Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Jerusalem

Fri Apr 23, 2010 10:31am EDT
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By Venetia Rainey

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Depicted as the center of the world in the Middle Ages, Jerusalem is primarily known these days for its religious and political importance. If you know where to look, however, there are plenty of secular delights.

Local correspondents help you get the most out of a stay in a city revered by Muslims, Jews and Christians.


6 p.m. - Plunge straight into the Old City. As you weave your way through the throngs of people and souk stalls, take some time to exchange pleasantries with the local shopkeepers. A simple Salaam Aleikum (peace be with you), to which the response is Wa-Aleikum Salaam (and with you be peace), gives an insight into the elaborate world of greetings in Arabic culture.

7 p.m. - Arrive at the Western Wall (Kotel in Hebrew) just before sundown and marvel at the hundreds of Jews, both liberal and Orthodox, welcoming in the Jewish Sabbath by dancing and singing. Built by King Herod around 19 BC, the wall is considered one of the most holy places in Judaism. Jews from all over the world come to cram prayers written on folded scraps of paper into its cracks. Make sure you are dressed appropriately.

8 p.m. - If you can, have Sabbath dinner with a local family. If not, now is the time to head for something a little less Kosher. Due to a large influx of Ethiopian Jews, there are several restaurants serving traditional Ethiopian food at the beginning of Jaffa road. Think 10 shekel beers and a delicious plate of injera (a sour flat dough pancake) with meat and vegetable wats (stews).

10 p.m. - Although it may look like Jerusalem shuts down over the Sabbath, now is the time to follow your ears. A cluster of bars around the Russian Compound will take you late into the night, including swanky Toy Bar, left-wing hippie joint Uganda (named after the alternative destination originally offered to Zionists), and trendy cave-cum-club Cassette.

SATURDAY   Continued...

<p>Tourists walk in front of in front of the Dome of the Rock, on the compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City March 24, 2010. REUTERS/Ammar Awad</p>