Visiting Israel in the year 2000
Israelis were very friendly to me and often my folding bike was the starting point for a conversation. The flair varies in the four places I have been. Eilat is a very hot and pleasant touristic city. Tel Aviv is a modern town with Mediterranean flair, Jerusalem is a very religious place and Jericho is a typical Arabic city. Almost every location can be reached by frequent going busses, which are cheap in contrast to other expenses which I find rather expensive.
Friday 2000-03-24Since with the Ltur Last minute ticket you can go to the airport for 10 EUR (= 10USD) I got a good deal for the 600 down to Basel/Switzerland. A day before visited my friends in Zürich. Form Basel's train station there is a shuttle bus right before the station which goes from 4 h in the morning to midnight and between 6h to 22h every quarter. A ticket cost 2.80 CHF (1.80 EUR) which you have to purchase at the ticket machine in front at the bus station, which only accepts coins. A girl where so nice to give me 2 1 CHF coins but that was not enough. Luckily there is a Bank right there.
Saturday 2000-03-25Under the eyes of the taxi drivers I unpack my folding bike and start riding the 20 km down to Sharm el Sheik. It is 2:00 h in the morning and very pleasant 20 °C I guess , it is quiet and the road is great. I enjoy the ride. The traffic increases when I pass the hotel clusters that twist along the cost. After some confusion ,about when the next bus departs, we got a service taxi to Daheb for 10 EGP. Simon, Anny and I had same tea in Dahab and watch the beautiful sunrise. I continued to Nuweiba/Tarabien and met old friends. I stayed there till Monday morning.
Monday 2000-03-27Border crossing takes me 15 min in Egypt and 15 min on he Israeli side. Every one of the Israeli offices is exited about my folding bike and the 10 km (?) riding with strong counter wind is rather a hassle. I buy a bus ticket to Tel Aviv for 61 ILS with reservation. I had the choice between busses going 12:30 and 14:00. The week ticket has been discontinued at least in Eilat. The tour to Petra is 135 USD and 55 USD border tax. It departs at 7:30 and returns at 20:00. The climate is very hot along the 11 km cost line. Eilat is a touristic city with a pleasant and special flair. Beside it has a airport in the middle of the city where market places or churches would be else where. Bus 375 takes me to Tel Aviv via Be'er Sheva at around 14:00. We arrive at the new bus terminal on level six - yes it has seven levels. Inside it is a shopping mall too and I got lost for forty minutes in there. First I got down some levels with the escalator and found a elevator and go down to level one but people told me to go back to level four. There are large exit signs showing in all directions everywhere which lead to locked emergency exits, but finally I find the way out just before I went crazy. Tel Aviv appears just a incredible large city with lots of five lane high ways and I feel like leaving it. But first I stayed in the Mugraby hostel for 120 ILS with shower and shared bathroom. The room smells bad but is otherwise OK. The Mugraby hostel serves also as Internet cafe. Israel seems very expensive in general except transportation which is cheap.
Tuesday 2000-03-28I go down to old Yafo at 7:00 but it is cloudy and misty all over Tel Aviv. At 10:00 the observatory platform at the 34 story Shalom Mayer Tower opens. I spend 90 minutes there checking out the high buildings and interesting places of the city. Even the military came there for training with telescopes. The Carmel market is a traditional market with small stands where you can buy food and daily products. A little bit south east at Nachlat Benyamin Street there are all kind of stands with on the pedestrian only street shopping streets which sell beautiful very nice done home made and designed accessories. I have never seen so many nice accessories things at one place. I did not find the beaches very impressive compared to Eilat and Sinai. The xxx towers look very impressive in the sunlight. From the *Tel Aviv Central* train station there are trains to Haifa and Netanya on one side and Beer Sheva on the South. The train to Jerusalem has been discontinued. I stay in the very nice Abratel hotel for 120 USD on 29 March. Nightlife suppose to be at Allenby street near the cost but the dozens clubs bars and discos appears rather boring to me.
