When I was booking our AirBNB in Jerusalem, I was intrigued by several features of the place we ended up booking: hip (and convenient) neighborhood, full kitchen, balcony overlooking the activity on the street, good reviews, good price. As we neared our check-in date, I again reviewed our reservations and started to see reviews that warned of the loud bars that had recently opened downstairs. “How bad could it be?” I said.
Apparently, it could be pretty bad.
So the type of bar that I had left New Jersey to try to avoid had somehow relocated to Jerusalem. Yes, the type where people with excess tanning bed exposure come to do shots all night, while listening to (go figure), “Shots.” Multiple times. Double oy vey.
Fortunately, we were on vacation, so we made the most of it. The bar had several outdoor tables, so we found the activity of watching and laughing at people from our balcony quite entertaining. It’s incredible, really – we may as well have been on the moon. Nobody even saw us. Even when we tried to get people’s attention from the second floor, we went completely unnoticed. They were too engrossed in drinking their Smirnoff and chasing girls…which was why it was so funny to watch them in the first place.
This unexpected wrinkle caused us to change our schedule a bit. The music finally got a bit quieter around 1:30-2am, so we just worked our vacation around that schedule. We channeled our youthful energy in a bit more early-30s way – we found a local jazz club, which was fantastic! More on that later.
After waking up around 10:30 (downstairs partying kept us up), we cooked our own breakfast and wandered around our neighborhood for a bit. We had an afternoon appointment for a walking tour, but we decided to check out our neighborhood first.
Next, we set off for the Sandemans Walking Tour of Jerusalem. It is advertised as free, but make sure you bring some money to tip your guide – they are very good, and it really doesn’t cost that much to see some cool stuff. Our tour guide brought us to some of the most famous sites in the Old City.
There are four quarters in Jerusalem’s Old City: The Christian quarter, the Jewish quarter, the Muslim quarter, and can you guess the fourth? No idea? Of course, it’s the Armenian quarter. The Armenians here in Jerusalem are also Christians, but in order to enter, you have to be Armenian. So if you show that you have an Armenian last name, you can enter. (Our tour guide said that Kim Kardashian, who is Armenian, was recently able to enter; she and Kanye brought their novelty babies to get blessed.) We also saw the Western Wall. The reason why many people call it the “Wailing Wall” is because the Jewish pilgrims who visit would most want to access the point on the Temple Mount to worship. However, that area is currently occupied by the Islamic Dome of the Rock, so the Jews are “wailing” that they are unable to get there. Another highlight was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which, according to tradition, is the place where Christ was put to death, as well as his tomb.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
After a falafel meal and a quick nap back at home, we headed back out to get a closer look at some of the sites of the Old Town. Unfortunately, because it was Ramadan, we could not approach the Dome of the Rock. (Typically, only Muslims are allowed inside, but anyone can usually view it from outside, but during Ramadan, this is not allowed.)
After returning home, we settled in for the night with some Israeli beer and about fifty of our good friends partying in the bar below our balcony.