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Category: Israel

Escape from Israel – The truth about Israeli Border Control

Escape from Israel – The truth about Israeli Border Control

Getting in was never going to be easy.
Getting out proved more difficult.

All said and done, I had 2 missed bookings, 2 additional nights and a missed flight directly attributable to Israel’s over-dominant tourist police.

Getting In
Crossing from Taba, Israel.

As I had to yell into the face of the border guard in Taba in order for him to stop kicking at my feet, “I’m a tourist, I’m visiting your country as a tourist. LEAVE ME ALONE”.
You may think I’m joking. I’m not.
I was physically and mentally poked and prodded, detained to 8pm, the time the border was closed, in the knowledge that I would not make it to the crossing in time.
I had a hotel booking in Jordan that night.

I had to sleep on a bench after having walked across Elat with a 14kilo backpack no money and no way of getting any.

Welcome to Israel. Sounds like your ideal destination doesn’t it?

Getting Out
After having waited at the airport for 6 hours the border guards detained me, again for no reason.
After having answered their questions and being searched for 20 minutes, they informed me I would not be allowed to board the plain because I was ‘Intoxicated’.

After sitting in the lounge for six hours, I had drunk a few beers, no more than a few.
So, the Israeli authorities finally let me know, after questioning me, searching my gear and finding nothing, that I was not being allowed on the plane because the “ThomsonFly authorities” had deemed I was too drunk to fly.

Only afterwards when I was escorted away, I met the “ThomsonFly authorities” who was a girl behind a desk.

Ultimately this decision lies with the cabin crew, it is at their discretion who boards the plane or not.
I was made to wait 2 days for another connecting flight.
Again, a ludicrous, un-necessary, illegal and in my view spiteful domination by the Israeli authorities.

Unnecessary, Pointless – Don’t expect an easy time
No explanation was ever given for any of the searches, detentions or delays I suffered at the hands of the Israeli authorities.
Once inside, I found Israel a chilled and generally welcoming bunch of people, but my treatment by the authorities made the difference between a country I would recommend, and one I would avoid.

If you are if in the region with stamps in your passport, I’m going to have to go with the latter; Avoid. Not because I didn’t like it, because the treatment you can expect may not justify your wanting to get in.
Consider your options, if you don’t particularly want to go there, don’t.

Religious sites in Egypt/Jordan/Israel

Religious sites in Egypt/Jordan/Israel

I intend to keep this up to date; giving clear GPS fixes of the most important religious sites in Egypt.

Mount Sinai
Where Moses received the ten Commandments.

mount sinai @ dawn

Located: 28.539 33.975

Monastery of St. Anthony
The oldest surviving monastery.


Located: 28.936 32.352

Towns of Sodom & Gomorrah
God’s destruction upon early buggers.

View Larger Map

Dead Sea Scrolls
Testament by the Essenes to the Second Coming of Christ. 

Located: 31.77369 35.2039

Church of the Nativity
Site of the Birth of Christ


Located: 31.70431 35.20736

Church of the Holy Sepulcher
Site of the death of Christ


Located: 31.77802 35.22980

Mark a Miracle

Mark a Miracle

Yes that’s right, Mark a miracle.

I’ve seen this one before.

St. Helier 1999, the Total Solar Ecilpse. A true miracle, a perfect circle of pure blue sky appeared cutting through the clouds obscuring the eclipse from our view.

Anyone on Jersey that day can testify to the event.

Cloud or Trial?

This one looks almost as bombastic and almost as well timed. Amazing.

I’ll let you make up your own minds.

Wow – Is it a Miracle!!

Mark a miracle, find it on the map!

Church of the Nativity – Bethlehem

Church of the Nativity – Bethlehem

KML 31.70431 35.20736

Or Bet Lehem if you are catching a bus.

This is one of the most sacred cites for X-tians as it represents the spot where Jesus was brought into this world through the virgin Mary.

I travelled up here by taxi which cost 60Nsi.


There are no buses all the way and the taxi driver tells me it’s violent compared with Jerusalem a 10 minute journey away.


Again, like the Church of the Sepulcher, this was built in the rule of Constantine.

The site demarks some caves on which the initial basilica was built and further expanded and embellished at the time of the crusades.

Again, like the Sepulcher, it is divided up and in generally poor condition.


Doesn’t stop the tourists.

Downstairs you have a star demarking the actual site of Christ’s birth, then you have a marble shelf right representing the manger where the child was situated.

It’s all very interesting and touching, and after a while of reflection, I make my way upstairs.

The church is situated in the West Bank and is Palestinian.

You will need a passport if you want to travel here.

Eating out in Jerusalem

Eating out in Jerusalem

Since there seems to be so little about this on the Internet, I’m going to introduce you to a well researched list along with exact locations of some of the finest, cheapest or most popular eateries in the city.

Beni’s Fish Restaurant
1 Mesilat Yesharim, Jerusalem
Located in the Abu-Kosh district of town along with some other popular restaurants, Beni’s serves fresh fish Kosher style.

There wasn’t a massive selection on the menu and no starters. I had grayling, surrounded by humus, garlic pita, tadziki, boiled eggplant and french fries.

The fish is fresh, topped with paprika and coriander fresh from under the grill. Took about 20minutes in all.

A fish supper with a bottle of water and coffee came to 87 shekels or £11.

