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Ideal duration: 3-5 days

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"Unraveling Mystic Jerusalem"

Jerusalem Tourism

Jerusalem emanates spirituality and historical magnetism, suspended between the past and present. Central to three great monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the city is like a state of mind - a constant anxiety between followers of different faiths. The Old City and New City fathom depths of the old and new, while the Old City Walls embrace the riveting past that Jerusalem stood witness too, the New City is advancing towards a more contemporary set up in close quarters with Tel Aviv. A tour of this Israeli capital might move you or provoke you or even rejuvenate your soul - in one way or the other this city will remain etched in your heart.

Hallowed is the air of Jerusalem, much revered by almost half the human race. The Jews have always regarded the city to be their spiritual crossroad, the Western Wall dominating the city landscape, is the only remnant of the Temple Period. Islamic tradition advocates Jerusalem as the masjid al-aqsa, the "farthermost place," from which Mohammad ascended to heaven, while Christians venerate Jerusalem as the place of death, burial and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. A walk through the narrow cobblestone alleys of the Old City is an assault on the senses - the sounds of the church bells or azaan echoing from the mosques resonating across lanes and bylanes; the wafting aromas of turmeric, fresh mint, wild sage, and cardamom-spiced coffee; the sights of travelers and pilgrims or even the street vendors; with an aura of spirituality. Beyond the archaic Old City Walls, rests the powerful yet moving Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and the spectacular Israel Museum in a backdrop of contemporary Jerusalem. Quaint neighborhoods, some of them restored, fine restaurants, boutique hotels, markets all characterize seemingly cosmopolitan West Jerusalem. Let the visit to the Jerusalem of Gold continue to intrigue you while you think you almost demystified it!

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Currency in Jerusalem

All major credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, Access Eurocard and American Express are widely accepted and can be used to withdraw money from ATMs. However, small vendors and open markets accept only cash, hence it is advisable to carry cash with you. US Dollars and Euros can be used for making major payments and purchases.

Exchanging Money in Jerusalem

It is advisable to convert currency to Shekels in Israel itself to avail better exchange rates and lower commissions. Currency and travelers cheques can be exchanged at the airport, banks, exchange booths, post office and even at some hotels, on showing your passport. Some banks have automatic currency exchange machines, which are accesible 24 hours. However, these generally charge high transaction fees. The private commission free change offices in tourist areas provide the best deals. Damascus Gate and Jaffa Gate, in the Old City; Ben Yehuda Street, Jaffa Street and Ben Sira Stree in the City Center, all have multiple exchange offices.

Daily Budget for Jerusalem

Jerusalem is an expensive city, but that is not to say it cannot be done on a shoe string budget at all. Expect to spend roundabout USD 35 - USD 40 inclusive of food, beverages, local transportation, tips, entertainment and other incidental expenses. Even on a low budget, Israel is worth every bit - dining at the market eateries, free walking tours and using light rail as transport.

Religion of Jerusalem

Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Jerusalem Customs

Dressing appropriately in the religious areas of Jerusalem is important. Women should have their arms coverered and wear dresses or skirts, while men should wear long sleeves with pants. On Shabbath days,public transportation does not operate and only taxis ply. Usually shops and establishments in Jewish areas remain shut, although major restaurants, bars, movie theatres remain open. A custom of tipping 10 - 15% of the total bill on dine in restaurants is prevalent, though tipping for cab services is not compulsory.

Language of Jerusalem

Hebrew, Arabic, Englidh Tourist venues, shops and eateries have staff that speak English fluently. Most street signs are also translated to English.

Nightlife in Jerusalem

Jerusalem definitely does not have a nightlife like its neighbouring Tel Aviv. There are few scattered pubs and nightclubs, which alternate between live nights or techno music.

Shopping in Jerusalem

Shopping in Jerusalem is for all budgets ranging from outdoor shopping promenades, indoor malls or the shuks, open air markets. Ben Yehuda is a pedestrian street full of shops recently renovated for a more chic outlook. Highlights of this place include the Dead Sea beauty porduct shop, selling bathing salts and soaps made from the minerals of the Dead Sea; and another leather shoe store. Some of the shops here also have an interesting collection of Judaica and Christian soiuveniors. The Mammila Mall and the Jerusalem Malcha Mall house some international brand names as well as Israeli stores. The Cardo in the Jewish quarter is a one of a kind experience for any visitor. The series of luxury shops sell intriguing Jerusalem souveniors with unique backdrops, ofcourse at higher prices. However in Jerusalem, the Shuk experience is a must - especially the Mahane Yehuda Shuk. On display is a variety of local ware along with food - fresh produce, nuts, olives, spices, teas, dried fruits, tahini, cheese, bread and pastries. Judaica pottery and jewellery, that make great souveniors are sold here at reasonable rates as compared to Ben Yehuda. This bustling market place is truly a spectacle for the first time visitor.

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