My week in Jerusalem was meant to kick off with a day long hike with Abraham Hostel’s hiking club. However, a couple weeks before my visit, the hiking club apparently became non-existent leaving me with a free day. So I did like I always do when I arrive somewhere new. I explored the city by foot and bus.
At 8:30am on Monday morning, I made my way to the central bus station where I caught the big, red, “hop on, hop off” bus that would drive me around the city for two hours and give me the lay of the land. When the bus pulled up, I was sure I’d be the only person along for the ride until an elderly couple walked up to join me. Made my way to the top of the double decker to enjoy the breeze, and away we went.
Inching our way through narrow neighborhoods, around the border of the Old City, up hills with views of the city that went on for days, and shopping areas, it was fairly standard for a bus tour. Everything we saw or drove by could be easily accessed by foot.
While it was a relaxing start to my week, I wouldn’t recommend the bus tour. It cost 80 NIS for a day pass, and unlike the bus tours in the States, you don’t get an actual tour guide but an audio guide. Because of the noisy traffic, it can be difficult to hear and understand what the audio recording is saying. It became more of a way to enjoy the scenery, which isn’t a bad thing, but when I pay for something specific, I hope it would at least meet expectations.
Towards the end of this “tip of the iceberg” tour, the bus broke down, and the driver had to call in another bus to come pick us up and take us to the finish line. That was an interesting twist to my morning. The bus that came to pick us up was decorated from one end to the other with balloons, and I decided not to question it. I had to laugh at the hilarity of the situation because when things go wrong while traveling, there’s no other option other than to embrace it. When I finally got off the bus, I walked up and down the main road, Jaffa, to get a better feel for my surroundings.
The afternoon took me through all the side streets extending off of Ben Yehuda street all the way up to the edge of the Old City, passing by restaurants, cafes, markets, and all sorts of stores. As much as the locals may love that area, I’m positive it was built for tourists. On my way back to the hostel, I decided to do some pre-Thailand prep and eat at, what I’m sure was the only Thai restaurant in Jerusalem, Thailandi. For 35 NIS, they give you a mountain of food that could easily be divvied into 2-3 meals.
The rest of the evening was spent mingling with new friends, eating cheap falafel, and chilling at the hostel. I am quite thankful I had an easy first couple of days in Jerusalem because the rest of the week required a lot of energy.
This article is part of a two week series of adventures in Jerusalem. You can read the others below. All tours were booked through Abraham Hostel.