13,322 steps (5.7 miles)
It is the end of another very long day. Couple of days, actually. But I am in Jersualem and the weather is not too bad. But…my app says today will be the coolest day of the whole next week. Rats. Anyway, here’s the day.
I responded to my wake-up call at 4:30 am. Got ready and left. I’m all alone now, which is fine, yet strange. I got to the airport in Dubai and through security and all in about half an hour I think. It was nice that early in the morning. So again, I had plenty of time to wait around. So I did. Some walking. Some people watching. Some texting. Whatever it took.
The flight to Amman (about three hours) was on time. Full, but not too full. I had an empty seat next to me (in a two-seat row). And no one behind me. So sweet. And the flight was not rough and we made it to Amman a bit early even.
Off the plane. Oh wait. I need a visa? I thought I could just do this in and out thing. No, that’s at the exit (no fee to exit if you just arrived). But you still have to pay 40 Jordanian Dinars (about $56) to get to come into Jordan. Not a bad tax for all the people in line.
I did that. Then had to go through Passport Control. They moved me to another (shorter line). Sweet. But then I guess it was shift change, because there was a large chunk of time when there weren’t checking any (as in zero) passports. But I made it through. It took about an hour from getting off the plane to picking up my luggage. I guess that’s not so bad.
My ride was waiting as I got out into the public area of the airport. My first impression of Jordan this time was that it was not blistering hot. There was a nice breeze and it was a bit comfortable. Well, in the sun it was warmer for sure (but I’m talking first impressions). We were soon off and on our way to the border. It’s about a 45 minute drive to the King Hussein Bridge border crossing.
At border you have a couple of options for getting across. You see, there’s this 2.5 kilometer road between the Jordanian check point and the actual border. So you have to hire your own transportation ($115 – called a VIP crossing and gets you to the front of the lines and a private car) or the public bus ($15 – which leaves like every couple of hours and you just sit on the bus and wait for it to get full enough to go). At home I had decided I would go the VIP route. Just sounded more convenient. And I don’t always wait well.
But I had my instructions from my first driver. And I did exactly what he said (dragging my luggage with me). Left. Then right. I saw the VIP sign and figured, this was going to be easy. They pointed me down the building a bit and said to go inside there. I did. You can’t enter the building without your luggage getting x-rayed. For like the fifth time in two days, btw. I got it up on the ramp and we passed inspection.
I walked down the hall and around the corner. Another big group of people. They were waiting at the “arrivals” window. There was no one at the “departures” window. Yay me. But there was also no one sitting behind either departure windows. The line sort of evaporated behind me. So I waited for a short minute and could ask my question. Where do I got for a departure? He sent me out the building and across the parking lot. There was a large bus in front of the door (and lots of people milling about). I assumed it was a tour group. Nope. Not even a tour bus.
I went inside (I was supposed to have my bags x-rayed. Again). But there was confusion and so I just went inside. I mean…it has just been x-rayed across the parking lot. Found a window marked “departures.” He took my passport. He passed it through a tiny window inside his cubicle. A couple of minutes later that guy said – let’s go x-ray your luggage. Really? How did he know?
We went back out in the lobby and x-rayed the bags. He kept my passport (not a surprise in Jordan, actually). He said, “Go get on the bus.” But wait, I wanted VIP. It is leaving now – just go get on it. We will put your bags on it. Well, ok, if it is leaving now, that’s a better deal. Nothing is better than something.
So I went out and got on the bus. It was stuffy in there. Really stuffy after a while. In maybe ten minutes, this same guy comes out with a stack of passports. He returns them all. They now have a piece of paper in them. Someone else comes along and collects the fee (like $15). You are supposed to pay in JD’s (Jordanian Dinars) but I was told to pay in US Dollars for the VIP. I’m not now on VIP. And, for a 20 minute hot wait to save $100 was totally worth it.
We left not too long after that. This wasn’t going to be the nightmare some travel websites make it out to be. Oh wait. There is another check point. Someone comes onto the bus and checks each passport – and takes the slip of paper in each one. Then there was another stop to check for bomby stuff underneath the bus.
We were off again. I was looking for the Jordan River now. But I never saw water.
