I find myself this past week working in Israel and decided that I would spend my weekend visiting Jerusalem. For those who may not be familiar with Israel… when I say weekend I am actually talking about Friday and Saturday. (Just as a side… I am going to share lots of pictures… hopefully not too many)
I prefer walking around the old city as early as possible so I convinced my colleagues that we must leave our hotel in Herzliya at 5:00 am to arrive before all of the crazy crowds. The early morning drive also is much easier since you are not fighting traffic. (I made it in just a little over an hour)
We arrived in Jerusalem just after 6:00 am and parked at the Mamilla Mall just outside of the Jaffa Gate. This is my favorite place to park because of both ease and proximity to the old city. This mall actually is a very nice mall and the parking is covered. I also often return to this mall for lunch… I have not visited any of the stores in this mall and I am not sure that this is a “must” see place while in Jerusalem but it is highly rated on Tripadvisor (4.5 out of 5 ). The reviews make me laugh a bit since many are made by tourists who have so many other things they should be visiting but to quote one… “while visiting Jerusalem don’t miss Mamilla Mall”… hmmm… I am not sure I agree with that… but it is the best parking place in my opinion.
Let me share my favorite review:
One entrance is near the high-end hotels and the American Consulate, the other entrance is just feet outside the walls of the Old City, which can feel off-putting. They have virtually all semi-high-end stores: North Face, Zara, Swarovski, etc. and is often very busy. Notably, it can bring together religious Jews, observant Muslims, soldiers, and tourists together without sparking a fight, because apparently everyone loves shopping. Peace is possible 🙂
-obizerokenobi – Los Angeles, California
HMM… Malls… the answer to world peace…. I am just not sure why that person feels that the “feet outside the walls of the Old City” is “off-putting”. Here is what you see when you take the stairs up out of the mall.
OK… Not off putting at all in my opinion… back to my visit…
Several of my co-workers complained about having to wake up so early but after walking the streets before the crowds and then walking those same streets after the crowds arrived made them all agree that early morning is much better.
Let me show you the difference: (these pictures are taken near the same spots just 3 hours apart)
Last year I posted some pictures taken during an early morning walk in Jerusalem and I would like to share some more.
Here you can see the stores beginning to open. It is amazing the transformation these streets go through once all of the shops open up. I believe when you visit early you are able to find and see things that are easily overlooked when these streets are wall to wall people… and often there are interesting activities happening before the crowds. Here are a couple pictures showing some of those types of “views” and hidden view points.
This last picture shows that Jerusalem is the place for “ies and ees”… yes both “foodies” and “devotees” with an amazing deluge of diversity that never gets tiring no mater how often I visit. (I imagine it might get a bit for those who live in the city)
Let’s start with a small share for the “foodies”…
On our early morning walk around we started to get hungry since most of us had skipped breakfast. We watched as one of the street vendors started setting up his table of food stuff. We also witnessed him drop the tray of falafels you can see him working on. (He set them aside but I bet as soon as we left they were back on ‘sales table’)
Despite my suspicion of possibly street dirty food… we ended up buying several items from the man including some Israeli bagels. If you are not familiar with these they are huge and oblong… the man in the early picture with bread on his head was carrying them… here is a picture.
He suggested we put some “spices” on the bread… while pulling out a plastic sack of green herb stuff. This looked very suspicious to me especially since the herbs were dry. I put this on my bread thinking… I hope this is not illegal or worse street “drop” spices. I am glad I tried the spice since I found it very uniquely “fragrant” and more importantly delicious. I asked him the name of the spice and he said “Za’atar”. I looked up “Za’atar” and found that is the Arab name for Hyssop. He gave me a handful of the spice and I still have about half of that left. I wished now I would have bought some in the market. This is probably a “must” buy spice while in Jerusalem or at least a must “try” spice. (Don’t search web MD for the side effects…)
I did return to the Mamilla mall to eat but took no photos of my food… I did however take a picture of a street performer who was singing classic 70s rock.
He must be there often and be somewhat popular since I found several clips of him singing on YouTube… like the one bellow.
NOW… for some of the “devotee” pictures.
Here is an African Tour group that broke out in song while visiting the Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu.
There is even a small store operated by a kind Muslim man named Omar that caters to my faith and region of the United States… (He prominently displays my local universities flags etc…)
If you are a person of faith, regardless of the faith it is amazing to witness so many people who express such devotion to their beliefs. You will also note despite what is often stated that there is a reverent respect across the different religious groups…
There is much more that I could show but I have already shared many of the same pictures in past posts (Saturday in Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Jerusalem Street Markets, Early Morning Walk in Jerusalem, Visiting Jerusalem (part 1), Visiting Jerusalem (part 2) )…
WOW… I can’t believe how many times I have posted pictures from Jerusalem…
One last picture… (thanks for reading my post)