By Tina Campbell, Metro entertainment journalist writing on music, Hollyoaks and other cool things sure to make you smile.
Sunday 21 Oct 2018 12:00 pm
I dont consider myself a religious person, but standing at the Western Wall in Jerusalem with my head bowed in silence, I found myself overcome with emotion.
Moments earlier, I had carefully tucked a folded piece of paper into a crevice of what was also known as the Wailing Wall, the most religiously significant site for Jewish people.
On my bit of paper, I had written the names of family members – both living and long since gone – along with a wish for eternal happiness. For people of many faiths who visit the wall, its a way to deliver their prayers to God.
I remember reading about this sacred place at school and thinking Id like to go there one day.
Now, here I was, taking in my surroundings in the specially segregated female section.
Some of the women were sitting in white plastic chairs that lined the wall, others preferred to stand pensive. And for one small moment in time, we were all there united.
The day before, I visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the most religiously significant site for Christians and where Jesuss tomb is believed to be. It also houses the rock that formed the base of the cross he was crucified on.
Meanwhile, Dome of the Rock, which is instantly recognisable on the citys skyline, is one of the most holy sites in Islam.
You see, Jerusalem, at over 3,000 years old, is not only considered holy by Christians, Jews, and Muslims, but its also one of the oldest continuously inhabited and diverse cities on the planet.
It even has more than 70 different names.
But regardless of what you choose to call it, its a destination for pilgrimage for many people, and around 3 million people from around the world flock there each year to pay their respects.
You dont have to be religious to appreciate Jerusalems draw, though, for theres plenty to see and do for non-religious tourists too.
Given its status as a cultural melting pot, Jerusalem doesnt fail to deliver in the food stakes.
From street eats to sit down fine dining, the city caters for everyone – so come hungry and with loose fitting clothes as your tastebuds are in for a treat.
Machane Yehuda Market is the perfect place to stop for lunch or dinner as there are so many vendors you can choose from, but you can also browse for spices and other items.
Falafel and bread are everywhere, but the street vendors that sell them can smell tourists a mile away. So do barter, and dont be afraid to walk away – its a way of life to them.
Wiping hummus – the way you eat this Levantine spread – is a must. Hachapuria, a Georgian bakery in the market, has the best around.
Jewish food is also available in abundance, and all of it is kosher.
For the uninitiated, it means you wont find meats such as pork, and dairy and meat products will never be mixed or served together on the same table.
But make sure you check out the menus properly if you have a particular dietary requirement.
One eatery that ticks a lot of boxes is Jackos Street, an Israeli restaurant offering kosher meals.
Go there for a fine dining experience, and make sure you save room for dessert.
At night, the market is transformed into a buzzing quarter for the young at heart.
Its your opportunity to see the commissioned graffiti that decorate the closed shutters, while a cacophony of music fills the air.
There are organised tours themed on graffiti and night life so you wont miss a thing. You can even go on a bar crawl.
For travellers looking for a spot of culture, Jerusalem is home to a number of world-class museums.
One of the biggest is the Israel Museum, which houses an eclectic collection of art and archaeological pieces on rotation.
Its also where you will find the Shrine of the Book Complex, a sanctuary that stores the Dead Sea Scrolls – priceless religious writing that are some 2,000 years old.
Located on the hills of Mount Remembrance, you will also find Yad Vashem, Israels largest Holocaust museum. Entrance is free but there are guided tours you can book.
Our guide took us through nine galleries that depicted the Holocaust through photographs, films, documents, letters and works of art, along with personal items found in concentration camps and ghettos.
To say it was moving would be an understatement – but that is part of the essence of Jerusalem.
How to get there and where to stay
I stayed at Hotel Yehuda and Spa. Double room prices start from £112pp with breakfast included – youve not lived until youve tried an Israeli breakfast buffet.
WIZZ Air flies to Tel Aviv from London Luton on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Flights start from £102.99pp one way.
Depending on traffic, it takes just over an hour to get from Ben Gurion Airport to Jerusalem. You can travel by bus, which is the cheapest method (around £3) or taxi, which will set you back by £50 – 60.
For more information on things to do in Jerusalem, visit iTravelJerusalem.
(Top picture: Getty)