Even though we had a bit of a mishap with Israir, we finally arrived at Tel Aviv’s Sde Dov airport at about 2:30 PM (as opposed to the original 9:30 AM). The flight was short and we got a glimpse of the dead sea from the air. We took a taxi to the Tel Aviv Savidor Merkaz train station and purchased two tickets to Jerusalem. Israel has an excellent train network and we used it a lot to get around. We waited at the platform, sipping coffee, nibbling on muffins and chatting to pass the time. There were many IDF soldiers on the train and this was something we got used to fairly quickly. The rail network is used by kids who are in the service to go home for the weekend but also to transport soldiers in time of war.

The journey was little over an hour and got scenic as we approached Jerusalem. As we got closer my excited started rising! After all this is one of the most historic places in the world! The excitement was mixed with some fear as well due to the war. While waiting for a taxi we struck up conversation with a lady who was a local resident and advised us to not visit the old city due to dangers (of being bombed?). There was no way we were going to come all the way to Jerusalem and not go to the old city!!

Finally after waiting for 45 minutes the cab arrived and the drive, although scenic, was scary. The drivers in Jerusalem (and most of Israel) seem take the belief of divine presence in that land a bit seriously! Finally we checked in to our hotel, what used to be the Sheraton Jerusalem Plaza hotel. The front desk staff was excellent, but the hotel was simply not what I’d expect of a Sheraton and definitely needed remodeling. It was like we checked into a hotel from the 70′s! However, we had an excellent view from our 15th floor window and there was little to complain on that front!

Since we were looking for vegetarian food and did not want to go far, the front desk staff suggested a kosher vegetarian place close by. We walked to the restaurant that happened to be right next to the famous David Citadel hotel. The restaurant was completely empty (as were all the other restaurants we passed by) and we were the only patrons.

Since we were the only patrons at the restaurant, we had the chance to converse with the manager – a Palestinian Muslim! He was the manager of a Jewish kosher restaurant! We talked about a lot of things but a few things I recall: He said he was Muslim was looking to change his religion. Why I asked him, had he decided what religion he wanted to change to? He said: Not yet, he had not found any good religion on the market! His choice of words cracked us up! Our conversation shifted to the ongoing Gaza War and his comment was: Israeli and Palestinian government was the big mafia and Hamas was the smaller mafia. They’re all mafia and trying to cancel each other so the war is useless. As bitter as it maybe, I had to agree that a lot of this was simply politically motivated and civilians suffered on all sides. But this is true for almost any country, no?