A Panoramic Beginning

Jerusalem Travel Blog

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A new morning, a new day, another opportunity for adventure.


Today, we had a tour so we were up early. We had bought some yogurt, fruit, and juice to have for breakfast on the run.


The shower was terrible, Rob had hot water and I did not. Also, as the shower was hand held, I had to stand in the cold in between spraying myself with the cold water!!! Oh, I’m just complaining.


We met our tour group in front of a hotel outside the Old City, just a 10 minute walk. The bus came and picked us up and a couple of others. We picked up at a few other hotels and then went to a central location to pick up the rest of our group. Our bus now about half full, we were on our way.


We first made our way up the hills to the south to a spot that afforded a wonderful panoramic view of the Old City. It was amazing to see the city from afar, its pieces and parts and differing styles standing out. You could see the different areas of the crenellated wall, also. You could see the hills and valleys as the city moves up and down with the landscape.


We didn’t get out of the bus but stopped long enough for a view and some nice shots.

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Soon, we were back in Jerusalem and dropping off passengers. We wished everyone a Happy New Year and exited.


We went back to the hostel for a quick drop off of souvenirs, washing the swimsuits (covered in salt), and change into more festive clothing.


We set out for Shanty, a restaurant the as recommended by Evan. It was a hole in the wall bar ( with great atmosphere) and amazing food ) but, that would come, later.


We walked out Jaffa Gate and into the New Town.

We walk through Mamilla. The largest project in Jerusalem in some time, the $400 million Mamilla complex, has opened its pedestrian shopping mall segment after nearly a decade of construction.

The project was initially conceived shortly after the 1967 Six Day War, and the run-down Mamilla neighborhood, just outside Jaffa Gate, was cleared away: the businesses moved to the Talpiot industrial zone, and the residents to N'vei Ya’akov.

The new pedestrian mall, in the shadow of David’s Tower and the Jaffa Gate, has place for 140 stores and cafes.

The feel is light and airy but stylistically in keeping with the Jaffa area. It reminded me of what I saw of the newly reconstructed Beirut, Solidaire.

While walking through, we passed several young military girls with big guns. Rob mentioned that we should get our pictures taken with them. I thought that this was probably not a good idea, to ask such a thing but, he said that he saw some of them taking pics with tourists at the Western Wall. So…….we turned around basically chased them down. Rob asked and they seemed happy to oblige. A lady close-by even offered to take our picture…..odd but, very nice of her. The girls told us to have a Happy New Year and we wished them the same.

It took some work finding our way through the mess of constructions and alleys but we found Shanty. At first we were told that they didn’t have a table as all were reserved for the evening. They said that we could have a table until 9:30, which was an hour and a half for dinner. As we are American…..”European altered” for the last 3 years but……not a problem for us!!!

It had a good feel, a warm color, balloons and low lighting. The hostess and waitress were very friendly and helpful with the menu….

.all Hebrew. I had a wonderful roasted eggplant dish with a creamy sauce and tomatoes. It was amazing. I also had a broccoli soup that was a bit bland but was very; very fresh as it tasted like it had a whole head of broccoli in it. We had a bottle of Columbia Crest reisling, one of our favorites. We’ve even been to the winery in Washington. It was a pleasant surprise. A delicious chocolate cake was the dessert treat…..and was it ever a treat. We were only a few minutes late leaving…..the people waiting for their reservation. The dinner was so enjoyable….a wonderful experience for our New Year’s Eve in Jerusalem.

We decided to have a nice walk. We stop for a mirror mosaic sculpture of a cartoonish griffin. It was quite a piece. There was a sign next to it that miniatures were for sale and the proceeds were going to charity. We thought that we should stop another day and see if we could buy one.

Continuing our walk, we approached a mosque with a lighted tower behind it.

The sign on the corner of the mosque was quite a surprise, it was now a YMCA….can you believe it!!! That would be a really interesting place to spend the night…but not for us, not this time.

The tower next door was decorated with multi-colored lights strung down to the building below.

From there it was a short walk through a part of Independence Park and a vine covered walkway.

We crossed the street from there and walked into another park area and to the Yemin Moshe and the Montefiore Windmill.

Erected in 1857, 18 meters high, for that time the Windmill was an ultra-modern one for grinding grain into flour. Despite the curses of local Arabs not happy with the competition, it continued to turn until steam-powered mills made it obsolete.

During the War of Independence it served an observation point for Jewish fighters.

In an attempt to hinder the Israeli defense, the British Authorities blew up the top of the windmill in an operation derisively dubbed by the Jewish population "Operation Don Quixote". Today, the Windmill is a museum dedicated to the life and works - and in remembrance of Sir Moses Montefiore.

There are about 130 houses in the picturesque neighborhood of Yemin Moshe, which was first established outside the Old City walls in 1891.

During the War of independence, Yemin Moshe was completely surrounded by the enemy for months, but it held out heroically. The border between Jordan and Israel was located just below Yemin Moshe in the Hinnom Valley.

The quarter was abandoned during the 19 years of the Jordanian occupation of the Old City before the Six Day War in 1967, because of the danger of snipers from the Old City Walls and the neighborhood deteriorated dramatically.

After the Six Day War, the quarter was renovated and it has since attracted a number of artists whose works are sold in the area's galleries.

The view from the terraces is that of the Old City’s walls and many important buildings ancient and modern.

We continued our walk and entered the Old Town through Jaffa Gate.

The cab drivers would yell “Tel Aviv” at us as we passed. The town was very quiet as most partiers were making their way to Tel Aviv. We would be staying and finding our own special spot to ring in the New Year.

It was around 23:00 and we’ve had to now decide what we wanted to do. We were both tired but…it was New Year’s Eve and we were in a fantastic place. We decided to walk to the roofs of the Jewish Quarter and find a great view of the Western Wall.

I didn’t know if there would be any type of fireworks or festival at or near the Western Wall but, at a minimum, it was be a place of great reflectance for our ending of one decade and the beginning of a new.

Rob, pretty easily, found his way back to the rooftops…..he’s so good at that. We were the only people crossing the rooftops…they were all ours to enjoy. What a special experience. The Dome of the Rock was lit and dominantly taking center stage.

Continuing across the rooftops we were routed away from the panoramic area but soon found a smaller terrace that happened to have a prime view of the Western Wall and the area surrounding it.

There were many people praying and walking about. One group was gathered outside the gates, singing in Spanish. They proudly displayed their country’s flag of yellow, blue, and red, which turned out to be Colombia.

Soon, the clock stuck midnight. The many churches bells were ringing in 2010. In the distance the sky was lit up with a few fireworks. It was not a big display but, a colorful display to mark the new year……just for us! The people at the wall seemed unaffected as they continued with whatever they were doing. When we were sure that no one was looking, we stole a kiss in celebration.

We had a great day….wonderful dinner…..and private yet spectacular place for our celebration. I took a little video of the fireworks to share.

We made our way down from the rooftop area and into the Muslim Quarter’s souk alleys. We walked and walked….and got a bit lost. As this city’s maze is an extreme jumble of ancient paths….

.we just kept trying…and we were finally out of confidence that we could find our way back to Jaffa. Some kids offered to show us but we knew that they wanted money and could not be sure of our safely, following them. We took a turn and continued on our own. Soon were found a grouping of police and security forces. We asked them…and within minutes we were at the hostel.

We lay down, tired from the day and full of amazing memories as it was quite an extreme day. It was definitely a New Year’s Eve like none other.

Happy New Year, Jerusalem!

Happy New Year, World!

photo by: daynnightraveller