Tips for Touring in Jerusalem

Once again in Jerusalem, the weather has turned overnight, from freezing cold and cloudy to a full-blown sunshine heatwave.

Well, except when the next sand storm blows in to block the rays.

We asked for warmer and it’s here this week.

Lucky are all those thousands of returning tourists! People who have wanted to come but because of corona and closings were not able to get to Jerusalem sooner, they are arriving daily.

View of Kotel from Aish roof

The Old City should be buzzing this year with Passover, Ramadan, Easter Sunday, and Orthodox Palm Sunday coinciding.

But there is much more to do in Jerusalem!

Entrance to Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is a short drive, with the Aquarium nearby,

Jerusalem butterfly house

and it’s fun to check out the new butterfly house when the sun is shining.

Even at the Knesset, where you can book and join a free tour, there’s a large crane rising above the Knesset. Building construction is everywhere. Traffic is back and filling the Jerusalem Streets.

The Rose Garden and Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, are close to the Knesset.

Now that the 11th Jerusalem Marathon is over the park is much quieter than last week with tens of thousands of runners trying to stay dry.

Jerusalem Sacher Park Lion in new play area

The new playground is large with something for almost everyone. I am fond of that special Jerusalem lion.

However, I want to share some of the lesser-known spots for those who want some quiet time.

Jerusalem Gazelle Valley opening day
Entrance to Hansen House in Jerusalem

Hansen House Gardens are open to the public, plus the annual Design Week is happening soon.

How about a quiet nature spot to eat a picnic lunch off of Emek Refaim?

The Jerusalem Nature Museum is a local secret hideaway, saved from developers, slowly being renovated, and used for varied big events before Covid and starting up again taking advantage of outside spaces.

I love how this time of year flowers pop thru the old stones.

At Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, I saw this week that signs have been posted to explain the old stones displayed in the gardens on the new audio tour. Tour groups are back at Beit Hanasi!

This week the water was turned on at Jerusalem’s new-old tourist spot.

New signs for France Square were posted.

Jerusalem Paris Fountain and French Square construction

After months and months of construction,

the France Square dedication was held.

Mayor Moshe Lion was surrounded by Israeli flags, but no French ones.

The previous dedication was done by then Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski with the Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoe surrounded by media.

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The old Paris Square stone was not incorporated into the new plaza.

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Paris Square became known for the late-night anti-government rallies.

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For those who do not remember, the old design had a street,

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steps to the fountain area,

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and what Paris Fountain looked like before this renovation.

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The trees are not in full bloom, but the new France Square looks like the proposed design the city published.

For those breathing a sigh of relief that construction noise and protests are finally over at this junction of Jerusalem streets.

Wait.

The building at #62 King George Street is scheduled to come down and a new taller building is to replace it.

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The Jerusalem building that was considered new in 1965, at the edge of the city is now old and to be replaced.

Meanwhile, the fountain on or off seems to be a magnet for children.

A short video from the official dedication of France Square.

Or check out, one of my favorite Jerusalem views on a Jerusalem Photo Walk.

Looking forward to welcoming everyone back to the Jerusalem streets!

Back on the Jerusalem Streets

My grandfather left Russia as a teenager for the US in the early 1900s.

Often I have thought about how different life would have been if he stayed in Odessa with his brother. Families were kept apart for decades by the Iron Curtain. A medical emergency and a “random” encounter involving a neighbor and a photo brought our cousins from the FSU back into our family and our lives.

Especially this week the impact has been hard to ignore.

The sun was shining after days of rain, so glad it was nice to get out again and the first thing I did was walk to Jaffa Road.

Yes, it was true. The Putin Pub had covered over its sign and only a faint ‘P’ could be seen. No, I was not the only one stopping to take photos.

But much more to share of what was happening in Jerualem this past week.

The changing Jerusalem, Israel, skyline will be a shock to those who have not been here the past two years during the pandemic closings.

Though most restrictions are to be lifted on March 1st, there are plenty of tourists walking on the Jerusalem streets now. Tour guides had extremely difficult times during the past two years. It was good to see my friend with a nice group again.

After missing last year, the Conference of Presidents was back in town.

New Conference CEO William Daroff had a lot to smile about.

In one of the sessions on the record and extremely timely, the US, China, and Russia, oh, and Iran situation were discussed. Anna Greifman stated the West does not understand Putin’s ideology and the Russian mindset. Some of those “experts” who said he was merely threatening are those pushing for concessions to Iran.

This was a conference very much still concerned with corona. Hand sanitizer and tea anyone?

Each day a negative antigen test was required to attend.

Networking in the hall while waiting for corona tests results was not so bad.

Back in Jerusalem, Erick Stakelbeck was filming in the Conference Green Room.

US Ambassador Tom Nides attended two nights in a row. On Monday night he was there briefly but sat with Bahrain and Israelis at the feelgood session featuring discussions on the Abraham Accords.

Charge d’affaires Ines Demiri of the Kosovo Embassy in Jerusalem spoke.

