We were up and ready by 8 AM and on our way to the old city. We were advised that we should make it to Haraam-es-Sharif by 9 AM because it would be open to public. Due to the Gaza War, the visiting hours were random. On the way, we stopped by a coffee shop and picked up coffee’s. We did not get breakfast at the hotel on any of the days because it was almost $22 USD per person for a buffet with almost no vegetarian choices.

We were at the Western wall at 9 AM. We had to go through security (about 10 minutes) and were waved through. There were many Palestinians, some praying, some just standing around and some touting their services as guides. We got a rather older gentleman as a guide for NIS50.

Immediately we passed a monument that marked the spot where Prophet Mohammad had parked his horse, Al-Buraq when he did the “Isra” – the night journey where he flew on his flying horse, Al-Buraq from Mecca to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, at the spot where Abraham almost sacrificed his son, Ishmael (or Issac, depending on who you ask) he ascended heaven to get a glimpse of how it looked like. The dome of the rock, Haraam-es-Sharif was erected at this spot. It was built by Caliph Walid and has extremely beautiful architecture and calligraphy (words from the Koran) on the walls. Across the dome is the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. We could walk around the building but, obviously not allowed to enter. We visited the “Lions Gate”. It is closed, but this is where the messiah is supposed to come through, as believed in western religions.

Back at the Al-Aqsa mosque, we chatted with a Palestinian man about Israeli politics and life in East Jerusalem for nearly half an hour. Curiosity satisfied, we headed to the Muslim quarter for hummus at Abu Ghosh, a rather famous hummus shop. The hummus was underwhelming, too lemony, but the felafels were fresh. We regretted not going back to Cafe Ziaad.We walked back to the hotel and packed. We hailed a cab and the cab driver, kept insisting he’ll drive us to Israel for 350NIS instead of us taking the train. Despite me telling him that is what we want, he kept insisting and making weird faces and telling us: “You are staying at such a 5-star hotel, why you want to take the train, what is 350NIS to you anyway”. It was annoying but and I could see his line of thought; except I think differently.

At the train station we had to wait for almost an hour before our train arrived. We met a couple from the US who got married in Israel and were headed to Tibereas for their honeymoon and talked to them for a while. The train journey was relatively quiet and we enjoyed the view on our way to Tel Aviv!