A dive into ancient history in Israel and Palestine

Last modified 23.04.2024 | Published 26.08.19861980's, Israel, Middle East and Africa, Palestine, Travelogue

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This visit to Israel and Palestine is the last part of my five week journey. I had finally come to the Promised Land. Also, I found my way into Palestine.

This article is no. 5 of 5 in a series based on my travel diaries from 1986. I was on a five week journey to Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Israel / Palestina.

Currency: 1 USD = 1.5 Shekels

Friday 22.8.1986, Amman – Jerusalem

Well, not exactly. I do not consider the West Bank as Israeli territory. Anyway I got here with a border stop that did not take long. It is remarkable the treatment the Arabs got at the Israeli passport control. We others went straight on with fairly little control, while they had to wait in line for a full body search.

The two French I met in Amman had been able to get on the bus as extra passengers. We took a bus together from the border crossing of Allenby Bridge to Jerusalem for one dinar. We were let off at the Damascus Gate at the entrance to the Old City.

A young boy came up and led us to a hotel nearby. It was expensive so I took a round in the neighbourhood. When I returned I had a basis for bargaining the price down to six shekels, from about the double. The three of us were put in a four bed room with private toilet and shower.

  • HOTEL NEW HASHEMI. Suq Khan ez Zeit, 100 metres on the street to the left inside the Damascus Gate. Clean and nice. They are trying to uphold a hotel standard and not hostel. They have a not so good dorm for 5 shekels.

In the evening I went looking for others hostels. The Jaffa Gate Hostel at that Gate was the nicest (4.5 shekels).

It is lovely to get to Jerusalem after boring Amman. The bus trip had passed through the West Bank with refugee camps and new Israeli settlements. Barren landscape for the most part and large mine fields all along the river. Life in the Arab part of Jerusalem where my hotel is situated is dynamic. Souq streets everywhere and unbelievably many souvenir shops with equally many tourists.

The tourist information office was closed but at the Christian Information Center next to Jaffa Gate I got a map and information.

I visited the place where Golgotha used to be and Jesus was buried. A huge, richly decorated church now cover the entire area. I walked the Via Dolorosa. My hotel is by the way only 15 metres from that street.

I rounded off the evening with a few beers together with two Swedish “flickor”, Mari and Annika.

Saturday 23.8.1986, Jerusalem – Bethlehem

I saw a lot today and there is a lot to see. First I took bus 22 from Damascus Gate for half a shekel toBethlehem. I saw the place where Jesus Christ is supposed to have been born. The market was interesting too.

Back in Jerusalem I walked on the city wall fra Damascus Gate to Jaffa Gate. I went down to the Muslim sacred places: The Dome of the Rock and the El Aqsa Mosque. Especially the first was exciting.

I continued on past the Wailing Wall which I also saw yesterday, down the temple mount and walked up through the Garden of Gethsemane to the Mount of Olives. The Russian basilica in the garden is beautiful.

I then went home and took a well deserved shower and did some necessary laundry.

Later I walked through the Armenian and Jewish quarters of the Walled City. The latter was recently renovated and looks clean and nice. A sharp contrast to the Arab part right next to it.

Sunday 24.8.1986, Jerusalem – West Bank – Nazareth – Sea of Galilee – Tel Aviv

This was a long day rich with experiences.

I first said goodbye to the French and took a bus up the Jordan valley to Nazareth. Further on toTiberias at the Sea of Galilee. After a lovely swim there I continued on to Tel Aviv and straight home to Jerusalem.

I got to see much of the scenery but not so much in the towns, least in Tel Aviv. Tiberias is a seaside resort and has a nice location. The sea is smaller than expected (10 x 20 km) and I was able to see all around it.

The refugee camps in the Jordan valley were interesting to get glimpses of.

In Nazareth I met some Muslims in a mosque and joined the priest home for coffee and dinner. We had an interesting discussion on religion and a little politics as well. Apart from this I did not find Nazareth particularly interesting.

Monday 25.8.1986, Jerusalem

I had been thinking of going to the Dead Sea and the Masada fortress today, but changed my mind because of the long trip yesterday. Besides I wanted to see more of Jerusalem.

There are few countries I really mean I would like to return to. I have however firmly decided to return here. There is so incredibly much to see, exciting things and people to see, the scenery is so varied and fascinating. In addition all the girls are so strikingly beautiful. It is really amazing! Perhaps those in uniform in particular!?!

Today I first checked the time of departure of my plane tomorrow. It is 0920 and with a two hour check-in time I will have to leave very early in the morning.

Then I visited the Rockefeller Museum at Herod’s Gate. It has a quite interesting archaeological collection. I then went to the Israel Museum, passing the Knesset on the way. This museum is really big, and it was in particular interesting to see the exhibition of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls.

The bus trip(s) home turned into some kind of sightseeing round trip of Jerusalem. I totally lost my sense of direction. I ended up on the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus before I finally entered a bus going to Damascus Gate.

So a tip for a bus tour of the new part of Jerusalem is to take no. 9 bus. Local buses only cost 0.5 shekel and if you have a map it is a cheap way to get to know this old and famous city.

Tuesday 26.8.1986, Jerusalem – Home

Then it is over for this time. With a departure time at 0920 from the Ben Gurion Airport and with a check-in time 2 hours before departure I should have been there around 0730. I did however oversleep and did not get to the airport until eight.

Thorough security check but I was let through and was home via Copenhagen around 1630. The plane ticket cost me 2310 NOK.

Money spent:

110 USD

Total expenditures on this trip over five weeks and four countries:

Turkey: 210 USD and 14 per day
Syria: 70 USD and 8 per day
Jordan: 200 USD and 25 per day
Israel: 110 USD and 24 per day

Total: 590 USD and 16 per day

+ Airplane 546 USD.
In addition come carpets (150 USD) and loss during money exchange of SL, 40 USD.

Read more

This article is part of a series based on my travel diaries from 1986. I was on a five week journey to Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Israel / Palestina.

The big road map

This road trip started by flying into Istanbul and ended in Tel Aviv. All other transportation was by public buses.

All chapters

(1) Istanbul and the west coast of Turkey: This was a journey into the unknown and intriguing cultures of the Middle East, and the encounter of a friendliness and hospitality hard to come by anywhere. Turkey was first off.

(2) Roaming Turkey’s Anatolian plateau: The fascinating life and scenery on the Anatolian Plateau, as well as the bureaucratic hassles of continuing the journey.

(3) Deserts, towns and memorials of Syria: Syria was a closed country, not welcoming tourists. But what an exciting past and present! In combination with an eagerness among young people to meet Westerners the stage was set for an exciting week.

(4) Jordan’s capital, Petra and the Dead Sea: Few places on planet Earth are as legendary as Petra, and few activities as fascinating as swimming in the Dead Sea. This chapter of my journey also tells the tale of my unpleasant encounter with a Palestinian soldier.

(5) A dive into ancient history in Israel and Palestine: This is the last part of my five week journey. Israel – finally I had come to the Promised Land.