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From Jerusalem To Bethlehem: How's The Trip?  
User currently offlineSFOMEX From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 2173 times:

One of the great things of A.net is that you can reach people everywhere. With this in my mind, I'd like to ask my fellow Israeli A.netters about the current situation in Bethlehem.

I will be traveling to Israel in June and I want to visit the place where Jesus was born. I know the city is close to J'lem, but I wonder about the complicatedness of crossing through the checkpoints on your way to Bethlehem. Besides that, how safe is the city after Hamas victory?

Israel is a magic country and I very much look forward to this trip. BTW, is a visit to Jordan feasible in one day?

Thanks in advance!

14 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineAirxLiban From Lebanon, joined Oct 2003, 4511 posts, RR: 53
Reply 1, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 2159 times:

I visited Israel in 1993 for the exact same reasons as you, to see the Holy Land and visit the birthplace of Christ and visit the cradle of my religion.

We were already in Jerusalem and all I remember is that we hired a car and driver to take us to Bethlehem, wait around, and then take us back. Apparently the road that we took isn't open anymore but I don't remember having had to cross through any checkpoints.

Looking back at the thread starting post I realise I haven't really contributed anything but would be interetsed to hear the answers to the questions that were asked.



PARIS, FRANCE...THE BEIRUT OF EUROPE.
User currently offlineWindshear From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 2330 posts, RR: 11
Reply 2, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 2155 times:

Quoting SFOMEX (Thread starter):
Israel is a magic country and I very much look forward to this trip. BTW, is a visit to Jordan feasible in one day?

If you rent a car in Jerusalem, expect at least 2-3 hours to get to the Jordanian border, and then again some hours...
I would maybe find a place to sleep in Aqaba or so, then you could drive back in the morning Smile

Hope you enjoy Israel and the terretories, haven't been to Bethlehem for some years, but it is quite close to Jerusalem, and I haven't experienced checkpoints to Bethlehem either.

Boaz.



"If you believe breaking is possible, believe in fixing also"-Rebbe Nachman
User currently offlineFlyingbabydoc From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 2144 times:

I lived in Israel before the palestinian Authority took over. There was a bus from Jerusalem (Tachanah Merkazit) to Bethlehem and it was a straightforward thing the whole trip - no hassles whatsoever. I am sure it is more complicated today.

You can always cross to Jordan from Eilat and get an excursion to Petra (REALLY worthwhile).

However, there is MUCH more to Israel than the religious sites only. A trip to Massada (Metzadah) is unforgettable. Camping on the Negev, Mitzpeh Ramon, the north (Arbel for example) and the coast around Cesarea are some of the highlights.

Have a good trip.

Alex


User currently offlineSFOMEX From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 days ago) and read 2134 times:

First of all, thanks for you good wishes guys.  Smile

Quoting AirxLiban (Reply 1):
I don't remember having had to cross through any checkpoints.



Quoting Windshear (Reply 2):
I haven't experienced checkpoints to Bethlehem either.



Quoting Flyingbabydoc (Reply 3):
no hassles whatsoever. I am sure it is more complicated today.

I believe that after the wall was erected to separate Jerusalem from the Palestine Territories, the only way to get from J'lem to Bethlehem is through a checkpoint, but I may be wrong. Hopefully somebody will let us know what is going on.


User currently offlineScrappy74 From United States of America, joined May 2006, 97 posts, RR: 3
Reply 5, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 2129 times:

I was on a group academic trip to Israel last summer and our supervisor/leader wouldn't take us to Bethlehem for safety reasons (group of 45 loud American college students, think about it). I would have liked to have gone, but there are soooo many more places to visit in Israel. Definitely suggest going up north into the Golan, visit Tiberias. Caesaria, as other posters suggested, is breathtaking.

Even though Tel Aviv doesn't have the same "historical" pull as J'lem, be sure to spend at least a day on the beach there. If you're there around sunrise you can usually see some heavies flying SE toward TLV  Big grin Safe travels!



