Saturdays in Jerusalem can be quite boring since everything tends to be closed and the new city is basically desert. There are just a few options: stay all day between the bed and the sofa (which is quite nice sometimes), visit a couple of museums or go to East Jerusalem and eat the best hummus in town at Al-A’yed Restaurant in Damascus Gate.
Or even better, a nice trip out of town: a day spent in Ramallah and Jericho!
Travelling to Ramallah is very easy and quick: we took a small white and green bus from the old Arab bus station on Nablus Road. The bus (number 18 – 8NIS/1,70€/2,30$) drives through Qalandiyah Check Point and gets in about a hour to the Central Bus Station of Ramallah on Al Nahadah Street.
The city is quite cute, crowded, alive. We just walked around: al-Manara square, Yasser Arafat’s mausoleum and the Mukataa compound (the PA headquarters), the souk, the hundred falafel places and the great bakeries with baklava and knafeh.
After visiting the most important sites of the city, we decided to follow our trip and visit another important place in Palestine: Jericho. A bus ride of a bit more than an hour took us directly to the town (8NIS/1,70€/2,30$).
The journey is incredible: the landscape changes under your eyes, the green hills turn desert and then stone. I was able to take a couple of pictures (the driver was going really fast, as most drivers of Mediterranean countries!), although they do not do justice to reality.
Once we got to the new city we found a great tourist information office that gave us a lot of information and a map. The city is small and still very rural. There are a couple of interesting things to visit, mainly religious sites. Unluckily we couldn’t visit the one site that was our main interest: Hisham’s Palace. It’s five km north of Jericho and we got in town to late (the palace closes at 5pm). Hopefully we´ll have another opportunity to go there.
To get back to Jerusalem we couldn’t take a direct bus to the city, since buses with Palestinian plates cannot enter the Israeli territory. So we took a bus that left us at the closer place where we could take a sherut to Jerusalem (8NIS/1,70€/2,30$). I don’t know the name but it was on Highway 1, probably near Az-Zayem checkpoint. We waited at a congested crossing and then were able to take the next vehicle. This one went through a checkpoint and took us back to the old Arab bus station in Jerusalem (8NIS/1,70€/2,30$).
It was a long and interesting day, just perfect!
P.s: for anybody that goes from Israel to Palestine, remember to take your passport: you’ll get at least a passport control when you go back to Israel. Crossing checkpoint can be very fast or extremely long: it all depends from the amount of people willing to cross and from the Israeli Border Police and its policy for that day. In general as Europeans or Americans it is easier than for Palestinians to cross without being questioned.