We hit Amman at rush hour…just kidding. Every hour is rush hour in Amman. Thankfully we had my dad who took to this insanity like a fish in water.
We only got lost a few times before we finally found a Burger King with wi-fi where we had a nice, American lunch and got “directions” from our phones. The directions got us within a few blocks of the hotel that we used for returning the rental van – dent and all. The concierge was very helpful and called a car to take us to the border office even though we weren’t guests of the hotel. I think he just wanted us and our baggage out of the breezeway. We were looking a little rough after our hike through Petra.
There are some disputes (understatement) about whether the border at the Allenby Crossing / King Hussein Bridge is an official border because the land on the Israel side is actually occupied Palestine. I decided against taking photos because there was a lot of checking for bombs and generally high security. Also, there are a lot of signs telling you not to take photos. The curtains are actually pulled once you get on the bus to go through no man’s land.
Notable things about this crossing: 1. We had a very stern-looking guard checking everyone on the Jordan side. I’d learned that our girl with the Arabic name and the super blonde hair was able to generate celebrity status just about everywhere, so I put her passport on top. The guard burst into a grin when he saw her name and became very accommodating, making our crossing super smooth. 2. When you do get to Israel, you have to take a cab to Jerusalem. I thought I was being very clever by just taking a cab when we got there….I was not. I should have just hired a driver. It’s a 30 to 45 min drive into Jerusalem from the Israeli terminal and, surprisingly, no one is willing to negotiate the cost of the cab. If you are alone or in a small group, you could split the cost with others and that might be cheaper. However, if you travel in a group of 7, like we did, just hire the car.
We got into Jerusalem and checked into our hotel. Joy of joys! You can drink tap water in Jerusalem. I had no idea how much I’d missed tap water. I just stood in the bathroom gulping water and reveling in yet another privilege that we Americans enjoy.
The next morning we had a delicious breakfast and headed out to enjoy the city. We had to stay in the new city because we had security clearances and whatnot to keep uncompromised, but we were just a couple of minutes from the old city. Jerusalem is beautiful with many lovely parks. The kids had a great time tramping around in the nearby parks while we waited for the other half of our group to wake, eat, and be ready to explore the old city.
We wondered around the old city and it was just overwhelming to be there. The history of this city and its persistence…to think that people have crowded these tiny streets, selling wares for thousands of years. You really get the sense of antiquity.
My dad was over the moon about being in Jerusalem. We saw very little of him because he was out prowling from early morning to late at night. It’s really cool to be a pilgrim in Jerusalem during Holy Week.
We did find him for lunch. My son loved being at the Western Wall and wore his complimentary yamaka for the rest of the day.
This was Holy Thursday, so we headed to mass at the Notre Dame Visitor’s Center. The Center is lovely and you run into some great people there.
That’s all for now. I will come back to tell you all about our favorite parts of the trip, including visiting the Garden of Gethsemane on Holy Thursday night.