Bethlehem – a day trip from Jerusalem

Separation wall in Bethlehem

We were excited to go on a short day trip to Bethlehem from Jerusalem and surprisingly  it was quite straight forward.  We caught bus #21 from the bus terminal across from the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.  Since the bus is operated by a  Palestinian company there isn’t a clear schedule, but it runs quite frequently and the cost was 7 NIS/person.  We were reminded by our hotel to bring our passports together with the little white and blue entry visa paper which was issued to us at the border – those are necessary on the way back into Israel.

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Jerusalem – the city of gods – even if you don’t have one

Old Jerusalem Market

As our bus, from Jordan arrived at the Damascus Gate we were so excited to walk through the Old City.  With all of our exuberance we quickly realized that it would be best to drop our backpacks prior to venturing into the tight corners of the crowded cobble stoned Old Jerusalem.  Check in Jerusalem was our chosen accommodation for our next 4 nights.  It was a great stay as it is centrally located near many  cafe’s and shops and only a few minutes walk to the Old City.

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Amman to Jerusalem – crossing the border

We decided to cross into Jerusalem from Amman, Jordan.  It is relatively easy to do although pretty time consuming for such a small distance.   Flights were around $450  for the 45 mile distance.  There is also a service called www.amman2jerusalem.com that offered to take us from our hotel in Amman to the border (we would have been on our own at the border crossing – which to us sounded like the scariest part).  The service would then pick us up on the other side and take us to the hotel in Jerusalem for $250.  

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Aqaba and Karak Castle

                                                                                                  Aqaba

Aqaba is a port city (mostly a resort town) on the Red Sea’s Gulf.  It is the most southern point of Jordan and is bordered by Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt.   Inhabited since 4000 B.C., it’s home to the Islamic-era Aqaba Fortress and the adjacent Aqaba Archaeological Museum.  Since these antiquities truly pale in comparison to some of the other treasures that Jordan has to offer, most come to Aqaba for the  beach resorts.   The sand is very fine and golden, the water is warm (even at the end of November) and windsurfing and other water sports abound.  Aqaba is considered a top destination for scuba divers, with notable dive sites including the Yamanieh coral reef in the Aqaba Marine Park, south of the city.

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Mars on Earth – Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum

Entering Wadi Rum was a slow motion experience of leaving earth and entering a totally different world.  The sand slowly starts to turn a deeper and darker hue of red and the surrounding dramatic sandstone and basalt mountains jut out of its sandy floor.  Camels walk about the desert with or without accompanying owners under the bluest of skies as they have for thousands and thousands of years….

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