Taking the Train to Jerusalem

Earlier morning, breakfast at the hotel with Frank, Jen and another couple from Toronto that we met. We finished packing and asked the hotel clerk which train station we needed to go to to catch the high speed train to Jerusalem. He said Ha-Shalom, so we got a taxi to the station, which took about 15 minutes. Found the train and bought tickets, about 22 shekels for both of us (apps. $7 each). We went down to the platform, and boarded the train. We were told we had to go to the airport first and then transfer to the Jerusalem train. While standing on the platform, we must have looked lost, so a kind employee told us that it would be easier to get on the Ashkelon train which was arriving imminently, transfer at Havana station, and then get on the high-speed train to Jerusalem. That is what we did and it was pretty easy. The train was modern, clean, and had an area for people with disabilities (and seniors, which we are!) so we didn’t have to drag the luggage down or up any more stairs. Quick ride to Navon in Jerusalem. Up at least four levels to the street where we found a cab to our hotel in Jerusalem, the five-star David Citadel. Now that we were just us, we decided to try one of the Virtuoso properties so we could visit and experience something different. Our contact at the hotel greeted us warmly, upgraded our room to a partial old city view, and assigned us to room 750. We decided we wanted to see how the food was in this beautiful place, so we had lunch in the lobby restaurant.

It was Kosher, dairy at lunch and this is what we ordered: fresh onion soup (watery and tasteless, unfortunately), tuna sandwich on a baguette with watery cucumber/tomato salad, and a delicious halloumi salad with fresh greens and tomatoes in a sumac vinaigrette. I ordered iced tea which was the color of water with a bit of lemon in it. It was Clearly not brewed as it tasted like water, so I sent it back. Next came a glass with slightly darker but still no taste, tea. It was room temperature. Oh, well. Scott’s salad was clearly the best thing and the tuna was fine, just nothing special. The price for those few things was over $60 and they took the soup off the bill. We were hoping the food would get better. After lunch, we met with Nofit, who took us on a comprehensive and lengthy tour of the hotel and all its facilities. It is quite big and lovely and we even met the manager, a man from the UK. We were also able to tour the Mamilla, the Citadel’s sister hotel, with Ronit, their sales manager. It is lovely, much more Italian (read plain and spare) in decorative style. We did enjoy seeing their fabulous spa with a meditation room and hamam, open to all guests, and a fabulous, private wine-tasting area. After we unpacked, it began to drizzle again so for dinner we caught a cab to Chakra. Again, we had an amazing meal of delicious and unusual focaccia (thin and crispy, instead of pilloughy and doughy), mushroom risotto and a Caesar salad with a poached egg. The snowball for dessert that we enjoyed last time would just be too much, so we opted for a creme brûlée with something red on top. My guess is it was crushed dried raspberries, but I couldn’t be sure. Anyway, the food was fabulous as was the service and we highly recommend this restaurant.

We climbed into bed early as we had to be up at 3am on Wednesday for our excursion to Petra, Jordan.

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