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Jerusalem to Bethlehem---should I stay in Bethlehem

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Jerusalem to Bethlehem---should I stay in Bethlehem

I have a 8 day trip to Israel the first week in January. The first two nights I am staying in Tel Aviv. The 2nd, 3rd and fourth night I have booked at the Intercontinental in Bethlehem using points (I got the Presidential Suite). I am starting to have reservations about staying in the West Bank, should I?

I was also going to rent a car for the duration of my stay. As I understand it, I will not be able to take that rental car into the West Bank. Is there a place I can leave it and arrange transportation to and from the border crossing? How long does the border crossing take? How much is it to the Intercontinental via a taxi from the border crossing? Can I pay in dollars? Is it safe? Any other considerations? Thanks!

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1. Re: Jerusalem to Bethlehem---should I stay in Bethlehem

IMHO I'd choose a modest hotel in a prime Jerusalem location over a presidential suite in Bethlehem. I don't think you have anything to fear in Bethlehem, but your options for enjoying yourselves in the evenings are far greater in Jerusalem than in Bethlehem. Jerusalem will be far more convenient for touring.

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2. Re: Jerusalem to Bethlehem---should I stay in Bethlehem

You should have no reservations about staying in Bethlehem and I see no reason for you to change what sounds like a good booking at a great hotel. You can easily spend an evening in Jerusalem and return by bus and taxi if you like.

The main Israeli rental companies do not let you take their cars into the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority. However, as has been discussed on this forum several times, there are apparently smaller Arab-owned companies in Jerusalem that will let you do this. In your case, this could be very useful and allow you to spend one or more of your evenings in Jerusalem. For example, try Dallah - this page has telephone numbers and locations:

http://www.dallahrentacar.com/

We've never had a report back from someone who chose this option, so if you do - please let us know that it worked out ok. This would be very helpful to future visitors.

Edited: 4:52 pm, December 18, 2012
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3. Re: Jerusalem to Bethlehem---should I stay in Bethlehem

I have to agree with PRSV, there is no reason not to stay in Bethlehem. It seems to be that it is wasteful and expensive to keep the car for the 3 days you are there. Return it. Where are you going after Bethlehem--you may not need the car. In fact, you do not need it in Tel Aviv and even if you were staying in Jerusalem you do not need or want it there. AS I think about it--skip the whole car idea.

It is usually a great disadvantage to pay in dollars. Not everyone will accept them and those that do are free to impose whatever outrageous exchange rate they feel appropriate. Change money and get shekels.

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4. Re: Jerusalem to Bethlehem---should I stay in Bethlehem

You have a hotel room, use it. It is only a short ride into Jerusalem to the visit the sites. You can take a taxi, which are readily available after returning the car. There is never a need to keep a car in Jerusalem. The only downside is that while Bethlehem has sites to visit, it is not enough to fill up several days. This means that you will need to account for possible delays in crossing between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in each direction, as mentioned above Israeli rentals are not allowed that city. Also quite honestly I would not suggest driving in Bethlehem -- no danger, it's just so congested and on steep hills that it's quite intimidating.

Chana

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5. Re: Jerusalem to Bethlehem---should I stay in Bethlehem

The IC is a great hotel with a fascinating history and is only a short walk (10 minutes) from the checkpoint from where there are buses and taxies leaving all the time for Jerusalem.

There is certainly plenty to occupy you for several days in and around Bethlehem and much of interest close to your hotel.

As well as the Church of the Nativity – the Nativity Museum (don’t miss it), the Milk Grotto, the Palestine Heritage Centre, the Mosque of Omar, the Old Bethlehem Museum, the Olive Press Museum, the Green Market, Banksy Art, the Syrian Orthodox Church, Dar Annadwa International Centre, the Lutheran Christmas Church, the Salesian Convent and Church, David’s Wells, Dar Mansour, the Refugee Camps, the churches and monasteries in Beit Jala, to name but a few.

A short bus or taxi ride away (20NIS) is Beit Sahour with its old town and Latin and Orthodox 'shepherd's fields' (both worth seeing and quite different), and just a little further on the Monastery of St Theodosius and spectacular Mar Saba as well as Herodium.

In the evening a meal (& entertainment) at The Tent restaurant in Beit Sahour is a memorable night out.

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6. Re: Jerusalem to Bethlehem---should I stay in Bethlehem

Thanks so much for all the helpful advise!

7. Re: Jerusalem to Bethlehem---should I stay in Bethlehem

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Removed on: 5:05 pm, December 25, 2012
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8. Re: Jerusalem to Bethlehem---should I stay in Bethlehem

Samir, it's interesting that you've posted all of four times and twice it was to give a robust plug to a rental car agency. You've also plugged the visitpalestine web site in two of your four posts. Are you connected with either or both?

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9. Re: Jerusalem to Bethlehem---should I stay in Bethlehem

MisterPelican--I am not quite sure why you have a problem with Samir's posts. Bethlehem is part of the Palestinian Authority and information about visiting there is found on the VisitPalestine Website. It is totally appropriate to post it here. ( I've yet to look at the other places it was posted) Many of the regulars are constantly posting the Visit Tel Aviv site or other Israeli sites. Same thing. Also, there have been others who have posted the names of car agencies that have insurance to drive in both Israel and the PA areas. Again--appropriate response to the question.

BTW anyone who has spent any time on this forum knows where I stand politically. HOWEVER, TA has posting guidelines and Samir's posts are within them.

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10. Re: Jerusalem to Bethlehem---should I stay in Bethlehem

No one questioned the validity of the visitpalestine web site. I thought my question and the reason for it was quite clear, and I continue to have the doubts originally expressed. Nevertheless, no offense was intended, and if I've committed a faux pas, I apologize.