"These days, I wish I was 6 again..."
User currently offlineWindshear From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 2330 posts, RR: 11
Reply 6, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 2121 times:

Quoting Scrappy74 (Reply 5):
but there are soooo many more places to visit in Israel.

Yeah but only one birthplace of Christ  Smile

Quoting Scrappy74 (Reply 5):
If you're there around sunrise you can usually see some heavies flying SE toward TLV Big grin Safe travels!

Oh yeah!!
I loved my spot on the beach at night seeing all those 747s come in, Jaffo is also a great place to spot, you can see the whole of Tel Aviv, and the planes coming in.


I am not certain how the situation is now with the wall, here is a chart of the proposed wall, guess there might be dificulties, I don't really know.
But if you look at the western part of Bethlehem, there should be an opened "protected road".

Boaz.



"If you believe breaking is possible, believe in fixing also"-Rebbe Nachman
User currently offlineScrappy74 From United States of America, joined May 2006, 97 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 2109 times:

Quoting Windshear (Reply 6):
I loved my spot on the beach at night seeing all those 747s come in

We were at the Tal Hotel (maybe 1/2 mile N from the Sheraton Moriah), you couldn't see much from there so I'd walk down the beach every morning while the rest of my group was sleeping to get an English newspaper and spot  Smile Also our first night we ate at this little rooftop restaurant in Jaffo and I kept breaking off from convos to watch the 74's come through the clouds on approach.

Israel's definitely a place I could spend more time, even beside the planespotting.

--- Scrappy



"These days, I wish I was 6 again..."
User currently offlineAvi From Israel, joined Sep 2001, 942 posts, RR: 6
Reply 8, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 2105 times:

Of course today there is a checkpoint between Jerusalem and Bethlehem and I don't think you will be able to cross it with a car with an Israeli license plate.
I think the best way to do it will be with an Israeli taxi to the checkpoint and from there with a Palestinian one to the city (taxies are no problems on both sides) and the same on your way back.

Today Bethlehem is relative a quiet place and you should have no problems at the checkpoint but of course if something will happen, the checkpoint can be close.



Long live the B747
User currently offlineWindshear From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 2330 posts, RR: 11
Reply 9, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 2084 times:

Quoting Scrappy74 (Reply 7):

Israel's definitely a place I could spend more time, even beside the planespotting.

Amen to that! Big grin

Quoting Avi (Reply 8):
Today Bethlehem is relative a quiet place and you should have no problems at the checkpoint but of course if something will happen, the checkpoint can be close.

Cool good to finally get some info  Smile
Good advice about the taxi, think it is the best option as well!

Boaz.



"If you believe breaking is possible, believe in fixing also"-Rebbe Nachman
User currently offlineRJpieces From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 2070 times:

Quoting SFOMEX (Thread starter):
Israel is a magic country and I very much look forward to this trip.

I hope you enjoy it...Have you been before? What airline are you flying there?


User currently offlineSFOMEX From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 2037 times:

Quoting Scrappy74 (Reply 5):
Even though Tel Aviv doesn't have the same "historical" pull as J'lem, be sure to spend at least a day on the beach there. If you're there around sunrise you can usually see some heavies flying SE toward TLV Safe travels!

TLV seems to be a party town on its own right! It surely is a cool change after the heavily spiritual Jerusalem.  Wink

Quoting Windshear (Reply 6):

Thank you for the map. It gives you quite an insight of what is going on over the Holy Land.

Quoting Avi (Reply 8):

Taking a cab seems to be the way to get there. Thank you Avi.

Quoting RJpieces (Reply 10):

Thank you for your nice words. I'm sure I'll enjoy it! Furthermore, I'll have the great pleasure of flying AM's brand new 777 on my way to Madrid, where I will connect with Iberia for my flight to TLV.


