gap year in israel

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by Zach Buller & Ussishkin 10

Twenty-one sites. Eight hours. One city.

When my roommates and I played Jerusalem-themed Monopoly during quarantine, we hatched a plan. The board would be our roadmap, and with featured locations like the City of David and Mount of Olives instead of Boardwalk and Park Place, we would explore all of Jerusalem by walking to every single place on the board. It was an ambitious goal, heading to every location in a single night, but I planned out an optimal route to hit all of the locations, and we ventured out, prepared to fail but hopeful to succeed.

At 7 PM we began, stopping first at the now-bustling Mamilla Mall, then made our way through the Old City to the Tower of David, Zion Gate, and the Western Wall. As we ran from site to site, we stopped only for a few minutes to admire the location and take a quick picture, then proceeded hastily to the next destination. After all, we had twenty-one places to explore and not a whole lot of time to get to each one.

As the night progressed, we proceeded to the Montefiore Windmill and the First Station, snaked up through Gan Sacher to the President’s Residence, Israel Museum, and the Knesset, and even made our way out to Har Herzl (only to come right back around to the Chords Bridge and the Central Bus Station). As we walked from site to site, we raced through countless neighborhoods in Jerusalem, experiencing for ourselves the expansiveness of the beautiful city. Our legs were sore and our bodies were tired, but we were determined to finish it all.

At 12:30 AM, we arrived at Ammunition Hill, and had finished 19 of the 21 desired locations, but the last two, the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo and Teddy Stadium, were on the completely opposite side of Jerusalem and would have been much more enjoyable to experience in daylight, so we decided to pause the walk for the night and promptly continue it the next day.

So the next morning, we set out to complete our journey, and after stopping outside Jerusalem’s main zoo and football stadium, we had succeeded in exploring virtually all of Jerusalem in a total of just eight hours. We mastered the sites, memorized the streets, and discovered every inch of this incredible city, and now as we spend our next two months in Jerusalem, we’ll get to be everyone else’s tour guides.