Today, let me tell you my Palestinian stories and convince you why this country should be next on your list. At the end, I hope you do want to create your own memories.
Stories from Bethlehem
Finding the accommodation
After arriving by bus in Bethlehem, I realized the internet didn’t worked anymore and google maps stopped being relevant. So, finding the accommodation start being a challenge.
Following the offline map, I quickly understood it wasn’t updated for a long time. Where it showed me to take a left a new building was there instead of a street.
So, I stopped a man on the street asking how can I get to Aman Hostel. As I was pronouncing Amman like the capital of Jordan instead of Aman like the name of a person in Arabic, poor man was totally lost. He was an old man, speaking a little English but he didn’t gave up on us.
He came with us to a supermarket nearby, asking a lady to help us. With time I understood they really know all the accommodations in the town by name. So, if you really don’t pronounce it well, it is kind of useless.
To help us, the nice lady called the hostel on our behalf asking for directions. But guess what! In return, the owner’s son, Waleed, offered himself to came and pick us up by car – of course, for free.
Now, take a moment and think how many times we stop to help others without expecting anything in return? How many times in our busy life we ever notice somebody lost, maybe in need? And now think how many times other people helped you when you were in need?
Let’s never forget, we aren’t alone and as long as we give we indirectly receive without asking, when less expected.
Aman Hostel Experience
After Waleed, came to pick us up, the good experiences with this people didn’t finished but just started. This is the reason instead of spending only one night there, we decided to extended to two.
The entire family, Aman, the owner of the place, his son Waleed and his wife, invited my mum, myself and the other three tourists to enjoy an evening conversation, with a delicious tea and snacks.
They told us about their hostel recently open, about life in Bethlehem, where we should go and what we should visit during our stay. We also discovered Aman was a writer! For the ones interested, they could arrange tours with a private driver for the day, so they had a solution for all your desires.
That night, we also met a nice lady from Germany, at retirement, visiting the country for the third time. The reason of her stay was different from ours as she was trying to learn Arabic. Each day she was taken private lessons with a local teacher. Isn’t this great, such an amazing motivation to start learning something new no matter the age?
Were two other Polish man too, travelling around like us but for a shorted period of time. They shared with us their experiences, their mistakes and the best parts of their trip, to better prepare ourselves for the rest of the journey.
And now, think why I don’t like to go to hotels. Simple, you’ll almost never have this kind of interactions there. You’ll just check in and check out, there is no community spirit in hotels. People don’t gather together to know each other, everybody is on its own. So next time, book a double room in a hostel, same conform but different perspective!
Now, one more story regarding this nice people. The night before we left, I was still confused how to reach the bus station from “home”. Also, how to skip a huge slope in order to reach the old city center – which would had been challenging with the backpack.
So, I knocked at Aman’s door to ask the question. In return, I was invited to go inside their home and enjoy a baklava. I ended up by having a handmade map full of explanation how to reach the station step by step, with each corner and street name written down.
One more time, thank you, Aman and the family, for making us feel like home and taking care of us like your own family members. I totally recommend their hostel which is a true home for tourists.
Check Aman Hostel on Booking, Agoda, Trivago and so on, for the best deals!
Sometimes, life gives you good and you need to give it back at some point in return. So this is what we done in our first night in Bethlehem. After reaching our destination, we decided to go back to the city by walking.
We were hungry and Aman suggested us some open places for dinner. Basically, now we were taking exactly the same route back that we couldn’t initially found.
On our way, we met a nice group of four Americans, about my grandparents age looking for their accommodation. Their phones were out of battery, so they were randomly walking on the streets, hoping to find their hotel by chance.
As I mentioned before, my internet stopped working in Palestine. But, something happen and I could use my phone and guide them in the right direction.
We were going in the same direction so we did use this opportunity to know each other. We exchanged opinions over Israel and Palestine until our common road went to an end.
How is life, a few minutes ago we were looking for our accommodation and others helped us to find it and later on, we help others instead. This is the circle of life!
Passion for cars
There is a place, a few kilometers far from Bethlehem, called the Shepard’s Field. This is where the angel announced the birth of Jesus to the three shepherds.
We went to visit it and on our way back to the town, on the sharp heals of Bethlehem we had a nice surprise. A vintage Beetle was parked on the middle of the lonely street. So, we stopped admiring it and we couldn’t do it better!
A young man noticed my interest for the car and he immediately start talking to me. He even insist taking us to the garage nearby, where a kind man showed me another piece of art. One more Volkswagen Beetle was waiting its turn to be reconditioned.
We spent some time there, taking a look around and supported by the detailed explanations, the enthusiasm and the joy of the owner. It was his passion, which we could definitely see it, but also the main source of income.
Even if you’re a car lover or not, this detail on the steering wheel cannot be left unnoticed. Surrounded by the zodiacal signs, the man on the boat is guarded by an angel while on the sea. This interesting mix of the zodiac with Biblical scenes can be seen as well in the Church & Monastery of the Dormition, in Jerusalem.
There is so much willingness inside the locals to speak with the tourists and share their stories, that you cannot imagine. You just need to be open. Good things always happen when less expected!
Stories from Jericho
Leaving the handbag
Most of the times, I do arrive at the next point of visit or accommodation before the check in time. The only issue is always where to leave the backpack? It is heavy, big and very uncomfortable to keep it for a full day with you, as it’s killing your back.
So, once we arrived from Bethlehem to Jericho, we went to the new hostel’s owner office, in the city center, to leave the luggage. He knew we were coming but of course the didn’t knew the precise hour. Without being too surprised, he wasn’t there.
No phone, no data, but miracles always happen. On the street there was a boy in front of the shop which asked us if we need help. As we were in kind of a situation, he was more than happy to call Waleed – another Waleed, yes! – the owner’s place, and let him know we were waiting for him.
Thanks to him, Waleed was there in a few minutes to take our luggage. Happy enough, we were ready to explore Jericho in full comfort!
Please remember, the young man helped us without us asking, with nothing more in return than a thank you. Let’s all be like him!
Back to the accommodation
I always go back to the accommodation only if all the attractions are closed. And here I’m not taking about bars and clubs!
So, ending our last attraction of the day, Hisham’s Palace, we started to walk towards the city center, from the middle of nowhere.
We were motivated to continue on our way, more or less for 5 kilometers, when a minibus stopped. I heard a voice asking if we need a lift but when I’ve seen it was full of man, I refused. Lucky me, I had my mother with me which noticed the driver was Waleed itself, our hostel’s owner!
This situation turned to be perfect as we were quite far away from the accommodation and we did had a free lift. The joy was even bigger when I discovered the man inside the bus were Japanese. They were working for the restoration of the palace we just visited.
We started to talk, I told them the few Japanese words I knew, all the places I went to see during my trip to Japan, so we kept us entertained.
Once we arrived, our new Japanese friends proposed us to have a drink later on the terrace and continue the conversation. We were too tired to do so, but we enjoyed our evening on the terrace, eating some fresh fruits and an ice cream.
Walled can help you move around if you don’t have a car. He can arrange tours for you. For example, he took us to the Baptism Site, Prophet Moises tomb and to Kalya, at the Dead Sea. Check Jericho Waleed’s Hostel here.
About the people we met
You never actually know who truly are the people you met on the road. But I strongly believe, each person appears for a reason. There is a perfect quote I truly believe into:
“People come into our life for three things a season, a reason and a lifetime.”
Let’s leave the time decide in which category the people we met are going through.
Now, go ahead and create your own Palestinian stories. Meanwhile, you can read more about the country here.