Today was our getting settled day. We had coffee and bagel for breakfast at the Bagel Cafe across the street. Then we did some grocery shopping. There is an excellent natural foods store a couple of blocks away. Better than what we have in Bridport.
Lunch at “home” then we headed towards the Old City. We walked on the Train Line Park, a lovely walking and bike trail (well separated), that goes to First Station, the old train station turned into a pretty center of restaurants, and with another very good natural foods store. It was 15 mins walking to First Station, then another 25 to the Old City.
Our first view of it from a park on a hill was outstanding. Huge stone walls, built in the 16th century to replace older ones, surround the Old City. We followed pathways through the park and made our way to the Old City.
We saw a dozen tour buses on the road around the city walls and as we got closer there were more and more people. We reached Jaffa Gate and it was crowded. The tourist office there was pretty useless. We got a map, were told how to get to the central bus station to get the pass we have to have to ride the bus, and told there was no bus information in English.
Our plan had been to just see Jaffa Gate because we have a private guide booked for tomorrow to show us the Old City, but there we were on the edge and we decided to just walk across to see the Western Wall. Huge mistake. Within minutes we were in narrow lanes lined with shops, packed with tourists (mostly Americans), and got lost. After what felt like forever we saw a sign for the Western Wall viewing area, went there and were finally out if the narrow covered lanes, with sunshine and fresh air and a beautiful view.
With much difficulty we found our way back mostly avoiding the covered lanes. At least now we will really appreciate the guide tomorrow!
We couldn’t take a bus (no pass and you can no longer buy tickets onboard, didn’t know which bus to take) so we walked back but went on the main roads and got to see the YMCA (in a fanmous building) and the King David Hotel. Plus the Hertz office where we pick up our rental car next week and attempt to drive out of the city in thick traffic.
We had a late afternoon tea and coffee at First Station then hoofed it home. It was 6pm by the time we got back and getting cold. The weather is similar to Santa Fe (where we lived for 20 years). Big blue skies, bright sun, warm days but cold nights. Today was in the upper 60s F and felt beautifully warm. We had such a horrible winter in Dorset and it is so nice to get some bright sun.
Things seem shockingly expensive but probably are really similar to the UK and since 3.4 shekels is 1USD, but you don’t get that rate. So With the official rate, 34 shekels is $10. Breakfast, coffee and a toasted bagel, was 38 shekels, over $10. I bought a can of Illy ground coffee, 50 shekels, which is about $14.50, pretty expensive. Our apartment was priced in USD, $950 for the week, electricity extra.
Speaking of our apartment, they went out of their way to get fragrance-free sheets and towels for us! So is the apartment in Haifa.
So far I love it here!