My three weeks in Israel began with the picturesque city of Jerusalem. I rented a quaint apartment in Rehavia, one of Jerusalem’s most whimsical vicinities. This town exhibited a kind of stillness unlike other neighborhoods, and made for easy wandering. The famous Sachar Park was right across the street from my tiny lodging. I took morning strolls and got a great view of Rehavia’s rooftops from one of the park’s hills.
Just a 10-minute walk away is the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, but what people don’t know is what lies near one of the Knesset’s entrances. A mini wildlife oasis known as the Jerusalem Bird Observatory, which is home to all nature lovers. I’ve been a bird nerd for years now, and getting a chance to birdwatch Middle Eastern species was such a treat.
The Wohl Rose Garden is quite literally across the street from the bird sanctuary and is a nice picnic stop before heading into the busier side of town.
The Old City is comprised of 4 Quarters: Jewish, Muslim, Armenian, and Christian. It’s a multiverse catering to all Abrahamic faiths. I made it my mission to walk through all these sectors and speak to people in each of them.
I watched Russian tourists buy ‘Guns N Moses’ t-shirts from the Muslim quarter while I purchased some medjool dates and zaatar from a kind elderly fellow. I strolled both the Armenian and Christian quarters marveling its architecture. I watched children handing out free water in the Jewish quarter to thirsty passerby. This was a place of such diversified beauty, it exceeded my expectations.
The Tower of David Museum is located in the heart of the Old City and has the BEST view you will get of this cobblestoned locale.
Additionally, the Israel Museum has extensive artwork ranging from impressionism to my favorite time in art history, The Baroque Period, all through contemporary pieces. Spotting Jacob Jordaens, Monet and Van Gogh was an absolute highlight. The museum’s Judaic collection is just as extensive, if not more, making it one of the most introspective experiences I’ve ever had.
One day, I took a day trip to north Jerusalem to visit one of my friends studying abroad. We ate at Denya Café followed by more splendorous views from Jerusalem’s hilltops.
If you’ve never heard of Shuk Machane Yehuda, (or The Shuk for short), I must inform you how much you’ve been missing out. Like any bazaar, vendors shout their wares, changing inflection to better draw in new customers. But this outdoor market is larger, more thrilling, teeming with charming restaurants and new faces to meet. There’s so much color, street art, and bustle with array of fresh produce and shops just devoted to candy, it’s a wonder anyone wants to leave at all.
My last stop in Jerusalem was the quieter town of Talpiot. Unlike Rehavia, I couldn’t walk to the inner-city from here unless I took a car. However, this made the neighborhood all the more appealing. I woke early, climbed as many stairs as I could and walked the quaint simple streets.
On my very last day, I poured myself a glass of wine, (which my AirBnb host was so generous to gift me), and went out onto the porch for one final view of this glorious city, toasting Jerusalem and all her magnificence.