On the other side we got our of the bus and went into the Israeli “welcome center.” We had to start by having our passport examined. The luggage was….x-rayed. This time it took a lot longer and they used a machine that looked to be much more detailed than anything I’ve ever seen at an airport.
My luggage passed inspection. One last checkpoint. The Israeli passport control itself. All was pretty normal and that didn’t take long. Then I waited for my x-rayed bags. Eventually, they were cleared and I could head out the door and hopefully find my ride to Jerusalem.
He was there and all was good. The ride to Jerusalem is about 45 minutes from the border. Lots of desolate landscape in that Judean desert. I’m glad I’d been before so could point some things out to myself on the drive.
My driver talked some about the scenery. He lives on the Mt. of Olives with four kids (one is a newborn). After a while, I just could not stay awake. After two nights averaging 3 hours of sleep at most per night catches up on old people. It caught up.
Got to the city of Jerusalem with no issues. Traffic was not too bad. It is nice here today. In the mid-70’s I think – and a lovely breeze. Just a great day to be in Jerusalem. My weather app says the temp will rise about 7-8 degrees starting tomorrow. And doesn’t let up. We shall see. It’ll be a while before the tour arrives up here.
The driver dropped me off at the New Gate (he can’t drive in the Old City and that’s where I am). Now I’m alone to cart my luggage over cobblestone streets to find a hotel of whose location I might know, bu then, mght not). I just started walking. The street ended in a block or so. I knew where I was – at the corner with the lovely Armenian glass for sale. I turned right – and there is was, my hotel was just at the next bend in the road. Six stairs down…and I have arrived.
This place is lovely and quaint. The atmosphere really special. I’ll put some pix on the website). I unpacked – and my suitcase smelled like smoke (it usually does when I return from Uganda). So I made a pile of stuff to have washed. I took it down to the desk and asked for a lunch suggestion. He said the Samara Café. Oh, I remember that and learned a new way to get there. Had a turkey sandwich (on pita). It was good.
Walked back to the hotel. I was tired and it was maybe 3 pm. Can’t remember (I am falling asleep with every paragraph). Did some computer work and then fell asleep. I woke up about 4:30 I guess. I felt horrible. This was not one of those naps which refresh. It was one that makes you feel terrible.
It took some time, but I eventually got around to normal. Dinner was at 6/6:30-ish. I went down about 7:00 (avoid the tour groups). They weren’t starting dinner until 7:30. Well, ok then…I’ll do my after dinner walk before dinner. I walked through the Armenian Quarter and Jewish Quarter to the Western Wall Plaza. It’s a first-night-in-Jerusalem tradition. Can’t break that now, can I?
I went down a different way. Down is the operative word. It’s all downhill to the Plaza, meaning it’s all uphill getting back. It was a nice stroll for me. I took some pictures and just enjoyed a lovely evening in Jerusalem. They are doing tons of construction in the Jewish Quarter – an at the Western Wall. They are even going to put in an elevator from up in the Jewish Quarter to the Plaza level. If you’ve been here – you know how many steps down that is. So that’ll be nice. After the mess of construction has passed.
By the time I was done I began winding my way back up all the stairs and on the more traditional path I take. At the top of the first set of stairs (as the street turns to head into the heart of the shopping district) a man was sitting there (I can go look in his shop – there’s something I haven’t heard like a billion times already. But, I was actually thinking I didn’t drink enough water this afternoon. And…am I going to make it back uphill to my hotel.
So I thought this guy was related to the juice cart right there facing me. So I bought a large glass of pomegranate juice and he offered me a chance to sit. I took him up on his offer. We chatted while I drank.
When my juice was gone, I headed back to my hotel (and kept sitting there). I made it back, don’t worry. I ate dinner (it was nice) here at the hotel (It’s included in the price), Then I came up to my room (I had left the key in the room when I went back to retrieve my glasses before the walk) and they let me in. Then I went down to dinner. It was good. A buffet spread. Only one quiet tourist group was in there when I started. They were very quiet (we Americans are generally not so hushed). Another group came (not American, but louder). It was a nice dinner.
Now I am back in my room writing journals, uploading pictures, trying to stay away to journal. Oh wow, it is now pretty late. So that’s today. Tomorrow will be another adventure. Can’t wait. Though I am putting out the “Do Not Disturb” sign so I can get as much sleep as possible.
Shalom from Jerusalem!