We set of this morning for Jerusalem via Amman. We had booked the bus to Amman as the service taxi experience coming here had not been good. We arrived at the bus station at 7:25 for an 8:00 bus - only to find it was an 8:30 bus. Still there was a 7:30 one we could catch. We hopped on it and it sped off - we couldn't believe our luck especially as the bus was almost empty. We soon learned our lesson as the bus diverted to another bus station, and we were told to transfer to another bus. This eventually left at 8:15. The border crossing went OK apart from loosing one of the bus passengers - a 30 minute delay. It was also hard on the wallet - £8 Syrian departure tax followed by £20 Jordanian visa fee each.
Anyway, we made Amman by 1:00 pm. We were dumped at a different bus station than expecting so we then had to get across town to get a shared taxi to the Israeli border. We were told that the service taxis don't run that frequently in the afternoon so opted for a taxi to the border. This was easy and we reached the border in an hour. The crossing was complex - at Jordan we went into arrivals to depart, then into a shuttle bus to the Israeli side. There it was check point after check point with a very confusing process - we were separated from our luggage which was x-rayed. Still we got through in just over the hour.
It was a shared taxi into Jerusalem that was quite efficient. Israel seemed very different from everywhere else we had been - it was like being back in Europe. The taxi dropped us at the Damascus gate to the old city and we were told that we had a 5 minute walk to our hotel. What he omitted to say it was all uphill, through the souq and over steps and cobblestones - not what you want with luggage. Still we arrived and the hotel was very nice (it should be at the price) - a converted seminary, built by the walls of the old city.
We had dinner and met an American couple we had met in Boursa, Syria. We spent the evening exchanging stories about everything that had gone wrong on the trip.
We spent the first part of the day sorting out hotels - there is no room at the inn after tomorrow. We tried the internet with no luck but found one via the hotel - a place run by the Franciscans. Going out and about here is so different - crossing the road is easy as cars actually stop at pedestrian crossings.
After sorting out hotels, we set off to look round Jerusalem. After a visit to the tourist office, we signed up for a walking tour of the old city. It was fairly short and just gave us an overview of the districts so we can come back later. The tour was a bit of a whirlwind but at least gave us a plan for the next few days.
The other big difference in Jerusalem was the amount of tourists. Apart from Petra, we have been lucky not to have large groups everywhere. Walking through the Souq is difficult here because of all the bloody tourists stopping to take photos.
In the afternoon, we had planned to go round the Muslim part - Temple mount. We found out a bit late that the site has very limited opening times and we were too late. We decided to have a look at the archaeological site just outside the temple mount. It was interesting but not great as half of it was closed due to restorations. After this we had a wander back through the Souq for a bit of retail therapy.
Our relaxed mood was shattered when we got back to the hotel and turned the news on. A bomb had gone off in the central bus station in West Jerusalem. Fortunately, it is no where near us but it has made us very nervous.