Wednesday 2000-03-29I take the bus to Jerusalem which departs every 15 minutes from the New Central Bus terminal. There are no busses to Jerusalem from (old) Central Bus terminal. I ride down Yafo street to the Old City stay in the Rog Hotel for 61 USD, which is very expensive but the Manager is really nice, which, in my options, makes a lot good. But prices are expensive anyway, although you get a bed for 30 ILS in a Hostel inside the old city. Jerusalem is situated 850 m above sea level and is build on many hills, and constantly climbing and descending exhausts you. The Dom of the Rock on the Temple Mount with its gold plated roof is the most impressive building which can be seen from Mount Olive in the morning sun and from the Western Wall in the evening sun. After passing security check I enter the place facing the Western Wall. I meet Uli there and after some talks he tells me that he joined a organised tour which starts a 3:00 PM to see sunrise at the dead sea, Jericho and more. I joined the tour for 95 ILS and Uli tells me also that the Petra Hostel is not the cleanest place. After asking for a wakeup call at 2:00 the Hotel wants advanced payment. I also visited the Holocaust museum and the tomb of King David at mount Zion. Jerusalem is the crosspoint of three religions where Jews, Moslems and Christians have to live together.
Thursday 2000-03-30We are going to Masada with mini-bus and after a heavy half on hour walk up there we arrive at 5:30 before the cable lift and mass tourism starts at 8:00. Masada is situated 440 m above the dead sea and 50 m above sea level. Ticket costs 10 ILS. Next we are going to the dead sea oasis Ein Gedi to take a (free) bath in the famous salty sea where we float. Although it is amazing having waterfalls in the desert the nature reserve is not very impressive compared to regular county site. The ticket is 18 ILS. .column .table BORDER=1 Some Jews flew from Romans and captured *Masada* in 66 CE. After the destruction of the temple in 70 CE the last rebellious member reached *Masada*. In 72 CE the Roman army attempt to conquer the fortress. 967 men, women and children lived here and where besieged by 15000 Roman soldiers. The Romans managed to build an huge soil ramp to access the wall and after seven month in 73 CE they eventually brake thru the wall. Elazar Ben Yair perform a the famous speech and the Jews choose took take their own lives instead of accepting slavery and set fire on the fortress. This heroic act is the most famous testimony in the Jews struggle for freedom, that even today every soldier must put the oath '*Masada must never fall again*'; The rest where just photo stops. Qumran where the scrolls of the old biblical testament have been found, Jericho, Temple of temptation, Mar Saba monastery which was a disappointment to us. The tour ended at the top of Mount Olive where Anne, Uli and I walked down, took one more photo of the ~Dom of Rock~ and finished with delicious Apfelstrudel cake at Austrian Hospice. In the evening I rounded up the trip with a visit to Israel Tower Museum. For the 40 ILS you get little in return. From he 'visual ancient history' only one room was open, the 'ancient remains' are unimpressive and whats left is some light art. So don't go there - this place sucks.
Friday 2000-03-31At the hotel they arrange a airport shuttle for me (taxi Nesher tours) for 44 ILS which picks me up at the hotel and drops me at the airport, where I booked a trip to Eilat with Arkia airline which is just 40 min instead of 5 h - and 255 ILS instead of 61 ILS. The security check is amazing , like I have heard before, even for a domestic flight. One officer asks you hundreds of questions about your trip, living and employment including personal questions. Then another officer asks you the same questions. The unlucky first one has to memorise all your answers and then tell the second one which compares the answers. This took like 45 min. We arrive on time and the bicycle ride was enjoyable this time as the wind came from the good direction. After paying 66 ILS border tax and 17 EGP I was there 12 min before the scheduled departure of the bus to Sharm el Sheik, but an officer told me that the bus had already left 10 to 15 min ago. This is how it goes in the third world.
Greetings from Israel