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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Rules You Can Sleep By!

Roof top patio of Hashimi Hotel
The hotel in which we are staying in Jerusalem is pretty amazing. I found it on the internet. Checked out, Orbitz, and more but also the website of the hotel itself. It looked nice. It was in the old city, which I wanted. I also looked at AirB&B, hostels and more. But this place sounded like it was a reasonable price, in the old city, and had everything we were looking for. 
We happened to see the sign: Hashimi Hotel!
Until we arrived, I had NO idea that 'in the old city' means that you can only get here on foot. I wonder how many older people are in for a shock. It's at least 10 minutes walking through a maze of alleys. Now I know why I never saw a photo of the outside of the building. There is only a front door, squeezed between a falafel place and a little shop. But once you open the door, up you go - marble staircase after marble staircase. Narrow and up. The first floor is a lobby with a desk, and with old, heavy wooden furniture where you can sit and have tea or coffee.
Jerusalem is all stairs - inside and out.
We are on the next floor in a room not much bigger than the bed. But it has a private tiny bathroom with shower. And, unlike many places in the old city, it actually has warm water.
There are no windows except for a tiny window onto the hallway. This makes the place a bit noisy. The men are very loud and we often wake up to loud voices and laughter in the hallways.
Fresh baked bread everywhere.
On the 3rd floor is a place to have breakfast: falafel, hard boiled eggs, tomato, cucumber, hummus, cheese and lovely flaxseed cookies.
On the 4th floor is the best feature: a large roof top terrace. This might well be the only hotel in the old city where you can sit and look out over the entire city. Our view is over rooftops, minarets, church bells, the white graves of the Mount of Olives and the golden, glistening Dome of the Rocks. Couldn't be better. We sit here day and night, gazing at the surreal panorama.

So much colorful food!
night we were invited to join the hotel's workers for a dinner of a huge platter with a kind of potato curry, with vegetables on the side. They all dipped in with fingers and with pita bread. Too bad we had just eaten...
If you ever come to visit here, we do recommend Hashimi Hotel, with all its quirks and personality. The owners live part time in the US and speak perfect English.

In Spain, Kees was lucky if he found something to eat, anywhere, before 9 PM.
Here, at least in Jerusalem, we are lucky if we can still find a restaurant open at 6 PM, many close so early. We are in the Muslim Quarter and the restaurants seem to all serve the same food. One of the best things is the freshly squeezed juice: oranges, grapefruits, anything. They just put it in a large squeezer and voila! For dinner each night we have about six different salads (creamy cucumber, creamy tomato, something identified on one menu as 'colslo' - meaning coleslaw - hummus, pita bread and sheskabab of lamb or chicken. No beer or wine. The Muslim Quarter is dry.

It's interesting to note that the 'H' in hebrew is pronounced as a 'G' - a harsh, Dutch guttural 'g'. So a town named HaHaGaNa is pronounced Ga-a-gana. Today someone who passed us said "Ghai!" instead of 'hi'!

Leaving Jerusalem to return to the coast, we found a great taxi driver who jovially offered to drive us not just to the train station but all the way past Tel Aviv and to the door of the hotel, for less than half the normal cost because he had to go that direction anyway. He entertained us with loud stories, using his arms and hands more for storytelling than for driving. When he heard we were from Canada, his face lit up. "Ah! Solomon!"
I wrecked my brain for biblical knowledge of Solomon. "Fresh Solomon," he continued throwing his arms up and forward as if reeling in a big catch, "You go fishing for fresh solomon?"  Ah, salmon...
We bought fresh bread, juicy strawberries and fresh juice for lunch.
The taxi drove through the corridor, from Jerusalem to the rest of Israel,  through the Westbank. Both sides protected by huge concrete walls and barbed wire fences, with the occasional check point to cross into the Westbank. It reminds us of the Berlin Wall.
And it is in sharp contrast to the people who are all so kind and outgoing - the Palestinians, the Jews, the Arabs and the Christians. All are so friendly and welcoming to us.


  1. What a wonderful post, Margriet! Yes, the fresh juice is outstanding, and I also enjoyed the food very much and found the people to be friendly and helpful. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  2. Great photos and stories… I can just picture all the hustle and bustle and chaos. Love it!