Israel Trek: Jerusalem - An Intro

You've dropped into the middle of the Israel Trek series - a trip of a lifetime we took last fall! Check out all the posts recounting the memories and photos by clicking here.

Leaving Northern Israel behind, our bus dropped us off in Jerusalem after sundown on Shabbot - Friday evening. Most of Israel shuts down during this period, and we were concerned about finding a place that would serve us dinner. Fortunately, the host of our private apartment accommodations (thank you so much SM!!) recommended we try Colony - a popular, modern restaurant located a short distance away. 

We had a short wait to get a table, as Colony is one of the few places serving on a Friday night. We could see from the waiting area that the atmosphere was lively yet mature - fine dining without being pretentious. Our server spoke perfect English (bonus!), and the food was delightful. In case you're interested in visiting, I can personally recommend:

  • Gravalax (raw salmon) with black olive sauce
  • Jerusalem foccacia with various dips
  • Lamb kebabs with tabbouleh and green tahini (pronounced "tri-na", and they roll the r)
  • Chicken stuffed with mozzarella and hyssop pesto
  • Their delicious drinks menu

All photos taken with the iPod Touch 5

We were enjoying a slow, relaxing evening after being on the road nonstop from the day we'd arrived in Israel, and Colony had enough patrons on a Friday night to keep the servers busy, not interrupting us too often. But we did notice that after we concluded our meal, we sorta sat around waiting for the check for a while, and it seemed like our server had completely disappeared. We thought maybe she had gone off her shift, so we ended up asking for the bill. We later came to find out that this is the dining style in Israel - no one will bring you your check until you ask for it, as it's assumed that you're enjoying your meal and your company and don't want to be rushed off.

Well, that much was true.

Photo taken with the iPod Touch 5
The next day's activities were located outside of Jerusalem and will be recounted in a separate, dedicated post, so I'll skip ahead to the following morning, when we enjoyed a traditional Israeli breakfast at a cafe about two blocks from our accommodations. The sidewalk setting was absolutely charming, and the delicious food and coffee started my day off on the right foot. 

I just cannot rate a good breakfast highly enough.

Photos taken with the iPod Touch 5

We decided to go into Jerusalem's Old City and take a free tour with the Sandeman tour group. We met at the Jaffa Gate, where venders were selling freshly baked bread nearby.

Our guide, Naomi, took us through all four quarters of the Old City.

Aside from the historical, religious, and architectural commentary that we gleaned from Naomi, this was the part of the trip where I took a lot of photos of Jerusalem stone and the endless supply of arches within the city.


The tour also included a rooftop view of the Western Wall - the last remaining portion of the Temple Mount.

With the Dome of the Rock rising just to the left of the wall, Jerusalem reminded us that this city--further, this country of Israel--is one big mix of beliefs. Everyday life is complicated, and we only experienced a taste of this complexity during our visit.

Next up was lunch with S&L - friends from our hometown in Pennsylvania who made aliyah (Jews returning to the land of Israel) by moving to the country several years ago. SM had just gotten out of his church service - on a Saturday, which surprised me, since the Christian services I'm accustomed to are on Sunday. But it makes sense in Israel, where Sunday is a work day, whereas Saturday is a holy day. 

Our lunch of fresh falafel and tasty shwarma were found at Fountain Grill in the Christian Quarter. This could be my daily diet with no complaints.

We continued to wander around Old City. I'll post more photos in another post dedicated to Jerusalem market shopping and another focusing on historic sites around the city. Basically, I could walk these streets every day and be entranced forever.

I wanted to get photos of the Jerusalem skyline at sunrise, but the evening was shaping up to be so gorgeous that we grabbed a taxi to get to the top of the Mount of Olives for sunset instead. The taxi ride was a story in and of itself (word to the wise: agree on a price before getting to your destination), but we did arrive in time for the city's final daily show.

Silence, please.

In case it's not completely obvious, this evening was a trip highlight.

As much turmoil as there is in the Middle East, and as much tension as there may be in Jerusalem every day, I felt nothing but peace up on that hill that night.

Thanks, Jerusalem, for memories I'll never forget.

But that's just the beginning! There's so much more to share on our Jerusalem experiences, I barely know where to start. But I can guarantee you won't want to miss the history, more food, the nightlife, and our mouth-watering visits to the Souk.


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