The Ambassador from Morocco told of how he had covered most of Israel since he arrived, there are so many Moroccans for him to meet.

The Ambassador from the United Arab Emirates also spoke in English to the dinner crowd, consisting of mainly American presidents and leaders of Jewish organizations.

The positive atmosphere and exchanging of business cards,

and of course selfies. Who would have imagined this two years ago when the CoP last was able to meet in Jerusalem.

They boasted of being the last conference before corona shut the borders and were proud to be the first back in Jerusalem, Israel.

But I did not hang around for dinner or the rest of the night program. While some night spots are still shuttered and dark, the Shaon Horef, Winter Noise street festival was back for the first of four Monday nights.

This colorful light projection was on Shushan Street, advertised as the main location of the event.

Though the evening was cool, thousands were out on the streets for entertainment. This year an app was available with information on times and performances.

Food and drinks were available in the area, not the most fashionable one, as you can see, but that is the idea, to bring people back to these streets.

I was back for a daytime photo to share and he wanted his photo taken.

The fashionably dressed tourists were back in Mamilla Mall.

It has been a long time since I have seen such a large busload of tourists headed to the Monastery of the Cross.

There are protest signs near the Supreme Court building,

and a protest tent near the Knesset,

but next to the Prime Minister’s official residence, it’s quiet enough just to stroll by.

Purim and days of celebration are back soon to Shushan Street.

Jerusalem Marathon signs are being posted for races at the end of March.

Even though the Omicron seems to be hitting many who have been careful for the past two years, the Jerusalem streets are filling with multilingual voices again.

A new Jerusalem photo op for tourists awaits near the Old City.

Hope to see you soon on or off the Jerusalem streets!

Jerusalem Streets Summer Scenes

Summer is here in Jerusalem, Israel.

Love it when the weather person announces “hotter than usual.” It’s that time when it is good to stay off the Jerusalem streets during the day.

Some scenes are still consistently good like at Jaffa Gate.

Zahal Square is pretty much the same when the Light Rail trains are not going around the corner.

The new Superbuses are out and running a new route around the Old City. Egged green buses no longer have the monopoly on the Jerusalem streets.

There are bikes to rent at 25 docking stations at key Jerusalem locations –another new means of transportation, not all are blue, some are yellow.

The King David Street renovation goes on, constantly changing, and frustrates drivers, even those who thought they were familiar with the Jerusalem streets.

The residents near Paris Fountain who thought that with the anti-government protesters gone they would have some quiet now found out they were wrong.

The digging in France Square extended into the street, closing lanes and backing up traffic. This is always one of the noisy locations during the summer as visitors try to figure out which lane they should be in and the drivers behind are not patient.

Oh and the Gan HaSoos, Horse Park renovation!

The question this summer – “Is there one Jerusalem street not under construction?”

At least in some locations, you can get a history lesson as you sit in traffic.

New bus lines mean new bus station signs.

And new night bus lines are running late hours. Good – the city is planning ohel, late-night locations for teens to hang out.

Been out of Jerusalem to Gush Etzion lately?

The second tunnel is well underway to change and improve driving to and from Jerusalem on Route #60.

Tourists are here. Jerusalem hotels are back in business.

Some hotels have new names to learn and new owners.

Tourists will find new street installations, adding color over the streets off of Ben Yehuda.

Colorful kites are flying high nearby.

A major project by women of Jerusalem is to decorate all the trees in Zion Square, and it is attracting attention.

Two children were fortunate enough to find time to enjoy the cooling mist at the off Jaffa Road location.

On Ben Yehuda, stores are trying to attract roaming tour groups.

Kikar Safra, Safra Square, was setting up for the annual basketball event.

However, I found the new exhibition on the walls much more interesting.

The Lonka Project includes 360 survivors’ portraits from 35 countries. Each unique brilliantly done image is accompanied by a short biography. 

I was impressed to see a former neighbor and friend’s photo on the wall.

Oh, the stories! In 1942, Helen Brashatsky was born in Auschwitz. A Christian doctor sheltered her and her mother. After the war, they came to Mandatory Palestine, where she married Muhammed Jabarin, converted to Islam, and changed her name to Leila. Only after she registered as a Holocaust survivor did she tell her 8 children and 30 grandchildren.

Sonia Kam and her sister were born in Germany and separated during the war. Never could they have imagined that years later a close relative would be the Israeli ambassador to Germany.

Music from the Liberty Bell Park, the Israel Museum, and the Mekudeshet Festival on the Sherover Plaza on the Tayelet will fill the Jerusalem streets.

Also music at the Jerusalem Theater and Yellow Submarine, and Outline Festival is back again this week in Jerusalem.

The International Arts and Crafts Fair is to return to Mitchell Garden and the Sultan’s Pool with have major musical performers each night.

Going almost 24/7, Shabbat-friendly activities for kids at First Station to Shakespeare in the Park in August, day or night, something is happening on the Jerusalem streets this summer.

And if it gets too hot outside, it’s a good time to stay inside and watch the Israelis perform at the Olympics.