KML 31.78073 35.21427

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Armenian Tavern
79 Armenian Orthodox Patriarchal Rd, Old Town, Jerusalem

Listed by the Lonely Planet guide, I checked this Café because it’s right near St. David’s tower and the Jaffa Gate, making it an in-out job.

One of the best meals I’ve had was a veal in red wine sauce sauteed with shallots and mushrooms at this hotel in Dodge City when visiting the Rushmore Memorial. Just thought I’d let you know.

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Anyway, back to matters in hand, the Armenian Restaurant has a terrific waitress/owner you could visit just for her. But, the food is good also.

I had Vine leaves with mince and meal stuffing, served with a creamy sauce, pita breads and mushrooms. The rice and pita soaked up all the sauce and my plate was clean by the finish.

It’s a nice restaurant to visit because of the authentic decor and prime location, wooden panelling and sepia photographs, historical, almost like a gallery in itself.

Stuffed vine leaves + 2 beers cost 75 Shekels or £9.

View Larger Map

KML 31.77544 35.22882

The Minaret – Lebanese

Located slightly outside the main walls, the Minaret is set slightly back from the road in a small arcade.

It serves authentic Lebanese salads, dishes and sweets. Obviously quite popular, there were a few people of different nationalities, English and Italian and American. Some dishes were sold out went I got there.

The food came quickly, I had a pita with olives and gherkins as a side starter. Every time I’ve eaten in Israel they’ve brought out this salad like a starter, be it humus and a few pita or fried eggplant, olives etc. until the main meal arrives.

I had a Sinai, which is ground lamb and meal combined in a large meatball with garlic, coriander in a tomato sauce.

Simple but effective.

Washed down with a Retzina the meal came to 70NSi or about £8.

Also had some Jelly Babies – 1NSi.

View Larger Map

KML 31.779 35.222



Was going to visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Israel has other Ideas and is celebrating Shabbat which means everything, (even B&Q), closes down for the day. No buses, no nothing.

The streets are silent.

Nature is in recovery.

Jerusalem – Old City

Jerusalem – Old City

So much to see within the City Walls, it’s an experience in itself.

Old City is built in a valley, made up of a series of walkways, divided to 4 quarters reflecting the religious persuasion of that sections inhabitants.

I’ve devoted my attention to visiting the three most important sites in Jerusalem Old City:-

  • Jews – The Wailing Wall [Part of the Holy Temple of David site of the Holy Holies]
  • Christians – The Church of the Sepulcher [Built on the site of the Crucifixion]
  • Muslims – The Dome of the Rock

Jews – The Wailing Wall or Western Wall

KML 31.77607 35.23377

Originally making up part of Temple one for David, this Western wall is all that remains of the structure after being sacked by Titus Caesar of the Roman Empire, leaving a small part of the temple wall to give camp to his troops.

It is said that God offered his protection to the Temple in Midrash saying it would never be destroyed for when water ran from between it’s cracks, it symbolised the coming of the Messiah.

Jews approach the wall whilst bowing and kissing, some place hand written notes in the cracks. When they are finished bowing, kissing and praying they must back away still facing the structure.

This is tradition.

Western Wall – Wailing Wall

Christians – The Church of the Sepulcher

KML 31.77802 35.22980

Built on Golgotha site of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ around 333 by Emperor Constantine and the Bishop Saint Macarius. The church was fully destroyed in 1009 Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah and Control of Jerusalem, and thereby the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, continued to change hands several times between the Fatimids and the Seljuk Turks (loyal to the Abbasid caliph in Baghdad) until the arrival of the Crusaders in 1099.

The church fell back under Muslim control after Saladin who assigned responsibility for it to two neighbouring Muslim families. The Joudeh were entrusted with the key, and the Nusseibeh, who had been the custodians of the church since the days of Caliph Omar in 637, retained the position of keeping the door. This arrangement has persisted into modern times. Twice each day, a Joudeh family member brings the key to the door, which is locked and unlocked by a Nusseibeh.

Status Quo

In 1555 the Franciscan monks completed a transformation and a power struggle broke out within the various Christian factions for overall control of the site.
Eastern Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Roman Catholic, Coptic Orthodox, the Ethiopian Orthodox and the Syriac Orthodox all jockeyed for power and rights, resulted in common area’s becoming a ‘no mans land’ where Status Quo reigned, no work is undertaken, and conflict, often violent, is regular.

Divided into different sections, you may want to take a guide, although the church still has impact without it and is graced with many thousands of visitors every day.

Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Inscription in the Triportico

The Edicule of the Holy Sepulcher

Pulpits – Rock of the Calvary

Golgotha – The Rock of Calvary – Site of the Death of Jesus

Muslims – Dome of the Rock

KML 31.77607 35.23377

This Golden Dome is only accessible by Muslims. Heavily guarded, you will find most of the hostility surrounds this structure and it’s construction on one of the most holy sites of the Jews.

It is the oldest extant Islamic building in the world built in 691 on the spot where Mohammed is said to have ascended to heaven.

The dome is said to have been inspired by the other basilicas around the city, and initially built using 20,000 gold pieces “whose shine could not be witnessed by the bare eye”.

Non-Muslims are not allowed into this section.

Dome of the Rock

These are the main sites, though there are many, many more.

You should spend a few days trying to discover them all.