Seeing Israel

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Two seniors visiting Israel in May would like a recommendation for a well-located, pleasant and reasonably priced hotel in Jerusalem. Also, we are interested in booking a three-day two night tour of the north and also a day in Petra. Suggestions or comments appreciated.

We visited Israel and Jordan with OAT in 2011. We were pleased with our accommodations at the Mount Zion Hotel, 17 Hebrom Road, Jerusalem 93546 ( ). It is a comfortable boutique hotel within only 15-minute walk of German Colony with its superb restaurants and a brief hike to the Jaffa Gate. We especially liked Roza Restaurant & Bar, Lavan Cafe Restaurant, and Caffit. Even if not staying at this hotel, do visit it for its architecture and cable car museum. This small museum celebrates the hotel's role during the War of Independence when a cable car linked blocked Israeli defense positions on Mount Zion with the hotel. The opulent King David Hotel, also within a short hike, is worthy of a visit for its history and architecture.

As for Jordan, our guide Omar Bani Hani is available as an independent guide. He may be reached at, phone 00962 79 6794555. We appreciated his warmth, humor, wisdom, and over all knowledge. Another option would be to book a package tour focusing on Jordan.

Now for Petra. This was the highlight of our whole trip. We had a guided tour taking us from the entrance to the far end of the basin where we stopped for lunch at the Basin Restaurant which served cold drinks and a delicious barbeque buffet for 17 JD. Our afternoon was free for exploration; however, the distance between the main gate and the restaurant was 2.8 miles so our guide suggested our exploring Qasr ak-Bink, the Great Temple and Petra Church in the ancient city, plus the Royal Tombs. He cautioned that while the Monastery offered the 'end of the world viewpoint' and a larger facad than the Treasury, the climb was 850 steps and would take minimally an hour each way. Since time was precious, we opted to focus on the Royal Tombs with their monumental size and detail. We were not disappointed.

During the summer, Petra is open 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. Entry fee is 50 JD which includes a horse ride to and from the Siq. (For more information, see We carried day packs with water, camera gear and such, but also found Bedu concessions with goat tent shelters serving cold drinks or tea. Clean toilets were available along the main route. In addition to the free Petra guide available at the visitor's center, I recommend th DK Eyewitness Travel Series: Jerusalem and the Holy Land for its Petra pictoral maps.

One day or less is not enough time to experience Petra. I wished we had time to explore the uphill trail behind the theater to the High Place of Sacrifice and then down back trails to the main cardo. I would have liked time to just sit and contemplate the scope of the entire site and to observe the 'hidden life' of the tribal people who still live in this area.

Unfortunately, after our only day at Petra, we were too exhausted to return for Petra at Night, recommended by Peter Deegan (ITN, March 2008, page 12). This is when visitors can walk through the Siq in candlelight and then sip a cup of tea at the Treasury during a short Bedouin concert.

We recommend the Movenpick-Petra hotel located just outside the entrance to Petra. This hotel with its cool middle eastern decor, would provide a comfortable, convenient home base for exploring the ruin as well as modern Petra. Unfortunately, we were lodged in microscopic rooms at the remote Amra Palace Hotel.

If you would like my lengthy trip notes or PDF trip report, send me a private message. You'll find Jordan and Israel mind-stretching and worthy a visit. Enjoy!