

Today we took a day trip to Palestine.

(Day 6 Drive to Tel Aviv)

Time to collect our hire car and explore further afield. One last walk through the Old City to the Rockefeller Museum, a building complete with bullet holes from the day it ceased to be the Palestine Archaeological Museum.

The Rockefeller Museum
The Rockefeller Museum

Trip taken: October 2017

Updated: October 2022

Author: Jane's Midlife Journey

Stopped work, started travelling. Sometimes I run - combining the two with some parkrun tourism.

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