User currently offlineBAxMAN From St. Helena, joined May 2004, 671 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 2026 times:

If you go to Bethlehem and want to return back to Jerusalem, make sure you take your passport! I had a bunch of Israeli soldiers approach me from behind an armoured vehicle and point the guns in my face becuase of this!

I took a bus from Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem which dropped me off just on the outskirts of Bethlehem (I was expecting it to take me right into the town itself). From here, I was feeling a bit deserted and was accosted by a taxi driver (who was apparently a geography teacher when not scouting for tourists) who took me on a great little tour of the area and then into Bethlehem itself. Bethlehem was quite under-whelming compared to the other churches and monasteries in the area.

The checkpoint going out of Jerusalem was barely noticable and was not asked for any ID. Coming back, courtesy of Palestinian taxi driver, he asked me to get my ID ready as we approached the checkpoint coming back into Jerusalem. 'Bugger me,' I thought. The young Israeli soldiers sneered at my credit cards and would not let through. I was stranded and could not contact my guesthouse over the phone. I entrusted my room key to the taxi driver so he could go and retrieve my passport and come back and collect me. Meanwhile, I sat on a large rock as nightfall arrived and waited, fully expecting that I would have to return to Bethlehem and get in touch with the British consulate.

After about an hour, a vehicle approached me. To say I was delighted was an understatement. I leapt up off the rock and ran towards it. It was only then that the soldiers sprung into action and shouted at me. I didn't need babelfish to realise I should stop and put my hands in the air! After a few minutes, the soldiers realised I was just a harmless, foreign twat and left me. 10 minutes later, my knight in a shining taxi arrived with my passport. He received a much deserved tip. It was ordinary, good natured people like this taxi driver that make you despair at the situation in Israel as both parties to the conflict are demonised as, according to the media, ordinary, peaceful people do not exist. The next morning, the manager at my guesthouse took the piss out of me mercilessly.

This was happened around Christmas 2003. Israel was completely devoid of tourists as the Iraq war was in full swing and there was the heightened threat of Palestinian terrorists blowing themselves up. I would expect that the checkpoints in the West Bank itself have now largely been removed (these enraged my Palestinian taxi driver no end) but I would expect the checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank to still be in place although you'll only notice this on the way back into Israeli controlled areas.

Just remember to take your passport with you at all times!



I need to get laid
User currently offlineWindshear From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 2330 posts, RR: 11
Reply 13, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 2011 times:

Quoting BAxMAN (Reply 12):
After about an hour, a vehicle approached me. To say I was delighted was an understatement. I leapt up off the rock and ran towards it. It was only then that the soldiers sprung into action and shouted at me. I didn't need babelfish to realise I should stop and put my hands in the air! After a few minutes, the soldiers realised I was just a harmless, foreign twat and left me.

I would react the same in 2003 if you had ran towards my jeep!

Still good insight, but now Bethlehem outside of Israel, I would suspect the border to be much more clear.
And actually you should always have your passport on you, as should you in any country actually Smile

Boaz.



"If you believe breaking is possible, believe in fixing also"-Rebbe Nachman
User currently offlineScrappy74 From United States of America, joined May 2006, 97 posts, RR: 3
Reply 14, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day ago) and read 1998 times:

Quoting SFOMEX (Reply 11):
TLV seems to be a party town on its own right! It surely is a cool change after the heavily spiritual Jerusalem

It certainly is...mostly my friends and I spent our nights along the beach, but I'm sure there are a ton of other things to do further into the city center. The mall at Dizengoff Ctr was fun for an hour or two, but really felt too much like home (hell, I can go to a mall in DC/VA anytime). One recommendation is this series of bars down toward the American Embassy: there are a couple in which you actually sit down by the water in becah chairs (we lost a pitcher or two to the tide), and then of course there is Mike's Place, the British/American pub that was attacked in 2003. You'd never know anything had happened there if it weren't for a large poster in the back signed and sent by the patrons of Mike's Place Chicago.

Can I squeeze into your suitcase and stow away?  Smile



"These days, I wish I was 6 again..."
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