Jerusalem and Good-bye Middle East (January 6th - January 11th)
On Friday January 7th I joined up with a couple from Italy and we shared a cab to the King Hussein Bridge linking Jordan and Israel. On the way, we stopped at Mount Nebo.
Mount Nebo is where Moses was given a view of the Promised Land after leading the Israelites on a 40 year journey through the desert from Egypt to Israel. Moses did not cross the Jordan River to Israel because of his disobedience to God. The mount is also the place where Moses died and was buried.
The border crossing between Jordan and Israel is relatively straight forward, for Israeli border crossings, but the security is extremely tight. We passed through a few checkpoints just getting to the crossing and when you arrive all the luggage is searched and you go through a few metal detectors. The entire process took a little over an hour and we were in Israel. A few more checkpoints manned by numerous guards with M16 rifles and I was soon in Jerusalem.
I was immediately struck by how well the City functioned as compared with most of what I have seen in the past 3 months. There were streets with lane markings, traffic lights that were obeyed, lights that accompanied pedestrian cross walks, taxis that formed lines instead of driving frantically and honking at pedestrians, buildings that were complete with all their windows and a roof, clean streets, sidewalks, garbage and recycling bins and last but certainly not least, a noticeable lack of car horns.
The City would soon be quiet as I arrived on Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, which starts at sundown on Friday and ends one hour after sundown on Saturday. I found a hostel in the Old City and was settled in by mid after-noon so spent my first half day wandering around and enjoying the sights. I knew I was in Israel when I saw this sign. Israel is the only place in the world with Kosher McDonalds with the exception of a single restaurant in Argentina. The blue and white represent the colours of the Israeli flag.
(Jerusalem - Madaba)
Distance biked so far: (6,059 km)
Welcome to Israel.
I had my first glimpse of the Dome of the Rock when I visited the Wailing Wall in the Old City.
I was struck by how many white police vans were parked near the entrance to the Wall and the adjacent Temple Mount. As usual, armed guards were never far away.