Forgive me for the lack of posts I made whilst I was in Palestine and Israel. I had planned to write a blog a day, but best laid plans and all that….
What I wanted to put in today’s post was my trip, where we went and stayed for those who maybe thinking of travelling and where to stop. We were two women, with far too much baggage, travelling on public transport, wanting to see as much as we could in the 2 weeks we were there.
So we arrived in Jordan on the 6th August and stay in a charming family run hotel in Madaba, about a 30 minute ride from the airport. They arranged a taxi pick up for us, for 14JD (about £13) I stayed at this hotel last year when we did a week travelling around Jordan. It is friendly, clean, has a lovely swimming pool and bar area and is very reasonably priced. We paid 40jd for a double room with breakfast. Its location to the airport and the border made it a great choice for us and much more convenient than trying to get into the centre of Amman with its mad traffic. If every you are in Jordan, please check out this super friendly hotel.
We left here the following morning, bright and early to get to the King Hussein Bridge. Our driver charged 17 JD and the drive took about an hour taking us past Mount Nebo and down below sea level near the Dead Sea.
We crossed the bridge (I have already posted about the crossing) and jumped on a bus to Jerusalem for 2 nights.
We had a private room for two, which was small, but owing to the shape of the building, the rooms had to be. There were shared toilets and showers on each floor and a shared kitchen. It was about £15 each a night here, well placed within the old town and I would highly recommend it, if you are looking for somewhere just to rest your head. This was our first taster into using hostels, it was clean and friendly and was extremely popular with a wide range of ages and nationalities.
We moved on from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, here we couchsurfed and stayed with someone we had never met before, but off this website http://www.couchsurfing.org/ Peter was a gracious host. Picked us up from the bus stop, bought us breakfast and gave us a key and a phone. He was sorry he had to work and couldn’t spend more time with us, we were sorry we had our own things planned and couldn’t spend more time with him…next time eh? It was lovely staying in someones house and would definitely use Couchsurfing again.
We then moved on to Jaffa. On old Palestinian port town, which once thrived on the Orange Trade, now a suburb of Tel Aviv. Here we stayed at The Overstay http://www.hostelbookers.com/hostels/israel/tel-aviv/99296/
It was new and still in the process of being built. It had a great vibe to it, but boy do they need aircon there…that had to be the most uncomfortable night’s sleep we had (we were also sharing with 3 very noisy inconsiderate blokes who were staying there rent free in exchange for doing jobs whilst waiting to find work as part of them trying to become Israeli citizens) One lad was from the Congo. I really do not hold out many chances for him due to the high levels of racism that is in Israel and Tel Aviv especially.
From Tel Aviv we travelled to Nazareth and stayed at the loveliest place of the many we stayed in. http://www.fauziazarinn.com/langswitch_lang/en/?gclid=CNiQ4dSqm7kCFZPItAodcAIAPQ
This was a little idyll away from the hustle and bustle of the streets outside. The bus dropped us off at the bottom of the hill near the Basilica of the Annunciation. We had to negotiate our way through another market with our bags (luckily this time there were no glass chess sets to demolish) and through narrow lanes. Luckily the Inn was really well signposted and we found it fairly quickly. We bent through a small doorway which led to a beautiful open courtyard with seating. We were to sleep in a dorm room again, but this was spacious and airy and people here seemed to respect others more (there was a much more mature clientelle here than in Tel Aviv). Breakfast was included in the price here (£15 pppn) and was a fabulous spread where you could fill up for the day really.
From our two nights in Nazareth, we caught another bus to Tiberias on the Sea of Gallilee. Here we had one night booked, but were planning on staying for 2, until we got there. Tiberias was nothing like we expected and was a very tacky, tourist town, which reminded me of Blackpool. We wanted to see around the sea, but there was no public transport, and no boats to do a trip around the sea either. So our plans changed….one night here then to where?
The Hostel was ok, but after the last place we stayed I think anywhere might have been a disappointment. We were in a room with 3 other girls, air-con, wifi and a private bathroom for the 5 of us. This cost about £12 each to stop here. The downside of it was there were no public areas to sit, apart from the dark reception area, there was nowhere to sit outside and relax.
So we moved our plans forward and went to Nablus, stopping at the Nablus Youth Hostel. http://nablusyouthhostel.ps/Aboutus.htm
This was a very spacious building with huge potential and with a few tweaks here and there could be a booming hostel, sadly, it hasn’t been very well promoted as yet. It needs a good manager to take it in hand, sort out the laundry and cleaning and I am sure it will thrive. We stayed here for £10 a night. When we arrived we nor the staff were sure if the sheets were clean or not so we washed them ourselves and hung them out to dry. We were the only people staying here the first night, we had the entire place to ourselves. The second night a group of French volunteers had arrived back from Jerusalem where they had been for a few days and on our third night, two Italian lads stayed in our dorm room as they passed through Nablus. I liked this hostel, you were free to come and go, no staff here, but someone on the end of the phone if you needed them and the proceeds of our stay helped to fund counselling for children that had been traumatized by the occupation and things they had seen and experienced.
Back to Bethlehem and Peter had other guests so we couldn’t stay with him again, so we booked yet another youth hostel. http://www.booking.com/hotel/ps/bethlehem-youth-hostel.en.html
This was situated about 5 minutes walk from the Church of the Nativity and near to the Milk Grotto. It is also right next door to a prison! This was a light, airy building, with big dorm rooms. We had a room just to ourselves. The ladies toilets were up on the first floor, and the showers were a bizarre set up near the front door. The views from the roof were spectacular, but there were no tables and chairs up there. I think the hostel is missing out on a huge potential by not putting some up there. Our stay here was about £12 for the night. So, we sat on a balcony, overlooking the prison yard, and watched the sun set over Bethlehem.
Our last night was spent in Jericho in Sami’s Youth Hostel. In Jericho, really one is stuck finding cheap accommodation (and after spending the day in Jericho, I can fully understand why there is a lack of places to stay, one really does not need an overnight here, everything to be seen, can be seen in less than a day.) Jericho is also under sea level and can get VERY hot, in fact I don’t think I have ever drank so much water and fizzy pop before in one day to try and quench my thirst!
The guesthouse is situated in a refugee camp (a fact we were unaware of until we left) and is a little way out of town, however there are servees (shared taxis) that pass the hostel frequently and take you into town for a couple of sheckles. This place was about £11 each for the night. It does need a good spruce up as is very scruffy and tired around the edges…and also a little smelly, but as a means to an end, it served its purpose….and it had aircon which was a huge bonus considering how hot it was!
Sami himself was charming and very helpful, as were the other staff there.
And that was it! We left early in the morning of the 20th August and made our way back across the border, passing through Palestinian control, Israeli control and back to Jordanian control to spend the day back in Madaba before our longer journey home.
I will be back with other stories from my trip, but just wanted to give you a taste of where we had been.